Top Menu

Note from the editor: This post is a memoir-writing course. I suggest that you glance through the whole of it, and pick those best memoir-writing tips that you most need to read at this time. Later, bit by bit, you will read the rest.

Click on the links that interest you and study the posts where you land. The links in even just a few of the tips below will uncover articles that pertain to the topic(s).

Following these best memoir-writing tips, your knowledge of memoir writing will grow more certain, and you will write with more confidence. One day, sooner than you think possible, your memoir will be published and in hand.

–––

It’s later than you think. Don’t put off writing your memoir any longer.

Our 21 in-depth, best memoir-writing tips below will help you to start memoir writing today. 

You’ll find these guides will see you through the process of how to write a memoir—an interesting and meaningful memoir—more easily and quickly than you may now think possible.

One day soon, you will have written your book.

The Memoir Network’s 21 Top Best Memoir-Writing Tips to get you to memoir success.

1. What is a memoir? Hint: it’s not an autobiography!

Is the difference important to the memoir writer? Somewhat! Knowing what you are writing will orient you from the start! It can be discouraging to realize that you have been headed in the wrong direction when you could have saved yourself time and energy by understanding the difference between memoir and autobiography as you launched yourself. While it’s not huge, but it can be significant.

An autobiography is about a whole life: from birth to the present. A memoir is a part of your life that is characterized by a theme. It might be about the first years of your marriage during which you realized what an immature and selfish person you were and earned to be a giving souse. This may interest many people as it is a struggle many are waging.

The fact is that, while it is totally possible to write a memoir that will interest the public and draw an audience to you, the same is not true of an autobiography. If you are famous: possibly. If you are not, it is not likely that people will be interested in what grade school you went to and how much your grandmother loved you.

(This statement about autobiography is not applicable if you are writing for a family audience. Your children and grandchildren will definitely be interested in an autobiography.)

(more…)

“How do I write the last chapter of a memoir?” coaching and editing clients will sometimes ask me.

It is a good question because the last chapter of a memoir is your final shot at affirming your theme and at creating a satisfying ending to the story the reader has been engaged in for perhaps 200 or 300 pages.

Revising the last chapter is also something I have been working with on my childhood memoir—which, alas, is still nameless.

As I write this

It’s early September and, here in Maine, already the nights are much cooler and the leaves are showing hints of changing color.

The cooler weather has also brought with it thoughts of spending more time indoors—what better time now that we are increasingly about to be indoors more than to write your memoir! That’s what I’ve turned to myself after a summer of—horrors!—some slacking.

For a while now, I have been contributing to the text of the second half of the book, and the text has become a bit rambling. Without much awareness that I was doing this, I filled it with vignettes—my “little darlings”—I had forgotten to include elsewhere. Some of them are going to have to submit the fate that writers refer to as “killing their little darlings.”

The result was, when I read the last chapter, it felt like I was not in the end of the story. The last chapter contained material that was new and needed expansion or was merely interesting but it distracted from the story which was supposed to be winding down at this point.

How to end a memoir

So… do I add another chapter or do I pare this unkempt garden of memories down? Since I was at 275 pages of text, paring down—weeding out and transplanting, to continue the metaphor—seemed the better choice.

It has begun to be time to release the insight a last chapter of a memoir that has been worked and honed to basics can give a book. This chapter is the focus of the theme which, at this point, ought to be proven or substantiated .

Something wraps up here that has been “in the making” since Chapter One. If you can get the last chapter fixed—that is, to tell how the story ends, you are in better shape to work on and revise previous chapters—especially those that make up the second part of your memoir.

When I watch a movie I am always reminded that many many directors and writers can pull off the beginning of a film but only the experienced and talented among them can pull off a satisfying ending.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this: lovely scenery, great costumes, an exposition of characters, an action that sets up a conflict. This is a great beginning, but let’s see if it all comes together at the end.

The movie goes on and on and, when it finally ends, you have no sense of why the characters did what they did and what the story might possibly add up to. It just stops.

Disappointing.

A Caveat before I start

I am not advocating starting to write a memoir from the last chapter. No, this is about what to do now that you have written your first draft and have done substantial polishing to the first half of your book.

I am not a great believer in outlining a memoir. Instead you do better to be writing story after story and linking them as you discover what your memoir is about. This is how you find your theme: by writing.

What to do about the last chapter of a memoir?

  1. Ask yourself what the memoir is about.

When you started to write your memoir, you had a vision. While there were people you wanted to commemorate and events that you wanted to celebrate, there was also something more intangible you wanted to express. The something can usually be expressed in a few words that the memoir expands to 200 and 300 pages or more.

