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Writing Books/A non-fiction based on my life.


My name is Liz and I'm recently 17, and I'm thinking about writing a book based on my every day life. I don't really know where to start or what to start out with. I've always liked writing in school and I've always gotten high scores on writing assignments and tests and I think I would like to publish a book by the time I'm 18 in May. If you think you could help me at all It would be much appreciated!

Hi, Liz!  

First, congratulations on starting the writing process. You're right to start out asking questions. It's a good way to find out how the process works. What you're considering writing is called a "memoir" in the industry. Memoirs have a good market, but it's tough to sell even an exceptional story without already having the book completed. There are a couple of ways to organize a memoir. You can either write the story of your ENTIRE life, or just one particular event. What you might want to consider doing is read a couple of new memoirs on the market to get a feel for what's currently being published. A couple of writers I know have memoirs coming out from major publishers. One is called "Lottery" by Patricia Wood. It comes out next week, and since I know the story, I know how much you'll probably like it. This is one of the "event" type of memoirs and you can see if you have anything like it in your life to compare. Here's a link to it on Amazon so you can watch for the cover at your local book store and flip through it to get a feel.

The other one where I know the author is called "Look me in the eye" by John Robison. This deals with his life with a disease and how he managed to get through to adulthood.

This comes out in September. You can also look through the Memoir section of your bookstore to try to find stories about people your own age (there are plenty of them.)

Next, you probably want to learn some of the common terminology of publishing. I have a number of articles about the process on my website if you want to take a look. You can find them at:

Pay particular attention to the articles about avoiding some of the bad publishers that will just try to take your money (publishers should pay YOU, not the other way around.) I wouldn't worry too much about getting your book published by your birthday. The process is pretty slow, in reality--even if you already had the book COMPLETED. My best advice is to take your time, and work on finishing the book by your birthday. Then take the time to find the right publisher that will give the book the treatment and distribution it deserves.

Good luck and please do let me know if you have any other questions. :)


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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