How to Write a Page-Turning Memoir That Agents and Publishers Will Love

Today I’m pleased to share a conversation I had recently with Syd Goldsmith. Syd is the author of the new book, Hong Kong on the Brink: An American Diplomat Relives 1967’s Darkest Days, published by Blacksmith Books.

In 1967, Syd was stationed in the American Consulate General in Hong Kong, still a British colony at the time. This was an extraordinary moment in history: China was in the grip of the Cultural Revolution, which was rapidly spilling over into Hong Kong. In his book, Syd gives us an armchair view of his life and work as a diplomat at the very center of a dangerous political storm.

The South China Morning Post calls it “an informative, engaging read filled with vivid historical detail.”

This is Syd’s third book and his first memoir. His previous two books were novels, one of which was a finalist for the Lupton New Voices in Literature Award. Two of his three books have been acquired by traditional publishers.

While he currently lives in Taipei, Taiwan, Syd continues to maintain active ties to the writing community in the US. He has attended writing workshops at the University of Iowa, the Maui Writer’s Festival, and at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York. He’s active in the Literary Arts Center there, and has served as vice chairman of the Writers’ Center.

In our conversation, which we conducted in person in Taipei, Syd shares how, despite never considering himself a writer for many years, he eventually became a published author.

He explains why it’s never too late to publish your first book: He published his first novel at the age of 68, and his latest book at the age of 79.

He underscores the importance of getting honest and critical feedback on your writing.

He talks about the value of attending writer’s conferences, and he shares the story of how he found his agent at one of them.

He describes the process he went through to pitch his book and land a publishing contract within just 9 days.

And he gives us a peek into his own writing process—a question I like to ask all of my guests on this podcast.

For more information about Syd, to find out how to reach him, and to order his book on Amazon, go to

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