As writers, we all imagine the moment we finally find an agent to represent us or find that editor to work with who just gets us. Agents and editors are people we dream about for most of our careers but we rarely get to meet them.
At the conference, I got to meet agents and editors from big and small publishing houses in person. I was able to ask questions and have discussions with them. I even got a query letter critique from an agent and editor at HarperCollins. They helped me figure out how to pitch my memoir to agents when I’m ready.
I learned many things at the conference and I cannot possibly fit them all in one blog post. So, for now, I am sharing everything I learned specifically related to memoir.
What agents/editors are looking for in memoir:
When it comes to memoir, it doesn’t matter how unique or nonunique your story is as long as your voice is unique. It is the voice that sells a memoir.
What agents/editors don’t want to see:
Starting a manuscript with dream sequences. Cliché.
Having a character look at themselves in the mirror and describe their physical attributes. Be more creative in how your character is physically described, for example, have another character describe her in a conversation. Also, don’t over describe the character. Tell the readers only what’s necessary to the plot and leave the rest to their imagination.
Spending too much time describing environment. Again, describe only what’s necessary to the plot. Leave something to the reader’s imagination.
Legal advice for memoir writers from agent/attorney Paul S. Levine:
You can get sued for writing about people that are living if they don’t like how you portray them.
You cannot get sued for writing about people that are deceased even if people don’t like how you portray them.
Getting sued for how you portray a living person is called a defamation lawsuit.
To avoid defamation lawsuits:
Get permission from people you are writing about or have them read what you write about them and approve it before submitting for publishing.
Stick to facts when talking about people and keep your personal opinions out of the writing so they can’t sue you.
Before submitting your manuscript for publication, hire a defamation attorney to look through your work to see if it could be a defamation lawsuit.
If there is a strong possibility of a defamation lawsuit, get the defamation attorney to apply for defamation insurance for your work.
The importance of building a writing community by Mari Ann Stefanelli, freelance editor and owner of The Writer’s High.
Join or create your own local critique groups.
Learn how to give and take critiques.
Attend writing conferences to learn and network.
Join online writing groups.
I got to learn and share this experience with two of my friends and fellow writers: Lila Dostal and Jaleesa Mitchell. You can check out Lila’s work at www.subrosawriter.com and find Jaleesa on Facebook!
Because of my great experience at this conference, I am looking forward to the next Atlanta Writers Conference in May 2018!
I hope you found the content in this blog useful. Share and comment below with what you found most helpful in this blog and what you would like me to talk more about in the future.
Thanks for reading!