You want to know how to publish a book of memoirs that’s going to end up being a box office hit and light up your name on the marquee along with Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio, Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Lopez... AND... it will also make enough money to put all four grandchildren through college and graduate school…


Well… almost... but you do want to write a work that will have lasting value to readers outside your immediate family.

Of course! Why not? So where do you begin?

“ME? My life? Important? Ha!”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard those words uttered in the many “Writing Your Memoirs” workshops I’ve taught. By the time we finished our set of classes for the season, most of the participants found it hard to believe they felt at one time they had nothing to write about that anyone else would consider important.

Tears would start flowing and the room would rock with laughter as the group set to work creating small vignettes about canning tomatoes, the day my dog died, my mother’s illness and what it taught me, how my granddaughter saved her mother’s life, how I won a Purple Heart in the Air Force, my experiences as a nursing home caregiver… In each of these stories, the authors found a pulse or emotional trigger, and a kernel of wisdom.

News Bulletin: Every one of our lives is important because WE are important. We DO have stories to share with others. We DO have something to write about that others would want to read. In these workshops we certainly proved that point. In fact, at the end of each set of sessions, we had enough stories that were good enough to be printed and spiral-bound as a book. This was before digital printing and print on demand; today we would have self-published these books and sold them on the internet.

Starting Your Memoirs

Write what should not be forgotten--Isabel Allende

**Keep a notebook on every table in your living quarters.

**Jot down everything you remember about your past, even if it may seem trivial.

**Spend quiet time remembering the “who, what, where, when and how” of stories and details from your past. This will include names, places, events, relationships, etc.

**Jot down even small details about a house you lived in, or your favorite birthday present (what color was the dress, or, what did your puppy look like and what was its name?), etc.

**If you have a long-term marriage, how did you meet your partner?

**If you’ve had many rock’n’ roll relationships, ask yourself what you learned from each; tell the story with all its bitter-sweet details. Use dialogue, body language descriptions (gestures, facial expressions, etc.).

**Describe family holidays.

DO NOT start your memoirs with: “I was born on (date) in (location). Please do not start at the beginning! If you want to bore your readers, be chronological and take them through all the details of your first baby tooth, first haircut, first baby portrait… NO! NO! That is NOT the way to write a memoir!

Turn on the Juice!

Start with a juicy story. Is it wicked or naughty? I hope so!

Is your story about the time you thought you’d never make the cheerleading squad because of the braces on your teeth, and when you made the finals you discovered that the six other girls also wore braces?

Or is it about that stormy night in Michigan when your car got stuck in a snowdrift and the man who came to help shovel you out became your future husband?

Maybe it’s about the first time you picked up the violin bow and knew, just knew you were going to be a violinist…

Go to the pulse; always write from the pulse. The heart of the story is what really turns you on… and if YOU are excited about it, everyone else will be, too.

Here are some suggested highlights that could trigger great memories for that opening chapter:

  • A birthday party… something humorous or magical that happened
  • Your first date
  • "The first kiss"
  • The proudest moments in your life
  • Tragedies that provided motivation and inspiration
  • Pet peeves and why
  • Passions
  • Greatest achievements
  • Greatest lessons learned
  • Family vacations
  • Travels
  • Humorous school experiences, including bloopers
  • Family relatives… some of their idiosyncrasies
  • Self-portrait at different ages and stages of development
  • Laugh Laugh Laugh Laugh... especially at yourself!!

    "God love us"... We are all works in progress, are we not? If we can't laugh at our idiosyncracies... if we don't know how to tell the story of our most embarrassing moment or how we got caught with our hand in the cookie jar, it's time to pick up the pace and start having some fun.

    It is a well-known fact that laughter is the best medicine on the planet. Inject healthy doses of it in your memoirs. Many of my relatives spoke Yiddish as well as English. As a child, my "Uncle Jack," a retired vaudeville entertainer, used to entertain us for hours with his routines.

    In true Yiddish style, Uncle Jack would be laughing at himself as he poked fun at each of us; in the process, teaching us how to do the same. These memories are among my fondest. I still enjoy using myself as a caricature in my novels and short stories.

    And finally... how to publish a book of memoirs without breaking the bank

    Never before has it been so easy to publish a book on a budget. In today's world of digital printing and print on demand, anyone can produce a low-cost quality product. Contact me and I'll show you how. What a great holiday gift for your friends and family!

    Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.

    --Jack Kerouac

    Author's Bio: 

    Carol Adler, MFA’s first ghost-written book listing her name as co-editor, Why Am I Still Addicted? A Holistic Approach to Recovery, was endorsed by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and published by McGraw-Hill. Other publications include three novels, four books of poetry, and well over 200 poems in literary journals. She has ghostwritten over 40 non-fiction and fiction works for a number of professionals in the education, health care and human potential industries.

    Carol is President of Dandelion Books, LLC of Tempe, Arizona; a full service publishing company. She is also President and CEO of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc., Write to Publish for Profit and President of the International Arts & Media Foundation, a non-profit subsidiary of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc.

    Her business experience includes co-ownership of a Palm Beach, FL public relations company and executive management positions in two U.S. rejuvenation and mind/body wellness corporations, for which she founded publishing divisions.

    Carol has served as editor of several poetry and literary magazines. Her career experience includes extensive teaching of college-level creative and business writing, and conducting of writing workshops in prisons, libraries, elementary, junior and high schools, and senior citizen centers.

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