Perhaps you wanted to support the idea that hard work will win the day or that hard work will not win the day. Perhaps you wanted to affirm that you had experienced “hard knocks,” but your attitude pulled you through. Whatever the encapsulated expression of your theme—sorry about this—it often sounds like a cliché. That’s why you are writing a book: to take the theme out of the realm of the cliché and into an experience the reader will enjoy.

The last chapter wraps up (or substantiates) the theme in a meaningful and convincing way. The reader must cease to read with a sense of having had a satisfying experience.

2. What did the character (you, me) do that brought the story to a climax? What was the character yearning for (pointing towards) throughout the memoir and does it materialize in the last chapter?

Wow! that really put a fine point on things for me. In the last chapter of my memoir, I am awarded a scholarship that I had set in motion in a previous chapter. I choose a school that I want to go to (this is high school) and I get accepted. Of course, there are things in between all of this—why do I want this outcome? what is conspiring for and against its realization?— but that is the gist.

Writing a Memoir's Last Chapter

Many earlier chapters tell why going away to a school was important to me and they outlined the paucity of opportunities I saw in my other choices. Winning a scholarship that will pay for a residential school and being accepted are a logical and satisfying conclusion to the action and the character angst that runs through the book.

Everything else belongs earlier in the book than the last chapter of a memoir—yes, even the vignette about our family working in the yard to clean it up after the long winter. That was a good story about pulling together, about our community, and it fits really well few chapter earlier where it suggests that in spite of my ambition to go away to school, I will miss my family. In the last chapter, however, the inclusion of this vignette was dissipatory.

3. Do the episodes of the memoir (often synonymous with the chapters) support the development of the theme as it wraps up in the final chapter?

A memoir is not fiction and must tell the literal truth. Because of that, some writers feel they have to include everything that happened to them in the period of time encompassed by the memoir.

No! You omit what does not support the theme. You might have learned figure skating during the time of the memoir which is, however, devoted to acquiring financial freedom. If figure skating did not contribute to your learning financial skills, you do not need to mention the skating lessons in your book—in fact, were I to edit our book, I might recommend either omitting it or tying it more closely to your theme (if possible).

4. Write and polish the last chapter of a memoir.

After you have written and polished the end, go back to the other chapters of the second half of the book to hone them down and make sure they contribute to the last chapter’s wrap up.

Now, my asking you to wrap up does not mean I am implying you need to make everything neat and orderly. No, a wrap up can be as simple as, “And now I awaited the next phase knowing that there would be challenges and I might not succeed but knowing also that I was ready.” Of course, it could take you the whole chapter to say that.

In conclusion

These are a few solid suggestions for writing a last chapter of a memoir. If you follow their guidance, you will likely avoid the fate of movies (and memoirs) that have great beginnings but don’t know how to end.

Of you, people will say, “This is a good writer who knows how to end a book.”

I’ve been reflecting on why I’m motivated to write my memoir and realize that I come back to my writing every day because I cannot stay away. It is how I process life. Writing helps me understand what has happened and how I feel about it. My dad’s Norwegian stoicism and our family’s isolation caused by his alcoholism prevented much communication with anybody, in or out of the family. I turned to writing to “talk” to someone. I wrote letters to any relatives and pen pals who would write back, and who I felt were my friends.

As I now write my memoirs, every memory I write about teaches me something new about myself and how I’ve become the person I am. When I started my memoir, I began to forgive myself for self-defeating behaviors I could not overcome. Re-living events buried for years has brought tears, but it has helped me let go and be a less fearful, ashamed, and workaholic person. Writing is the best thing I do for myself.

(more…)

When Nancy Pelosi sits down to write her memoirs what ought she to do to make the writing interesting? Hint: fame and power in themselves are not enough to intrigue a reader. Here are five memoir writing tips to know.

Writing her memories of her years in Washington will be challenging to Nancy Pelosi but not as hard as some people think. If she is willing to follow the five simple steps I will outline below, she can succeed at writing an interesting and meaningful autobiography. (More and more people—in fact, many who at first think they couldn’t—are succeeding at exploring and honoring their pasts in this way.)

These five memoir writing tips to know are among the most powerful—and easiest—to implement in personal and family history writing.

Good luck—to Nancy Pelosi and to you!

1) Make a Memory List.

(more…)

This is the third in a series of posts on the development of The Memoir Network. In the first and second of the previous posts, I wrote about the beginnings of the Turning Memories Into Memoirs workshops. In this post, I write about how and when The Memoir Network evolved

This post will interest memoir writers who wonder how The Memoir Network grew to its present status.

