Commercial or therapeutic?
Sherrey Meyer gets extra credit for calling it what it is: “Healing life’s hurts through writing.” Her genre is memoir, and her website is a wonderful resource for writers who are working on their life stories.
Celebrity memoirs will find publishers. And a truly talented writer can entertain readers by recounting even an ordinary existence. But to be perfectly honest, when memoir writers contact me about representation because they believe publishers might be interested in their manuscripts, usually they haven’t dealt with three major areas of concern:
- Their author platforms
- Commercial appeal—that is, having written something of significant interest to a large number of readers
- Legal liabilities, including libel, copyright infringement, privacy rights violations, and breach of another’s right of publicity
Sometimes writers can be too emotionally invested in the creative process to recognize that the value of putting their thoughts on paper has been mostly therapeutic. Sherrey Meyer is showing them that memoir writing is worthwhile when shared with just a handful of readers. Turning the finished work into a commercial product is by no means necessary.
Others with generous advice for memoirists
- Paulette Bates Alden: Writing A Book-Length Memoir
Lauren Roberts: Memories, Lighting the Corners of Minds
- Marion Roach Smith: Don’t Write a Memoir to Get Revenge
- Jane Friedman: Writing Advice Archive (scroll down to Memoir)
- Janet Reid: Querying Memoir in a Post-Frey Landscape
- National Association of Memoir Writers