Help! I Need Somebody. Help! Not Just Anybody. Hel…el…elp!
Now that you’ve got that catchy Beatles’ tune looping through your head for the rest of the day and you may even have an Austin Powers-ish sashay as you bop around doing your business (wait, that didn’t come out exactly right), I have a favor to ask of you. Yes, I realize, I may have to wait until you get the Beatlemania/Austin-tastiness out of your system, but I’m a patient woman…to a point. It was one song, people. Focus.
I wrote an approximately 105,000-word manuscript memoir that needs professional editing before I release it to the public. I know a little bit about memoirs, having read about 143 of them by various authors, having read about 59 books about writing them, and having written about 1 of them. Here’s what I’ve gathered from my memoir research:
- Memoirs are supposed to have something people in the memoir-writing business call a “theme” that grabs the reader and holds them by the short hairs until the very end so that they will give your book 5 stars even if they don’t know you or aren’t related to you. Themes are analogous to plots in novels, or at least that’s what I’ve been lead to believe.
- The “theme” can’t be obvious, as in: ”This is the theme of my book. Blah, blah, blah. I hope you enjoyed this book and the theme I was all preachy-preachy about in each chapter. The End.” Plots are supposed to be kind of obvious so the reader doesn’t get lost and decides to wait for the movie, which makes plots different from themes.
- You can get sued if you write a memoir, so you have to be very careful to remind readers that memories are subjective and you’re really writing about your feelings about your memories, which is even more subjective. But still, your ex-husband might get miffed and seek legal advice about “libel, character assassination, slander, and deep disappointment.” That rarely happens when you make up fictional crap instead of real crap.
Here’s the favor. (You know me. I usually take the long way to get to my point. I know it may be annoying to you busy people out there, but I’m retired, alone a lot and a sociologist–a dangerous combo when it comes to pithy posts. But, I break up my posts with lists, zany pictures and captions, and colorful text, so it won’t be so painful for you. Plus, this world is too fast-paced. Slow down and enjoy the
blathering moment. It will be good for you. You and your cardiologist can thank me later.)
Do you know a professional editor who understands the nuance of memoirs and who would be willing to read my manuscript to help me get it publication-ready?
If you do, could you reply to this post or at email@example.com with her/his contact information?
Besides what I already told you about the manuscript (it is about 105,000 words long), you may want to know that:
- I’m having several people read it to ferret out obvious typos, awkward sentences, grammar gaffes, and other technical problems so that the manuscript is fairly “clean” when the professional editor reads it.
- My intention is that the professional editor read the manuscript and give me feedback and advice on how well the book reads and if I handle the theme effectively.
- I’d like advice on any legal issues the professional editor might see with the book.
- I’m expecting to pay for this service, but I have no idea what the going rate for this kind of service is.
- I just want this book as good as it can be before I put it “out there.”
Any other words of wisdom from you published authors out there would be greatly appreciated. This is my first experience publishing a manuscript and I feel like a blindfolded kid alone in a thick, dark forest. Get the picture?
Thanks so much to all of you for helping out a writer/colleague.
Note: Casey Clifford has already given me a potential contact, for which I thank her most heartily. She even told me to use her name when I make contact, which I will–but I think I’ll mention my name, too.