Its services—which are necessary both for the success of writers and for The Memoir Network—saw light incrementally over a decade.

Memoir Professionals will find the additional attraction of seeing modeled how they, too, might grow their memoir services.

If you have not read the first and the second posts, please do so as they set a context for understanding this post.

1. Editing finds me

In the very first series of workshops that I offered under auspices of the Maine Humanities Council grant, after the fifth or sixth session, a woman with accented English approached me after class.

“I have a confession to make,” she said. “I have already written my memoir and I joined this workshop only to assess you. While I can use all the information and help that you are providing to revise my book, what I really want is an editor for the book that I have already written.”

It had not occurred to me that this would happen, and I was pleased it had.

This woman and I entered into an editing relationship that was to last a year. Her story was about growing up in the Ukraine under Communist rule. After all the men in her family were murdered by the Communists, and she, her mother, and her grandmother, fearing their own proximate extermination, fled to Germany in 1943.

“We hated the Communists so much that we did not believe them when they told us about the atrocities the Germans were committing. Germany was, after all, the land of Goethe, Handel, and Beethoven. We found out how very wrong we were.”

The three women landed in a concentration camp for the next two years, working as slaves for the Nazis.

While working on the 3 Worlds of Larissa had its very depressing moments, this was clearly a story of courage and hope. For me, certainly, it held out the promise that editing could be part of my endeavors.

As a former English major, I had a hard time calling my effort a business although, every once in a while, as what was to become The Memoir Network evolved, I would say to people that I had “a memoir business.”

But, whatever I called it, it was just me—and occasionally my wife.

Editing grows

In my press releases announcing workshops — this is before the Internet — I began to mention that I was also offering editing. In the workshops themselves, I let it be known that I was available as an editor. I did some minimal advertising, and it was through this vehicle that I got my second editing client who turned out to be a good find as I went on to work on two more of his books.

At first, my clients were coming from the workshops and from the advertising that I purchased. Then I began sending out press releases nationally. Over time, with more clients, I was able to raise my fees which was important to sustain me in this work.

By 1996, The Memoir Network evolved to have a website. This website attracted editing clients from all around the United States and occasionally from Canada.

Since my first client, I have never been without a manuscript to edit. In 2000, I created the Editing Manual and the Editor’s Start Up Package using my experience over the previous nine years of editing all sorts of books – I write “all sorts” because in that time I edited a few paranormal novels.

2. Book production

It was a natural for the Ukrainian woman to ask me where she should turn to, to have her book readied for publication. Since we had already published a number of books under our imprint (Soleil Press), it was easy for me to suggest that she work with us.

This was the first book that we produced for our self-publishing clients. We now normally design covers, but in this instance, the author had a cover already sketched out and she wanted us to use it. While I have always found it unattractive — and, because of this, almost reluctant to claim the book as one of ours, I am ever so grateful for her confiding the book to us. She helped launched what is now possibly hundreds or more books that we have created. We work both with people who have been our editing clients and with people who approach us with a finished manuscript.

Book production is not likely to be a service that many people would expand into as it requires special technical skills, but who knows—it may be a great fit for someone reading this. It certainly was for us as The Memoir Network evolved.

3. Memoir Professional Package

By about 1994, I was receiving letters, telephone calls, and increasingly from that new technology: the email. People were saying they wanted to teach the Turning Memories workshop. How could I make that possible?

Well, because I didn’t have anything to give them, I would suggest they buy a copy of the book Turning Memories Into Memoirs, study it, and implement its ideas, use its exercises and draw from the real-life experiences.

Then, in 1995, my wife returned from a workshop wherein she had received a class manual.

Showing me the manual, she insisted, “You can do this. You could create a manual to answer the calls and letters you’ve been receiving about how to teach a memoir workshop. You’ve been teaching memoir writing now for years. You need to put down everything you know into book form and include all the materials people could use to present workshops in their own communities.”

The Memoir Network evolved again!

In the winter and spring of 1996, I spent four months compiling the gist of the Memoir Professional Package and offered it for sale that summer. I don’t have an exact number of how many I have sold, but I believe the number to be just shy of 600 packages. This has been very encouraging to me as it is easy to suppose that some 60,000 to 200,000 people have been exposed to the Turning Memories Into Memoirs workshops as a result.

4. Coaching

Here’s another way The Memoir Network evolved. In 2000, one woman who came to one of my national workshops was a life coach. Several days into the program, she said to me, “Why aren’t you a writing coach?”

