Should I Write and Publish My Memoir?

writing a memoirBeing a ghostwriter, quite a few people have shared their ideas and dreams with me about writing a book. I become their fast confidant, which is a role I enjoy!

Many people who want to share their life story really aren’t sure how to go about starting.

Does this sound like you?

If so, here are a few questions to consider:

What makes a good memoir? This is a question many people fail to ask themselves. A book that seeks revenge or shares a horrific upbringing as its theme would be a book that shouldn’t be written. Only write your book if you would still be proud of it in five years.

Here are some elements to think about as you consider writing a memoir, whether it’s for posterity or for all to read:

Will my book uplift others? Really, at the end of the day, you want to create a book that will inspire others toward greatness. You want to encourage them to live their lives to the fullest, and learn from your experiences.

Do I have an interesting story to tell? A story is made up a series of incidents tied together by an overall theme. These incidents flow on a path, which follows a message and purpose. If you really only have an anecdote, even if it is hilarious, moving, or powerful, it isn’t enough for a book. It could make a good short story though!

Is my story unique? If you have a powerful viewpoint and a story with lots of action, you have the makings of a riveting book. But it’s equally important that the author has done something which would intrigue and educate the reader. Adventures are fun, but when it comes to memoirs readers expect to take something positive away from your life experiences. They want to learn from your example.

Should I self-publish? If you’re a celebrity or have been the topic of a strong news story recently, you might be able to write a good proposal, find an agent and get a good contract with a publisher. Otherwise, it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that you will land a decent publishing contract. And keep in mind that this process takes time and can be difficult. In addition, if you’re a first time author, don’t expect to get an advance. Most likely you’ll receive a 10% royalty, which will only kick in once the book starts selling and that could be years later.

In this day and age, especially with the advent of eBooks, you can do very well as a self-published author. You’ll have to learn a little about the industry, but if you can pull together a marketing plan, you can sell your book on Amazon.com and other popular retailers.

Should I hire a ghostwriter? The answer really boils down to time, money, and skill. Writing a book on your own takes time and skill, but will save you a lot of money. Hiring a ghostwriter will alleviate your concerns over time and skill, but will cost you money upfront.

These are the top questions I receive from readers and clients specifically regarding writing memoirs. I’d really encourage you to explore your goals in writing a book. If your purpose is to help others, you will probably do well.

If you have a question that I haven’t covered here, please feel free to email me! I’d love to help you.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Questions for a Ghostwriter

Seven Tips For Writing A Great Memoir

It’s Good Business to Write a Book

Four Different Ghostwriting Methods

What Are Good Memoir Themes?

memoir themesMany people don’t consider that there should be memoir themes. Memoirs are just life stories, right? But just like with any story, your memoir should have a message, an overall theme. Remember, you’re not publishing your diary or a shopping list of memories. Your memoir needs to follow the same rules as any book, so you must be able to tie the threads of your tapestry together with a compelling theme.

So, what are some good themes for a memoir? Here are a few examples to consider:

Persistence always wins in the end. If you’ve lived a hard life, one with lots of obstacles to overcome, this can be a great theme if you’ve triumphed. However, if you’re still amid the battle and really don’t have anything positive to share, or wish to complain to your reader, it won’t make for a good book. I mean, would you want to read a book like that?

Continual courage can lead to victory. We have all experienced battles where the odds seemed against us. It’s what you do at those moments that count and can make for a good story. If your life is filled with examples of courage and integrity, that would be a great theme.

Family is important. This is a simple theme, but a good one. In this day and age, where the media reports that most marriages fail and children are growing up without the support and love of their parents, a good memoir showing the beautiful bond of family is important. Simply recording your family history for future generations is also a great concept!

Ethical people lead better lives. If your story highlights times when you stood up and did the right thing, even when it was difficult for you, your story can set an example for others. It isn’t always easy to keep your integrity, especially when peers are there pressuring you to do the opposite. Writing a book that shows how you succeeded by being ethical can help others make similar choices in their own lives. Perhaps someone will pick up your book when they’re at an important crossroad in their life and just need a gentle nudge to make the right decision.

Crime doesn’t pay. I actually receive a number of requests from former inmates who are eager to share their stories of reform. The ones who are passionate about this subject, who regularly go out and speak to young adults can do well with a complementary memoir. It might be rough in places and won’t always be happy-go-lucky, but the lessons learned by someone who has traveled the wrong path can be helpful to others. This theme works best if the author is presently leading a successful and ethical life.

