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22 April 2006 @ 03:24 pm
"You should write a book."  
REQUEST FOR FEEDBACK

Every once in awhile someone tells me, "you should write a book," after hearing some snippet of my life. Yes it's been a weird one, for sure.

But I'm never sure if I want to dive back into it in order to write about it, how it would really sell, and whether I am really that motivated to. I wonder if it would really serve a useful purpose other than trying to make some money. (No guarantee of THAT in the writing business.) I also recoil from the self absorption aspect: Me Me Me!

Most memoirs are marketed by type. My life crosses so many memoir categories that I fear it would be unmarketable. I mean, is it a story of recovering from MBP and abuse in childhood? Or escape from domestic violence? Escape from poverty? A story about how traumatic head injury tears families apart? Dealing with my child's sexual abuse? The cult experience? Coping with heart disease? Learning from tragedy? Dealing with paternal abandonment? Suicide (both myself and family member's attempts). Spirituality? Chronic illness journal? Fat acceptance journey? Ack!

In much the same way, I am not one of those people who can blog about just one issue or subject. I admire the political bloggers and the religious bloggers and the illness bloggers, food bloggers and crime bloggers. How do they stay on one topic day after day? Some have more than one blog, but that's pretty cumbersome. Not to mention time consuming.

In addition to my apparent attention deficit, I hate the whole business end of writing. That's really what has kept me from getting into book publishing as opposed to submitting the occasional article. It's a business that is increasingly tight and frustrating to break into. Once you break in, getting promotion is also difficult. Basically publishers decide which books deserve their top promotion dollars and effort. The others are never heard of and languish on the bookstore shelves unless they promote them on their own.

To go through all of that I'd have to be convinced that there's something in my story that could be useful to others, useful enough that I should spend the time and effort to promote it.

So...what do you guys think? Do I have a story worth reading (from what you know so far)? Or when you look for a memoir do you prefer that the focus be on one aspect primarily? (I suppose it could be written that way.) If so, which sounds best to you? And while I'm soliciting feedback, what kinds of things do you want to hear more of/know more about in this journal?
 
 
 
Mari Adkinsmariadkins on April 23rd, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)
how it would really sell

First of all, I'd like to direct you to this blog entry by David Niall Wilson - and to David's website.

- http://deep-bluze.livejournal.com/220309.html
- http://www.macabreink.com/DaveBio.htm

whether I am really that motivated to

That's the thing. People outside the business don't understand that writing is a job. It's work, not something you make up your mind you're just going to sit down and do. And once the book is "finished", it's still not "finished", and the work has only just started. (I had a mini-rant about this at TC just a few days ago, but nobody responded to it; it was surrounded with posts about Andy and jobs in psychology. LOL)

other than trying to make some money. (No guarantee of THAT in the writing business.)

(See first note above LOL)

crosses so many memoir categories that I fear it would be unmarketable

You'd probably be surprised at the number of "cross-genre" books out there - that are shelved stamped with one genre. Matter of fact, my own stories lie somewhere in the void between "dark fiction" and "paranormal romance".

I am not one of those people who can blog about just one issue or subject

I'm largely not, either. But as time went on, about this time last year I did see the need to start keeping a separate "writing blog". It helps me keep track with the writing side of things and is good to give to business contacts, etc.

Some have more than one blog, but that's pretty cumbersome. Not to mention time consuming

Not really. Some days I blog on the writing blog, some days I blog on the regular blog, some days I do both, some days I do neither. Although I have to admit that some days on the writing blog all you'll find are my writing metrics for a given time (handy!!).

Once you break in, getting promotion is also difficult

This is one of the reasons Brian Keene does a lot of his own promoting - and has a large "street team" (we're called "the FUKU" :ahem:). This is a reality for most "mid-list" writers, unfortunately. The largest chunk of promotional monies goes to a-list writers (think "King", here). We won't even discuss us poor z-listers. :(

languish on the bookstore shelves

Not really. If they're not promoted, they don't sell; and if they don't sell within x-amount of time, they get stripped and sent back to the publisher. Most books have very limited production runs, and therefore uber-limited shelf-time.