Over the next several days, she persisted in pushing me to start coaching.

“What you do here in this workshop, you can also do in a coaching session. A coach is a teacher, and you already know everything you need to know.”

I did have an MA Ed. and years of teaching at many levels.

It became obvious to me that I had already been doing what amounted to coaching with some of my previous clients and that, by framing some of my interactions as coaching, I could be giving people security. I was helping provide the supports that lead to writing: motivation, accountability, clarity about the writing life.

As I had done with editing, I began announcing that I was a writing coach.

Most people still approached me as an editor, but I saw it would be beneficial to conduct more and more coaching with them. Their manuscripts were the better for it.

It might have been possible to launch myself both as a coach and as an editor without going the workshop route, but the workshops provide me a platform for both understanding the experience of the novice writer and accessing a group of people who are likely to need more than a workshop can provide. The workshops were important in how The Memoir Network evolved.

5. Ghostwriting

In 2003, a woman who had signed up for several of my workshops but had never shown up and had consistently asked me to roll her tuition over to the next session called me.

“Frankly, between you and me, I’ll never show up for your workshop. I would like to ask you if you would write my uncle’s story which is really what I have wanted to write in your workshop. He was an aviator.”

She was my first ghostwriting client. Her book, Down Over Normandy, was destined only for family and friends. In the intervening years, I have ghostwritten many books, and I have enjoyed the process. Often, when a client has come to me with a manuscript with substantial revisions, the client is exhausted from the writing or feels unable to continue. In this case, I have suggested developmental editing.

As I undertake developmental editing, what I am often doing is ghostwriting. I have found that many of my clients have been quite relieved that I have taken on a task that has stymied them.

I have not outreached much for ghostwriting work—I do have a section on my website devoted to ghostwriting information, but I have found ghostwriting work coming to me.

So there you have it…

This is how The Memoir Network evolved. This has been a wonderful experience for me.

Editor’s note: In the previous post, I wrote about the birth of the workshop idea. In this post, I write about giving the developing memoir workshop structure.

If you missed the first post, go here to read it before going on. (The sequence will enhance your experience.)

After my third presentation to her Foster Grandparents, Mary and I wrote a grant to submit to the Maine Humanities Council. It was for three 30-hour workshops at each of the three facilities where I had done my presentation on What Became Of Them, my collection of autobiographical short fiction. The workshops were to be free to the participants.

To our great delight, the grant was funded, and Mary and I set a schedule of memoir workshops. We each did our part in promoting the workshops which were to be open to members of the public. The workshops filled up nicely even a bit on the large side for a memoir class—15-20 members or more in each group.

Creating the memoir workshop structure

Having been a trained teacher with an MA in Education, I began with that experience as a background. As I conducted the workshops, I kept notes of what had worked and what had not. The first group was something of an experiment as I implemented the best curriculum I could come up with, but since I did not have actual students when I did so, there was a bit of guesswork. When I was actually teaching a workshop, I sometimes concluded that I needed to change or eliminate things the next time around. This is not different from how these things are usually done.

By the time the third group started to meet, I had already refined much in the curriculum. I was clearly working at giving the memoir workshop structure. By the time I was nearing the end of the time frame of the grant, apparently, I was doing well enough because the auditor whom the Maine Humanities Council sent to evaluate whether their money was being well spent—or not!—wrote a very favorable report.

Subsequently, the Council invited us to submit a second grant for more funding over more venues. A great vote of confidence!

Again we were successful with our application and received funding for a second series. What ensued were eight 30-hour workshops. We returned to the first three venues and added five new sites. I asked venue directors to limit enrollments to 20 writers. At one site, the director was so enthusiastic in her promotion of the program that 28 people signed up!

As I continued working with these older people who were the age I am now, I felt I was coming home. These were my people even though I was then the age of their children. Intellectually and emotionally we were peers.

I loved working with them. What’s more, for the time I was with them, I loved them. I have always felt that a necessary ingredient of teaching is falling in love with your students for the duration of your association. At no time teaching adolescents, had I felt so comfortable with and so attached to my students.

To be successful at memoir teaching, you must understand your material (writing), be able to manipulate your format (the curriculum), and have an appreciation and respect of the potential of your students to go from where they currently are in their skills to another level of mastery.

Goodwill and good intentions are not enough.

During this second round of workshops, I continued to hone my curriculum. I became aware that when I did this rather than that first, the students caught on faster but, if I reversed or mixed the order, there was a higher level of lack of understanding.

When I saw “Hunh?” on too many faces, I knew I had to tweak something.

