In this month’s New Writers installation, Tracy Slater offers memoir publishing tips. A fellow memoirist and nonfiction writer whom I met through SheWrites, her book The Good Shufu: A Wife in Search of a Life Between East and West is slated for release in 2014 by Penguin’s Putnam imprint.
The Good Shufu is a memoir about finding love, meaning, hope, and self in the least likely places, the places we always swore we’d never go. It’s about what we gain and lose, when we forfeit our plans, goals, and even sometimes homes for that age-old cliche, love.
Tracy’s work has also been published in CNNGo, Best Women’s Travel Writing 2008, Boston Magazine, the Boston Globe, and many Japanese publications. She earned her PhD in English and American Literature from Brandeis University and is the recipient of the PEN New England 2008 “Friend of Writers” award for her work with FourStories, a literary series in Boston, Osaka, and Tokyo that features appearances and readings from the world’s most acclaimed authors. Coming this month to the Boston area FourStories are Lauren Slater, Pagan Kennedy, and more.
- insight into MediaBistro classes on queries/book proposals and writing memoirs
- tips on how and why to get an agent
- not getting duped in the contract
- how unknown authors land grand book deals
Click here to listen to Tracy’s podcast then see below for links to resources she recommends.
Visit Tracy’s Blog
Tracy concluded with these words:
“The second (piece of advice) is about the difference between crossing items off my writing ‘task’ list and making something as perfect as possible. In the past, I’d always felt like I was being efficient and successful and making progress if I met my quota of sending out a certain number of queries or finishing an article on one date and being able to move on the next.
“But what this book process has really taught me is that it’s much more important to spend time perfecting and then perfecting and then perfecting again one really important piece, and then finding the absolute perfect place to pitch it (not the most visible even but the one that most likely would want to publish your piece because it fits exactly with their readership or editorial goals) and then working over and over on the pitch until that is perfect. The ‘Motherlode’ piece I published was really short, one of the shortest I’ve ever published, but I worked incredibly hard, for about a month, on just those 800 words, and had lots of people read it and give me hard, honest feedback, and that’s I think how I made it into something worthwhile. So I guess I’d say that for me, I realized that progress should be measured in how close to perfect I can get something, and not in how many pitches I can send out in a week/month or even contacts I can make.”
Take a look at the piece that compelled the Penguin Putnam editor to request her book proposal. The soon-to-be author’s suggested resources listed in this podcast:
MediaBistro’s book proposal course
MB’s nonfiction book writing course
Nadine Gordimer‘s oeuvre
Learn more about Tracy through her blog.
Do you have any tips of offer on publishing memoirs?
Read about award-winning fiction writer Douglas Silver and glean some publishing tips from poetry chapbook-wielding Sandra Marchetti in previous posts of the New Writers column.