How to Become Our First Best-Selling Memoirst
Who’s going to be the first to write a bestselling-memoir on a rare disorder?
Posted Dec 18, 2013
Here’s a boring anecdote:
Some time ago, I wrote a comic memoir about depression that I thought was bound to be recognized by the publishing industry as the literary equivalent of the second coming. Although there had been many talents that had already tackled the subject of depression (i.e. Alice Sebold, William Styron, Elizabeth Wurtzel and Peanuts’ Lucy), there appeared to be no one who had conceived of my brilliant notion of putting a humorous spin on the intense desire to kill oneself.
At the time, there were no blogging platforms, and when you mumbled the phrase “Amazon self-publishing,” most people assumed you were just insulting a towering lesbian. So, really, my only option was to go through traditional publishing channels.
It quickly became apparent, however, that no one trawling for genius in these channels was willing to sweep me up. Oh, yes. I came close. I once almost got an offer of representation from a very nice agent who would go on to make millions for the author of a bestselling comic memoir called Marley & Me, but at the last minute, she must have realized that I was going to commit suicide in her office if I were ever asked to do a book tour, and she declined to take me on.
And then there was interest from a female editor at a well-established San Francisco Bay-area “woman’s” press, but she was so busy burning the bras of signed authors who failed to earn back their advances, she could not take the time to fully consider the depth of my artistry (at least that’s how I rationalized the rejection).
A few years into my publication quest, I was able to obtain a literary agent essentially because he lived in a remote seaside town in Great Britain that was so far removed from the reality of getting published in New York that he was willing to take on a writer simply because he liked her writing (what a ridiculous excuse!)
Unfortunately, that, too, came to a bitter end. In fact, it was so bitter that as a result of his encounter with me (along with uncontrolled diabetes) this man actually lost a limb! Consequently, bad karma followed me, and even though I was eventually published by an independent Canadian press, that publishing enterprise screwed me by going bankrupt before I could so much as kiss a royalty check or a Mountie.
Upon reflection, it doesn’t really bother me that my memoir never became a bestseller and that its only practical contribution to mankind seems to have been filling space on my living room étagère. That is because after re-reading my brilliant comic memoir at mid-life, I have realized that this masterpiece pretty much sucks.
That’s right. It turns out I have absolutely no flare for lyrically capturing tortuous mental states, or fluffing off one-star reviews of my work from bitter Amazons on Amazon. That is why I’ve decided to pass all future memoir writing responsibilities on to you, my fellow misophonics.
I will begin with this lead just provided to me by a growing Pittsburgh press devoted to creative non-fiction:
“In Fact Books is seeking essays by writers with insight into the nature and experience of profound psychiatric challenges—as patients, mental health professionals, or both. The deadline for submissions is March 1st, 2014.”
Click here for the publisher’s full submission guidelines.
Here’s a NY Times review of In Fact Books’ most recent anthology, "I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse."
Readers, I am convinced that one of you was put on this earth specifically to make others truly comprehend the emotional nuclear meltdowns that each of us experiences on a daily basis. So, don your ear plugs, and get to those keyboards.