Memoir Writers Take Note: Help! I Can’t Press the “Send” Button

by Pamela Jane on September 15, 2015

catnav-interviews-active-3Post #219 – Memoir Writing – Matilda Butler



Note of Appreciation

Pamela Jane is one of those wonderful, generous writers who shares what she knows and provides tips and guidance for all of us. In last month’s blog post, Pamela posted her query letter that opened the door to a contract for her memoir. She had tweaked the letter over the months until she nailed it. Everyone knows they need a query letter if they are seeking an agent or a publisher. But most don’t know what one looks like. Pamela to the rescue.

I always tell Pamela, “You’re the Queen of Tips.” Her way of sharing involves taking what she has learned and turning it into a series of tips. Today, she tells us her own experience with sending off her finished manuscript. She has invited stories from other authors and gives us the benefit of their wisdom.

Thanks Pamela. I appreciate what you’ve shared today.

–Matilda

Help! I Can’t Press the “Send” Button

Pamela Jane

cocktailNormally the “send” button is my drug of choice.  A little reckless abandonment, a hint of impulsivity, a dash of anticipated remorse – what a tasty cocktail!  There’s nothing quite as exciting as completing a children’s book or a personal essay, researching the best editor to submit to, and hitting the “send” button.  But when it came to submitting the final draft of my memoir manuscript to my new publisher, I found myself strangely reluctant to hit that seductive button.  I practically needed an intervention to go through with it!

This is understandable; I’ve lived with and in my memoir for many years.  Not only did I mentor my younger self through writing my story, but the writing process mentored me in turn, providing lessons on writing and life I could never have learned in a classroom or a therapy session.  Through writing my memoir I discovered who I was, and who and what had shaped me into that person.  The past become my “now” – the moment I lived in and cherished.  But the memoir was finished, and sitting at my computer with my hand posed above the “send” button, I felt a sense of palpable loss at letting go of a vital link to myself and my past.

So how do you survive pressing the “send” button on your memoir. Following are three tips.

Tip #1 You Can Always Resend!

You can always resend!

You can always resend!

If you receive constructive criticism or suggestions on your memoir (or query) or even rejections, you can always revise and resend.  Nothing is forever, except tweaking what you’ve written – and even that comes to an end when your book is published.

Tip #2 You’ve not Giving Up Your Child; You’re just entering into a different relationship with it

Once your memoir is accepted, and publication underway you will be initiating a new relationship to your book.  You will want to promote it, tell others about it, give readings, possibly create a website or book trailer.  You’ve gotten it out of you; now it’s time to get it out into the world.

Tip #3 You can turn your energies to something else

Once your child is out in the world, you can actually turn your energies to something else!  That’s liberating, when you think of it.  And before long you’ll be pressing the “Send” button on something entirely new!

Tips from Other Authors

I was curious about how other writers felt about sending out their books and stories, so I asked around.  Like the writers themselves, the answers were entertaining, funny, and enlightening.  Here is what prolific children’s author and indefatigable sender Kay Winters, wrote:

ThisYearCover4

For a writer, pressing the send button is like…

Sending your kindergartner off

on that big yellow bus

with other children

who are happy, sad,

boisterous, quiet,

leaders or followers.

After five years

of nurturing, correcting,

rejoicing, repairing,

delighting, despairing

Now comes the  waiting…

The endless…  toe tapping waiting.

For the big yellow bus

and the special passenger.

to return with a verdict.

All of us who are writers

who have pushed the Send Button

know this

and yet we keep on.

Just like the 5 year old…

We keep risking, hoping growing.

Kay Winters…who pressed the Send Button, once again, last Friday.

Kay Winters is author of 22 fiction, non-fiction books for children ages 4-14. Visit Kay’s website

C&EAuthor Deborah Heiligman (deborahheiligman.com) had this to say about her award-winning young-adult book, Charles and Emma:  The Darwins’ Leap of Faith:

I was scared to press send with Charles and Emma. I called my agent, Ken, and said, “Will you hold my hand while I press send?” He said, “Deborah, I’m in the doctor’s office, I’m on the examining table, I’m NAKED.” I said, “Oh.” Pause. “But will you still hold my hand while I press send?” He said, “Sure.”

I want to thank Kay and Deborah for sharing their stories. We send our books out into the world with hope, trepidation, and courage.  Then we create stories from the responses.  Even rejections are potential material for stories.  (For entertaining rejection stories, visit my website at Pamela’s funniest rejection stories.

More About Pamela:

PamelaJane-web-150x145Pamela Jane is the author of over twenty-five children’s books published by Houghton Mifflin, Atheneum, Simon & Schuster, Harper, and others.  Her new children’s book Little Elfie One, illustrated by NY Times best-selling illustrator, Jane Manning, will be out from Harper in 2015. Her book (for adults) Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover’s Romp Through Jane Austen Classic was featured in The Wall Street JournalThe Huffington Post, and BBC America, among other places.

Pamela’s memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing:  A Writer’s Story, will be published in 2016. For more information, visit her at Pamelajane.com or Prideandprejudiceandkitties.com.

"Little Elfie One" Pamela Jane's new Christmas book (Harper, ages 4-7)

"Little Elfie One" Pamela Jane's new Christmas book (Harper, ages 4-7)

[Note from Matilda: Here's additional information on Pamela Jane's new children's book.]

Little Elfie One
Sequel to Little Goblins Ten
HarperCollins Children’s Books
978-0-06-220673-2 hardcover
Illustrated by Jane Manning
Ages 4-8; Grades PreK-3
Coming in September 2015 -
Pre-order from Amazon

Excerpt:

“Way up in the North
Where the reindeer run
A Big mommy elf
Called her little elfie one.”

“Santa comes tomorrow!”
“Hooray!” cried the one.
And he leaped and he laughed
Where the reindeer run.

Reviews:

“The classic children’s song “Over in the Meadow” moves to the North Pole in this Christmas-themed interpretation…Manning’s illustrations are simply irresistible, with appealing characters and strong compositions on each spread…this special story will be read or sung over in the library, over in the classroom, and over in the family room, next to the Christmas tree.”—Kirkus Reviews

The creators of Little Goblins Ten jump from Halloween to Christmas in this polar riff on “Over in the Meadow” … Manning’s dappled watercolors treat readers to comically exaggerated images—there’s almost a hint of mischief lurking in the narrowed eyes of her characters, be they human, elf, or animal—and deliver ample Christmas spirit. Ages 4–8 — Publisher’s Weekly

And Praise for Little Goblins Ten

“Trust the team of Jane and Manning to conjure up an impressive new vision in time for Halloween.” Kirkus, Starred Review.

“The classic counting rhyme ‘Over in the Meadow’ goes spooky in this Halloween riff, which should endure well past Oct. 31.” NY Times Book Review

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanne September 17, 2015 at

Pamela: This is a great (and fun) post. I also worry about hitting the SEND button. Have I really caught all the typos? Is my grammar correct? Have I left out a word that my eye just won’t catch? Will anyone else care about my story? Do I have a strong first sentence? Of course, if I am entering a contest, then the clock is ticking and I have to finally place my finger on Return, close my eyes, and press down.

Pamela Jane September 18, 2015 at

Jeanne: thank you for your comment! I know just how you feel, and it seems almost certain that as soon as you press “send” you find something that needs to be changed!

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