In the August 2010 issue of The Writer, Susan Shapiro offers "13 tips for launching your memoir." Here's her tongue-in-cheek advice regarding what not to do.
1. Don't read books, so that you’re writing in a total vacuum. That way, you’ll feel sure your memoir on giving up the sauce—or your father’s death from cancer—is an original idea never been done before. |
2. Avoid all writing classes and criticism, even if you’ve spent decades in a different field. You got A’s on all your papers in English class, so how hard could publishing a book be? 3. Be a literary snob. Don’t add any topical references, new studies or a fresh spin to an old story, since geniuses should never have to compromise their artistic vision for crass marketing purposes (even as you’re hoping for a $100,000 advance from Random House).
4. Stay self-obsessed. Include a whole chapter on the time you stuck a raisin up your nose at 3, or how you were the smartest kid in your first-grade class—since your mom loves those stories. 5. Pretend you're as important as the president. Chronicle every single year you’ve lived for the sole reason that it really happened (even if it’s mundane, confusing, irrelevant or annoying).
6. Get revenge by trashing your ex or relatives you hate. Be so nasty that your work is libelous. 7. Act lazy and try to sell a book of separate, already published essays. (Instead of doing the difficult work of crafting an entire connected nonfiction narrative.)
8. Stay light and breezy. Avoid any pain or deep revelations. 9. Lie through your teeth to make your material more compelling. Don’t tell your agent or editor the real story, so that they can feel ambushed by the public fallout.
10. Expect instant gratification in book publishing. Act impatient and entitled, and feel bitter when agents you’ve never met don’t get back to you within a month. Then tell everyone, “See, it’s impossible to break into books these days,” ignoring the thousands of memoirs published every year by authors who worked harder and learned the rules.