There are many more good and valid themes to choose from. Really, you just need to look at the effect your story could have on others. If it uplifts and inspires them, go for it! Write your book! However, if you think that your story will depress people, make them less enthusiastic about life in any way, well, perhaps now isn’t quite the time to pen your memoir.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

Questions for a Ghostwriter

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Seven Tips For Writing A Great Memoir

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Working With A Ghostwriter – What Steps Should You Take?

What You Need in a Ghostwriting Contract

Ghostwriting ContractIt’s always a good idea to have a contract with your ghostwriter. That way you and the writer know what to expect and there can’t be misunderstandings down the line.

If you’re a professional writer, I highly recommend you hire a lawyer to create a good basic template that you can adjust depending on the parameters of a particular project. It’s well worth the cost to make sure your contract says what you think it says!

While some projects are so small they don’t really require a contract, it’s still a good idea to put everything you agree on in writing in some fashion. An email can sometime suffice.

As you put together your contract template, here are a few basic components to consider:

Dates

The first paragraph of my contract includes my name and the name of the client, as well as the effective date of the contract. Later, I include the four major milestones, along with their deadlines.

The four milestones I use are:

• The completion of the outline.

• The first half of the first draft.

• The completion of the first draft.

• The final manuscript.

Price

Because I use four milestones, I like to break up the payments into four parts. My policy is to be paid ahead of the writing, but you can come to any sort of agreement that works for you.

Set the total price for the service then include the payments for each segment in your contract. For instance, if your total price is $30,000, the compensation for each segment would be $7,500, if you use my four milestone approach.

Expected Length

Most ghostwriters charge on a per word basis, so the contract should specify how many words the author should expect to receive. Most clients think in terms of pages, but that can change depending on the font style and size chosen. I like to include the agreed-upon word count along with a rough page estimate for clarity.

It’s a good rule of thumb to consider that there are 250 words per page, so a 200 page manuscript should run about 50,000 words.

A Description of the Project

If possible, you might include the genre or a rough description of the book in the contract, along with the title. This description doesn’t need to be long.

Ghostwriter Services

It’s important to mention the specifics of the service expected. For instance, as a ghostwriter, I can’t promise that the book will be published. I also don’t create the cover design or work on layout. I also don’t provide illustrations or photographs.

My job is to create a well-written manuscript that is as error free as I can get it. I work with a few proofreaders and editors to produce an as near-perfect product as possible. I think it’s important to have a number of eyes review the final document before turning it over to the client.

Copyrights

It’s important to address copyright issues, making it clear that the client will own all the rights to the final work. They are the author. It’s their book and they can publish it in any form they desire. As a ghostwriter, I own no claim or rights to the work.

Revisions

It’s to be expected that the client will have revisions for the ghostwriter as pieces are submitted. However, if the number of revision requests isn’t specified, the process can be endless.

Personally, I allow the client one set of revisions per milestone, but will of course make minor revisions along the way. Since we always work off of a detailed outline, there shouldn’t be any drastic changes during the revision process.

Confidentiality

Sometimes a client requires confidentiality because of the nature of the project. Perhaps the ideas are unique and cutting edge or the author simply doesn’t want anyone to know he or she had help writing their book. If this is the case for your project, include a confidentiality clause within the contract.

Things That Could Go Wrong

Most likely everything will go smoothly throughout the process, but it’s always good to put in a clause covering what happens if one party wants to terminate the agreement prematurely.

In addition, consider limiting the damages and agreeing to arbitration to resolve all disputes.

A ghostwriting contract is something you’ll need for any large project. It shouldn’t be taken lightly as it could save you from unnecessary headaches in the future. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult a lawyer. It’s worth the investment!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

It’s Good Business to Write a Book

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

What Do I Need to Start with a Ghostwriter?

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Eight Reasons Why You Should Write a Book

Questions for a Ghostwriter

how much is a ghostwriterAre you interested in hiring a ghostwriter?

If so, you probably have a few questions. After all, hiring a ghostwriter isn’t an everyday activity!

Throughout the years, I’ve discussed various topics in this blog, so when appropriate I’ll refer you to those articles to help clarify some of the answers.

How much does a ghostwriter cost?

