Your Life is a Book
Whether you’re writing your memoir for self-exploration, to leave a legacy, blogging or for publication, Your Life Is A Book takes you on a step-by-step journey from concept to completion. This writer’s guide to the memoir is rich with insight, advice, storytelling, and encouragement. Memoirist Brenda Peterson and New York literary agent, Sarah Jane Freymann team up to share with you their expertise in writing and publishing your life story. Your Life Is A Book offers accessible and inspiring writing techniques, exercises, publishing tips, and real-life stories of other authors whose memoirs have transformed their life and work. The book is also a practical guide to both traditional and indie publishing, including interviews with professional editors, publishers, critics, and memoirists. Every life is remarkable in its own way, but this book shows you how to write a book that others will want to read and share.
It’s one thing to write one’s innermost thoughts for the sheer private pleasure of it. It’s quite another to adapt those personal musings for public consumption. Crafting a memoir from the bits and pieces of one’s life is a brave and daunting challenge and, like every worthy endeavor, one best accomplished with a trusted guide. Or two. Accomplished writer Peterson (I Want to Be Left Behind, 2010) and literary agent Freymann share their personal experiences with the genre and offer valuable and practical tips about writing, revising, agents, editors, and publishers that can only come from those with years of insider access. From framing a narrative arc to finding one’s own voice, their advice is spot-on: affirmative, reassuring, inclusive, and accessible. Whether describing a harrowing journey of self-revelation or airing the dirty laundry that has piled up in the corners of dysfunctional family life, the memoirist’s goal is to tell that story so as to enlighten both writer and reader. With Peterson and Freymann as coaches, it is a mission that most definitely can be accomplished.
– Carol Haggas
Library Journal says:
Peterson (I Want To Be Left Behind) and Freymann (founder, Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency) bring decades of experience to bear on the subject of writing and publishing a memoir. Affable, confident, and candid, the authors teach that the process, when done right, can be a journey of personal growth, illustrating their points with poignant examples and metaphors. Part 1, ”Crafting Your Memoir,” introduces the genre and covers an array of topics: death, abuse, family secrets, food, travel, spirituality, animals, and more. The advice on what does and doesn’t work with each topic is razor sharp and is the overall strength of the book. Battle-tested tips, exercises, and prompts close most chapters, providing writers an opportunity to practice and apply their craft. The second half, ”Getting Serious About Publishing,” offers insightful perspectives on blogging, agents, editors, handling rejection, indie publishing, and more. Discussions of factuality, point of view, drafting, and scenes are excellent but could be expanded. VERDICT This is a reassuring introduction to how writers should approach their first memoir and an honest discussion of what it will take to publish one.
– Paul Stenis, Pepperdine University Library, Malibu, CA
Advance Praise for YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK
“They offer plenty of insights gleaned from their own experiences . . . Much here that will be eye-opening for the aspiring memoirist.”
– Publishers Weekly
“If I were going to write the story of my life, this is the book I’d look to first and last for encouragement, inspiration, and practical advice.”
– Nancy Pearl, author of bestselling Book Lust series
“Your Life is a Book is like having a personal writing mentor and practical literary agent guide you every step of the way in telling your life story. Inspiring, instructive, and most of all, inviting, Peterson and Freymann share their own successful writing and publishing experiences with warmth and wit. I wish I’d had this book when I was writing my memoir!”
– Sy Montgomery, author of bestselling memoir, The Good Good, Pig
“Your Life is a Book is terrific – a triumph of lucidity. It’s the book I wish I’d had on hand when I was writing a memoir, and it’s the book I’ll definitely recommend to anyone planning to write one. Peterson and Freymann thought of everything, and demystified the difficult process of memoir-writing and soul-searching in the most positive way. Bravo!”
– Diane Johnson, author of bestselling Le Divorce and Flyover Lives
“This book gives you the firm, astute guidance of professionals, mixed with the humor, encouragement, and advice of a good friend – the perfect guide through the often difficult, delicate, and ultimately rewarding journey to completing a memoir. I thoroughly enjoyed it and even after writing two memoirs, I still learned a lot.”
– Teresa Rhyne, author #1 NY Times Bestseller The Dog Lived (and So Will I)
“In this perceptive, practical, sometimes spiritual guide, the discouraging mysteries of writing are clarified – both business-wise and art-wise. It’s the book beginning writers wish for, and one veteran writers will be glad to return to, finding new insights in every re-reading.”
– Nicole Hardy, author Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin
“Over the years, I have read a long list of books on writing . . .Â what you offer here is extraordinarily compassionate, clear and helpful.”
– Joy Stocke, founder Wild River Review and Wild River Books
About the Authors
Brenda Peterson is the author of 18 books. Her memoir I Want to Be Left Behind, was selected as a “Top Ten Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year” by The Christian Science Monitor. Her first memoir Build Me an Ark: A Life with Animals, was a “Best Spiritual Book of the Year.” Peterson has written for The New York Times, Utne Reader, and Oprah magazine. Since 1990, Peterson has taught private classes and helped many of her students publish. She lives in Seattle.
Sarah Jane Freymann is a New York City literary agent who has helped shepherd books onto bestseller lists, mentored fledging writers, and helped authors transform their lives through memoir. Together Brenda and Sarah Jane have taught writing seminars on the East and West Coasts.