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 Here is our highly acclaimed new book, which has selected twice, to help you write your memoir. Scroll down for writing tips and publishing advice.  Unlike other memoir books, this new writer's guide includes cutting-edge insights and advice on both indie and traditional publication, as well as time-tested writing prompts and exercises on the craft of writing memoir. An award-winning memoirist and her NYC successful literary agent team up to guide you every step of the way--from life story to publication.

Buy the book at independent bookstores and at this link:


"When you write memoir you may discover that the love of your life is—your life."

—Your Life is a Book again features YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK in its January, 2016 Oprah Book Club 2.0 newsletter. Hot Topics: "Writing Exercises to Move Your Life Forward." 


 See Brenda's Blog for more Writing Prompts from Your Life is a Book

featured on and OWN/Huffington Post


A Comprehensive You Tube interview with author Brenda Peterson on HOW TO WRITE A MEMOIR: JUNE, 2015

LISTEN to our Sound Cloud podcast with Writing Tips on:

* Keeping Field Notes on Your Life

*Writing One Scene That Explains Your Whole Life

* What Each Scene Must Accomplish

* How Writing Your Life Story Makes You Happier and Healthier




Brenda on book tour teaching from YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK.

 Does writing memoir make you healthier and happier?We believe it does—and new research documents this. Listen to co-author Sarah Jane Freymann and Brenda Peterson talk about finding more fulfillment, self-discovery, and awareness through writing your life story on this SOUND CLOUD podcast, one of a series.


LISTEN FREE to LONDON Teleseminar with author Brenda Peterson on How to Write Your Memoir. You can download audio at this website:

International Association of Creative and Conscious Writers




How to Create a Character of the Self

Write from the Child's Point of View

Create a Compass of Characters selects

 YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK for its inspiration.


"If I were going to write the story of my life, this is the book I'd look to first and last for encouragement, inspiration, and practical advice."

 —Nancy Pearl, author of bestselling Book Lust series

LIBRARY JOURAL review: September 1, 2014

Peterson (I Want To Be Left Behind) and Freymann (founder, Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency) bring decades of experience to bear on the subject of writing and publishing a memoir. Affable, confident, and candid, the authors teach that the process, when done right, can be a journey of personal growth, illustrating their points with poignant examples and metaphors. Part 1, “Crafting Your Memoir,” introduces the genre and covers an array of topics: death, abuse, family secrets, food, travel, spirituality, animals, and more. The advice on what does and doesn’t work with each topic is razor sharp and is the overall strength of the book. Battle-tested tips, exercises, and prompts close most chapters, providing writers an opportunity to practice and apply their craft. The second half, “Getting Serious About Publishing,” offers insightful perspectives on blogging, agents, editors, handling rejection, indie publishing, and more. Discussions of factuality, point of view, drafting, and scenes are excellent but could be expanded. ­VERDICT This is a reassuring introduction to how writers should approach their first memoir and an honest discussion of what it will take to publish one.—Paul Stenis, Pepperdine Univ. Lib., Malibu, CA.


BOOKLIST review (October 1st)

 "Crafting a memoir from the bits and pieces of one’s life is a brave and daunting challenge and, like every worthy endeavor, one best accomplished with a trusted guide. Or two.

Accomplished writer Peterson (I Want to Be Left Behind, 2010) and literary agent Freymann share their personal experiences with the genre and offer valuable and practical tips about writing, revising, agents, editors, and publishers that can only come from those with years of insider access. From framing a narrative arc to finding one’s own voice, their advice is spot-on: affirmative, reassuring, inclusive, and accessible."


"Your Life is a Book is like having a personal writing mentor and practical literary agent guide you every step of the way in telling your life story. Inspiring, instructive, and most of all, inviting, Peterson and Freymann share their own successful writing and publishing experiences with warmth and wit. I wish I'd had this book when I was writing my memoir!" 

 —Sy Montgomery, author of bestselling memoir, The Good Good, Pig

"Your Life is a Book is terrific—a triumph of lucidity. It's the book I wish I'd had on hand when I was writing a memoir, and it's the book I'll definitely recommend to anyone planning to write one. Peterson and Freymann thought of everything, and demystified the difficult process of memoir-writing and soul-searching in the most positive way. Bravo!"

—Diane Johnson, author of bestselling Le Divorce and Flyover Lives

"This book gives you the firm, astute guidance of professionals, mixed with the humor, encouragement, and advice of a good friend—the perfect guide through the often difficult, delicate, and ultimately rewarding journey to completing a memoir. I thoroughly enjoyed it and even after writing two memoirs, I still learned a lot."

