When you're browsing through Barnes & Noble, what makes you buy a book written by an unknown author, outside of a fancy display stand or a place on the bestseller list? Something has to catch your eye first, something about the cover and the title. You pick it up and read the blurb on the jacket or on the back. Interesting. You flip it open and read the first couple pages. You don't know how the story goes, but you like how the writing sounds, so you buy it.
And that's pretty much how an agent decides which authors he will represent. Granted, there's no pretty cover to catch his eye, but your query letter is like the blurb on the back of the book. If he likes what he sees, he'll want to flip your book open and read a little more--a couple chapters or maybe the first fifty pages. He wants to hear how your writing sounds.
That's called voice.
Think about it. What attracts you to some of your favorite authors? I know there are books out there with wonderful stories and characters, but some I like more than others not because the story is better, but because of how the author tells it.
An idea is only going to take you so far. As an aspiring author, you need to develop your own voice--one that grabs the reader and sucks him into the story. But if you ask someone to describe it, "I'll know it when I see it" is a common response. It's the main element that attracts readers, and thus agents and publishers, to a book, and it’s indefinable.
I'll continue to research voice and, if possible, do my best to describe it in future posts. Stay tuned.
What Makes Me Say "Yes" [BookEnds, LLC — A Literary Agency]
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