I realize this sounds horribly negative and pessimistic and, perhaps more so, downright cynical. It is and it isn’t. One of the dirtiest words in publishing is “Memoir.” I would say that the majority of proposals that appear in my inbox are for memoirs or autobiographies that chronicle not-all-that-uncommon experiences we all share in our daily lives. I would also say that I reject 99.999% of them, not because they are badly written or don’t contain the ability to educate and uplift the potential reader. I reject most memoirs because the majority of them aren’t written by celebrities, and even then a memoir can be a really tough sell. This gets back to the point I made above—unless a reader or a publisher or an agent has heard of you, they probably aren’t going to be interested in reading your life story, regardless of how deeply the experiences you relate have impacted you. This is perhaps one of the most brutal realities I’ve had to share with potential clients. An author’s platform is always important, but it’s even more important when pitching a memoir.
I’ll get into this in greater detail at a future date, but the time being, as you are considering the story you want to tell, ask yourself:
These are just my opinions, but they are rooted in experience. Check back in a couple weeks for the next two mistakes I’ve seen authors make. If you wish to comment, ask questions, or share your own experiences, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to check out my blog An Author On the Town at http://author-on-the-town.blogspot.com.