When the student does not grasp what has been taught, the teaching has not been a success!

Thankfully, the grant-funded workshops provided me with 330 hours of contact time with new writers. In that time, I had 175 to 200 writing students. In addition, knowing (in the second round if not the first) that I would be audited at some time helped focus me on creating the most effective curriculum I could.

What a great opportunity I had to develop a memoir workshop structure without worry about finances as the grant took care of my income! I was very fortunate.

As you can imagine, the writers came from all sorts of educational preparation—hence the necessity to create a curriculum that was challenging to the best prepared and still doable for the least. I evolved a group process based on my experience with high school students to respond to this challenge. It worked!

By the time, I had finished the eleventh workshop in the series I was perhaps 8o% done with the curriculum that eventually became the core of Turning Memories into Memoirs workshop. In the next years, I would fine-tune it until in 1996, I wrote it up as the Curriculum Manual which focuses on the memoir workshop structure.

Continuing on my own

From 1990 on, I was not supported by grant money and I so started to charge tuition. In doing so, I became a memoir business. I went on to deliver the tuition-based workshops in 8 of the 11 previous venues. Then I branched out all over—even attracting writers both nationwide and internationally (Canada, Israel, Japan, Jamaica, etc.)

The memoir workshop structure is sound.

One day in the early 2000s, I walked away from a first session of a workshop sensing that I had not delivered what the students needed. By that time, delivery was almost automatic. I had done it so many times, but even so, I found that I could mix things up. Afterwards, I opened my Curriculum Manual and read through what I had outlined as a best technique for a first-session curriculum. Sure enough, I had mixed the process and omitted part of the step.

This was humbling, but deservedly so as I had not done the practice I usually engage in: to review the appropriate section of the Curriculum Manual to be sure that I was following the process.

In my next post, I will write about how I began to take on editing, coaching, and ghostwriting as well as doing book production in order to assure both that I was providing services people needed and wanted and to shore up the income-potential of my memoir business. The services I developed need to be part of a memoir business for the business to thrive.

In October of 1988, following upon the publication of my book of short stories, What Became of Them and Other Stories from Franco America, I was asked to read from this collection of autobiographical fiction to a group of foster grandparents. It was to prove how I started to teach memoir workshops.

It seemed good marketing to present to another group of people—potential book buyers. The reading would also give me an opportunity to send in a release to the local newspaper.

I accepted the invitation, but not without some hesitation. Might this group be too small?

Mary, the woman who coordinated the meeting, had told me however that, after my book program, she was confident many people in the room—Franco-Americans themselves— would want to hear the stories and share theirs. At that time, I had no mind to teach a memoir workshop.

(more…)

D: What motivates you to write a memoir? I asked Joe Skinkis. Here he shares how his many life experiences have impelled him to write his life stories.

I am a 75-year-old man who lives in Thailand with my 30-year-old wife. One day, we may have a child. I would like to have my child learn from my mistakes and to glean the positive aspects of my experience.

This is how I answer “What motivates you to write.”

(more…)

Book marketing during a pandemic can be challenging for memoirists. Guest poster Kathleen Pooler shares tips on connecting with your audience during these uncertain times we are going through.

When Chris Baty at the Writer’s Digest conference in 2012, said, “Have faith. There’s someone out there who has waited her entire life for your story,” I felt as if he was speaking straight to my heart. After many hard-earned years of discovering my voice and story, I was unsettled with my marketing. This is similar to how many authors are feeling about marketing today. 

Book signings are rare now in 2020. These days, people risk health and safety going out in public so they are opting in for Facebook live and Zoom events. And while we all wish for the way things were, as content marketers we need to face the fact that we’ve been enduring a paradigm shift. Most likely, authors can’t market the traditional way by appearing in bookstores and so authors are attempting to continue writing and making sales in an entirely new environment. These six tried and true marketing tips will help you get clarity about your target audience so you can connect with them better—especially now. Here are six tips for book marketing during a pandemic:

1. Visualize your book buyers

Any kind of writing is an opportunity to visualize your specific audience.  Who are you writing for and why? Writing two memoirs was an opportunity to market to two targeted groups:

Book/memoir audience

I visualized my target audience as someone who had regretted choices and wanted to understand the role of self-sabotage. This person was overwhelmed with life’s challenges and needed hope to deal with an abusive relationship or struggles parenting an addicted child.

Memoir support audience 

This group specifically needed the emotional support writing their memoirs. I started a memoir writing blog over at a Memoir Writer’s Journey to connect with those targeted people online, who would also be my potential buyers of my memoirs. 

