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Thursday, November 19, 2015


Recently I gave two memoir workshops at the Memories Are Made of This Genre-LA conference. One of them was writing your memoir as fiction.

I was speaking with my friend and frequent guest on our WTT radio show, author Jon D'Amore, and he said he has gone the opposite way. Originally published as fiction, his best-selling book is now being marketed as what it is--a memoir.

Jon wrote a great article about it that was to be in the November-December issue of the Writers Tricks of the Trade online magazine, but unfortunately we had to go to publication before it was received.

No worries. The full article will be in the January-February 2016 issue. But then I thought, why not give you a bit of it here? You can read the rest in the upcoming magazine, but even this taste of how it all began is interesting. You can buy his book at Amazon and other outlets, listen to the podcast, and visit his website.

Switching To A Memoir
Jon D’Amore

I started writing my true mob story, THE BOSS ALWAYS SITS IN THE BACK, in
1998 when my oldest cousin and Godfather Jerry was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I needed to know some of the details I was unaware of in order to tell my story fully and honestly.
From conception to completion it took (a) about 14 months to get it all into my laptop, (b) dozens of printed pages to paper-edit what I had written the day before, (c) sending more than a dozen drafts to trusted literary industry and hardcore book-reading friends, (d) and last…but certainly not least…I made the required edits, fixed the typos and presented a copy to my literary/entertainment attorney…whose opinion I trust above all.
When those copies came back with each person’s ecstatic reviews and comments (especially those from my attorney) I decided to get the book published, which meant entering a world I had no idea of.
The bigger publishing companies refused to deal with me. I didn’t have an agent to send them the manuscript. The major literary agencies didn’t want to know about me because I was an unknown writer in my fifties offering a true story about the events in my life while living, playing and scamming with members of my mob-connected family. They weren’t interested in reading it and saw it as nothing more than a vanity project.
I was actually told by one agent that she didn’t see the logic of signing a writer “with only one book in your catalog, because I don’t know if you’ll ever write anything else…and my time and my future are valuable to me.”
The biggest laugh I ever got was when a literary manager in California and an agent from one of the top New York agencies told me they’d handle me after I sold 25,000 copies of THE BOSS in 6 months on my own.
What made it even funnier was when I ask them (in my New Jersey accent and attitude), “If I can sell 25,000 copies…why would I need you? What publishing company would want me after I just took away twenty-five thousand customers?” At that point, neither one of them wanted to deal with me and said I was “already too difficult to work with.”
That’s where they made their first mistake. There’s a reason they make 15% and we make the difference. It’s because they work for us…not with us.
So I put the manuscript aside and successfully worked as a script doctor for a few years (until the dreaded Writers Strike) with several studios and production companies in L.A.

In 2011, and after a multitude of those friends I mentioned earlier pushed me to do so, I started to think about the ever-expanding world of self-publishing.

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