This is by far the number one question I receive. Most people honestly have no idea how much a professional writer charges. It’s a little like going to an art gallery and asking the owner for a price on a painting you like. It might only be twenty dollars or it could be up to twenty thousand.

I know the topic of money can be uncomfortable for some, so I’ve written a two articles about this subject:

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

The simple answer is that you can expect to pay anywhere from ten thousand to seventy-five thousand dollars for a hundred to three hundred page book. Anything less and you’re hiring someone with little or no experience.

How long does it take to write a book?

Ghostwriters usually budget between four months and two years to write a book. Personally, I ask for six to eight months to write a full-length book, although I might be able to complete it faster. Some projects require extra research and interviews, so I like to leave some buffer room. Having said that, if a client needs it sooner, I do what I can to accommodate their schedule.

Does a ghostwriter publish books? Do they edit?

The main job of a ghostwriter is to write your book, in your voice and style, with your information and ideas. While some ghostwriters do edit, not all are trained editors. For instance, I’m not. And most ghostwriters and editors are not publishers.

Here is an article I wrote that breaks down the jobs of writing professionals in detail:

What Is the Difference Between a Ghostwriter, an Editor, a Proofreader, and a Publisher?

Do ghostwriters ever work for a percentage of the sales of the book (royalties)?

No. Professional writers are always paid upfront.

Does it upset you that, even though you wrote the book, someone else gets all the credit?

I’m asked this a lot. My answer is no, it really doesn’t bother me at all. That seems to surprise some people.

In reality, I see the book as my client’s baby. That would make me the midwife. Yes, I work hard to deliver the book, but the author is the one who came up with the idea, who provided all the information. It really is their book.

I love writing books for other people, helping them fulfill their lifelong dream!

Sometimes people ask me if the whole concept of ghostwriting is ethical. I wouldn’t be in this business if I felt it was wrong. Here’s an article I wrote about that subject:

Is Ghostwriting Ethical?

What kind of books do you write?

I love writing most genres. I have written quite a few prescriptive nonfiction books (how-to books), novels, and memoirs. I specialize in uplifting books that help, inspire, or teach others.

For an example of prescriptive nonfiction, check out my book, Chess Is Child’s Play: Teaching Techniques That Work.

For an example of a memoir I ghostwrote, please review, Joshua’s Missing Peace.

How do you get the information needed to write a book for a client?

Every client is different. That’s part of the fun! I often get hundreds of pages of notes, which can be in the form of a very rough draft. Although the book needs to be completely rewritten, the notes are very helpful.

Sometimes a client doesn’t like to write or research, so I need to interview the person extensively. This usually requires about thirty to fifty hours.

In addition, I always double and triple check everything using the internet, the library, and book stores. It’s important to verify information.

I hope this article has helped answer some of the questions you may have had about ghostwriters. If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me and let me know. I’ll do my best to answer them!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

Writing Nonfiction – A Niche Area of Expertise

Seven Tips For Writing A Great Memoir

Why Should I Hire a Ghostwriter?

When You Shouldn’t Write Your Memoir

Working With A Ghostwriter – What Steps Should You Take?

 

Why Do You Want to Write Your Book?

write your bookCongratulations! You’ve made a decision that you want to finally write your book you started years ago. That’s a huge step, one that should be applauded.

Many people never get there. They sit on an idea, dreaming about how nice it would be to have a book with their name on it, but they don’t take the steps to see it through.

I get a few calls a day from prospective clients. When they contact me for a quote, I like to interview them a bit. One of my first questions is “What is your primary goal in writing this book?”

Here are some answers I love to hear:

  • “I really want to inspire others with my story.”
  • “I want to document my life story for my family to pass down through the generations.”
  • “I’ve been working on this book for years and just need help completing it.”
  • “I am passionate about helping others.”
  • “I have knowledge in a niche area that no one else has. I want to share it!”

These are the clients that I look for, the ones I am eager to help. They are often passionate people with message-driven stories or insightful nonfiction books. I want to assist them in achieving their goals!

I would say that most people who call me, asking for my ghostwriting services have very different responses to my question. I should warn you that when I hear these answers, I can immediately tell me that it won’t be a good match:

  • “I really want to get back at my ex with this book.”
  • “I was terribly abused as a child and adult, and want to share my story.”
  • “I want to make a million dollars in the first year.”

