How to Publish Your Short Memoir in 30 Days
By Linda Joy Myers
As you know, a book is a long project that takes months, years, and more years to complete. To get it done. To have it in someone’s hand. But if you think about it, what is a book? It’s a collection of small pieces. A book is made of chapters, vignettes, and scenes, collected in some kind of readable order. What’s the great news in this?? Each small piece of writing can be a nugget for you to mine and develop into something short that you can publish in a month! You can do it in November and be part of the great writing bash that takes place with nonfiction every year. Let’s look at this further.
Overwhelmed by Writing a Long Book?
Most writers I coach come to me burdened with the weight of a book. Of course, the way we get a book done is by planning and writing one story, chapter or vignette at a time. When you write a long-form work you also need to write a proposal, engage in deep developmental editing, create revisions and final drafts of hundreds of pages, and find an agent or editor. All this takes time, partly because you have to research each step.
Build Platform with Short Kindle Books
Writing a book can feel overwhelming, but when you have a whole book you want to get done, it’s well worth it. Whatever you call your personal writing—personal essays, memoir, or creative nonfiction—it’s a good exercise to write smaller pieces that are published and create readership, or author platform, for the longer book you may be writing.
A short book (from 5,000 to 30,000 words) published as a Kindle Single can be a smart choice.
Here is some information on short books from the Kindle Singles website:
Kindle Singles Criteria
- Length: 5,000 to 30,000 words
- List price: $0.99 to $4.99
- Original work, not previously published in other formats or publications
- Self-contained work, not chapters excerpted from a longer work
- Not published on any public website in its entirety
- We are currently not accepting how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, or children’s books.
Writing and publishing a shorter work is a manageable project, and it needs to be vetted by Amazon. They don’t take all submissions, so keep reading to find out how to make it the best it can be.
How To Plan Your Short Book
Even if you write an essay, a poem, or short prose of any kind, you need to think about the focus, theme, or idea you want to convey. The best way to do this is to simply jump in with both feet and free write your ideas or the story you want to tell, and get clear about what you want your reader to get out of the story. If you are an outliner, then outline your points.
Here are some outline goals for a short book or memoir:
- Title and theme
- 10,000 words—that’s 40 pages—for example
- 10 stories at 4,000 words each—just to make the math easy here
- List the topic of each story
- Think about subheadings or subthemes, if you have any, in each story
- The reader will learn this in story:
Story 3, etc.
- Do you have linked chapters?
- List the main “characters” in your stories, chapter by chapter
- Note the location, place, weather, and tone of each scene and chapter
- List each scene, and what significant development happens in the scene.
- Consider the arc of the narrative for each story
- Describe the conflict or the problem in each story
- Determine how each story is resolved
Other tasks you need to complete if you want to publish a short book include:
- Finding an editor for your book
- Asking people from your community to be peer readers for the book once it’s edited
- Learning about the requirements for layout and submission for a Kindle Single, if you decide to use that format
- Designing a cover for your e-Book
- Creating a blog or website to help showcase your book, if you don’t have one
- Creating an author page on Facebook and a Twitter account to get the word out about your book
- Finding people to endorse your book
Goals for the Month
To set your goals for the month, you need to plan out what you will accomplish each week. The first week or 10 days might be all about writing. The next week, you might include some of the other tasks in your plan. You can line up editors and peer readers early so they are ready when you need them.
The most important part of writing a short book is to write well! Even if you want to get your book done quickly, it’s important to do it right and to give yourself enough time to develop your book. This means writing and revising, then letting the project rest for a few days to marinate. It might mean hiring a coach to help you with your plan, your writing style, and your marketing ideas. When you take breaks from your writing, you can develop your social media campaign, obtain blurbs for your book, and then let your community know what you’re doing. This builds buzz for your book so when it’s perfectly prepared and ready, you can enjoy the launch. A smaller book is still a book, so treat it like you would a regular book launch, though it would be mostly online.
Make a plan for each week of the month, then break it down into days. Give yourself time to think, give yourself breaks in the writing, but stay consistent with your schedule as much as possible.
Be sure to plan your celebration when your book is done. Thanks to the changing world of publishing, you can write a short, excellent book, and become a published author quickly. Best of luck!
About the Author
Linda Joy Myers is president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, and has been a therapist for over 30 years in Berkeley, CA. She’s the award winning author of four books, including The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, Journey of Memoir and becoming Whole: Writing Your Healing Story, a finalist in the ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. A speaker and award-winning author, she co-teaches the program Write Your Memoir in Six Months, and offers editing, coaching, and mentoring for memoir, nonfiction, and fiction. To read her blog, click here. www.namw.org.
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