I MAKE BOOKS WORK. It’s what I do. I also make essays, blog posts and op-eds work. In short, I make memoir work. Memoir coaching should make writers work hard. It should make good memoir. I understand what that is because I write memoir and and I teach memoir. I do not give prompts, assignment or exercises. I do not coddle or give you gratuitous advice. What I do is to teach you to write with intent. And, as a result, my clients get published.
Interested in working with me? My memoir coaching services and individual writing instruction are step five of my 5 Steps to Writing Great Memoir. If you’ve arrived on this page, I hope your explored the previous four steps, read my book, and signed up for Memoirama, if not taken another of my online or in-person classes.
If so, let’s move on.
Writing is a solitary craft, but we all need help from time to time. I provide memoir writing help beginning at $200/hour and ranging from short consultations that can sharpen the initial idea for an essay or book to thorough critiques of completed manuscripts. I am a memoir editor and teacher. Let me tell you more about my memoir editing services.
A Few Testimonials From My Memoir Coaching Clients
Marion Roach Smith isn’t just a fine teacher, generous mentor, and sharp and kind critic, she’s also a master at the form of memoir. She coaxes from you and your text what you’re really trying to communicate. She whittles away the unnecessary until all that’s left is the shining essential: your story.
— David Leite, author, Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression (Dey Street, 2017), blogger at Leite’s Culinaria
It is neither simple nor comfortable to strip yourself naked in 200-plus pages of a memoir. Even more painful is shipping said document to a stranger for a thorough review and content edit. But in hiring Marion Roach Smith to edit my manuscript, I discovered not only a caretaker but a craftsman. Marion knows the art of story: how to pull all the right pieces together, arrange them in perfect order, so the telling is both honoring and rich. She took my raw, exposed draft and helped me turn it into a masterpiece. It will not be the last time I bare my soul to such a talent.
–Michele Cushatt, writer, speaker, author of Undone, A Story of Asking Peace With An Unexpected Life, (Zondervan, 2015) and I Am, A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is (Zondervan, 2017).
The Buddhist proverb “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” has certainly proven true in my own life. After deciding to move forward with a memoir languishing on my hard drive for 5 years, I discovered that Marion, who has penned one of the best memoir writing books around, also offered one-on-one editing and manuscript critiques. Huzzah! She’s a gifted instructor whose guidance and encouragement are making me a better writer and my book, a much more viable piece for publication.
– Judith Henry, author, The Dutiful Daughter’s Guide to Caregiving.
Marion has an energetic and positive drive, which make her the powerhouse and perfect teacher that she is. That feeling of empowerment – that “yes-of-course-I-can-do-this” philosophy – never wavered while working with Marion. She is a brilliant writer, who has mastered the art of memoir and story telling. While it is rare to find someone who is passionate about what they do, it is even rarer to find someone who desires to teach those still learning. I am lucky to have found both in Marion and hope this is just the beginning of many years to come.
— Deanna Paul, essayist.
Marion is a gift to writers. We who write memoirs are lucky indeed that she has chosen to work with memoirists. She’s a talented writer and an impressive writing coach. Everything she teaches is delivered with a ferocity for great writing, good humor and her love of writers.
–Annie Phenix, co-author of Chosen Mothers, Chosen Daughters
Individual Memoir Coaching Instruction
Manuscript editing and critiques
This service is for those seeking a critique of a completed manuscript. You will receive:
- A full read-through.
- Theme suggestions.
- Structure suggestions.
- A 3-5 page written critique (only on manuscripts over 250 pages).
- A marked-up manuscript returned with margin edits on content, encouragement for what is working, occasional lavish praise.
- A one-hour phone or Skype call to go over your manuscript. (Additional hours available at the rate listed below.) All manuscripts are returned within 3 weeks unless otherwise stipulated.
Writing a book
This service is for those who do not have a completed manuscript, but prefer to work one-on-one while writing a book. This process includes:
- Individual Skype consultations, beginning with an initial conversation, during which you will be given specific tasks to help you identify your theme and argument.
- Follow-up consultations on how to structure the book and how to get it written in a reasonable amount of time.
(Regular submissions may be sent to me in the form of 1,000-word installments of your manuscript. This way, you may choose to have me read the whole book, or only those parts giving you trouble. When a completed manuscript is produced, you have the option to submit it for a thorough manuscript review at the rates below.)
This is for those wanting to learn how to write the personal essay, op-ed or blog post. This consists of Skype or phone consultations on:
- How to construct an essay, op-ed or blog post.
- How to get it written.
- How to edit for space.
- How to build a collection of essays for possible publication as a book.
- How to turn those essays into one, long-form manuscript.
This service is available for any length manuscript, and is performed by a reliable, fast and accurate copyeditor. Just ask. I’ll refer you.
My minimum engagement is $400. Details:
- $200/ hour for reading and consulting on manuscripts of fewer than 100 pages. SEE NOTE BELOW*.
- $800/100 pages of a manuscript over 100 pages. In other words, a 300-page manuscript will be $2,400.
*Please note: All submissions must be double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman type, set with margins at approximately 300 words per page.
How to begin
Contact me by sending me an email me at mroachsmith [at] gmail [dot] com. Tell me the following things:
- What you currently possess – an idea for a book/essay, a work in progress or a completed manuscript.
- Which services interest you.
- How to contact you.
What you will get
- A quick response.
- If we agree on terms, you will receive a commitment from me to do my best work.
- A follow-up letter telling you how to proceed.
- Advice on how to find an agent and suggestions on how to thrive — not merely survive — in contemporary publishing.
What you sometimes get instead
After an initial consult, or after I look at the manuscript, I may suggest using a different editor. I work closely with a former NYC publishing executive whose expertise is broad, and who I regularly suggest for jobs. If this is the case, you owe me nothing and are free to negotiate directly with her.
What you do not get
- A guarantee of publication. No one can guarantee you that. I promise that I will bring the full knowledge of my four books, countless essays and blog posts, and more than 20 years of teaching to your project.
- Gratuitous praise. I will always tell you the truth.
- My agent’s email address.
Join my classes
I now teach online. Please see my 5 Steps for Writing Great Memoir for more.
Invite me for your group
I am available to teach the fine art of writing memoir to large and small groups. I can provide:
- Memoirama, a 90-minute multi-media presentation.
- A humorous one-hour TED-ish talk in defense of memoir, plus time for Q&A.
- Memoirama, plus a two-hour session of instruction in which students pitch me their work.
- An initial lecture plus follow-up classes.
Contact me at mroachsmith [at] gmail [dot] com about any of this. (Please note: Rates vary by size of group and duration of classes and include travel expenses.)