Don’t let an interview host spring a question on you that you wish you didn’t have to answer!
Is this the future you want? You’ve done a whole lot of writing and now you have published your book. You are very proud of your effort—not the least of which has been the marketing that has gotten you on a TV talk show!
As the camera is focused on you, the hostess who had seemed so disarmingly charming just a few moments ago turns out to be a barracuda circling her prey! You squirm and fidget. You had had a gnawing feeling while you were writing that you were missing something in the story, but you had preferred not to pay attention to such an inconvenient realization that would have put off your publication date. Considering the question may have required some dreaded rewriting and—let’s face it, you were ready to put your toe in the water of fame. And now, the publicity campaign you had so well strategized for your unedited book has led you not only with a toe in the water but with your whole body submerged and a toothy barracuda circling ever closer. And—
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You are about to be eaten alive before an audience!
Not a happy scenario and one that ought to impel you to call a memoir content editor today. Besides checking for commas and periods (which is called copy editing and your friend who teaches English at the high school can fill that function for you if you insist), what can a memoir content editor do for you?
Let’s consider just a few services. After all, if your book were published by Random House, it would never see the light of day without a thorough critique by a professional editor. Just because you are publishing independently, why do you think should you omit this important function?
1. A memoir content editor reads your manuscript with a very critical eye.
A memoir content editor asks how might someone who is not necessarily on your side but out to serve her own needs—a TV hostess concerned with a good fight to get her ratings up, the local book reviewer who has an ax to grind because you have succeeded at writing a book and he hasn’t, the “friend” who is not such a good friend after all—might use your text in ways that might blindside you and, what is more, cause you pain.
Often, the writer is unaware of the implications or conclusions of what she has written—so close is she to the story that she does not realize the text either does not do justice to what she wishes to impart or even contradicts it.
2. Your memoir content editor will ask you to clarify specific questions.
“Why did you see this as altruistic of your mother when her actions could just as easily be interpreted as self-serving if you factor in___?” Sometimes the writer is flabbergasted. “What do you mean ‘not altruistic?’ “
The writer who does not have a content editor to perform this critical function leaves herself open to being asked very embarrassing questions by the media or by her family. It is not after you have published 200 or 2,000 copies of your book that you want to be blindsided by awkward questions.
3. Alternately, writers will sometimes draw unsubstantiated conclusions in a story.
Your memoir content editor will tell you that there is no basis for this conclusion in the text. There may be a basis in the life that was lived but that is not reflected in the story. Your editor will suggest ways you can change the narrative.
Even harder, I think for an editor is to tell the writer, “You seem to have played a role that wasn’t at all beneficial—as the story you have written portrays you. You don’t seem to be aware of this.”
How would your memoir content editor justify saying this? Well, the story demands a hard look, and the writer has asked the editor to help her to write the best story possible. Your memoir content editor is in service to the story. And—
It’s a lot easier on you for your editor to be doing the asking than for Oprah to do so in front of her audience!
Good luck with your writing—and find a good editor!