No one wants to read a book that is viciously attacking an individual or group, where the author is obviously carrying out a vendetta. Remember, whenever you put something in writing, it’s there forever, in print.

Likewise, people also don’t want to read about how someone was molested as a child, lost their parents to cancer, only to marry an abusive alcoholic who murdered their favorite pet. (Believe it or not, I get many emails from people with a similar story.)

As for the last reason, let’s talk about money.

It’s fine if you want to make a profit with your book. For some, it’s very realistic. However, you must understand that you will need to sell your book. Tossing a book up on amazon.com in the hopes that many will miraculously find it and buy it will lead to disappointment.

So, what is your goal for your book? Let me know, I’d love to hear about it!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

It’s Good Business to Write a Book

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

What Do I Need to Start with a Ghostwriter?

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Eight Reasons Why You Should Write a Book

What Is the Difference Between a Ghostwriter, an Editor, a Proofreader, and a Publisher?

Having talked to nearly a thousand prospective clients each year, I’ve noticed consistent confusions about who does what in the writing industry. People sometimes ask me if ghostwriters publish books. Others inquire if an editor can write the last few chapters of a book.

I can see how this area can be confusing, so I’d like to clarify a bit.

Here are various professions in the writing industry you might encounter:

  • A proofreader
  • An editor
  • A ghostwriter
  • A publisher

A proofreader

A proofreader reads over a completed manuscript to make sure there are no errors. They are looking for typos, grammatical issues, etc. and are far less detailed than an editor. Hiring a proofreader is often the final step in the book writing process, right before the book goes to publication. Typically, you’d hire both an editor and a proofreader.

Cost: Their fee can typically range from less than a penny per word to two cents per word.

An editor

An editor looks at a book with a more critical eye. They will fix errors in grammar and spelling, but will also look for structural problems. You’ll find that editors will comment on more complex issues, suggesting that you delete or add sections, combine thoughts or expand on a point made.

Publishers will sometimes hire more than one editor to review a manuscript. If you are self-publishing, you will definitely need to budget to hire at least one editor.

Some editors will also do minor rewrites, if needed, but that usually brings a higher price tag.

Cost: An editor usually charges somewhere between two and ten cents per word, depending on how much work is needed.

A ghostwriter

A ghostwriter writes the entire book for you. Although your book will be in their words, it’s written in your voice. When the work is done, you’ll have all the rights to the book.

As a ghostwriter, I often get many pages of notes from my clients. Sometimes it comes in as a rough draft, which needs a complete rewrite. Some clients send me transcripts from prior interviews. It varies. Either way, know that a ghostwriter needs all the information from you in order to craft your book.

Ghostwriters will also need to interview you to fill in any gaps. In addition, they must research any subject needed, which relates to your book.

Cost: Ghostwriters vary widely in price. Usually, you can expect to spend somewhere between a quarter to two dollars per word for a book. 

A publisher

A publisher takes a finished manuscript, cleans it up, creates the cover, and handles all the tasks involved with printing. They usually have a staff of editors to make sure your book is as error free as possible before printing. Sometimes they have in-house writers as well.

Ghostwriters are not publishers themselves, but might have connections to publishers.

Cost: Publishers shouldn’t cost you a dime, unless you’re self-publishing.

As a self-published author, you’ll need to hire a number of professionals to get your book ready for sale. If you find a traditional publisher, they will take most of these tasks off your plate. Either way, it’s good to know who’s responsible for which tasks so you can plan accordingly to create the best book possible.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

It’s Good Business to Write a Book

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

What Do I Need to Start with a Ghostwriter?

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Eight Reasons Why You Should Write a Book

 

What Do I Need to Start with a Ghostwriter?

hire a ghostwriter

Ready, set, write your book!

 

Clients often ask me how they should prepare to work with a new ghostwriter. My answer is almost always the same.

If you’re going to hire a ghostwriter, please don’t go off and try to prepare content on your own!

If you think about it, that doesn’t make any sense. It’s a bit like mopping all the floors before a house cleaner arrives or repairing your car before taking it to the mechanic.

It’s much better to work with your hired writer right from the start. They can help guide you.

Most people hire me because they really don’t have any idea how to write a book. They need guidance in all aspects, which is natural. 

Unless you’ve written professionally, you probably don’t know how to structure the content of a book. There’s an art to putting together a book, one that I enjoy finding for each project.

