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Voice

by Michelle Grajkowski
3 Seas Literary Agency

Louis Armstrong. Etta James. Toby Keith. Eddie Van Halen’s guitar riffs.
What do all these musicians all have in common, besides being the top of their musical genres?

Voice.

Each one of these artists have a unique style, a certain tone that is all their own. In most cases, a fan can identify their music based on just a few notes. Their voices are what makes them standout and thrive in a very crowded music industry.

Through the years, I’ve spoken on many industry panels. One of the first questions we are always asked is “What are you looking for?” The easy answer? I’m always open to new authors who write romance, women’s fiction, YA and middle grade fiction.

But, the more difficult and less concrete answer? What I’m really looking for is VOICE.

So, what exactly is voice? The Miriam Webster Dictionary’s definition of voice is “the power or ability to make musical tones.”

Musicians are experts at making their listeners really feel what they are feeling. Who can’t listen to Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” without feeling melancholy? Or on the flip side, feeling happy and joyous when she sings “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” The point is, the same singer has the ability to make her fans laugh and cry just based on the energy and feeling she’s putting into her music.

But, how does this relate to writing? Picture yourself as a child with your favorite aunt reading you a bedtime story. You’re all tucked in and cozy, she pulls out your favorite book, Green Eggs and Ham. Now, what if your aunt is tired? She’s reading in a quiet monotonous voice. Would you love the book just as much as when your Dad annunciates his disdain at Sam-I-Am with a loud, booming voice? Of course not. You may love the words just as much, but the story itself just doesn’t have the same impact.

Through the years, I’ve literally read thousands upon thousands of proposals. But, the ones that stand out, the stories I want to represent, are the ones that can carry me away with their strong, distinctive storytelling. The stories that make me want to keep reading, to forget about the phone calls and emails that are waiting to be returned. To immerse myself into the story and to really care about the characters and their perils because the author is speaking to me directly though strong descriptions and characters.

As a writer, you are a storyteller. Your job is to take readers to a place that they haven’t been before using your amazing descriptions and details. You are singing to their imagination with your words. You are making them feel the power of faith and love with your story. You are the musician, making bright, beautiful songs with your books.


From the moment Michelle Grajkowski first opened the doors to the 3 Seas Literary Agency in August of 2000, she has been living her dream. (What could be better than surrounding yourself with amazing authors and their exciting and imaginative books?)

Since then, she’s successfully sold more than 450 projects into all the major publishing houses. Her clients include New York Times Bestselling Authors Katie MacAlister, Kerrelyn Sparks and C.L. Wilson. Michelle primarily represents romance, women’s fiction, young adult and middle grade fiction. She is currently looking for fantastic writers with a voice of their own.

When not curled up with a great manuscript, Michelle loves to spend time with her husband, children and her two crazy puppies, who refuse to grow up, Libby and Gizmo.

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2 Responses to Voice

  1. Great post. I especially liked your Miriam Webster Dictionary?s definition of voice. ?The power or ability to make musical tones.? That’s what I want to do–make my story sing.