Thursday, November 21, 2013

Windmills of Your Mind…Memoirs

Everyone has a story, and it seems that more and more people are telling theirs.  Browse the "memoir" subcategory on and up pops more than 24,000 titles. In a day of reality TV, "reality" books also hold the public's interest. 

The term "memoir" refers to a reminiscent story and it can be short, like a personal essay or narrative, or it can be book-length.  It is always written in the first-person voice.

Do you want to write a memoir?

Writing a memoir can be a daunting task, but has a great site with a step-by-step guide to beginning memoir writing.  It is a site aimed at teachers and students but "Teachers: Write It ⎢ Memoir" will lead you from brainstorming to polishing your finished manuscript.  And if you’re a student writer, there's also a list of contests where you can submit your work.

Some people will tell you if you're not a big sports star or a Hollywood celebrity or some other larger-than-life public figure, no one's going to be interested in your life story.  The thing about a memoir is that you don't have to tell your whole life story.  You can tell one event out of it if it is big enough for a book and has the universal appeal to attract an audience.

Where can you publish your memoir?

Most of the major publishers have a memoir imprint.  However, they also seek work only from agented writers.  If you don't have an agent, here are some publishers that will consider your memoir.  Most request proposals with an outline or synopsis, sample chapters as well as a report on how you would market the book.  Click each publisher's name to go their website.  

Barricade Books - seeks books with a "controversial lean" and expects authors who will be instrumental in publicizing their books,.
Chicago Review Press - guidelines page gives a list of components to include in your proposal.  
Seal Press - publishes books for women by women, there is also a detailed list of components on the website that should be in your proposal to them.

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