The Art Of Writing And Selling Memoirs Guest host Mary Louise Kelly talks with Sarah Crichton about the recent memoirs of teen star Justin Bieber and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Crichton is the publisher of Sarah Crichton Books at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and has assisted many memoirists, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The Art Of Writing And Selling Memoirs

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Mary Louise Kelly.

BLOCK: Sarah Crichton, thanks for joining us now.

SARAH CRICHTON: I'm glad to be here.

LOUISE KELLY: Tell me, does it strike you as unusual someone writing their memoir at the ripe old age of 16?

CRICHTON: Does it strike me as unusual? No, because we've had a spate of them. We're definitely in a sort of reality world, certainly there's an appetite right to learn about anybody's lives to whatever degree they're willing to tell us.

LOUISE KELLY: Well, as you sit at your desk in New York, I'm sure these offerings come to you all the time in the mail. What kind of thing are you looking for? What sort of pitch does somebody have to make for you to give it the green line?

CRICHTON: So you have those and they you also have all the different political figures. You're going to be having George Bush's memoir out after the elections. And I think those books often aren't read so much as sort of put on shelves to join the team and display which team you're a part of.

LOUISE KELLY: Is there anybody right now in the publishing world who is considered the big get, the one that if you heard they were in the market to sell their memoir you would be straight out, front of the line to try to bid on it?

CRICHTON: And in the case of a Condi Rice you don't expect her to reveal all. And so, the fact that she tells as much as she does in the book is going to not only satisfy but she's actually giving them a little bit more than they were going to expect. You expect different things from different people.

LOUISE KELLY: Now, I understand you have stopped working on memoirs lately because you are not crazy about the direction the industry is headed. In what sense?

CRICHTON: No, no. I love working on memoirs. I'm just wary because it's very hard for writers to put themselves out there. When you're working with somebody, you really work hard to get them to reveal as much of themself as they possibly can. Working with Madeline Albright was a wonderful experience because you had to push her a little bit to be a open and honest about her past as she was. But it's painful sometimes for - you're asking an author to put themselves on the line, and if their book goes into the marketplace and it gets rejected, that's an extremely painful experience for that person. And so, I'm a little cautious about it.

LOUISE KELLY: Hmm. Well, thank you very much.

CRICHTON: Pleasure.

LOUISE KELLY: That's Sarah Crichton. She's an editor and publisher at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and we spoke to her from our New York bureau.

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