How to write a memoir
In your life, you’ve overcome obstacles and learned some lessons that would benefit others. Your story deserves to be told – and, in fact, I believe it is your duty to tell it. Most aspiring authors get caught up in how to approach their memoir and become overwhelmed before they even begin. Below are some tips & tools, including some I’ve developed for you, which will help you share your truth.
“An autobiography tells the story of a life, while memoir tells a story from a life,” -Gore Vidal
Developing a concept for your memoir
A memoir captures a period of time or a set of events within your life, rather than cataloging your experience from cradle to grave, as in an autobiography or biography. In order for your memoir to have an audience beyond your friends and family, you need to develop a solid concept that helps bridge the space between your life and that of your reader. Publisher Sharlene Martin once said, “[Your memoir] needs a solid concept for the book that invites the reader’s concerns into the experience of reading it, instead of just saying, ‘Let me tell you all about wonderful me.'” Consider the elements of your story that are universal and find ways to write them that will invite your reader to imagine and consider their own life through the lens of your circumstances.
Make it memorable
Nonfiction books can be as memorable as their fictional counterparts through the use of sensory language that conveys how you felt, what you saw, smelled, and tasted during the pivotal moments you present. I often tell my writers to close their eyes as they begin to write a pivotal scene in their memoir – to take themselves back to the place, the time, and the emotion of the moment. Once you’ve transported yourself back to that moment, open your eyes and write your first draft. Once you’ve gotten it onto the page, go back through and look for ways that you can vary your language to make it richer, more interesting. Break out your thesaurus if that helps!
The market for memoirs
Memoirs continue to be a steady seller among book genres, enjoying a 15% increase in sales from 2013 to 2015, according to Publisher’s Weekly. Those that can be aligned with a universal theme of timely interest or that can be aligned with an organization, a cause, or an event tend to sell best.
According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of U.S. book sales, total sales in the categories of Personal Memoirs, Childhood Memoirs, and Parental Memoirs increased more than 400 percent between 2004 and 2008. Also, memoirs in Britain occupied seven out of ten bestselling nonfiction hardcovers in both 2007 and 2008.
How to write your memoir
I have developed three tools for writers who are seeking help writing their book, all available online. All of my expertise gained in working as a writing and publishing coach has been distilled into these tools to teach you how to write a book online. With my 3 options – self study online writing classes, group writer coaching, and individualized book writing and publishing help – you can choose the pace and the price that feels right for you.