Dear Lit Loves,
Greetings book lovers! My journey to locate a publisher is a never-ending anxiety attack. Seriously. This past week I received one form rejection from a literary agent. I just love it when I have literary agents preach not to send query letters beginning with "Dear Agent" and then I receive a rejection email addressed to "Dear Writer"! It makes me want to scream, "Hey, if you can't follow your own query rules then you are most likely not the literary agent to represent me". Writers often get very little respect and endure a tremendous amount of belittling. Next, I am somewhat happy to report that another literary agent actually sent me a personalized response indicating she had read my proposal and was impressed; however, she just signed an author writing on a subject similar to mine so she would pass on my work. I appreciated the knowledge that I could tell she had truly read through the book proposal and specifically noted portions of my story as a patient with four chronic illnesses. Agents like this give me hope.
So I see there is slow growth in book sales by three of the big five publishers. I think there are several reasons for this beginning with the point that people are highly distracted these days. Honestly, individual attention spans do not last much longer than nine seconds! I read that statistic somewhere in the news recently. So if many individuals can really only concentrate in nine second segments then books better be about a subject in which the reader has an interest or the book must fascinate, relate or create one damn fine escape for the readers of today. This brings me to my real point: We need more memoirs written by patients, not just the medical experts, but those of us who entrust our lives to those who may or may not be medical "experts". I swear if I see one more book, particularly a memoir, written by a medical expert I may scream while in Barnes and Noble or scream while surfing Amazon on my deck which would totally annoy my neighbors and most likely scare the hell out of my feline. Did anyone, such as literary agents, editors, copywriters, marketing specialists, etc. ever consider that there are just some patient stories that truly need to be told (published)?
Now I am a writer with a memoir manuscript in the 92,000 word range chronicling my interactions with all facets of the medical industry while juggling four rare chronic illnesses. And let me tell you I do not spare the rod when it comes to detailing the highs and lows of searching for the best medical specialists, enduring all forms of tests or torture in one case to determine a diagnosis, learning how to deal with negligent and pompous medical personnel, standing up for my rights as a patient, and discerning how to become my own best medical advocate. My memoir about chronic illnesses does not involve any form of addiction. It does not involve turning to alcohol or pharmaceutical drugs to escape what physical illness did and continues to do to my body which also happens to wreak havoc with my life on a frequent basis! My memoir relays my story in a detailed plot without a lot of frilly language. The key to a great memoir to me is the story or the truth put forth in a no-holds-barred manner that gives me something I can take away and apply in my own life as well as a book I can readily say to my friends, "You better not miss reading a copy of this book."
No, I am not a neuroscientist, pediatric oncologist, editorial writer for The New York Times, or a Nobel Prize winning writer. I am your slightly above average Jane coping with unusual illnesses, an often dysfunctional medical system and learning to navigate doctors, medical insurance, hospitals, medications, family crisis, a redirected career choice and still live a relatively stable life while daily discovering new sources of happiness and hilarity. Let's hope that someone in the publishing industry lets me share my little nuggets of relatively controlled chaos soon.
Till my next post,