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Your Life is a Book: How to Craft & Publish Your Memoir Paperback – October 14, 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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  • Your Life is a Book: How to Craft & Publish Your Memoir
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Editorial Reviews

Review

OPRAH.com selects YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK for inspiration and life-improvement strategies to become "more successful, happier, calmer, and more focused and connected to others--and yourself."

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.
--BOOKLIST

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 Book Lust

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 rereading.  
—Nicole Hardy, author of Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin

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 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 of The Dog Lived (and So Did I)

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 The Good Good, Pig

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.
—Booklist

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.
—Library Journal 

The process of writing about your past can lead to a boost in self-acceptance, self-awareness and fulfillment. And while it's true that not all of us have time to finish a 200-page manuscript, filling in the answer to . . . three short exercises [from the book] may help you face a difficult experience and recognize your own strengths, personal growth and—yes—wisdom. 
—Oprah.com
 
I’ve found Your Life is a Book to be one of the best books I've read on how to engage in the writing process, specifically the step-by-step process of writing a memoir worthy of an audience.
—Joy Stocke, Wild River Review

. . . Your Life is a Book is a page-turner filled with insider stories and ways to look anew at your own life story. 
—The Mystic Wave

[Peterson and Freymann] offer plenty of insights gleaned from their own experiences, such as "character evolution is the narrative arc and plot of any memoir" and "for many writers, their work is also a spiritual practice." To these ideas, they add the requisite writing prompts, exercises, and publishing tips. Of particular note are the lessons which Peterson and Freymann draw from the careers of successful memoirists like Cheryl Strayed and Dawn Raffel. The section on publishing is strong, with concrete tips from editors and reviewers . . . eye opening for the aspiring memoirist.
—Publishers Weekly
 

From the Author

We are on book tour for YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK and will be blogging about it with tips for writing and publishing your memoir. Go to Brenda's website: BrendaPetersonBooks.com for insights from the book and to literary agent, Sarah Jane Freymann's website: sarahjanefreymann.com for more good advice on publishing your life story.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sasquatch Books (October 14, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570619301
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570619304
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By ZenWoman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Whenever I tell my friends some stories from my life, many say, you should write a book! A memoir. But it takes courage and introspection to write a memoir. It's a journey toward self-realization and I haven't been certain where to begin.

I love reading memoirs though. I've marveled how David Sedaris acutely observes and finds humor in the mundane. Or how Augusten Burroughs described the darkness and despair of alcoholism. Or how Anthony Bourdain let us into the world behind the restaurant kitchen door and made us confidants through his personal journey.

Despite my admiration for memoir writing, I've always hesitated in putting pen to paper to tell my own story. Could I be witty, insightful, and incisive enough like the authors I admire? Probably not. So I've never tried. Blogging despite its merits, seems like instant egotistical gratification. I wish I wrote so well that everything I wrote was worth putting out on the internet! So this book caught my attention. I like manuals, I'm always the one reading the IKEA instructions in detail laying the parts out on the ground like shown. It seemed from the title and description that this book would be my instruction manual. That it would help me create a strategy and start writing something. Having read it, I think it does just that.

The first chapter asks you to take the plunge aptly titled -"Start Anywhere" and build your story. It suggests basics like - find a place to write, write regularly, try not to summarize but let the reader feel the emotion. It suggests techniques like sidestepping so one can be more in the moment than academic.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Memoirs come in a variety of flavors: travel, spiritual, food, legacy, and others. Although each has a unique focus, they share the need for story. Vignettes can be sad, funny, or poignant, but they need the structure of story to captivate the reader.

The first chapters of the book give a plan for starting a memoir and finding the story buried in your reams of material. After this section, the authors devote a chapter to each type of memoir from travel to legacy. At the end of each chapter, you will find exercises to help you use the information in the chapter, writing prompts and a short section on publication.

The second part of the book is devoted to publishing. Sarah Jane writes about what agents do. After reading her section, I think anyone would be fortunate to find an agent like her who not only tries to sell your book, but helps you over the rough places while you're writing it. Several editors discuss what they do and how to edit your work. Finally, they include a section on self-publishing which is valuable if you want to give your descendants a real book, but aren't looking for a traditional publisher

If you plan to write a memoir, this is an excellent way to start. The book is crammed with information on writing memoir and on publishing. Although you may need other references along the way, this one combined with a good critique group can get you started in the right direction.

I also recommend this book for fiction writers. Although the information isn't new, seeing it from a slightly difference perspective may give you ideas for improving your writing.

I didn't choose this book with the idea of writing a memoir, but after reading it, I'm thinking about starting one. Writing a memoir, like any writing project, is a lot of work, but the payoff is learning more about yourself, finding your story, and having a gift to pass on to your descendants.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are considering writing a memoir or know anyone who thinks they have "a book in them" this wise and well written guide by Sarah Jane Freymann and Brenda Peterson is not to be missed. Heck, if you enjoy reading memoirs pick up a copy. You won't be disappointed by Freymann and Peterson's common sense approaches to everything from getting started, to finding your "voice" to locating time and place, to creating the character of "self", to keeping your story alive for the reader from cover to cover. There are plenty of exercises, writing prompts and publishing tips since these two authors have the field of writing down pat. Peterson is a writing teacher and author of 18 books and Freymann is a top literary agent whose books are consistently on the New York Times best seller lists. I particularly liked their observations on blogging and the mini interviews with publishers, editors and other authors. There is also a terrific recipe for Indian Rice Pudding on p. 161.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
...is a tricky thing. First, you have to have something interesting to write about. In today’s world of publishing, that seems to be unnecessary and maybe silly.

Memory is tricky. As soon as something happens, your brain starts working at understanding it. That is why people remember things differently. It has always been interesting to me, as a teacher of writing, how many people perfectly remember events from their childhood that their parents say never happened. It’s like a giant conspiracy.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for most people is finding the theme that guides their experience.

The consistent annoyance for me, in reading this book, was the constant feeling of anecdotal evidence. It makes the book feel scattered and unfocused.

This book has a lot of advice and a lot of prompts to start writing or thinking. If anything, I would say it goes too far trying to do everything.
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