For example, even Keene's fabulous book Terminal, which we all loved, had a shelf life of only four months. Four months. It premiered last May and was yanked in September. It's still available in limited quantities at Amazon and B&N online, but you'll only find it very rarely on the shelves now.

(I suppose it could be written that way.)

That would be kinda limiting and harsh, though, wouldn't it - since in the end everything kinda ties together?
Tapatitapati on April 24th, 2006 07:22 pm (UTC)
I guess languish was a misnomer as I do know about books simply being destroyed. (I used to know a bookstore owner who let me read the copies she had removed the cover from. I was a poor welfare mom and she took pity on me. I know you're not supposed to do that.) I meant that no one will discover them while they are on those shelves without someone promoting the book. Even Oprah will never hear about them, much less choose them.

I may end up at least writing some of it for my grandsons, especially the family stories that I alone know now that everyone's passed away. I'll have to think long and hard about writing for publication. Do I have time and energy for a job in addition to my day job (when I get one)?

Others on my forum have suggested I can find a unifying theme in my experiences to tie them together. I would guess that my ongoing spiritual journey is it.

Thanks for the feedback; it's good to hear from someone in the business. :)
Mari Adkinsmariadkins on April 24th, 2006 07:49 pm (UTC)
I used to know a bookstore owner who let me read the copies she had removed the cover from

Awesome!!

no one will discover them while they are on those shelves without someone promoting the book

Yup. That's exactly so. Someone has to do the legwork, and most of the time (in real life), it's the person who wrote that book.

I may end up at least writing some of it for my grandsons, especially the family stories that I alone know now that everyone's passed away

Sounds like a good plan. You could even run it off and have bound copies made at Kinko's. One of my aunts does that with her poetry now and again.

Do I have time and energy for a job in addition to my day job (when I get one)?

Exactly. But if you ever do, I know a great critique forum!!

I would guess that my ongoing spiritual journey is it

It's possible.

it's good to hear from someone in the business

I'm still only in the fringes, but I do keep my ear close to the ground, you have to if you're going to get anywhere. That and I poke my agent with a long pointy stick now and then.
Mari Adkinsmariadkins on April 23rd, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC)
I just have to direct you to my blog to read something that's absolutely blowing my mind. I don't know how anybody with half a brain could be this stupid!

http://gwyddoniad.org/news/?p=90
Tapatitapati on April 24th, 2006 07:23 pm (UTC)
What are the legalities behind doing that without permission? It can't be legal, can it?

I stay away from fanfic. I mean, all that time and what are you going to do with it?
Mari Adkinsmariadkins on April 24th, 2006 07:33 pm (UTC)
It's not legal. I look for Lucasfilm to be all over her like white on rice.
nienanin on April 23rd, 2006 10:37 pm (UTC)
hey, I saw you in pimp_my_altar and i was wondering if you wouldn't mind if i friended you?
Tapatitapati on April 24th, 2006 07:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, be my guest! :)
crushednchurned on April 25th, 2006 07:05 am (UTC)
I think you could write a very interesting story and all of the above factors of your life could be woven into it. There may be one or more significant lessons learned that can be threaded through your experiences. They might be tied together so that they work in concert and are meaningful that way. I think what may be important in selling a memoir would be where are you now, who are you.. where did your experiences lead? Many people wish to be inspired and to look up to someone. I think they sort of need an ending point. So you may consider your audience in that regard.. in terms of how you will project your success.

In any case, I'd be interested in reading your story, starkly told, of course.
Tapatitapati on May 1st, 2006 10:11 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean about portraying success. Yet in the various chronic illness memoirs I've read, success is more a matter of living with the illness and yet not losing the ability to experience joy. I would say that is where I am with my life in general. Living with rather than triumphing over.
crushednchurned on May 2nd, 2006 04:43 am (UTC)
You have a perspective on success that you could share with others. I think there are many people who could benefit from simply learning to accept their condition and live with it peacefully and healthily.