Thursday, January 19, 2017

We don’t know what we don’t know about publishing memoirs


If you plan to self-publish your memoir (rather than publish in the traditional way), do your best to make it professional. (Too many self-publishers fail to do so nowadays.) Promise yourself you’ll publish a memoir that’s of professional quality!

Writing coach, publisher, and author Brooke Warner says, “There are so many things authors omit…because they don’t know what they don’t know.”

To remedy that, Brooke says those who wish to self-publish “must be a student of publishing.”

It takes a long time to become a pro, but we all can be students of publishing. The more we study and apply what we learn, the more proficient we become. With the help of others, we can publish a book of professional quality.

And Brooke Warner helps writers do just that in her blog and her book, Green-Light Your Book: How Writers Can Succeed in the New Era of Publishing.

If you’re serious about being a student of publishing, you’ll appreciate tips Brooke shared in a recent blog post, The Top 10 Mistakes Authors Make and How It Costs Them. She writes about the following:

  1. Bad book cover and interior book design
  2. Foregoing editorial work
  3. Pricing books too high
  4. Not purchasing ISBNs
  5. Making books non-returnable
  6. Setting the wrong discount
  7. Omitting metadata that matters
  8. Using fake blurbs or endorsements
  9. Not embedding the price in the barcode
  10. Omitting things that matter to book industry people

To study Brooke’s post, click on The Top 10 Mistakes Authors Make and How It Costs Them.

In Joel Friedlander’s recent post, 7 Signs Your Book is “Professionally Published,” he writes, “As the movement to self-publishing has grown…publishing industry insiders urge authors to take the time and trouble to make sure their books are ‘professionally published.’”

He points out that if we fail to do so, others will surely notice that “it’s an amateur production, and that won’t speak well about the care you’ve taken with your book.”

To avoid publishing an amateur product, Friedlander offers the following seven tips, along with helpful links to additional important tips. (Don’t miss them!)

  1. Proper editing
  2. A cover that works
  3. Text that’s readable
  4. Market positioning
  5. Distribution that’s appropriate
  6. A marketing plan
  7. Metadata

You can study Friedlander’s post by clicking on 7 Signs Your Book is “Professionally Published.

Publishing your memoir might seem like a lot of work but be encouraged: Stories are important. That’s why we work so hard to publish a book that’s professional in quality.

Think back: Whose stories, written or spoken:
  • brought you to a major turning point? 
  • Gave you courage to do the right thing?
  • Revolutionized your life?
  • Shaped your values and goals?
  • Kept you from doing something stupid?
  • Kept you from ruining your life, and maybe other people’s lives?
  • Brought you healing and hope?
  • Led you to new opportunities?

You know from personal experience how powerful other people’s stories can be.

Believe this: Your story can impact your readers in the same way.  

Someone, or probably several people, need to know your stories. Make them as professional as they can be. You can do that by networking with pros and being a student of writing and publishing.





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit—A learning opportunity: Read like a writer


Over at Writing Through Life, Amber Lea Starfire has introduced her new Reading for Writers series focused on memoir, beginning with Beryl Markham’s West with the Night.

Participants will analyze one book per quarter. Discussions will include impressions, tone, voice, pace, structure, the writer’s style, and word choices.

Amber’s goal is to help each of us read like a writer
in order to make us better writers,
and that’s what I want!

 I plan to participate.

How about you?


Click here to learn more about Amber’s Reading for Writers series.



Thursday, January 12, 2017

Does your memoir capture God in your everydayness?


Jesus said, “Go tell your family everything God has done for you” (Luke 8:39). That’s what writing a memoir is about!

That doesn’t mean you have to write about only God. That doesn’t mean you must write His name on every page, or even in every chapter.

But your job as a memoirist is, first, to recognize and know that God was involved in all you experienced and, second, to  explain that to your readers, especially in the end, in your grand finale.

But, you might be saying, I’ve lived such a mundane life—just a normal, commonplace life. Nothing noteworthy has happened to me or my family.

If that’s the way you see your life, wait! Ponder Heschel’s words in I Asked For Wonder:



And isn’t Heschel correct? The Bible is full of stories
about God’s involvement in everyday trivialities.

And God has been involved in your ordinary, unremarkable days
Don’t doubt it!

Think about young David,
year after year herding his sheep,
living a quiet, apparently insignificant life.

Yet God joined with him there
and taught him
and prepared him for his future
and inspired him to write those precious Psalms.

(How much poorer our lives would be
without those shepherd-boy’s writings!)

Your job is to peel back layers and dig for those gems—God-things that were happening, which perhaps you didn’t recognize at the time—and when you discover them, you will be full of wonder!

So, write your stories. They are importantif they weren’t, we wouldn’t find instructions in both Old and New Testaments to tell our children and grandchildren what we’ve seen God do for us. Writing your memoir is not a hobbyit’s a ministry!

Keep plugging away. Eventually you’ll finish your collection of vignettes and you can publish your memoir. When you do, you’ll have done what Jesus said—you’ll have told your family what God has done for you and for them.

When you do that, be sure to let us know here at SM 101. 

(On Tuesday, Linda Moore Kurth left a comment 
on her almost-complete memoir. 
Congratulations, Linda! 

How about the rest of you? 
How much of your memoir have you finished? 
We'd love to hear from you!)





Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: Start off 2017 with writing!


Have you started writing your memoir yet?
Or are you still procrastinating?

Or maybe you started writing your memoir
but got distracted. 

Perhaps, like me, you set aside your WIP
(work in progress)
over the holidays.

Whatever, it's time to write!




Check out Chloe Yelena Miller's 


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tuesday Tidbit: Your memoir’s stories about Christmas


If your memoir includes stories about Christmas or events that happened in the winter, during December and January pay close attention to sensory details and plan to use them in your stories.

What sounds are typical of this season?

What flavors do you associate with this time of year?

What sights? Smells? Textures or temperatures (sense of touch)?

Jot them down for use later. After this busy holiday season, get out your rough drafts and insert those details—they’ll make your stories more vivid for readers.

Your goal is to invite readers into your story with you. Sensory details help them experience what you experienced.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

The values of well-crafted dialogue in your memoir


Dialogue, written well, can accomplish your most important goals:

  • It can bring readers into your stories,
  • acquaint them with your memoir’s key characters,
  • ramp up readers’ emotions,
  • add pizzazz—or grief or terror,
  • keep up your story’s momentum,
  • share information readers need to know,
  • and entice them to keep reading.

Read more at SM 101’s blog post from 2014, Tips for using dialogue in your memoir. 

Dialogue can convey key characters’ emotions and distinct (perhaps conflicting) goals. It can reveal the dynamics between those in a discussion and convey what each values.

Add significant body language to dialogue and you will enhance your story’s message, bring main characters to life, and increase readers’ comprehension and enjoyment of your story.

Read more at SM 101’s post about dialogue from 2014don’t miss this good stuff!

Also review SM 101’s more recent posts on using dialogue because good dialogue is essential in your memoir:



After you've polished your dialogue, 
set it aside for a week or so. 
Then read it aloud
Does it sound natural? 
If not, continue polishing.



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tuesday Tidbit: Create dialogue that sounds natural



Create dialogue that sounds like the person speaking:
Each person has his own unique speaking style,
so make an effort to capture the distinct speaking style
of your memoir's key characters.
Make it sound natural.

Study these many examples at