Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Difference between Memoir and Autobiography

Here’s a question I get all the time: How do I know if I’ve written an autobiography or a memoir?

The answer is simple: An autobiography covers pretty much your entire life. A memoir covers a specific aspect of your life (like a lifelong battle with lukemia) or a specific time period (a marriage that fell apart and the triumph built out of the life post-divorce).

Most people nowadays are writing memoirs. A few who have led spectacular lives (yes, ordinary people can live spectacular lives) are writing autobiographies.

Be sure to categorize your work correctly when you approach agents and publishers. You’ll also want readers to know exactly what they’re getting if you self-publish. The answer is simple yet applying the knowledge is important for your pitch and your marketing efforts.

How to Enhance Suspense

Often I am asked how authors can generate more suspense in a novel. The answer is simple…although it seems counterintuitive.

The best way is to slow down. That is, slow the pace of events in the section where suspense is needed. Focus on the details of what the protagonist sees, hears, smells and touches. Describe the setting in ways that enhance the tension or ominous tone. Bring in details one by one, and give each detail room to breathe on the page.

Why does this work? Imagine a film. You don’t get to see the monster right off the bat. The protagonist walks down a dark alley and hears a bottle clanging across the sidewalk but can’t see through the darkness to what threat might wait ahead. Utilize the same darkness by drawing out details leading into the big confrontation, and you’ll enhance suspense in your writing.

World Book Night Stats

Here are a few figures from the success of World Book Night, which was April 23.

  • 32% sales increase on WBN titles excluding new releases.

130 million people reached through their marketing efforts, up from 35 million for the first year.

607,000 visitors to WBN’s Facebook page during the week of April 22.

Celebrate reading! It is alive and well!

Agent Info

Agent Kathleen Zakhar of Harold Ober Associates loves all things YA. She’s also actively seeking adult science fiction, fantasy of all kinds, historical fiction, and horror.  She enjoys quirky middle grade tales and also accepts picture books. Kathleen especially loves sweeping love stories, magical realism, inventive world-building, repurposed folklore, dark comedy, and genre-bending novels.