Who is Memoir Guru–that’s me, Linda Joy Myers, my handle on Twitter: @memoirguru. Check me out there too!
Writing a memoir is a rewarding, satisfying, and illuminating journey. In your memoir, you explore memories, capture moments of meaning, and reveal your inner and outer world so others can learn from you. It’s a journey into yourself, and a journey of learning how to write. You begin with your first chapters, and along the way you may develop questions and doubts. It’s important to keep going, and it’s a good idea to get professional help so you can finish your memoir and get it published.
Memoir writers have questions like these:
- Does the book make sense to the outside reader?
- Is it ready for an agent or publisher to read?
- I have a feeling it needs some help, but I’m not sure what should be done.
- Was I too hard or judgmental about certain people in the memoir?
- Does the plot work?
- Will the reader feel that I’m feeling sorry for myself when I write about abuse and other sorrowful things?
- Can I change names in the memoir and not call it fiction?
- What about changing places, descriptions, and identifying information—can this still be a memoir?
- Can I write well enough to get published?
- Is my grammar and spelling okay?
Writing a memoir requires that we come to terms with the situations in our lives, painful and joyful, the dark nights of the soul, life challenges, and moments of great joy and ecstasy. A memoir makes demands on us—it requires us to unzip our hidden selves and stand naked to the world. Writing is a journey of self, soul, and creative artistry.
Through writing we discover who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going. It’s a rewarding journey, and it’s good to have wise helpers along the way, as do those who journey in mythic worlds. They come upon a Gandalf or a fairy godmother helper to create a successful outcome.
Not that mentoring is magic, but it IS helpful to have a coach, someone cheering you on, and teaching you the important skills to be a writer.
Private coaching/mentoring at $125/hour
For one hour coaching sign up here. We discuss your book, your goals, and how I could be helpful to you. Bring your questions to the call, and we can help you plan your next steps.
What we do in coaching
We meet on the phone for to consult about your intentions, your passion for your story, and how to get it done. We make a plan about what you need to do to create success and get your work published.
A writing mentor guides you through the process of writing a book, which includes the techniques you need to know as a professional writer. Time, support, and focused feedback will get you to your writing goals. There are several stages to writing a memoir–the beginning, the “muddy middle,” and the end–and that’s just the first draft. To complete a whole work takes several drafts and the stamina and support to go the distance. This is what we do in coaching–we go the distance until your book is done!
To get your memoir done, it helps to have ongoing support. I offer six sessions of one hour each–which includes reading, responding through the “review” program on MS Word, email, and phone time. Many writers have noticed their writing committment and engagement increase with more support and accountability. Most often we meet once a week, but twice monthly works well too, leaving you time to write, reflect, and consider the best approach for your memoir.
If you would like to try out the coaching package with a three hour committment, then sign up here. This way you can get a good start and discover how often and what kind of support and follow-up that best help you move forward with your memoir.
$297 (3 hours)
Coaching helps you to
- Have structure and accountability
- Set up a schedule of meetings where you will submit pages
- Stretch yourself to accomplish your goals
- Set deadlines and assignments
- Create a context for your writing life
- Learn new skills as a writer
- Learn what it means to be an author
- Feel supported in your writing life
- Explore the feelings of vulnerability that come up when you are writing a memoir
- Plan how to manage family voices (the outer critic) and learn how to bypass the inner critic
I have worked with many writers at different stages of their work—from beginning to finished manuscript. A manuscript consultant reads your printed draft and answers the questions you have about your work. The skill topics are addressed as well as the readiness of the manuscript for publication.
The fee for an evaluation is $350.00 for a normal book length work–about 50-75,000 words. if your work is longer, please contact me to talk about how I can help and the fee.
For this fee I will:
- Answer your questions about your work.
- Assess readiness for publication. This includes structure, plot, narrative arc, characterization, dialogue, punctuation, manuscript organization, grammar, appeal to the market, style, and voice.
- I will make general recommendations for how make the book, though helping you with the changes chapter by chapter falls under editing or coaching.
- We will discuss questions and skill sets an agent or publisher would ask if you submitted your work.
- I will guide you to the next stage so you can complete your book and get published! I want you to celebrate your success and have a published book in your hands.
Feedback is by email and on the phone for a ½ hour consultation. Payment is made before mailing the manuscript.
