Do you want to write a publication-standard true story that sells? If it’s a book-length work based on your lived experience, and you’ve written it as a personal narrative, you need to pitch this to publishers and agents as a memoir.
Even if there are how-to components, or inspirational elements, or journalistic aspects to the story. If you, the narrator of the story, are telling your own story in this book, it is classified as a memoir in publishing circles.

This might sound really obvious, but you’d be surprised how many writers don’t know the genre in which they’re writing – or the category of literature and how it’s named in publishing circles.

It’s pointless to write an entire book draft without knowing the genre in which you’re writing.

Knowing your writing genre matters a lot – because this is how publishers assess whether or not your book fits and will sell in that category. Books are categorised very specifically in bookstores, book catalogues, it influences so much about the business of publishing including whether or not a specific literary agent or publisher will sign you for a deal.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SELF-PUBLISHED MEMOIR AND ONE THAT SELLS TO A COMMERCIAL PUBLISHER?

Here’s the difference between writing for the prestigious traditional publishing market vs self-publishing your story:

>>>With traditional publishing: the stakes are higher, it’s riskier (for the publisher AND an agent, because they don’t get paid / make their money back UNTIL your book sells), so the standards are higher for QUALITY writing and positioning of both yourself and your story.

Self-published memoirs are EVERYWHERE, and I mean EVERYWHERE. You need to know what you’re doing to even get the book out with an ISBN, let alone understand the marketing and publicity piece. This is why self-published memoirs rarely sell more than a few dozen to a few hundred copies. This is fine, if that’s all you want.
One of the biggest reasons I’ve never had any interest in self-publishing is that I wanted to be stocked in bookstores!
And, I really don’t want to have to produce, design, distribute, and manage the project because the minor details are such that you REALLY need to know everything about publishing to even manage to pull the whole thing off. Plus it’s very expensive to do it well!
I’d much prefer to focus on excellence in the writing piece, and then pour all that extra time and energy into the publicity and promotional side of selling the book when it’s out, and learning from the best in the business who can lead me through that, because they’ve been publishing books for decades!

I also don’t want to have to think about distribution! I’m reading a fantastic memoir at the moment that was self-published, and I looked into the production company who produced it for the author: $36 000 is their minimum project fee.
AND he’s now having huge issues with ‘bootleg’ copies of the book being sold on Amazon. This is just ONE Of the nightmare scenarios with self-publishing I just don’t want to deal with.

GETTING YOUR MEMOIR TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED MEANS YOU NEED TO FOCUS ON WHAT SELLS IN THE MARKET CATEGORY AS YOU WRITE AND PITCH THE BOOK

Traditional publishing is the highest standard you could aim for with your book – and that’s because publishers know books, they know covers, they know editing and formatting and legalities of this category and they will raise your work to a much higher standard than you could produce on your own.
It’s a bit like comparing playing chess with your husband with being a world champion chess player. Traditional publishing is a global industry and there are many, many, many nuances to publishing that differ depending on regions, specific memoir sub-categories, and so much more.
And so…

You need to meet certain standards with the manuscript to get a traditional book publishing deal.


If this is your first book, you MUST work on the manuscript first –
don’t write a memoir proposal without having at least 5-10 000 words of your draft written.

TO SELL YOUR MEMOIR – ABOVE ALL ELSE:
Your memoir MUST be
STRUCTURED to sell.

What does that mean? Well, before I could write, pitch and sell my memoir manuscripts to agents & publishers, I had to find what was most INTERESTING about my story, to compel complete strangers to read it. I couldn’t bury the interesting part somewhere in the middle…. which is what most first-time authors do.
The HOOK to your memoir is the most important piece of finding the structure. And most writers I’ve worked with THINK they know the hook, when really, what they see as the hook is simply the theme.
You
must find what makes your story compelling as a STORY – not necessarily what you feel like writing about! And this is where the story must begin.


This is the difference between journaling or writing for your own creative therapy, and producing a quality work of literature that will compel readers across the world to finish a book-length story. Structure demands that you DISTANCE yourself from making writing decisions based on whatever you feel like writing that day (or just producing a mass of content based on a long and complex story) – and instead elevating your understanding of what needs to go INTO a story that will make it highly readable and engaging to readers and publishing professionals alike.
It demands you start thinking of this work as just that – a work of literature. NOT a rambling diary you’re about to press on anyone who asks!

Yes, you can still write what you feel like, but that won’t be going in the material you send out to publishers. Memoir is this unique category where you must explore your own motivations to write it well, but then cut out all the irrelevant back story to sell it.

It’s not enough to write 60 000 – 100 000 words on an experience… it must be structured in a way that people will want to read it through til the end.

The 5 structural principles of what sells in the memoir genre are what I guide you to find, write and explore in depth inside The Art of Memoir, because you can write the SAME story, on the SAME themes, with the SAME topic… to silence or rejections.

The Art of Memoir teaches you how to write, plan, structure and refine a true story that sells to the traditional book publishing marketplace.

Then – as I discovered in my first book publishing experience – rewrite the SAME story with better structure, following these principles and have it sell within weeks. This happened to me! I sold a manuscript WITHIN A WEEK after re-writing the manuscript once I knew these principles. And this is exactly why I’m so passionate about teaching them to first-time memoir writers aiming for success in the traditional book publishing market. Memoir is so widel;y misunderstood (and poorly taught) as a category in writing and academic circles.

Writing a memoir to sell to a top publishing house or literary agent

What I’ve found is that the most important foundational element of compelling memoir is also what’s most difficult to clarify immediately…and that’s the HOOK.

We rarely SEE the hook to our personal story because we’ve lived with it for so long!

I didn’t see the HOOK to A Letter From Paris until I’d articulated the story outline to a few different people in publishing. I noticed when they either glazed over or, as one blunt writer friend said “why would this be interesting to anyone not you?”😆. Story is like music. Often it takes one piece of information shared in a different spot in the manuscript, to make it flow or engage the reader so differently!

And as I share in my programme, the HOOK for memoir is so important because it’s how you sell the story AND where you need to begin writing the manuscript. Too many writers work on an entire draft before clarity on their hook.

Would you like to know what’s most compelling and relatable about your memoir? EVERY story is interesting in its own way, but if you’re framing it and telling it with a focus on things nobody can relate to, then it simply won’t sell.

It’s a huge shift in your inner narrative, to see what makes your personal story interesting AND compelling. It gives you the clarity and confidence to write it well.

Let me show you how to write your full manuscript in a matter of months – and write it WELL, inside the Art of Memoir.

The Art of Memoir is for you if you…

✔️ Are writing a true story based on your own experiences and you want to do it WELL – you have high standards for the work you put into the world

✔️ Want to reach your FULL potential as a writer in this very unique (and highly misunderstood!) category of literature, and grow your understanding of story, and narrative, along the way – as taught by a publishing professional, not someone who is guessing or who has never, in fact, written or published a book themselves (this drives me bonkers).

✔️ If you plan to self-publish your memoir, will show you how and why and where you need to focus to maintain a reader’s attention on your personal story. So many of my writers have finished drafts within months of signing up. Because memoir does NOT need to be messy, murky and complicated! And – most importantly, you can’t edit a blank page.

👉🏽 Go here to watch the free class and learn more about The Art of Memoir!

To your growth and expansion and your incredible true story

Louisa