They Don’t Like My *AHEM* “Voice”

Apparently I have a bad voice.

I’m not even sure how this is a thing.

It’s my writing voice that’s bad, by the way. I think my real voice is fine.

I won a writing competition a few weeks ago, and the prize was that agents could look at the winning entries and request the manuscripts. Eleven agents requested mine (for you writers out there…that’s kind of a big deal). I’ve written a novel with a bipolar protagonist, and…I think it doesn’t suck. I like it, anyway (but that’s like my mom saying I’m pretty, isn’t it? I created the characters. Of course I like them).

Three of the agents have gotten back to me with rejections. One was terse and gave me nothing, but the other two said that they simply “didn’t connect with the voice.” I once had someone in the publishing industry tell me that “I don’t connect with the voice” is a basic cop-out rejection because no one can really argue it. How can someone change their voice? It’s a catch-all when agents don’t want to give actual feedback (allegedly).


I give up writing, I guess.

HA. Funny. Okay. Moving on.

Here are way more entertaining things that agents could say to reject me when they don’t like my voice (to the eight agents who still have my book…go ahead and copy and paste. Hand on heart, I won’t be offended. I gave you the responses. You’re welcome).

  1. Your protagonist’s voice was kind of bitchy, and I wanted to slap her by chapter two. I don’t like the violent tendencies your book has inspired in me, and so I don’t want to read any more. You are rejected.
  2. I actually fell asleep while reading your manuscript, and that’s impressive because I was at a parade at the time and I drank five red bulls that morning. That’s how monotonously boring your voice is. You are rejected.
  3. Your voice is a combination of Gwenyth Paltrow and Dora the Explorer. Oh, you don’t understand how that works? It’s because it doesn’t. You are rejected.
  4. Your voice reminds me of my college professor who had a terribly nasally voice, and he used to drone on and on. We had to act like we were paying attention, but I tried to tune him out to listen to buzzing flies because they were less annoying. That’s what your book is like. You are rejected.
  5. Your voice reminds me of this terrible blog, It’s abysmal. I am so disappointed in myself for ever wasting time on it. Go waste your time on it, because you sound like her and therefore will never get published. You are rejected.
  6. Your voice is like an opera singer who’s trying to get over laryngitis (but in a writing way, of course). It’s like there might have been talent there, but it can’t shine through the nasty. You are rejected.
  7. Your characters are trying too hard. You tried to make them cool, but it sounds like they’re all constipated. You basically need to coat the entire manuscript in ex-lax and get things flowing better. You are rejected.
  8. I didn’t connect with your voice because I have a hard time connecting with anyone. I’m seeing a therapist about this. Unfortunately, I haven’t made much progress yet. You are rejected.

See? There you go. Eight responses for the eight agents left. Now I’ve written the book and the rejections. Most compliant and helpful author ever? I think so. 🙂


19 thoughts on “They Don’t Like My *AHEM* “Voice”

  1. I wonder how the agents would like my middle finger…sorry. The NY slipped out again.

    I am certain I don’t have to tell you this, but I’m gonna anyhow.

    You know that F. Scott Fitzgerald died thinking he was a failure, correct? He had little to no literary success in his life time. ( I am not encouraging you to do anything drastic here. Just making a point!)

    Jk Rowling wasn’t a winner right out of the gate either. Bet THOSE agents aren’t employed anymore.

    And no. You liking your book is nothing like your mom thinking you are pretty. I call myself an artist. I guess that is sort of a subjective term – but I make stuff. And sell it. And have been invited to participate in some events – so I am an artist I suppose. I very often dislike what I make. Or if I don’t dislike it I see every single flaw. I know the flaws are part of the process. I know that sometimes – especially with certain materials they are absolutely unavoidable. It doesn’t matter. I know they are there and I can’t have it in sight. I rarely if ever keep anything I have made for that reason. So, if YOU like your book it is probably remarkable. Who is a bigger critic of yourself than you?

    Maybe the agents are uncomfortable with the subject. Or maybe they are to lazy to bother. Probably both.

    I like your voice. Hence, the agents are tone deaf.

    Good for you for having the balls to submit your work!

    Also, read Truth and Beauty. Its a gorgeous book and a memoire of sorts. I think you will find it inspiring right now.

    EFF them. They probably voted for Trump.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! I will look up Truth and Beauty.

