Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Seeing Friends' Marriage Woes Spurs Reader to Action

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my neighbors has decided to write a book -- a memoir, I guess it would be called. She is passionate about this and comes to me regularly to help her get her ideas together because she knows that I work in the publishing industry. My problem is that as much as I love her and want her to fulfill this dream, I can see that she is a terrible writer. I don’t have time to edit her work, but I know that no publisher is going to sign her at the rate she is going. Her writing skills are poor. Her grammar skills are abysmal, and she is a mediocre storyteller as well. What she has going for her is that her raw story is moving and compelling. As a writer-editor, what would you say to this woman to be of support without taking on too much? -- Novice Writer Reality Check, Denver

DEAR NOVICE WRITER REALITY CHECK: As a professional, you can sit down with your friend and tell her that you would like her permission to give her a trained assessment. With her blessing, tell her if she truly wants to get her book published, she will need help. Perhaps she can take a memoir-writing class. She may want to consider getting a ghostwriter to help her write the book. At the very least, she needs a copy editor to ensure that the grammar is accurate. Tell her about the self-publishing option, but note that she should not self-publish until her book is of adequate quality.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)