Since our publisher has opened a new non-fiction line, I've been deep in the realm of buffing up my skills on editing those. It's not quite like editing fiction, but some rules do apply. Our biggest draw from writer's wishing to submit to our new Reflections line is memoirs. Yep, memoirs.
Now, since I've been dealing with these, I'd like to lay down a few pointers (laws) about memoirs. I'm finding myself explaining and explaining what they are, what we like, and what they are, to the point I'm blue in the face. First of all, I'm going to touch on the subject of what they are, since that seems to be the biggest question.
Memoirs are different from biographies. Memoirs are suppose to highlight a certain subject or theme in your life. It can span your life, but the stories recounted are often revolving around a common ground. Take, for example, our new memoir released just this last Friday. Deaf Isn't Dumb by Tara Chevrestt is a memoir that approaches her life experiences in regards to her being deaf. Every story within somehow, someway, relates to her deafness.
I'm going to give a quick word on biographies. If you are not famous, I don't care how many people like you, they are generally not going to give a damn if you write a biography. They just aren't. I'm sorry to say it, but the truth hurts. If you submit a biography, and you aren't famous, our editors are likely going to suggest you narrow it down to a theme and label it a memoir. Otherwise, no dice. You aren't going to sell and we're not interested. The facts are cruel, and they do not budge to emotion.
If you do write a memoir, for the love of any holy entity, please write about something people can relate to or find interesting. If all you want to write about is how much of a pain in the ass you were as a child, it better be for a reason. Perhaps you had a disorder and you are chronicling how it can have a bad impact if left untreated? Maybe you are trying to show how you were destined for jail since childhood and now you are a stellar citizen. Either way, if the reader doesn't like you, they aren't going to finish your book.
Our non-fiction falls under the same rules of formatting as our fiction. If your memoir is all left-aligned, no indents, and has a ton of obvious spelling errors, we aren't going to want it. Look at it this way, if that's how much you give a crap about your life, your story isn't probably going to be something we want to read anyway. However, you don't have to be an established writer, or someone with an extremely dramatic story to get our attention. Here are some areas we're really interested in when it comes to the memoir department:
* Rising above abuse
* How you made the choice to live an alternate lifestyle (BDSM, GBLT, polygamy, etc is highly sought after at this time)
* How a "handicap" or "disability" entered your life or affects your life
* Culture clash stories (Perhaps a comical recounting of how moving to a new area brought about quite a few new experiences or overcoming the older generations expectancy to achieve a lifestyle you desire)
Regardless of the non-fiction basis, we are willing to give anything a look. Please don't hesitate if you have a story over 10,000 words long that you'd like to submit to Breathless Press. ~ D. F. Krieger