You’ll want to read my book too.
A Smile for Anna is a unique book, intersecting two subjects—cleft lip and apraxia of speech—that to my knowledge have never been addressed individually, let alone together, in a full-length memoir. But there are similar successful titles released by both small and large presses that demonstrate the potential marketability of this book. Here is a list of five complementary special-needs titles taken from the many memoirs I read while writing this book. (Click on the covers to read more about each title.)
Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal by Scott Benner (Spry Publishing, 2013). A father adjusts to being a stay-at-home dad while coping with his daughter’s type-1 diabetes diagnosis. Both Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal and A Smile for Anna address the growing trend of stay-at-home-dads from their perspective and show the authors coping with an unexpected medical diagnosis. (Read my review)
Schuyler’s Monster by Robert Rummel-Hudson (St. Martin’s, 2008). A father struggles to help his wordless daughter communicate with the world. Both Schuyler’s Monster and A Smile for Anna deal with motor speech disorders, and both are told from a father’s perspective.
The Wet Engine by Brian Doyle (Paraclete, 2005). A father faces the unthinkable when his infant son undergoes open-heart surgery. Both The Wet Engine and A Smile for Anna tell the story of a child in surgery, and of a father grasping for answers and for deeper understanding.
Babyface by Jeanne McDermott (Woodbine/Penguin, 2001). A mother discovers that her newborn son has Apert syndrome, a rare craniofacial disorder requiring multiple surgeries over the first few years of his life. Both Babyface and A Smile for Anna feature infants with craniofacial conditions, and parents coping with children in surgery.
Expecting Adam by Martha Beck (Penguin, 1999). An in-utero diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome introduces a skeptical mother-to-be to a spiritual plane she never suspected as she experiences visions of her son before his birth. Both Expecting Adam and A Smile for Anna address the deeper metaphysical questions that special needs parents face when confronted with an unexpected diagnosis.
And if that wasn’t enough, here are three more books outside the specific niche of special needs memoir that also share some characteristics with A Smile for Anna.
Adventures of a Stay-at-Home Dad by Adam Fisher Bradley (Lulu, 2012). A series of stories with a strong faith component similar to the one that runs through A Smile for Anna. Two tales of two stay-at-home dads facing different situations with a similar outlook on life. (Read my review)
Speaking of Apraxia: A Guide for Parents of Children with Apraxia of Speech by Leslie Lindsay (Woodbine, 2012). Not a memoir, but a step-by-step guide for parents facing this diagnosis. Speaking of Apraxia describes many of the issues that we faced in the last third of A Smile for Anna, and it includes some short sidebars detailing parents’ stories of coping with aspects of the diagnosis. (Read my review)
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott (Anchor, 2005). A mother journals the first year of her son’s life. Both Operating Instructions and A Smile for Anna track the development of infants as they reach various milestones and do so with humor and poignancy. Both books also superimpose death and life by addressing the issues of a close family member facing a terminal disease.
In many book proposals, this list is included in a section called “Competing Titles,” but I prefer to think of them as “Complimentary Titles.” I can’t begin to compete with these fantastic writers, but I can share their readers, and there are certainly enough readers to go around.