The Voices In Our Heads

The Unending Quest for External Validation

I received a great piece of advice a few weeks back from author/publisher Bennett R Coles. I'd been debating whether the tone of my writing was too youthful/snarky and I was considering changing it to be closer to what traditional sci-fi readers would be expecting. His response was "don’t worry at all about whether your tone 'matches most sci-fi readers'... Your audience is out there, waiting to read something exactly like what you’ve written. If you suppress your natural style, your prose won’t shine like it can."

He went on to explain that in writing Virtues of War he'd deliberately chosen a tone that would expect the reader to be able to keep up with the sci-fi/military concepts... "The results have paid off. Not only was Virtues picked up, but it’s won an award for military sci-fi and the reviews show how much the readership appreciates 'a writer who actually understands how the military works'. Sure, there are other reviews who say it’s 'too military' but those folks aren’t my audience."

Don't Worry At All About Whether Your Tone Matches Most Sci-Fi Readers... Your Audience is Out There.

Logically, you can't please 'em all... but this was the first time that the idea of being "niche" was made to appeal to me. Voice is so critical in writingit's your trademark in a sense. Of course, "uniqueness" doesn't always equate to greatness or popularity, but there is value to standing out in a crowd.

Maybe my tone will be foreign to a lot of sci-fi readers. (And perhaps my inner-snark implies something about my maturity level... but I digress.) Either way, one year later, I've finally come to accept that not everyone will "get" what I've written and that's okay.

Keep Calm And Query On

I wrote the book I wanted to read and I've revised the hell out of it to make it the best that I can. I like to think that my opinion as a reader and a writer is worth something. There may well be others out there who will like it too... If so? Fantastic! You're my kind of crazy! If not, then it was still a worthwhile use of my time. I mean, I wrote a frickin' book, y'all! :) There aren't too many people who make good on that dream!

Next steps? The agent who has my partial manuscript has changed her submission status to "closed," stating that she hopes to finish going through all the submissions she's already accumulated before she re-opens to new submissions in January. So I may well hear something from her (either way) in the not too distant future.  

If it's a "no thank you" from her, then I still have a few options I'll want to explore based on some positive interactions with agents and publishers to date.  And if in the end there are no takers from that short list, then 2017 is the year that I'll take the plunge into self-publishingor "going to the dark side" as my other writer friend, Eric Thomson, calls it. Eric claims they have free cookies there. He knows me too well. :)

Onwards and upwards in 2017!

[NOTE: this post originally included a whole section on the "5 Stages of Grief Querying" but in the end, there was enough content on that one topic alone to merits its own blog entry. BONUS: splitting it out gives that post more room for cat memes and magical unicorns. Worth it. Happy New Year!]

Don't Let the Noise of Other's Opinions Drown Out Your Inner Voice - Steve Jobs



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three Responses to "The Voices In Our Heads"

  1. Eric Thomson
    Eric Thomson on 31-12-’16 15:07

    Your friend Bennett is spot on. My Decker’s War series isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it was what I wanted to write and it eventually found a solid and loyal readership. Once you decide to find your external validation with readers and not with the traditional publishing gatekeepers ;) you know how to get a hold of me… I’ll help you get there. Happy New year, Ange.

  2. A. Lee Ripley
    A. Lee Ripley on 31-12-’16 23:24

    Thanks as always, Eric! May 2017 bring you a few more books under your belt and lots of happy readers! ;)

  3. Roxanne G
    Roxanne G on 23-03-’17 01:58

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