      Also, the part where you said “Eff them. They probably voted for Trump” made me literally laugh out loud. Thanks for that! I’ve been feeling so discouraged lately.

      I know all the stories about authors who got rejected and then eventually made it, but there are countless other authors who got rejected a jillion times and then DIDN’T make it, you know? I’m starting to think that maybe it’s time to kill the dream (I’ve gotten a few more rejections since posting this post, so I’m feeling especially discouraged). I don’t have any other great hobbies, but perhaps it’s time to find one.

      What’s a hobby that’s not writing and also isn’t athletic at all? (Because trust me, athletic hobbies are NOT going to be my forte). Maybe I’ll get into something really bizarre and specialized….like breeding chameleons or something. I bet baby chameleons are cute. Let me Google that a second.

      OH MY WORD THEY ARE SO CUTE!!!!! Seriously – go look that up. SO. EFFING. CUTE.

      Okay, new life goals established. Phewf. Glad that’s settled.


  2. I LOVE your voice (your writing voice, that is, since I’ve never heard you actually speak…). Don’t be discouraged or, at least, don’t stay discouraged for long! There are still others that have your manuscript. That’s a good sign! I have faith in you and I’m gonna lend you some, since you seem to be down on yourself, to help you feel better!

    Did you get it?! Did it work?!
    Let me know!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, though clearly I’m not handling rejection well either. I just got rejection #5 today, and I decided that I’m a terrible writer and I need to pick up a new hobby. I literally Googled info about breeding chameleons, because that’s really weird and quirky and I don’t think you can get rejected doing that. Then I was like, “Why am I searching how to breed chameleons!? Examine your life choices, Hazel.” So basically, I’m not that great at handling rejection. lol. But thanks.

      Hey, no offense if you’re a chameleon breeder by any chance. Those babies looked CUUUUUUUUTE.


      • I am not…because lizards are way too needy for my personal tastes. If you don’t feed them just the right thing or give them the right kind of light in their tank or the right substrate or the right WHATEVER, they die. I prefer pets that are more um..I can’t even think of the word. Hands off isn’t it, because I have cats and my hands are constantly all over them petting and rubbing and whatever. I’m sure I”ll think of the word later when I”m not so tired I can barely function.

        Self cleaning? No. That’s not it. Self..something. Whatever cats are. Low maintenance.


  3. You and your voice… I get in a mood sometimes. And I always feel like I write like a salted cheese grater on a poison ivy rash. Not that my opinion is worth the millions it should be, but I like your voice, your mind, and everything else hiding Behind [those] Hazel Eyes. I loved the rejections you wrote and I wish literary critics were that creative with their criticisms. Behind the words, I hear something more like this: “Well, we read some of it and felt like there was potential, but we had problems picturing how we could make enough money marketing the story. As literary agents, we’re just trying to be honest here. We don’t really care about you or your story. As stories go we thought it was fine, but based on our previously accepted works and the genre in general, we wanted to believe we could get rich off your effort. We’re sure you understand. It doesn’t really have a movie feeling, like where the ends tie together by the end and make everyone happier. We were left dangling like a participle, waiting for it to work out. You know. Like that 1993 Mr. Jones movie, with Richard Gere, remember? Your cast doesn’t seem to have that kind of appeal.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahahahahahahaha thank you. Thanks for that. It made me laugh, and I’m feeling especially discouraged today (I just got another rejection from an agent who had previously shown interest). I’m really glad you like my voice. At least someone does. For what it’s worth, I like yours too. Definitely not a “salted cheese grater on a poison ivy rash” (OUCH).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hazel, I LOVE your voice!!!!

    That said, another suggestion for editors looking to reject you would be to create a Donald Trump insult machine, which is a little figurine of him that basically just spits out negative superlatives in random order (I thought of a life size machine, but then I shuddered so hard that people around me looked at me like I might be having a seizure)
    “Hazel Hillboro – total loser. Terrible. Unbelievable. And DISHONEST – totally fake. Her writing is overrated.”

    Liked by 1 person

      I laughed out loud. That was fantastic. I want that to be a real product. How has no one thought of that!? I would keep it on my desk and then just hit it every time I was mad about something. That’s the best thing ever.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You have a PERFECT VOICE. I would buy the books you will publish. In fact, since I’m not fiercely committed to my recovery, I will forgo my regular sleep routine and I will camp outside the bookstore just to be the first in line to buy your book. Now THAT’S commitment for you 🙂


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