Memoirs Written by the Common Man/Woman

Whether through the written word, oral tradition, or visual media, people love personal story. According to 2009 Publishers Weekly nonfiction hardcover report, 10 out of 30 nonfiction books listed were personal story, and plenty more will appear on the 2010 listing. Memoirs are the rage.

Yet, the word I’m getting is that unless the writing far exceeds the writing of a memoir written by a famous person, publishers are reluctant to sign with an unknown author. Apparently, fame moves books. However, as an expert in the field of reading, I disagree. And this is why.

I cannot deny that people are fascinated with stories about people whose lives they can only dream about. I am one of those people. But I also know—as an expert reader—that beyond the entertainment factor of a good read, germane to our humanity, people want to connect to other people. A writer’s fears, disappointments, tragedies, and triumphs validate and clarify the reader’s experience.

A reader doesn’t want to get lost in bad writing, but rejecting a well-written book with a strong hook and fabulous story because the author is not famous is to minimize the need for personal stories the common person (most of us) can relate to.


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