—Teresa Rhyne, author#1 NY Times Bestseller The Dog Lived (and So Will I)

"They offer plenty of insights gleaned from their own experiences . . . Much here that will be eye-opening for the aspiring memoirist." —Publishers Weekly

"Over the years, I have read a long list of books on writing . . .  what you offer here is extraordinarily compassionate, clear and helpful." —Joy Stocke, founder Wild River Review and Wild River Books

"In this perceptive, practical, sometimes spiritual guide, the discouraging mysteries of writing are clarified—both business-wise and art-wise. It's the book beginning writers wish for, and one veteran writers will be glad to return to, finding new insights in every re-reading."

—Nicole Hardy, author Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin

 Whether you're writing your memoir for self-exploration, to leave a legacy, blogging or for publication, Your Life Is A Book takes you on a step-by-step journey from concept to completion. This writer's guide to the memoir is rich with insight, advice, storytelling, and encouragement. Memoirist Brenda Peterson and New York literary agent, Sarah Jane Freymann team up to share with you their expertise in writing and publishing your life story. Your Life Is A Book offers accessible and inspiring writing techniques, exercises, publishing tips, and real-life stories of other authors whose memoirs have transformed their life and work. The book is also a practical guide to both traditional and indie publishing, including interviews with professional editors, publishers, critics, and memoirists. Every life is remarkable in its own way, but this book shows you how to write a book that others will want to read and share.

 Stay tuned for podcasts and video on how to write your own memoir.

Sarah Jane Freymann


About the Authors

Brenda Peterson is the author of 18 books. Her memoir I Want to Be Left Behind, was selected as a "Top Ten Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year" by The Christian Science Monitor. Her first memoir Build Me an Ark: A Life with Animals, was a "Best Spiritual Book of the Year." Peterson has written for The New York Times, Utne Reader, and Oprah magazine. Since 1990, Peterson has taught private classes and helped many of her students publish. She lives in Seattle.

Sarah Jane Freymann is a New York City literary agent who has helped shepherd books onto bestseller lists, mentored fledging writers, and helped authors transform their lives through memoir. Together Brenda and Sarah Jane have taught writing seminars on the East and West Coasts.


Author Brenda Peterson and co-author/literary agent, Sarah Jane Freymann, teaching at their LIFE STORY seminar in Seattle, Washington.

 Brenda's two memoirs


I Want to Be Left Behind: Finding Rapture Here on Earth was selected as an Indie Next, "Great Read," by independent booksellers and chosen as a "Top Ten Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year" by The Christian Science Monitor. Booklist starred review: "An unusually affecting and radiant spiritual memoir . . . witty, enrapturing account of a spiritual journey of great relevance to us all." 

Build Me an Ark: A Life with Animals was hailed by Publisher's Weekly: "A life-long love of animals combined with a jeweler's eye for multifaceted philosophical meanings provide Peterson with a wealth of fascinating anecdotes and insights in this engaging memoir." It was selected as a "Best Spiritual Book of the Year," by Spirituality and Health magazine.

WRITING MEMOIR: Finding Your Voice
BOOK LUST interview with Brenda Peterson

JOIN THE BOOK TOUR! Watch author Brenda Peterson teach how to write and publish your life story. Learn how to create a character of the self, structure a narrative arc, and writing prompts to get you started on your own memoir. Also indie vs. traditional publishing tips. At Powell's Books October 16, 2014.

- See more at:

Huffington Post at this link:
 An Author's Guide to Publishing
Posted: 05/03/2013 9:25 pm


Since the characters in my new novel, The Drowning World, are hybrids -- half-dolphin and half-human -- it made perfect sense when Digital Book World declared me a "hybrid author." Writers who publish both traditionally and as indie authors are now the cutting edge in publishing. We have much to teach other aspiring authors about this diverse publishing scene. Bottom line: This is the most exhilarating and empowering time to be an author.

After publishing 17 books traditionally -- from Knopf to Penguin to W.W. Norton -- I decided to explore what my New York literary agent, Sarah Jane Freymann, calls "the great experiment" of indie publication.

Even for a technophile -- I've worked as an editorial assistant at The New Yorker, a typesetter, and a professional editor -- indie publishing was a high learning curve. So I carried many of my professional book designers, editors, proofreaders, and marketing mavens with me into the indie world. I called this team my "publishing pod," in honor of the dolphin pods who have long inspired my nonfiction. Recently, Publishers Weekly featuredThe Drowning World and credited my expert team as "podmates."

