Posted - 5/28/2012 4:04:00 PM | show profile | flag this post
My background is that I've done a little paid copy-editing (2 books) and a lot of free writing for non-profits in the form of articles. So I'm not a paid writer yet.
I started putting together a memoir/essay thing a couple of years ago for pure pleasure and the hope I'd sell it someday. I've got a rough draft, and now I'm wondering if I'll ever get an agent or sell it if I don't have anything published in essay form yet. I could break it into essays and hope to retain rights so I could go back and publish as a book.
(I realize everybody and their stepson has written a memoir, but I think my project has both the personal history and fresh approach necessary to -- I hope? -- sell.)
So, before I rewrite the book 20 times to polish it, should I just start submitting essays and build up my marketability?
Assuming the book is polished in however many months, should my first step toward publication be getting representation (i.e., an agent)?
Any advice welcome.
Posted - 5/29/2012 12:00:21 PM | show profile | email poster | flag this post
Straight out personal essays are difficult to place- one of the MOST difficult pieces. HOWEVER you also need to start building a platform if you are serious about traditional publishing.
I just saw a blog piece from Linda Formichelli encouraging REPORTED essays, as they are easier to place. That may be a way for you to start using your work AND build a platform BUT NOT give away rights to your eventual memoir piecemeal. Google that blog post.
Freelance writing, editing, indexing, fact-checking.
Posted - 5/30/2012 3:35:54 AM | show profile | flag this post
I wouldn't start writing and submitting essays for the sole purpose of improving your marketability. Essays are hard to sell, and you'd have to sell a ton to big publications before it mattered much.
A better approach would be to start blogging about the subject of your memoir and work hard to build an audience. If you can tell a publisher you have a lot of blog readers who will buy your book that will matter more than a handful of essays.
That's the main thing a publisher/agent is going to want to know: Who is going to buy your book? Is there a pre-existing audience who likes your stuff? Do you have an email list of readers?
Heck, develop that and you might not even want a traditional publisher.
Posted - 5/30/2012 12:22:50 PM | show profile | flag this post
you don't need to have published essays to get an agent
for a memoir but it can certainly help. as others have said,
you need to build a platforn of some sort. I'm currently shopping around a completed memoir to agents. ( worked
on it over 2 years. sold several essays from it) But my question to you: who has read this? has it been workshopped and rewritten? you need feedback to do good rewrites and get
it polished and to find out if it is good. . I workshopped every chapter, rewrote, then paid someone to read the entire book, then rewrote it again. NowI think my book is ready to go to agents. It was a long process..
Posted - 5/30/2012 12:27:47 PM | show profile | flag this post
Also, since you sound like you are new to the essay/memor genre, I would advise you to take classes. that would provide
a way to get feedback and direction.
Posted - 5/31/2012 10:20:24 PM | show profile | flag this post
Thanks for the tips, I'll look into all of that.