The audience I was writing for required clarity so I could hone in on the writing. Visualize as much as you can — from the demographics to the emotional state of mind. Write these characteristics on a post-it note and refer to them often so you can remember who you are writing for. Having this information at hand, jumpstarted my marketing strategy and the way I’d showed up to connect with my potential buyers online.

2. Use your content personality to your advantage

Getting your “book baby” into the hands of your buyers requires a well-thought out marketing plan—a roadmap to ensure success. 

Not everyone for example, is suited to post on Instagram multiple times a day. Some writers have a “shy” outer voice while others prefer to express their creativity by blogging. I aimed for building community building. 

Another strategy was to reach out to outlets including memoir writing sites. For example, I conducted a virtual blog tour which helped build a safe and supportive group of writers who still connect with me to this day, through my blog. 

3. Be fueled by your WHY

Marketing is tedious and time-consuming. When you’re clear on your reason for writing, you’ll be in a better position to connect with your targeted audience. Our best marketing tool is our product – our books.

Questions memoirists can ask to get clear on their why 

  • Am I writing to leave a legacy for my family? 
  • Am I writing for mainstream publication? 
  • Am I just journaling for the pleasure of getting my emotions down on paper for myself?

An example of a WHY for my second memoir, Just The Way He Walked: A Mother’s Story Of Healing and Hope

  • To share the hope that recovery is possible when you have an addicted child
  • To share lessons learned about my own enabling behaviors

4. Listen to your target readers’ pain points

After blogging about the themes in my books and receiving emails from my readers about their personal struggles, I knew I was on to something. I wanted to connect with my target audience intentionally. Listening to my target readers’ pain points was a way in the door. 

First I had to discover where they hung out – on social media and LinkedIn discussion groups, and various memoir writing communities like the National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW) or The Memoir Network. Then I wrote blog content topics they needed help with such as how to muster the courage to leave an abusive relationship and how to not enable an addicted child. 

5. Make your marketing magical

Magical marketing is copy that resonates with your target audience. For example, when I promoted my first memoir on emotional abuse, I often wrote about my flaws and vulnerabilities. Ultimately, this helped them not feel alone which also gave them the opportunity to see themselves in my story. What a powerful experience! 

They resonated deeply to the idea of holding onto hope to save themselves from an abusive relationship. Articulating your target audience’s pain points, creates a deeper connection. One way to get clarity is by answering these pre-marketing questions:

1) What is your target audience’s name?

2) What motivates him/her?

3) What is stopping him/her from accomplishing his/her goals, attitudes and behaviors in relation to what s/he wants? 

4) What keeps him/her up at night? 

Here’s an example of a persona I was trying to capture online through my blog, A Memoir Writer’s Journey

Molly Memoirist is a middle-aged woman who has always had a dream to write.  She is full of stories but doesn’t know where to begin. She has a loud inner critic that she doesn’t know how to silence. She just needs a friend to show her the ropes. She’s had a painful past that she doesn’t talk about. She’s plowing through the pain of dealing with an addicted child.

Once I was able to visualize Molly, I shared steps on my blog and social media about how to get started and tips on dealing with the inner critic. I shared my own story to give her permission to feel hope.

If you can specifically articulate the needs of your target audience, you’ll be ahead of the game.  I have learned that it doesn’t work to say that your blog or your book will appeal to everyone. In the case of my memoir, I needed to find specific groups of people struggling with parenting an addicted child.

6. Saturate your local market: your community

Instead of running down strangers, get known as a local author in your community which carries different definitions. For a new author, local could mean your hometown. For a mid-range author, that could mean a specific region. Whatever kind of local author you are, saturate your community and there are many ways to do this online. 

Here are a few ways I saturated my local community as part of the marketing.  

Coworkers – For example, a coworker had read my first memoir and recommended it to her mother. After finishing the book, she wanted to tell her supervisor at the counseling center where she worked and invited me to a staff meeting to discuss domestic violence.

Local press releases/local outlets  – This staff meeting on domestic violence got broadcasted to several different counseling sites, which led to a press release that got coverage in a local paper. A reporter then called to interview me about my book which resulted in a full-page spread in the Sunday edition. Finally, a nursing colleague caught sight of the article and invited me to speak at an annual nursing meeting. Talk about multiple marketing outcomes from just one staff meeting! 

The old world of marketing will not be coming back. Authors like myself will be in this online mode indefinitely. Connecting with your potential buyers will always be an inside job, but how you present yourself as an author in these uncertain times requires out of the box thinking. 

Who are you writing for and where are you finding your target audience? What are you learning about their needs and pain points? 