Finding your publishing podmates -- whether in traditional publishing houses or indie imprints -- is the most important element of a successful book. Here are a few practical questions to help you decide whether to choose traditional or indie publishing -- or both.

First or 14th Book?

Are you a traditionally published author whose backlist is languishing with your publisher? Get the rights reverted to you and bring your backlist out again into ebooks on all platforms.Smashwords and many other companies offer ebook conversion at a good rate. I used Data Conversion Laboratory to convert my traditionally published backlist, my New York Times"Notable Book of the Year," Duck and Cover and Animal Heart, into ebooks on Nook, iBooks, Kindle, and KOBO. You can control pricing and track your sales figures. If you have a literary agent, ask her to consider submitting your next book proposal to traditional houses, while at the same time, preparing it for indie publication. You may be delighted to have to choose between an offer and blazing your own indie trail -- like Pulitzer-prize-winning author David Mamet, who will self-publish his next book.

Advances and CrowdSourcing

Traditional authors know that unless you're a celebrity or blockbuster, advances have shrunk while Big Six publishers endure their current free-fall. Some independent publishers are thriving, like Seattle's Sasquatch Books, with its best-selling Nancy Pearl Book Lustseries. Or Algonquin Books of North Carolina, known for their literary panache with Water for Elephants and the inspiring new Imperfect Harmonies. Independent publishers offer modest advances. But they promise enduring support, not just for the launch and first few months; they have a select list of books and nurture all their authors over time. It's a smart business model that the Big Six publishers might find instructive as they learn to be more far-sighted, nimble, and adapt to a swiftly tilting publishing scene.

Both traditional and indie authors can turn to such successful crowdsourcing asKickstarter. To hire my expert traditional publishing team, I raised $5,000 for my successful Kicksarter campaign, "Dive Into the Future with The Drowning World." It's best to make a brief video and really pay attention to the rewards for your supporters. During the 30 days of raising funds on Kickstarter, it was thrilling to watch the sponsors come in -- almost like being in Las Vegas on a winning streak. Kickstarter makes it really easy to keep updating your reader-sponsors and they are like a digital megaphone. Many of the thousands of visitors to my website each month find me via Kickstarter. Think of it as a pre-book tour to build your audience.

E-Book -- and then Paperback

Wait a few months after you publish an ebook and build your audience before publishing a paperback. Of course, there's the ubiquitous Amazon Create Space, iUniverse, and many other paperback indie publishers. But why not also consider working directly with your local bookstore, if they have the very cool Espresso Book Machine Network, as I did with The Drowning World?

My favorite regional bookstores are Seattle's University Bookstore and Bellingham's Village Books. Along with Amazon's Create Space, I also published the paperback with their Espresso Book Machine Network. The Drowning World is on the fabulous Indie Boundwebsite for all independent bookstores to purchase.

Think of using both Amazon and Espresso Book Machine, the way we now combine Western and alternative medicines. Or enjoying micro-breweries and that special boutique -- as well as department stores. Yes, Espresso Book Machine (EBM) publishing is more expensive than Amazon or others, but they offer hands-on expert production, community, bookstore display and public readings. According to The Christian Science Monitor,independent bookstores are making a comeback and if this is your first or 14th book, you may prefer the EBM's more collaborative and personal connection that authors always enjoy from actually meeting their publishers and readers.

Find Experts and Community

Whether you have one book or 20, consider joining the Authors Guild and Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), a national organization that has clout and connections. Their recent IBPA Publishing University in Chicago offered a keynote with Guy Kawasaki, whose APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book) is indispensable. IBPA's "Ask the Experts" program lets indie authors learn about production, marketing, and social medias.

In the solitary lives of authors, community is the hearth by which we warm ourselves. It does take a village or a pod to publish a good book, whether with a traditional house or when independently launching into what Kawasaki calls, "artisanal publishing. I plan to publish the sequel to The Drowning World independently, for a quicker delivery of the series. But I also just sold a new non-fiction book to a traditional publisher. In the Next Wave of publishing, we authors have more options, more decisions, and more opportunities than ever before. Dive in!

This is the first in a series on publishing from a writer's perspective.


Brenda Peterson's books include a new children's book, Leopard and Silkie, the recent memoir, I Want to Be Left Behind, which was selected as a "Top Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year," by The Christian Science Monitor and the new YA novel series, The Drowning World. For more:


Brenda and Sarah Jane in Florida recording the audio of YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK