Posted by: forgettingsally | September 25, 2010

Memoir Writing: Facts and Fallacies

I am writing a memoir. That’s obvious with Forgetting Sally and I have plans to get this published. However, as I scout the internet and read the many writings that prevail on this genre, many written by literary agents, I see that my path to publication is blotched with hurdles that may cross my way. Hurdles maybe but not barricades of course!

Indeed, that makes me wonder if my decision to write a memoir is something that should be reserved for the family closet and if there is any good reason for me to spend that incredible amount of time penning a work that may yield little results with the literary agents. Literary agents are oftentimes hard bent on what they perceive is a saleable memoir for them and that naturally stems from their own life experiences handling such delicate matters as memoirs. However, that’s not to say there are no literary agents who address the subtle makings of a successful memoir. There are the dedicated ones but these are possibly few. You just have to look for them.

So, what do you do when a rejection comes your way because you are not famous? Well, my answer to that would be simple. Failure is not a solution. If you receive rejections, keep looking. Look for a literary agent who understands the business of writing memoirs and who realizes the value of life that emanates from sharing that memoir to the audience. Also remember that the business of a literary agent is to find that read which sells and most turn down the memoir for the primary reason that you are not famous and will not work with the significant amount of time they think they would have to take just marketing your writing. That’s obvious right? Yeah, a real bummer. And it should not be a shocker for goodness sake! Literary agents are there to earn their keep as well, just as we all are to make a buck with that exciting memoir writing we so want published. So, when a literary agent comes hopping your way with a rejection notice, do not despair. It is part and parcel of finding the right literary agent who syncs well with your expectations.

Writing a memoir is a rewarding process and it begins first as a personal journey on the part of the writer. It is when at some point in your life, usually at a later age, you have decided that you want to put on paper certain bits about your life where you can perhaps extrapolate and learn from mistakes or even celebrate a certain milestone in your life that deserves mention. And that’s just fine because writing a memoir is possibly a means of coming to terms with what you have experienced in your early life, be it bad or good. It is an experience that involves a lot of soul searching and presents many questions you may seek and many answers rendered to the way you feel inside and how you make the move to deal with the consequences of the emotions that it renders.

But when you pen those words into a book with the hope of publication, it translates into a brave step that you have decided to take in sharing your personal bits with the larger public. However, here’s where the real journey begins since the memoir must be a “readable” and “saleable” read for several important parties in the process:

  1. There is the main lead here – the literary agent who agrees to represent that book. This must be an individual who feels comfortable with the read and who understands the considerations involved in marketing that specific book to the publisher. There are literary agents who truly understand the area designated as memoir and can provide helpful tips towards successful publication but most surprisingly shun away from this area simply because they see no future wasting their time on something they consider as useless literature. However, if you have a good work that draws the impressions and the interest, just find that agent who makes it work.
  2. The editor who uses the company’s resources in indulging the green light that welcomes that publication.
  3. The readers who decide that the money spent on that memoir is worth the dime and time they take to place it on their own personal shelf. A good book self-replicates itself in many ways by encouraging loyal followers or fans as they could call it and eventually adds credence to the writer/author thereby setting the stage for more book contracts for the new and successful writer of course.

So, what indeed would be the ingredients for ensuring that successful contract with a literary agent who welcomes the memoir genre?

Tune in to my next piece which gives my take on what I think that would constitute….

Written by Romilla D.

© 2010 All Rights Reserved


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