Book marketing during a pandemic can be less challenging following these tips. Share your tips in the comments below.

Here is a gift glimpse into Kathy’s memoir:

In order to move forwardI had to own my story which included my part in his addiction. I had to be willing to face the ugly parts of my truth and keep digging deeper by taking the reader along with me as I processed–and tried to make sense of– the challenges.

Those cringeable moments when I stood by wringing my hands rather than taking action:

Why didn’t I act sooner? Why couldn’t I control my son? Why did I keep hoping it would get better when all evidence pointed to it not?

Like this scene from Just the Way He Walked:

One day, I met Brian in front of the Amana stove as he staggered into the kitchen. I looked into his eyes and knew he was far away where I couldn’t reach him. He was slipping away right in front of me. I grieved the loss of that sensitive, caring little guy who stood up for his friends who were bullied; the one who held so much promise for making a positive difference in the world.

“Where are you Brian and how can I get you back?” I cried, terrified and helpless as I grabbed his slumped shoulders and shook him. He looked beyond me, hollowed-eyed, and didn’t answer, then turned away and went to his bedroom. 

I leaned on the stove and sobbed as he lumbered up the stairs.

DL: The following is a guest post by a write who co-incidently bears the family name of Guest—Colin  Guest. It presents his first days working in Saudi Arabia. The excerpt is form Follow in the Tigerman’s Footsteps / The Memoirs of a Serial Expat. Click here to learn how you, too, can send a guest post in to us.

On my arrival at Jeddah Airport, now called the King Abdulaziz International Airport, Harold was there to meet me. As it was lunchtime by the time we arrived on site, Harold took me straight to the canteen. As we walked in, I noticed two seated English guys having lunch. On seeing me walk in, one looked up.

“Do you have my passport?” he asked. (more…)

I’ve noticed that many people who come to The Memoir Network have already been writing a while. They are not people who are  just starting out on the memoir journey. Many have already written 5, 10, 15 or more stories or vignettes. They have been writing for a number of months—sometimes even years—and are concluding that they are spinning their wheels, that they are not producing a book as they so want to do. They realize they are not on the path to bringing their memoirs to a finish. What they are doing is writing stand-along piece after stand-alone piece. Well, a stand-alone piece is not a bad goal really—wouldn’t you love to have stand-alone stories from your grandparents? It’s just that stand-alones are really just not what they want to leave as a legacy. So, how do you finish writing your memoir?

(more…)

best memoir-writing tips

How to write a memoir: our 21 Best Memoir-Writing Tips to get you writing your memoir—quickly and well—and getting it into the hands of your public.

Note from the editor: This post is a memoir-writing course. I suggest that you glance through the whole of it, and pick those best memoir-writing tips that you most need to read at this time. Later, bit by bit, you will read the rest.

Click on the links that interest you and study the posts where you land. The links in even just a few of the tips below will uncover articles that pertain to the topic(s).

Following these best memoir-writing tips, your knowledge of memoir writing will grow more certain, and you will write with more confidence. One day, sooner than you think possible, your memoir will be published and in hand.

–––

It’s later than you think. Don’t put off writing your memoir any longer.

Our 21 in-depth, best memoir-writing tips below will help you to start memoir writing today. 

You’ll find these guides will see you through the process of how to write a memoir—an interesting and meaningful memoir—more easily and quickly than you may now think possible.

One day soon, you will have written your book.

The Memoir Network’s 21 Top Best Memoir-Writing Tips to get you to memoir success.

1. What is a memoir? Hint: it’s not an autobiography!

Is the difference important to the memoir writer? Somewhat! Knowing what you are writing will orient you from the start! It can be discouraging to realize that you have been headed in the wrong direction when you could have saved yourself time and energy by understanding the difference between memoir and autobiography as you launched yourself. While it’s not huge, but it can be significant.

An autobiography is about a whole life: from birth to the present. A memoir is a part of your life that is characterized by a theme. It might be about the first years of your marriage during which you realized what an immature and selfish person you were and earned to be a giving souse. This may interest many people as it is a struggle many are waging.

The fact is that, while it is totally possible to write a memoir that will interest the public and draw an audience to you, the same is not true of an autobiography. If you are famous: possibly. If you are not, it is not likely that people will be interested in what grade school you went to and how much your grandmother loved you.

(This statement about autobiography is not applicable if you are writing for a family audience. Your children and grandchildren will definitely be interested in an autobiography.)

