Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How to Write a Memoir that Sells

Many people have an itch to write their memoirs. In most cases, the people who approach me about it have a compelling story to tell. The problem with a memoir is that unknown authors can't sell it on their name -- so the story must be provocative and interesting and unique to make up for it. Non-fiction is easier to sell than fiction, so that's a plus. But really your story can't be the same old, same old. It has to truly be a story! Something on the scale of epic saga -- something I will want to turn the page to find out the ending. Today, an author pitched her story. I have to say, it was very compelling. So much so that I asked her to pause while I ran to grab something so that I would not miss a moment -- a very good sign indeed. The best way to think about writing your memoir when you lack the name to sell it, is to ensure it's just a great story. Great stories sell. Well-written, great stories sell. If you're not a writer with a great story, hire a ghost writer. This gal is probably going to hire me to write it. Or focus on the execution of the great story. The forthcoming 3L Publishing book Silent Voices is structured in such a way that the author foreshadows and builds tension with such talent and grace. In fact, she built up the emotional tension so well that when you have the release with the climax, you can't help but cry. You cry for what happens, but it's almost a release too. And that is truly a skill. So if you're going to write any kind of memoir make sure it's, well told, intricately written with skill and talent, and fascinating, provocative and/or inspiring.

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