Sample Editorial Memo (Non-fiction Manuscript)

The entire map of the book is contained in the introduction; on page 5 you state the issues that are important; therefore, we will use this as our synopsis / focus.

On page 6 you explain who you are, which piques the reader’s curiosity and promises that there will be some personal references served up with the political and historical. Then on page 13, you confirm that by referring to the book as a “historical memoir.” I totally agree!

Chapter 1
This chapter is great reading—possibly begin the book here. It will probably have to be broken into several chapters. In certain places, the voice wavers too much between joy and militancy, so we will have to decide which one to go with.

Chapter 2
Parts of this chapter have too many events described at once, with no detail or background; in other parts there is too much detail. On page 30, your summary of what you learned eliminates the need for many of the quotes, references, etc. which precede it.

On page 32 I noted that we should not reference the company here but move it further in if necessary. Flashbacks and flashforwards interrupt the flow. This book is best in a linear format; in that way, we are real-time participants in your discovery of self both as a man and as a politician.

Chapters 3 and 4:
OK as written.

Chapter 5
History, students & politics, elections… this chapter is unfocused until page 97, which offers some usable bits & pieces.

Chapter 6
Now, we are good and candid about law school. A very revealing chapter that moves the story forward. A keeper.

Chapter 7
P. 136: The end of this chapter takes today, ties it in with the past, and offers a recipe for the future. Could be moved to the end of the book.

Chapter 8
This is a great chapter despite its intimidating topic. This is what gave me the idea of using the back of the book to feature instructions/lessons/points pulled from the book verbatim. This chapter is instructional—and impactfully so—simply by virtue of your experience, detailed chronicle of events, and storytelling tone! No academic treatise required.

Chapter 9
A fun discussion of the local bar scene—yet, still on topic, with some good instructional takeaways! Still having trouble identifying the time line though.

Chapter 10
Off to a good start but weighted down by excerpt from dissertation, various bullet points, excessive detail, etc. Many quotes here are of things already previously explained. Must pick out the nuggets and pare down info. Trim this chapter down.

Chapter 11
Namedropping interrupts the flow. I know these people may be important to you, but most likely the reader wasn’t there… so whenever a name pops up, the reader is forced to go back and turn pages for a reminder of who the person was. Mustn’t lose / overwhelm the reader in this way.

From page 118 on is too detailed; names people who don’t propel the story. Then we have technical citations. The point has been made previously, so this material is extraneous.

Pages 128 to 130 have nuggets of the conclusion. Condense.

Chapter 12
This chapter does not belong in this book, if only because it’s academic, not personal. Black power treatise? This is repetitive. Not that it’s not true; it’s just not personal.

Chapter 13:
A very problematic chapter! Too much history to swallow all at once. This is more history than memoir. Pages 170 to 175 makes you sound very bitter, plus it has no instructional payoff for the reader. Must omit. Pages 181-187 make a good substitution for the over-verbiage!

Chapter 14
Repeats what’s in Chapter 10. Omit.

Chapter 15
Pages 221-232 are great. Then, we have a rhetorical section—a debate with no one answer, therefore it’s not helpful. Pages 235-240 have too much scolding. Cut scolding–the reader wants solutions.