Glow Girl’s Guide to Memoir Writing

Dawn Michelle Hardy is well-known in the literary world as The Literary Lobbyist for her razor sharp skills in spotting talent as a literary agent and book publicist. But to me, she is my Literary Godmother.

Way before I got a publishing deal, I reached out the Brooklynite boss lady as an unknown, unpublished aspiring author. She chose to spend a half-hour with me over the phone that changed the trajectory of my writing career forever.

With two children’s books now on the market published by a world-class publisher (Denene Millner) at a world-class publishing house (I’m signed at Simon & Schuster), I wanted to share with Glow Girls everywhere the diamonds and pearls that Dawn had shared with me. Hence, I bring you Dawn’s Glow Girl Guide to getting your memoir out of your heart and onto the writing screen. – Markette Sheppard

Whether you believe it was the book you were born to write or you have a uniquely heartwarming coming-of-age story that friends say, “you should really write a book” – it’s about time you get your message into the world and on the TBR (to be read) lists of bookstagrammers everywhere.

Yes, you!

As a book publicist and literary agent, I attend conferences and meet wonderful, everyday people who are highly invested in taking the journey to write a memoir. 

Those aspirants want to take the courageous leap to share some earlier accounts of their lives that will be shocking, memorable, inspirational, loving and entertaining to the masses.  

Writing a memoir requires the author to have an intriguing voice, strong writing and the willingness to bear their personal truth with vulnerability. Readers are looking to draw a connection to the author’s experience. In today’s marketplace having a notable platform excites agents who are looking to land the big deals; however, a memoir is the most popular non-fiction category where extraordinary people can thrive without having amassed national celebrity. 

It’s no surprise that former first lady Michelle Obamas’ BECOMING sold one million copies the opening week and has spent 43 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers list. 

What may surprise you is that the story of a young girl in Idaho who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a Ph.D. from Cambridge University has spent 82 weeks on that same list.


This is the international bestselling memoir, EDUCATED by Tara Westover. While EDUCATED was released nine months earlier than BECOMING, what makes this impressive run special is that Tara is not a celebrity, politician, athlete, or even a YouTube sensation. 

She was relatively unknown to the general public-at-large prior to the release of her memoir.  Westover’s account of what she struggled with and how she overcame it pulled readers in by the thousands including Bill Gates and Barack Obama who listed EDUCATED on their personal reading lists.

The New York Times book review stated “Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.”

If you are toying with the idea of writing a memoir I suggest you, zone in on the particular period of your life and clearly identify the obstacle or experience you want to share, be honest in your motivation for writing, be true to the accounts as best you can, share traits of yourself and others to build connection, right with passion, and create a compelling hook that makes a publishing professional want to invest in your story. 

Embarking on this journey to leave a legacy in words will require consistency with the writing, commitment to completion, emotional and physical stamina. 

Enjoy the experience and remember, your memoir is a story that someone needs to read.

Picture of Dawn Michelle Hardy

Dawn Michelle Hardy

Dawn Michelle Hardy is President and Principal Consultant of <strong><a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="" target="_blank">Dream Relations PR</a></strong>. She holds dual titles in publishing— award-winning book publicist and literary agent. She is affectionately known as <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="" target="_blank">The Literary Lobbyist</a> and will host the inaugural Publishing in Your Pajamas virtual writers conference during NaNoWriMo this November. She splits her time between Brooklyn, NY and Charlotte, NC.

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