The descriptions of a memoir can vary and be as different as the person who’s chronicling their life experience. It’s been called an uplifting experience, personal development tool and a way to gain closure from traumas.
Rory Henrique is a high-level executive, getting ready for retirement. He wanted to write his life story, with a focus on the lessons he learned working as a Portuguese businessman in America. He felt his experiences could really help others. In fact, he had previously written his story in Portuguese as two separate books, but he didn’t feel he had the time to rewrite the English versions.
Ilse Paradies Strand, author of “As I Remember”, says for years she reminisced to her children about her childhood, the years she spent in Germany during World War II, joining the U.S. Army as a young woman, learning English and later raising eight children.
Strand had an amazing story to tell, not only to her children but to the world – and so many could eventually relate to so many of her challenges and accomplishments.
Strand and Henrique are just two of the millions who are part of the Baby Boomer generation – anxious to tell their stories. Some are even calling this “the age of the memoir” perhaps because men and women are living longer and want to share what they’ve learned during their life so far. According to writer, Joseph Epstein, nearly 81% of the US population want to write a book, but that’s easier said than done.
While an individual’s experiences may include twists and turns and lessons to share, they may not possess the skills needed to put those great ideas and thoughts on paper. They may also not have the time, or the organizational tools needed.
One of the easiest solutions around that dilemma would be to assemble a team of freelance ghostwriter, editor, book cover designer, etc. Overall, they work together with the author; establishing a timeline for the project, help the author navigate the publishing industry, offer editing tips and publishing advice.
Make sure they know how to interpret your voice so that they can help your vision be properly communicated. Using cognitive and social empathy, they should listen closely to your story, making sure they capture the heart and soul of the experience that you have been through, the joys and sorrow.
If you are ready to plan your memoir, there are a few basic tips to get started.
1. Review Your Book Goals
What are your priorities in terms of what you gain as a result of your memoir? Is it leaving a legacy for loved ones, literally closing a chapter of your painful past or bringing awareness to an issue that has plagued your life?
Which events in your life will you use to create the story arc?
If you need to hire an editor, what kind of editing would you need? Developmental, line editing or just proof reading? Trying to find a compatible editor can waste a lot of time, so make sure that the editing process will be seamless after the manuscript has been written.
2. Get Timeline of the Project
Plan this like any other project – set timelines, milestones, etc., whether working on your own or with a freelance writer/editor.
3. Traditional vs. Self-Publishing
Research how you are going to publish: traditional or self-publish? Know the pros and cons of both types.
When you are hiring an editor, you can kill two birds with a same stone by hiring someone who has experience with assistance with both forms of book publishing.
Make sure your writing/publishing team is aware of current trends on book marketing as well so that when the time comes, the author or book marketer does not have to change content in your book to make it easy to market.
Think SEO – if done right at this stage, the book will be well on its way to get high ranks on major search engines and Amazon when it is published.
5. Visualize Your Book
Imagine in 3D:
What size is your book: 6 x 9 inches or 5 x 8 inches? What does the book cover look like? Is the cover glossy or matte?
Once you go through the checklist and agree on the basic elements – the rest is easy.
Remember, whether you want to write your memoir to inspire others, preserve a family legacy or heal from a traumatic experience, each chapter of your life is a special milestone in your own personal journey.