Writers are in the midst of what can only be seen as a revolution. We are in a ground-breaking evolution of publishing from a process that required gatekeepers—agents, editors, and editorial boards—to an open market where you get to choose how and when your work is published. Third way publishing, hybrid publishing, and self-publishing “companies” open the way for you to publish your book. The eBook has revolutionized the definition of what a book is. Even die-hard book sniffers and book lovers will read on a Kindle or platform other than paper. If you want to publish a book, it has never been easier!
Where are you in this new publishing world? As you begin to think of all the choices, you may feel overwhelmed, but the Internet can deliver to you encyclopedic amounts of information about any of the topics that have to do with publishing. Just search, find, read, and digest the information available to you.
However, to self-publish in almost any format, you have to be able to pay for someone’s services. To present the best book you can write, you need editors, proofreaders, and designers for your interior and your cover—people DO judge a book by its cover. If you try to publish your work without extensive editing passes, you will not end up happy. People DO judge your book by the quality of the writing and the care you take to create a good “product.” The final package, the end game to all your writing is, after all, something to sell, something that you offer to someone else for a fee. And it must prove its value. Of course, you want to present your “baby”– your story and your book in the best way possible.
So, how to afford this new venture? Most people need to make a financial plan for their book, unless they are lucky enough to already have enough money to pay for the costs of production. By now, most of you have heard of “crowd-sourcing”—a way to involve the community in raising money for a project.
This month’s Roundtable Discussion at the National Association of Memoir Writers Free Teleseminar will address how Pubslush, a crowdfunding company especially for authors, can help you make your publishing and marketing a success.
Our guest is the VP of Pubslush, Amanda Barbara, along with two NAMW authors who successfully funded their books through Pubslush, Sonia Marsh and Kathy Pooler. Please join us for a lively and informative discussion about publishing, fund-raising, and marketing your book. Empower yourself to complete your book! join us for free! Click this link to sign up and receive the audio for free, to listen to if you can’t join us and to have as a resource later.
I’m so happy to have Theo Pauline Nestor join us on Friday, November 22 to talk about Five Secrets to Writing an Enduring Memoir
Theo’s new book Writing Is My Drink is an inspiring book about how she claimed herself as a writer—and a whole person who had a right to have a story—and to share it. You must read it! You will find a lot of terrific writing prompts and discover a renewed energy to write from reading her personal story of her life and her search for self. It’s a great book that will address the times you ever doubted yourself and looked for external validation—who hasn’t done that? And show you how she drew upon teachers, moments of silence, and the gifts of unexpected ahas to become a published writer and a great teacher.
Theo says, “Writing a memoir is a complex task that asks us to weave truth, story, craft, and our own vulnerability as writers.” I’m sure all of you who are working on your memoir will relate to this statement, and are familiar with juggling these aspects of writing. We are going to talk about the process of writing and how important it is to find your voice, to be vulnerable. To find ways to encourage that shy part of yourself who might prefer to stay silent—and yet you want to write! Writing is about finding voice, and getting support to be courageous in exploring and excavating your stories and yourself.
Everything that Theo writes about in her book I find parts of myself, from a sense of shame and shyness because of growing up in an unconventional family to feeling inadequate around everyone else who surely knew who they were and where they were going—those who exuded knowledge and coolness. But writers need to dig deep into their own secret stories to come up with the gold nuggets that reveal the truth. There are many truths and sure, we wish that the nuggets weren’t connected to deep emotions, shame, or fear, but they are. When we mine these dark places that we have tried to hide from ourselves and others, the brilliance of our truths, our authentic voices, and the real story comes shining through. Read more about how Theo sorts all this out.
If you are not a member yet, you can learn more at the National Association of Memoir Writers Member Benefits page and sign up. Join us!
Theo has created a great conference for January—a great way to start the year! With Anne Lamott as keynote speaker. If you have not listened to Anne Lamott, you owe it to yourself to have this special experience. Her book Bird by Bird has been the go-to book for writing process for writers for many years. The National Association of Memoir Writers is sponsoring this event! Come by and see me in person. We’d both love to meet you!
Here is Theo’s offer for a discounted ticket to the event with Anne Lamott
Get a $40 dollar discount off early bird tickets for Nestor’s event Bird by Bird & Beyond with Anne Lamott until midnight tomorrow (11/16) night when you enter the promotional code word mentor. Info and registration here.
