The short answer is YES.
The longer answer is that there are many different kinds of editing that are important at different stages in your writing journey.
Developmental editing looks at the big picture issues. Is your memoir starting and ending in the right place? Is there a narrative arc? Is the emotion on the page or does the writing feel flat?
Writers hire a developmental editor after they have a complete draft of their manuscript (and ideally, their manuscript is in as good a shape as they can get it on their own). The developmental editor delivers an editorial letter outlining the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript; sometimes these developmental edits (also sometimes called manuscript evaluations or assessments) include inline comments as well. The writer then returns to the manuscript to execute the suggested changes.
I once heard an editor from one of the Big 5 publishers say: “I’m looking for books that are both completely unique and exactly the same.” And she laughed.
I laughed too.
But now I've come to believe that the intersection of “completely unique” and “exactly the same” IS the key to writing an effective memoir.
Agents, editors, and publishers like to put books in categories, in boxes. That’s how they know whether they can sell them or not, whether there are readers for those books.
Here are some common categories for memoir:
Cancer journeys. Addiction. Abuse. Trauma. Grief (I read a lot of these). Travel memoirs. Food memoirs. Coming of age. Spiritual journeys. Coming out memoirs.
When there isn’t a clear category, it makes your book more difficult to sell.
Your memoir can’t just be...
Insert sad face.
If you’ve read my latest newsletters or you follow me on social media, you know that I had an essay go viral on today.com.
Haven’t read it yet? Here it is!
What a high that was to have that piece published and to hear that it was one of the site's most viewed posts that week.
And then the comments by members of the general public rolled in…
Some were lovely:
“This is a beautiful story. I applaud her!”
“Love the Slinky story!”
Some were in the vein of: “I’m not a lesbian and I drive a Subaru.”
Are there really that many people incapable of understanding irony or taking a joke?
Or as one commenter wrote: “The number of y’all declaring your heterosexuality because of an inside joke in the LGBTQ community is both...
Choosing a working title is a clarifying exercise that helps you define your book idea before you’ve even written a single word of your manuscript.
Some quick dos and don’ts:
An astonishing number of Americans say they want to write a book someday. The most often quoted statistic comes from writer Joseph Epstein who said that “81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them — and should write it.”
How he got that number, I have no idea. I’ve even seen 90% thrown around as a statistic. Regardless of the precision, it’s fair to say that a lot of people say they’d like to write a book someday.
Maybe you are one of them.
Let’s consider why this number is so high. There’s something romantic about saying you are an author. Exotic. Prestigious. People look at you differently. All of a sudden, you have risen in the ranks. You have authority. You may desire to raise your profile in the world—perhaps your goal is to be viewed as a thought leader, which will help you grow your business and make more money. Did your ears perk up at the mention of money? I'll be...
I'm working on two books with two book coaches and have two deadlines to meet in the next four weeks.
Part of me wants to scream "I CAN'T DO IT!" and plead for an extension. Part of me wants to retreat to the couch and binge-watch Queer Eye. And there's that part of me that knows this is the only way I will ever get the work done.
Speaking of work, I have a lot ahead of me. For Book #1, a memoir about self-trust, my coach is asking for a draft of an "inside outline," a tool developed by book coach Jennie Nash that helps writers marry their plot story arc with the protagonist's internal journey. For Book #2, a self-help book about grief, my coach is asking for me to revise my "Blueprint for a Book," another Jennie Nash tool that helps writers build a firm foundation for their books before they begin writing.
Why I have two books going on at the same time with two different book coaches is a story for another day, but suffice...
Last week I shared "The 4-Step Solution to Getting Your Non-Fiction Book Out of Your Head and Onto the Page." Over the next four weeks, we're going to dig into each of these steps in detail.
Last week, I had a working session with my book coach and mentor Jennie Nash, which turned out to be a humbling, albeit clarifying experience. The reason I had scheduled the time with Jennie was to get clarity on which book I should pitch first: my memoir, which I thought was ready to go, or a self-help book, which was still in the early stages of conception. Another writer colleague had suggested I try to pitch the self-help book first since memoir can be hard to sell if you don't have a track record or aren't a celebrity.
Jennie had asked for my query letter, a synopsis, and the first 25 pages of my memoir. I sent them off to her, proud of my work. Those pages had passed through the hands of several beta readers as well as a...
How many times have you heard someone say they have a book inside them? Somewhere between 80-90 percent of Americans have said they want to write a book “someday.” I’m guessing that number is closer to 90 percent for women between forty and sixty. Women in midlife have wisdom to share with the world. Maybe they’re solopreneurs seeking to become thought leaders in their field. Or business strategists aspiring to amplify their brand. Or therapists who want to impact more lives.
But the truth is most people will never even start writing their book … and for those who do start, very few will finish.
In this post, we’ll discuss the most common reasons people don’t follow through writing their books despite their best intentions, and then we’ll provide a 4-step solution to help you get your non-fiction book out of your head and onto the page.
At mid-life, you’ve lived and learned. You’ve...
Even when you least expect it.
I pulled the red shiny package out of my mailbox late last December and spied the return label. That was sweet of Nicole.
Nicole, as in Nicole Lewis-Keeber, a business therapist and mindset coach, who was leading a coaching program called “Love Your Business School.” The theory of Love Your Business School is that we are in a relationship with our business whether we like it or not, and we get to choose what that relationship looks like.
I opened the shiny red package on Christmas morning. It was a book titled E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality by Pam Grout, an author I had never heard of. That was sweet of Nicole, I thought again, but that kind of book is not for me.
I’ll admit it. I’m a book snob. They say you can’t tell a book by its cover, but I could tell by this cover. It...
Writers go on a hero’s journey when they make the decision to get their story out of their heads and onto the page.
Queer writers go on a Queero’s Journey!
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