Forget About Being Heard and You’ll find Your Voice

43339660_sOn this blog, I often talk about strategies and techniques for getting the word out about your newly self-published book; tips for being heard. After all, the company that I founded, Halo Publishing International, is all about being heard – putting the book that is in your head on paper and ultimately into the hands of readers.

However, then I stumbled on a quote from Allen Ginsburg and I wondered if I had it all wrong:

To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard. Renounce that and you get your own voice automatically. Try to become a saint of your own province and your own consciousness, and you won’t worry about being heard in The New York Times.

-ALLEN GINSBERG

I believe Allen is speaking to your muse – to write what you know in a voice that is authentic to who you are.

So Allen wants us to forget about the reader and selfishly give into our inner voice. I guess I can buy into that to some degree; however, there is still the ultimate reader to think of. If we only think about ourselves and forget about being heard, will the ultimate finished product, our self-published book, be something anyone wants to read?

Remember Field of Dreams? Kevin Costner was told “If you build it they will come.” He wasn’t thinking of his own voice – he was writing directly for the benefit of the reader.

I’ll be curious to know your thoughts on the matter and when I post this on Facebook, I hope you will get a discussion going. I believe it is a fine balance between writing what the reader wants and being true to our own selves that makes for a successful book.

When we are authentic, that comes across, not only in our writing but also in our marketing efforts to promote our book. We do need to be true to ourselves but that can’t come at the cost of the reader.

Piya Jayarajan has written a really interesting article, Shock the Reader, that talks both sides of the discussion. She asks:

How many of us actually write for the folks who are not interested in reading our articles?

Piya suggests that we be unexpected, write about topics from a perspective never thought of in the past and use this counterintuitive approach not only to our writing but also our marketing efforts.

Shocking the reader can have the great added benefit of standing out from the competition

Several years ago I read a book based strictly on the title: Your Marketing Sucks.  Talk about offensive and yet it grabbed my attention and once I read the book, I realized that the author offered a number of valuable tidbits of advice that impacted how I viewed my online marketing presence.

Another book with an offensive title –shocking really – is called Dickless Marketing. The author, Yvonne DiVita , shares information about the value of paying attention to the female consumer as they make more than 70% of all buying decisions. The information is important and the way the author stood out from a sea of other marketing books was by having a voice that shocked the reader.

Finding your voice is an important component to being a successful writer. A couple weeks ago I retold the plotline for a television show Chasing Life in which the writer ultimately decides to write the book she wants to tell rather than the book the publisher would prefer because of current reader trends.

Finding your voice and writing what is important to you will ultimately be what stands the test of time. It is like the little black dress. It never goes out of style. Just writing for the reader – vampire love stories that suck the creative life out of you – (how clever was I?) because it isn’t what you want to write – will have the eventual effective of taking the joy out of writing.

It is a fine balance between understand what you prefer to write about and connecting with the readers that can’t wait to read your story.

Bottom Line: It is important to understand the distinction between writing for your voice versus writing just for the reader. I’m reminded of popular writer Robert Parker who wrote the books the television show Spenser for Hire was based upon. The first books in the series were entertaining however, as Parker began to focus more on writing for the reader and reproducing a cookie cutter version of his original voice; the books were less interesting and therefore less popular

To thine ownself be true. But don’t totally ignore the reader.