Bird by Bird & Beyond is a day devoted to the craft of personal narrative with classes and a rare opportunity to hear Lamott talk on the topic of writing with her keynote “Almost Every Single Thing I Know About Writing.” 1/18/14, Petaluma, CA.
Not every memoir writer worries about being on the outs with their family when they write a memoir, but it is something I hear countless writers discussing, and it often casts a shadow on their forward progress. They worry about how much to reveal, and how stories that perhaps are new to family—whether they’re secrets or private stories, or inner worlds that were never shared before—will affect family and friends. In the process of writing a memoir, new insights, memories, and details are revealed that might be unknown to other people—but they also might be issues that the writer wasn’t aware of which become clearer during the writing process.
If you feel stuck, first you need to diagnose your problem. What is it that you are afraid to share? Why—what are you afraid will happen? It’s useful to journal about your fears and worries, to get these bees buzzing in your head out into the light of day where you can objectively read and assess them.
Perhaps some of your fears are realistic. Memoir writers reveal such things as sexual abuse, abortions, arrests, relationships, babies born out of wedlock, emotional and physical abuse, alcoholism and drug abuse to name a few. The more “confessional” the memoir, the more that writers may flinch when they imagine the family reading it. If this happens consistently, the memoir project comes to a halt.
There seems to be a continuum about people’s attitudes when it comes to judgment about what is revealed in a memoir—from “Oh, what the heck—I don’t care what people think,” to “As long as my family is alive, I can’t write a memoir.” And there are a lot of people in the middle who say, “I can’t wait for everyone to die to write my book, but I’m just not sure how much to reveal.”
Recently, I talked about these issues with Laura Davis, author of The Courage to Heal, at the National Association of Memoir Writers Roundtable discussion “The Choices we Make—Writing about Others.”
You can listen to our discussion at the National Association of Memoir Writers Website, free Roundtable Discussions, under Writing Resources.
We explored the ethical, practical and emotional issues memoir writers face when we write about real people in our lives, all of whom are bound to have strong feelings about the way they are depicted on the page. There are realistic questions to ask yourself, and choices that you have to make as you proceed with your memoir. But the main thing is to keep writing! Your first draft will not be read by anyone–if you don’t share it with them. You have a right to keep things private in your memoir–and it’s still true. Leaving things out does not make your memoir false.
I’ve written about issues of family, truth and privacy in my book The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story.
Tips to keep your memoir—and you—safe:
Don’t tell your family all about your memoir. Just write for a while and see what needs to come out.
- Don’t share your memoir with family and friends until you’ve completed it and are sure what you want to reveal and how. This takes time.
- Create a “safe, sacred space” where your writing can unfold. Protect your emotional self.
- Realize that when you write about others, you are putting a real person into your book. Alive or dead, there are ethical issues to consider when it comes to publication. Do your research when you get to your final drafts about your rights and theirs.
- Write your first draft as a healing draft. Get out what you need to say. Make it bold and real. Then stand back and think about how you want to revise it for publication.
You may be in what I call the “Muddy Middle” of your memoir as you work your way through the stories, your turning points, the arc of your narrative, your plot, your memories and truths, but it’s not too soon to think of book promotion.
Let me tell you why:
- It’s a long journey from the beginning to the end of a memoir. In the meantime you need to eat, sleep, read, learn, and build your platform! Part of building it is learning about how the book world works.
- Platform building means understanding the world of networking, blogging, social media, and marketing. Not all at once, in bite sized, comfortable doses.
- Because we have a terrific guest this week for the NAMW Member Teleseminar: Sandra Beckwith. She’s going to talk with us about The Reluctant Memoirist’s Guide to Book Promotion. Read her blog post here about book promotion.
Read more about Sandra’s presentation below. But first—we think this is such an important topic we’re going to offer you a discount so you can join us for this discussion. We don’t have sales very often at NAMW, but we’re going to break the “rules” and have this ONE DAY ONLY sale on March 22 until midnight.
Enter the coupon code 20-OFF when checking out. Be sure not to forget the code—we can’t give it to you later if you forget! We can’t offer this for more than one day, so take advantage while it lasts.
Read more about the benefits of being a member of the National Association of Memoir Writers here.
Read what Sandra says about marketing, promotion, and her presentation:
Writers tend not to want to market or promote, or they think they can’t. Getting “out there” and talking about your book can be downright painful for shy people or those who prefer to write, not talk. Then there are those who aren’t shy, but aren’t comfortable in situations where they’re the center of attention.
Still others are afraid they will be labeled as “shameless self-promoters.” Can you blame them? We’ve all seen shameless promoters . . . and they’re not attractive. We want them to go away and leave us alone. How can you overcome your reluctance to promote your book, regardless of your reason?
Discover how you can overcome the most common “I can’t do this” excuses and have a successful, rewarding book launch!
During “The reluctant memoirist’s guide to book promotion,” you will learn:
- The most common excuses for avoiding book promotion
- The single most important thing to remember about promoting your book
- Where and how to start
- How to find the process that works for you
- 7 surefire promotional tactics for shy authors
- How to find time to just do it
Sandra Beckwith is a former national award-winning publicist who now teaches authors how to be their own book publicists. She works as a book marketing coach, publishes the free Build Book Buzz e-zine, teaches an e-course on book publicity and promotion, and offers training programs designed to help authors learn the best ways to promote their books. The author of four books of her own, Sandra also ghostwrites and edits books and proposals. Learn more at http://buildbookbuzz.com.
Become a member of the National Association of Memoir Writers to get access to this presentation. Join us here.
‘Tis the season of taking stock, setting new goals, and making plans—for the holidays, and for the New Year. Many memoir writers are getting serious about finalizing the first draft of their memoir, and moving forward with new edits, focusing on themes and figuring out the arc of the story they are telling. The next stages of the memoir are about creating a way to bring in the reader. Other memoirists are figuring out how to begin and what stories to write.
In my journey in the memoir writing world, as I get to know people, I notice how much they love to reminisce and think about their loved ones and times gone by: “Remember when we…” and “I so want to share my grandmother with everyone—she was such a sweet person.” Or “You won’t believe this story, but it’s true…” And I hear this a lot, “I think my story can help others, so I have to write it.”
Every month at the National Association of Memoir Writers, I am privileged to talk with our guests and audiences at the free Roundtable discussions—a great way to meet new writers!—and I love reconnecting with members during our monthly teleseminars. This year, teaching with Brooke Warner for our short courses Kick Start Your Memoir and the Muddy Middle introduced me to more people and their books in progress. And we are looking forward to our full group at Write Your Memoir in Six Months starting in January. All this is so inspiring for me—supporting the idea that creating the National Association of Memoir Writers is helping people write their stories, and creating new connections with others who are passionate too.
I love what Brooke says to aspiring memoir writers:
“Many people have a story they’re yearning to tell, but few have the stamina and discipline to commit to the journey of writing a memoir. You need many things on this journey: support, community, self-compassion. As they say, every journey begins with a first step. When will you take yours?”
I find that most memoir writers need inspiration, and they’re inspired by having their memories fired up through movies, videos, photographs, and writing prompts. Last year, I created a lovely way to help you get inspired, keep track of your stories, and save them in a book-like format—a binder with tabs to keep track of your themes, each section with writing prompts about various topics:
Roots and legacies—where you came from, your ancestors, and the legacies that you are passing on in your memoir;
Fathers and mothers—prompts that invite you to create character sketches of the important members of your family; Childhood memories—discover the important moments that formed you—and more–Love and Marriage, Houses, Secrets and Hidden Truths. You will find over 90 writing prompts, a timeline, a list of dozens of memoir topics, and writing tips to get you started and keep you going to “The End” of your memoir.
On Cyber Monday, if you renew or join as a member of the National Association of Memoir Writers, you’ll get our lowest price of $99 for a whole year of teleseminars, books, eBooks, and audio downloads, and you’ll get the binder for free—mailed to you before Christmas. There’s nothing like seeing your book develop in your binder as the pages accumulate! And think of the binder as a gift for a loved one, or inspiration for someone who know who’s always been wanting to write their memoir.
The binder and the special low membership price are good only on Cyber Monday! I hope I get to talk with you about your memoir on one of our upcoming calls in the new year!
Have a wonderful holiday season, and remember our motto at NAMW—Be Brave, Write Your Story!