Friday, March 29, 2013

Who Am I to Write My Story?

I've made my living as a ghostwriter or collaborator since 1984. Because of that, I regularly receive letters from people who want me to write their story. They usually start with, "All my friends tell me I've lived such an interesting life and it should be in print."

Maybe it's worthy of being in print. Maybe not.

What many people think of their "story" may be enough for one article. For instance, one man contacted me and said he had been shot in the head, neck, and left leg by two intruders who broke into his house. They assumed he was dead, but he was able to call 911. Paramedics rushed him to the emergency room.

Powerful incident, isn't it?

The question to ask (which I did) was, "What happened after that?"

"I survived."

I tried gently to explain that would make a good article, an ezine piece, and probably a media interview. "But it's not a book."

It wasn't a book because nothing unusual or newsworthy happened to the person except for one serious trauma. That's not enough to sustain interest for 80,000 words.

A few books, you could argue, are based solely on a single event. That's true—rare but true—and it's because the event was newsworthy. A publisher issued a contract, a writer hurried the manuscript out in two months, and it received a vast amount of publicity for a few weeks. Those books are usually out of print within a short period of time.

My question for this blog was "Who am I to tell my story?" Unless you have had an outstanding life of achievements, or many tragedies that turned into triumphs, the chances are that most publishers won't be interested.

My life may be interesting to me; 
but would editors and readers agree?

No comments:

Post a Comment

What are your thoughts?