Marisa Bardach Ramel: ‘Try It and See’

Marisa Bardach Ramel

First-time author Marisa Bardach Ramel, who co-wrote the memoir The Goodbye Diaries with her late mother, Sally Bardach, talked about her book and her career on Episode 29 of the NYWICI podcast Coffee Break. A media industry veteran, Bardach Ramel reveals what it’s like to write and publish a very personal story about the mother-daughter bond after her mom was diagnosed with cancer 18 years ago.

Bardach Ramel is also the program advisor at Newhouse NYC, a program that provides Newhouse students from Syracuse University a unique opportunity to take specialized coursework in NYC, while working part-time as interns at various media companies.

Here are some key takeaways from her conversation with host Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich.

The long road to becoming a published author
Following her mother’s death in 2002, Bardach Ramel spent many years “heads down and writing” her manuscript, either on her own or in writers’ groups. She also read other memoirs of grief to educate herself on the genre.

In 2014, she first sent her manuscript and book proposal to an editor. After some feedback, she sent it to two literary agents at Thompson Literary agency. “I felt very lucky that they believed in the story,” she says. Still, it was initially rejected by publishers, who told Bardach Ramel she should market it to a young adult (YA) audience.

She eventually found another “badass” editor who spoke honestly about why she didn’t believe the book should be YA. When indie publisher Wyatt MacKenzie picked up Bardach Ramel’s book, she ultimately hired the badass editor — and credits her for much of the story’s success.

The biggest mistake that job seekers make
In her role as Newhouse NYC’s program advisor, Bardach Ramel says she sees young applicants submit many resumes to job listings, expecting to be called for interviews. “Don’t spend a lot of time on job listings,” she says. “Jobs are found 80 percent of the time through networking, so the rule is that you spend 80 percent of your time networking.”

How to write a great cover letter
“If a cover letter is optional, send one,” Bardach Ramel says. She recommends personalizing your résumé and cover letter for each position. That sounds like a lot of work, but if you have an easily customizable cover letter and at least two different versions of your résumé ready to go, you’ll be able to send them out quickly. “Explain why you are passionate about this role and what about your experience makes you the best candidate,” Bardach Ramel says.

Pivoting from one industry to another? “Spend more time telling your story and how your skills are transferable,” she suggests.

The best advice she’s gotten is the simplest
Bardach Ramel was about a third way though writing her book and was worried she wouldn’t have enough of her mother’s content to make the book work. Her husband offered some sage wisdom: “Try it and see.”

Learn more about Bardach Ramel at
— Andrea Goldstein


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