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

last chapter of a memoir

How to write a last chapter of a memoir

“How do I write the last chapter of a memoir?” coaching and editing clients will sometimes ask me. It is a good question because the last chapter of a memoir is your final shot at affirming your theme and at creating a satisfying ending to the story the reader has been engaged in for perhaps […]

why I'm motivated to write

Why I’m Motivated to Write My Memoir? This is how I process life.

I’ve been reflecting on why I’m motivated to write my memoir and realize that I come back to my writing every day because I cannot stay away. It is how I process life. Writing helps me understand what has happened and how I feel about it. My dad’s Norwegian stoicism and our family’s isolation caused by his alcoholism prevented much communication with anybody, in or out of the family. I turned to writing to “talk” to someone. I wrote letters to any relatives and pen pals who would write back, and who I felt were my friends.

As I now write my memoirs, every memory I write about teaches me something new about myself and how I’ve become the person I am. When I started my memoir, I began to forgive myself for self-defeating behaviors I could not overcome. Re-living events buried for years has brought tears, but it has helped me let go and be a less fearful, ashamed, and workaholic person. Writing is the best thing I do for myself.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

memoir writing tips

Five Memoir Writing Tips Nancy Pelosi Ought to Know Before She Pens A Memoir

When Nancy Pelosi sits down to write her memoirs what ought she to do to make the writing interesting? Hint: fame and power in themselves are not enough to intrigue a reader. Here are five memoir writing tips to know.

Writing her memories of her years in Washington will be challenging to Nancy Pelosi but not as hard as some people think. If she is willing to follow the five simple steps I will outline below, she can succeed at writing an interesting and meaningful autobiography. (More and more people—in fact, many who at first think they couldn’t—are succeeding at exploring and honoring their pasts in this way.)

These five memoir writing tips to know are among the most powerful—and easiest—to implement in personal and family history writing.

Good luck—to Nancy Pelosi and to you!

1) Make a Memory List.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

The Memoir Network Evolved

How The Memoir Network Evolved

The Memoir Network evolved with thought. Its services—which are necessary for the success of writers and of the Memoir Network—grew regularly over a decade.

teach memoir workshops

My Love Story with Memoir Writing: How I Started to Teach Memoir Workshops

In October of 1988, following upon the publication of my book of short stories, What Became of Them and Other Stories from Franco America, I was asked to read from this collection of autobiographical fiction to a group of foster grandparents. It was to prove how I started to teach memoir workshops.

It seemed good marketing to present to another group of people—potential book buyers. The reading would also give me an opportunity to send in a release to the local newspaper.

I accepted the invitation, but not without some hesitation. Might this group be too small?

Mary, the woman who coordinated the meeting, had told me however that, after my book program, she was confident many people in the room—Franco-Americans themselves— would want to hear the stories and share theirs. At that time, I had no mind to teach a memoir workshop.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

what motivates you to write

What Motivates You to Write a Memoir? Joe Skinkis shares his reason

D: What motivates you to write a memoir? I asked Joe Skinkis. Here he shares how his many life experiences have impelled him to write his life stories.

I am a 75-year-old man who lives in Thailand with my 30-year-old wife. One day, we may have a child. I would like to have my child learn from my mistakes and to glean the positive aspects of my experience.

This is how I answer “What motivates you to write.”

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

The Memoir Network

Working in Saudi Arabia

DL: The following is a guest post by a write who co-incidently bears the family name of Guest—Colin  Guest. It presents his first days working in Saudi Arabia. The excerpt is form Follow in the Tigerman’s Footsteps / The Memoirs of a Serial Expat. Click here to learn how you, too, can send a guest post in to us.

On my arrival at Jeddah Airport, now called the King Abdulaziz International Airport, Harold was there to meet me. As it was lunchtime by the time we arrived on site, Harold took me straight to the canteen. As we walked in, I noticed two seated English guys having lunch. On seeing me walk in, one looked up.

“Do you have my passport?” he asked. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

finish writing your memoir

How to Finish Writing Your Memoir

I’ve noticed that many people who come to The Memoir Network have already been writing a while. They are not people who are  just starting out on the memoir journey. Many have already written 5, 10, 15 or more stories or vignettes. They have been writing for a number of months—sometimes even years—and are concluding that they are spinning their wheels, that they are not producing a book as they so want to do. They realize they are not on the path to bringing their memoirs to a finish. What they are doing is writing stand-along piece after stand-alone piece. Well, a stand-alone piece is not a bad goal really—wouldn’t you love to have stand-alone stories from your grandparents? It’s just that stand-alones are really just not what they want to leave as a legacy. So, how do you finish writing your memoir?

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?