“Write my story.”
These words have landed in my inbox many times. With eBook publishing running rampant and a recession causing people to have all sorts of new experiences, it seems that everyone is jumping at the bit to get their own story out there.
Well, hold your horses, and take a minute to do a quick self-query. If you were to send this idea into the publisher, there would be a couple of questions that your idea will probably have to pass:
Why do we care about this person?
It’s not that you, as an individual, are not a worthwhile human being. However, we have all been through varying degrees of the trials and tribulations we call life. What makes your specific story so interesting that we all want to hear about it?
Do you know someone famous?
According to Writers’ Journal, one reason that your story might be worthwhile to others is because of your “strong affiliation to someone phenomenally famous.” Unfortunately, if this is your angle, you’ll have to come to grips with the cold, hard truth that your readers don’t care so much about you as they do the person you know. They want the inside scoop, and you’re just the window.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Just prepare yourself, as you go out and market your book that people will more than likely be asking questions about that “phenomenally famous” person, rather than you.
Did you have an epiphany?
I always like to ask people this when they query me about their own story. Sometimes, you can’t relate it in one word, but sometimes you can.
Literature and the Writing Process, one of my old textbooks, defines an epiphany as “a moment of insight in which something simple and commonplace is seen in a new way.”
For instance, when I ride my horse Rebel through an edge of the pond and I suddenly realize that the pond is a lot like my life. That’s a humorously depressing epiphany.
Is this an article or a book?
If you’re wanting to write about one circumstance that took place in your life that taught you a single lesson, your memoir is really better as an article.
However, on the other hand, if that epiphany came from a whole drama-filled experience (one that has personal battles, achievements, and an overall victory), then you’re a little more likely to have a successful book.
People may not have had the same experience or care that you had that experience, but what they will care about it is that you’re the kind of person who can overcome. What the reader wants to know is what kind of person it takes to endure. It is that feeling of endurance, not the feat itself, which will resonate with readers.
So, do you have a pity party on your hands (something better left between close family and friends), or do you have a resonating autobiography that will intrigue readers and survive the pages of time? Is it a book or an article?
Note: This post was recycled from February 2011 from this same blog. Loyal subscribers may notice that I’m going to be selectively recycling posts, as I removed them all to clean up and refresh my blog along with the facelift.
(Photo by Jen Son)
Great insight – and a healthy dose of reality. I think we all are nothing but a bunch of narcissists sometimes and assume the whole world wants to see how spectacular we think we are.