Shaping a work into its final form is an opportunity to sing the high notes and tune your vision, your voice, and your story. The final form of your book is the most important–that is how editors and agents learn about who you are, your story, and your skills as a writer and communicator.
An editor needs to understand you–your reasons for writing, the message you want your book to deliver, and your unique style and voice. You and your editor become partners in the final creation of your work as you examine and develop the elements of good writing–prose and voice, style, themes, your narrator, character development,and the arc of your plot and structure.
Paying attention to details—the correct use of commas, semi-colons, apostrophes, and capital letters as well as correct grammar all make your book stand above the crowd.
My editing background:
- I have an Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Mills College.
- The psychology program at JFK University where I mentored students to complete their Master’s thesis.
- I have worked with many different editors in my own writing journey, so I know the process from the inside out.
- I’ve coached memoir writers for 15 years, helping them from the beginning idea and desire to write to holding a published book in their hands!
- As an avid reader of memoir, fiction, and nonfiction, I continue to observe the skills and talents of other writers, and recommend books to my students.
- I’m a frequent contest judge of memoirs, and observe the skills that work well as well as the need for good editing on the final draft of the piece. A final edit finds all the small mistakes that can get your story in the reject pile or on top of the Yes! pile in a contest.
- My book Don’t Call Me Mother won the Bay Area Independent Association Gold award
I bring a refined ear for story development and language, and an eye for the narrative arc. Having been a poet, I have an ear for voice and the lyricism of prose.
The goal of editing and coaching is to lift a memoir from “this happened and that happened”—an episodic telling of the story to
- Developing potent themes
- Creating sparkling descriptions
- Finding a strong narrative voice
- Weaving a universal connection with the reader that threads through the story
As an editor, I respect the author’s story, style, and preferences. I will explain the reasons for my feedback, but final decisions belong to the author.
How Do You Know When you Need an Editor?
Learning how to shape your work is an ongoing process. You learn to become your own editor as you keep writing. If your first draft is done, you might find it valuable for an editor to look over the whole book and evaluate it for publication. Writing and editing is a long process and you need to be patient, but in the end you will have a successful, finely crafted publishable book. You can create a series of publishable essays to send out separately for publication and for contests, and be assured that each one is a jewel and represents your skill as an author.
Different Levels of Editing
Spellcheck and grammar check on the computer are not enough to make your work perfect. Yes, it has to be perfect when you send it out to an agent or publisher. You don’t want to give anyone a reason to not read your work. If your query letter is perfect, and your manuscript is flawless, you rise to the top. Being editing is a requirement these days, as publishers and agents generally do not offer these services, though there may be exceptions.
Editing is the most important task in preparing a work for public view. Professional writers always hire an editor before publishing. You have one chance for that agent, editor, or publisher to view your work, so make it the best it can be.
The first level of editing is to examine correct word usage, spelling, and grammar. An editor at this level is looking at the manuscript for flow, language, and clarity. Some shifting of paragraphs and sentences falls under copy editing, but when your structure, plot, and narrative arc need work, you need developmental editing.
Developmental editing examines in detail in each chapter the structure, placement and coherence of the manuscript, looking at what goes where, the plot points, and the dramatic structure of each chapter as well as overall. It takes time to deconstruct a work to help it have the correct foundation, flow, and plot, but when it’s done correctly, the message of your book shines and makes the reader engage immediately. It’s a necessary part of creating a book length work.
Copy Editing Fees:
In a copy edit, grammar, punctuation, layout, style, and word used is addressed. As mentioned above, this is not a final proof edit, but one that makes the manuscript readable and clean.
The fee for this work is $60/hour. Depending on the length of the manuscript, an estimate can be made of approximate time to do the edit, and you would pay 1/2 the fee before I can being the edit.
As I mentioned above, developmental editing takes into account the deep structure of your book, the ideas, meaning, development of plot, character developments, and setting. The foundation laid for the whole book is part of developmental editing.
The fee for developmental editing is $70/hour. We would discuss the length of your book, the work you have already done, and decide how I can help your book be all that it can be. Once we sort out the needs you have as an author and the length of the book, you would pay 1/2 the estimated fee. Since the work is hourly, the amount of time is an estimate.
I would love to talk with you about your book and your editing and coaching needs. I offer a free 20 minute consultation by phone. Email me so we can get acquainted and set up a good time to talk. firstname.lastname@example.org