Non-fiction & Life Writing

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Non-fiction & Life Writing

For anyone currently writing - or planning to write - non-fiction, memoir or biography. A space to discuss researching, writing, submitting for publication and whatever else you like!

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Hi everyone. This is my first post, so my apologies if I don't quite manage to perfectly adhere to the etiquette of the site. I am hoping that I am now ready to submit to agents. I have written and am editing a semi-autobiographical book which applies key ideas from counselling and psychotherapy to all of life. I have the first three chapters (about 9000 words) in what feels to be decent shape now, but what do I know? I'm so close to it that I can't tell if it's awful, awesome, or anything in between. If anyone feels up to having a look, I would be very grateful!! :)

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Hi there. Just joined this group and wanted to say hello. Not quite sure how it works yet! Am working on a project based on letters written by my father in WWII. He was a Spitfire pilot and the letters are to my mother. I have done a fair amount of research on the historical background and have interspersed the letters with this plus my own  reflections, so now have 90,000 words (there are 200 letters from my father written over 5-6 years). Am sort of stuck as to how to pitch it. It doesn't have enough of the military detail for avaition buffs (all that is in his flying log), and it is more of a courtship by correspondence. For me it tells a story, but is it dramatic enough for a general reader (he isn't shot down/killed or taken prisoner althought there are a few dicey moments!). Is it 'memoir' when it is not about me but about my father? Any ideas etc on how to progress form here gratefully received!

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Hi Could anybody provide me with some feedback on my story? It's set in Liverpool about a flaneur ( drifter me) It will only resonate with any Beatle fans out there. No matter what age. I just want some honest feedback so that I can work on it. Thanks Alan

Mathew 14:03:2021.doc

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Hi everyone

Did any of you register for last night's webinar on writing a memoir, with Nina Aron? I registered 2 months ago and have been eagerly anticipating the event. I got home from work at 7.25pm and quickly went online to double check the start time - confirmed for midnight last night, and despite having to set my alarm for 5am this morning to go back to work, I stayed awake patiently waiting for the webinar to start. At 23:45 hrs I received a..n automated confirmation email from Jericho informing me the session was about to start so I eagerly logged on and waiting.... and waited.... and waited. The pop-up window told me to 'sit tight, as soon as the host logs on, I would be redirected to the session'. Well at 25 past midnight I gave up and went to bed. It appears it was a no-show from the host and I wasn't impressed. Was it just me/my pc, or did anyone one else experience the same?

I phoned Jericho this afternoon and they were completely unaware of any issues. They have told me they'll let me know but I haven't heard anything back yet.

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I'd like some advice on best practice when putting together an non-ficiton submission. I am currently working towards submitting to one particular agent who wants everything in the same PDF - brief biog, first chapter & then a plan of subsequent chapters. So far so good I'm thinking but am wondering if there are any conventions I should observe when submitting (eg font, line-spacing). The non fiction submissions seem very free and easy compared to the fiction and there is also quite a bit of variation between agents. Am I right in thinking it is ok to title a chapter and then give a list of bullet points to cover what's in it? Anyone know if the uptake of non-fiction books is better than fiction? Cheers. Jo.

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Hi all, newbie here. Not quite got sure how to navigate the forums yet but thought I'd say hello. I ghostwrite autobiographies for a living. Currently working on half a dozen different books at various stages – thank goodness for Scrivener! Most are for private publication, 40 or 50 copies for family and friends. Also close to completing an autobiography written with a well-known musician, which will probably be self-published and another couple of interesting projects. Sometimes struggle with the mechanics of it all – formatting for print, ebooks, Google Docs, etc. Looking forward to learning from others and swapping experiences.   

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Has anyone here sent in a freedom of information (FOI) request to a government department as part of their research? Any tips? Did you spell out very precisely what you wanted to access or were you quite broad? Was your request successful? I'm preparing a FOI request for the Foreign Office (or The Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office as I now know it's called - for the era I'm interested in, it was called The Foreign Office!)... 

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Can we talk about research, please?! Alongside my fiction writing I'm very slowly researching two separate non-fiction ideas. One has slid onto the back burner as I really need to do in-person interviews to progress it so that will be post-vaccine, I guess. But the other is very much go. It concerns events and real people's experiences in the 1940s in both the UK and USSR. I'm looking for suggestions to add to my list of research sources. 

So far I've concentrated on: to trace descendents

British Newspaper Archive (and some global ones)

National Archives/Kew (online)

10 million books

Hansard records

Fold3 (military records)

Anywhere else?! 

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Hi all, I'm just finishing a six week course on writing a memoir at Curtis Brown creative.  I see they are offering another version of the course in a five day intensive form in October.  I can really recommend it.  Even the first section of the first module answered so many of my questions and fears and set me on my way with much more courage - and excitement!.

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Hi, I'm hoping someone could give me a few pointers! I usually write fiction in the psychological crime genre. I have also written an adventure series for middle grade. I have now been approached by an acquaintance to write their memoir. This is totally new territory for me and i have explained this to the lady in question. She has contacted me today to ask if I would commence interviews and discuss the matter further. I have agreed to meet up next week. I mentioned that she might like to think about the 'thread' of her memoir, whether she would prefer to focus on a particular time, place or indeed person upon which to bring her anecdotes together. Also, she should consider her audience, whether this project is for herself, her family or indeed a wider audience. The problem I have (one of many - eek!) is that she has mentioned an hourly rate. This type of writing is new for me so I have no idea what to charge and in what format. I plan to record interviews with her and have advised her as such so hopefully this will simplify the interview process and provide me with a 'takeaway' experience of her stories and her own voice with which to work. Does anyone know whether it is usual for example to propose a fixed amount of hours per week/month or would a word count fee be more appropriate. I don't want to undercharge for my time but I want to arrive at a pricing framework that is fair to the client as I am a novice within this genre! Any suggestions/advice would be very gratefully received. Thank You!

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I have three one-to-one sessions coming up to pitch my memoir. We're asked to upload a query letter, synopsis and first 5,000 words. I read in a FB group for non-fiction writers that a non-fiction/memoir synopsis is actually a chapter breakdown plus a "sample chapter and a book proposal, which must include an outline, target audience, marketing ideas including your “platform,” some comparable titles and how your book differs from them, and a short bio that explains why you are uniquely qualified to write this book."

Holly Seddon what do you and others suggest? & thank you!

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Hi all,

My names is James and have just released my first of five upcoming books 'Memoirs of a 20th Century Gentleman' available as a free giveaway till the end of the month via the link below.

I'm happy to join the group and look forward to learning about about you all and your work.



James B. Hansom