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Is the memoir market oversaturated?

We took a trip down memoir-y lane and asked: What makes a memoir truly great? What's the best way to sell one? And – gulp – is this megapopular market finally oversaturated? Memoirists, agents, and publishers speak out.

A car whizzes down Memory Lane
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Once upon a time, fiction ruled the market. Today, however, nonfiction is just as heavily competitive – and memoir is a key corner of that genre.

Consider some famous best-selling memoirs from the recent past: Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and, most recently, J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. As three-time memoirist Mary Karr recounts in The Art of Memoir: “Memoir as a genre has entered its heyday, with a massive surge in readership the past 20 years or so.” And luckily for would-be memoirists, the genre has a wide appeal among commercial publishers.

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