Make sure you keep to your genre – it is not an autobiography, it is about a theme. Mine was mental illness, so I concentrated on telling the story of why I had mental illness, showing I had mental illness, or showing my recovery, and I had to lose a lot of the stuff I wanted in there, such as fabulous holidays, events etc that did not move the story on or fit with the theme of the story. My editor (Debz Hobbs-Wyatt) taught me this and it took me a long time to be able to edit things out as easily as she could!
I guess if you keeping thinking that a memoir is about ‘memories’ of a certain type (your theme) then it will get you going!
When I was suffering mental illness and felt alone, I read other people’s memoirs and they helped me a lot. I knew I had a story to share that would show just how mental illness forms, what makes it worse, and all I had to do was get better to have the ending! It took many years, but I managed it and I knew that mental illness was my theme, so I took out any irrelevant events and descriptions from my life, diaries etc. My second memoir is about life after mental illness and nearly reaching the age of forty a childless woman – it focuses much more on the positives in life with a more ‘uplifting’ tone.
Although writing a memoir does need to have a story line, flow and peaks/troughs, it does not require the same story arc a novel does. Also the protagonist in a memoir just does what they do rather than a fictional character that needs to tick certain boxes. It is harder to write a memoir because it is so close to you, the author, but then it’s easier in many other ways, because the story is already there.
I had some interest from a couple of agents, who I sent my draft manuscript to, and it gave me the strength to go forth and self publish, so I published my memoir as an e-book through Amazon.
I self published both of my memoirs and am very proud of that fact, because I was able to write them exactly as I wanted them to be written, with the help from my fabulous editor, Debz Hobbs-Wyatt. Whilst a publisher and agent do offer a lot of help and contacts, they do narrow down what is published, so I took on the journey to publish and market both books myself.
Tips for self publishing
Never publish it until you are 100% sure you have done the best you can with it – editing, proof reading etc.
Take time to ensure that the file conversion for an e-book, of any kind, is perfect. You do not want sentences, words or even paragraphs misaligned with the rest of the content, or bullet points starting halfway across the page! If it is too daunting to do it yourself (as it was for me) then there are many pro’s out there, so seek their assistance and get it right first time.
I have not published to paperback, but if I do I shall update my tips!
For ten more of my writing tips CLICK HERE (Opens in a new window)