Author: Lisa Dale Norton

December 12

December 12

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write. – Somerset Maugham Another image of Venice taken by Lisa.

The Memoir Lesson of 2017

The Memoir Lesson of 2017

The memoir writing lesson of 2017 leaps out at us from Annie Proulx’s acceptance speech given last week (mid-November) at the National Book Awards ceremony. Proulx (Brokeback Mountain, The Shipping News, and Barkskins, among other books) was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American […]

For Success, Link Your Memoir to Current Events

For Success, Link Your Memoir to Current Events

Memoir continues as a hot seller for the main body of book buyers in America: women. For the first six months of 2017, BookScan reported sales growth in the category Biography/Autobiography/Memoir—up 8% over sales figures for the same period in 2016. This is good news for writers; interest in personal narratives remains strong.

However, as a simple search of “memoir” on Amazon will show, the field also remains flooded—nearly 150,000 titles as of this writing. Consequently, it becomes harder and harder to distinguish yourself and your story. The five big publishing houses in America continue to lean toward celebrity status for memoir. Some of the biggest deals to date came just this year. Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, and James B. Comey are just three.

Most memoir writers must then focus their attention on smaller publishing houses, or embrace self-publishing, both of which are excellent options. But no matter what route you choose to publication, you still must find ways to make your story stand out.

Here’s one idea about how to do that: Consider linking your experience to current events—for example, scientific or environmental issues. If you can tell the story of both the larger issue, and your experience, then your memoir becomes about more than just you, and it will draw a larger audience.

Consider this posting about memoir and science writing published on NPR’s 13.7 Cosmos & Culture blog that looks at three memoirs published in 2017, which combine science related issues—”fat, cancer and gender,” as the author Barbara J. King says—and a parallel personal story.

Or, check out these recently published titles that are as much about the environment and the natural world, as they are about the writer—Fire in the Heart: A Memoir of Friendship, Loss, and Wildfire; or Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone.

What a careful look at your life experience can reveal, about the conundrum of publishing, is that there is more than one way to skin a cat, or . . . publish your memoir!

Can you find links to larger cultural issues for your memoir?

 

Triggering Words: A Mini-Memoir Exercise

Triggering Words: A Mini-Memoir Exercise

I found a note the other day I’d written months ago about words and how well chosen ones can evoke a world of story. That’s a trick with memoir—finding words brimming with emotion and then chasing the stories right out of them. When a reader […]

Amazon the Monopoly: Getting Smart About Books

Amazon the Monopoly: Getting Smart About Books

Who amongst you has not anteed up for a book from Amazon? Admit it, even those of you

When Should You Show Your Memoir to Family or Friends?

When Should You Show Your Memoir to Family or Friends?

Never. At least not while you are working on it.

That is what my gut tells me (more…)

Back to School: Memoir or Autobiography?

Back to School: Memoir or Autobiography?

We Americans love Back to School—memories of a fresh school year complete with new shoes and unknown books.

Finishing Your Memoir This Summer One Scene at a Time

Finishing Your Memoir This Summer One Scene at a Time

Everyone is writing a book, but only a few will finish their books, and only a select

A Marketer’s Response to Space and Time in Memoir

A Marketer’s Response to Space and Time in Memoir

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Marketing Expert Carol White

I got a great response from marketing expert Carol White after I sent my last newsletter. Here’s what (more…)

Grounding Your Memoir in Space and Time

Grounding Your Memoir in Space and Time

I’ve read thousands of manuscripts and worked with hundreds of writers over