skip to Main Content

#2 of Top 10 Mistakes Authors Make

#2: Do Not Assume That Because an Experience is Meaningful to You, It is Going to Be Meaningful to Charlie and His Aunt…Because It Won’t Be

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:

1) Has my story been told before? Chances are, in some form or another, it probably has. It then behooves you to consider how your story is better and/or different from what is already out there. Do your research. Spend some time browsing the shelves in your book or idea’s category. How can you bring something unique to your story that hasn’t been presented or shared in the same way before?
2) Who is your target audience? It is so important to be clear on this, just as it is equally important to understand that your book isn’t going to appeal to everyone. Whittle down your proposed target audience and write your book to that market. It’s okay to have a secondary or even tertiary market in mind, but for the purposes of your book, make sure you know that initial target audience like the back of your hand and tailor your idea accordingly.

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 and be sure to check out my blog An Author On the Town at

Jon Malysiak is part of the Networlding Publishing Team. He works with me to support our ongoing efforts to educate thought leaders on the best practices for success in this new world of publishing.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

Back To Top