“Should I Give Up?”: What Publishers Look for in A Memoir and What You Need to Know About Publishing a Memoir

you really should write a book

I received an e-mail from an aspiring author who  found my website recently. She had shopped around her memoir and it did not generate interest from publishers. Now she says she’s about to give up. In her words, she doesn’t want to publish an ebook. My sense was she did not necessarily have a solid understanding of what publishers look for in a memoir. She may have assumed that if her book was well written and would help people that would be enough. It’ s not. Publishing is a business and publishers need to make money. They want to be sure there is…  Read more

How to Write a Memoir? The 5 Things You Need to Know


So, you’re writing a memoir. And maybe you’re not sure how to start, or you just want to make sure you’re doing things right before you go off in a cave, or on retreat, to get it done. There are 5 mistakes I see all the time in memoirs: 1. Too broad a scope 2. Rambling 3. Telling 4. Over reliance on visual details 5. Generics You won’t have to make those mistakes when you keep these 5 points in mind: 1. This isn’t an autobiography: An autobiography is about a famous person, like a president or celebrity or sports figure,…  Read more

Writers Block After a Bad Book Launch? It’s Bigger Than Your Book, Part II

book by writing coach lisa tener

What if your book disappoints you? Most of my clients report amazing opportunities that come out of publishing their books–new careers, travel, keynote speaking, national publicity, making a bigger impact than they ever imagined…but not everyone. I recently e-mailed a client to ask about her post-publishing situation. “Not good,” she wrote. There were the folks who let her down–businesses that seemed interested in promoting her book and then retracted. She also felt burned out after pounding the pavement to sell books with only lackluster sales to show for it. The author pointed to the opening letter in my recent newsletter…  Read more

Social Media Tips from a Busy Surgeon

Diane Radford, MD with Julie Silver, MD at the Harvard Medical School CME leadership and publishing course this year.

Guest post by Diane Radford, MD, FACS, FRCSEd In April 2015 I was delighted to talk at the Harvard Medical School course Achieving Healthcare Leadership and Impact Through Writing Publishing and Social Media. I have attended this course (directed by Dr. Julie Silver) previously, and it was there that I met some of my talented mentors, including Lisa Tener and Rusty Shelton. My topic was Social Media Tips from a Busy Surgeon. I joined social media in late 2011. Twitter is my favorite social medium — it is robust, global, and interactive. Lisa invited me to share the highlights from my lecture,…  Read more

Social Media Tips from Harvard Medical School’s Leadership and Publishing Course

Rusty Shelton

I spent a few days in Boston last week for Harvard Medical School’s CME leadership and publishing course. When I wasn’t teaching workshops, I spent most of my time meeting course participants and helping them clarify their book concepts and publishing strategies. However, I managed to squeeze in a few of the panels and presentations where I learned how much even a publishing insider can learn in this rapidly changing arena. Here are a few social media tips that served as helpful reminders—as well as a new website tip I picked up from Rusty Shelton: One of Rusty Shelton‘s social media tips: Google your…  Read more

Literary Agents Share Nonfiction Publishing Tips

harvard writers panel

At Harvard Medical School’s CME leadership and publishing course a few days ago, the literary agents present shared valuable advice. Here are just a few of the many nonfiction publishing tips they shared: Linda Konner:  For a prescriptive book, fit it into a program, such as: 7 steps to… 6 weeks to… 25 tips for… [Click to Tweet] Regina Brooks: Be clear about your motivation for writing the book. Regina also stressed the power of merchandizing and extending the content of your book. [Click to Tweet] Jeanne Fredericks:  Your agent can learn the “Breakeven Point” for your book and negotiate…  Read more

How to Get Published: 8 Social Media Tips to Get Noticed by Publishers


A few months ago, a woman contacted me on LinkedIn, introducing herself as an acquisitions editor at a niche publishing house. In search of new authors, she noticed the backgrounds and book titles of several authors I work with and asked if I might have any book proposals that could be a fit for her house. The timing could not have been better. I had an author in a very niched subject whose book proposal had been sitting with another publishing house that had expressed interest months before. The other seemed interested, but not exactly passionate or in a hurry to make an…  Read more

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

Rachel Vane web designer

A few days ago I opened an e-mail with the kind of subject line you just can’t ignore: “Google Issues Warnings About Poor Search Rankings For Non-Mobile Sites.”   No author or business owner can afford to ignore Google! Apparently Google is making sure that people searching on devices like cell phones and tablets get useful search results, and a site that isn’t easy to view or navigate on a hand held device is not going to cut the mustard (where did that expression come from, anyway?). By all means read the article and see how mobile friendly your website is: take the…  Read more

Writing the Truth: A Reflection on Authenticity in Writing and Life

On the Virgin America airplane ride back from a writers conference, I watched three movies—a decadent luxury for this mompreneur. After watching a documentary about the life of one-time musical prodigy Ben Lee, I found myself inspired and wrote a song—not something I usually do. In fact, my family used to joke about how un-musical I am;  my childhood piano teacher begged my parents to send me for dance lessons—and not because she loved my Plié or Relevé. I found the song writing experience surprising and soul-nourishing in a way my other writing hadn’t been lately when I’d tried to write…  Read more

When a Famous Literary Agent Delegates Your Book Proposal

questions about literary agents

Once in a while, I hear from a client who signs with an upper echelon literary agent only to have that agent hand the project down to a less senior staff member. This is not a problem in itself as the staff member has more time to implement work on your proposal and, ideally, the big name agent will provide guidance and weigh in. However, sometimes the greener agent isn’t as excited about your project as her others since she didn’t choose it. She may also feel less comfortable with your project than others because she hasn’t taken ownership of it. Maybe…  Read more