Some Tips on Memoir, Part 1: Don't Combine It With Self-Help

I spent a lot of time this past weekend at a writers’ conference talking to people who were writing memoir, and I want to share some conversations we had.

First of all, it seems that a lot of people feel the need to combine their memoir with self-help information.  In other words, a person will write a book that 1) tells their experiences of taking care of a child with down syndrome, but also 2) has chapters on what down syndrome is, how medicine for it is changing, etc.

Combining these two categories – memoir and self help – is not recommended because publishers aren’t looking for these types of books.  There is a market for both, but not when combined.  If you really want to focus on your personal story, it’s a memoir, and people can easily take something away from it.  Or – you have a more business-like self help book that is instructional.

Choose one; not both.

Early Bird is the memoir I’m
reading right now.

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5 thoughts on “Some Tips on Memoir, Part 1: Don't Combine It With Self-Help

  1. Lee Ravine

    HEY CHUCK or anybody out there who may be interested. I am a minor celebrity. See bottom of page 194-195 in Rodney Rothman’s memoir "Early Bird." If that doesn’t impress you then help me locate a literary agent for my memoir "Riding Solo:My Journey Through Love and Madness and I’ll show you "IMPRESSED!"

  2. Teresa R

    So good to know I don’t need to be helpful at all. Huge relief, since I don’t think I have that in me! Helpful as always Chuck.
    Teresa (of Words & Wine)

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