It’s my opinion that the author should grab the reader’s attention by the scruff of the neck with the very first line. Then, ideally by the time the reader has finished the first page, they will be so enthralled by the book they can’t put it down!

If you’ve researched material, definitely give that to your ghostwriter. Otherwise, start with the basics. Here are some things which should be easy to provide:

  • Diaries (especially for memoirs)
  • Blog posts you’ve written
  • Relevant newspaper articles
  • Links to websites that relate to your project
  • Any interviews you may have given

If you don’t have these items, your ghostwriter will help you collect them. Don’t wait until you have these in hand before you hire your writer. They can help direct you, informing you on what is relevant to your topic so you don’t waste a lot of time putting together notes that won’t end up being used.

If you are waiting for funds to get started, you might begin by making a rough list of the incidents or elements you’d like to see in your book, with a brief explanation of each. When you’re ready to begin, your ghostwriter can go over each of these pieces and help you organize them into a book, adding or deleting as needed.

So, please don’t feel like you need to write your book before you hire a ghostwriter! Collecting data and doing research is all part of the ghostwriting process.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

It’s Good Business to Write a Book

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Is Ghostwriting Ethical?

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Why Should I Hire a Ghostwriter?

 

It’s Good Business to Write a Book

How to Write a Business Book and Why You Should!

how to write a business bookIf you’re a business owner, an entrepreneur, you should have a book with your name on it. Figuring out how to write a business book should be part of your branding strategy.

Of course, it needs to be a well-written book, which benefits the reader with helpful ideas. Your book should also flow well, be interesting and entertaining to read, and contain personal anecdotes, as well as a touch of humor whenever appropriate. Sometimes, you’ll want to give your reader assignments, things they can do to apply the information you’re giving them.

When considering how to write a business book, write to your reader. You’ll need to determine who that is and what attributes they have. Usually, your readers would be peers in your industry or those wanting to break into your industry.

One tip I can share is to make sure to use vocabulary your readers will understand. If you need to use terms that maybe unfamiliar to your readers, define each word as you use it, so the reader doesn’t have to look them up. Most won’t and they’ll get lost in the jargon and likely won’t continue reading.

You might be wondering how writing your own book will help you with your business.

Mike Schultz, president of the Wellesley Hills Group and well-known consultant in marketing, surveyed 200 authors of business books and discovered that 96% had a positive impact on their business from writing a book. That doesn’t surprise me. It just makes sense!

Do you know an author of a business book? If so, ask them if they found being a published author beneficial in their line of work. And would they recommend that you also write a book about your niche market.

Some people ask if they will make a profit on their business book. It’s a valid question.

 

The answer is maybe, but that really isn’t the point. A business book will help you to generate leads and then close them. Add to that, many published authors find they can charge clients higher prices. Being a published author gives a certain credibility and fame to you and your business you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Here are some other ideas on how you can leverage your book:

  • Expand your business to include consulting colleagues in your industry.
  • Book yourself to do public-speaking events or seminars.
  • Create online courses.

There are many ways you can make money indirectly through your book. How you channel this resource is only limited by your creativity.

Keep in mind that with a book bearing your name, it will give you instant credibility. Not only will your personal title change to include author, but you will also be recognized as an expert in your field.

Of course, the caveat to all this is that your book must be well-written. A poorly written book would backfire and could cause more harm than good.

Unfortunately, you can’t simply hire an editor to make sure the grammar and punctuation is acceptable. You must have a good book, with important well-thought out information presented within.

Please don’t just regurgitate another author’s work and call it your own. You must have a unique voice and something important to say. Most people need a professional to interview them to help determine what their focus should be.

That’s where I come in.

Many have an inkling of how to proceed with their book, but find the project overwhelming. Business professionals usually know that they need a book, but have no time (or desire) to write it themselves. I’m passionate about helping people create an engaging book with useful information that readers can’t put down.

Do you have a business book in mind? If so, please contact me and share your idea. I’m here to help!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Is Ghostwriting Ethical?

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Working With A Ghostwriter – What Steps Should You Take?

Why Should I Hire a Ghostwriter?

 

How to Write a Memoir

how to write a memoirIf you have been wondering how to write a memoir, here are a few helpful tips. A memoir is creative nonfiction, which allows a reader to step into the shoes of the author and experience their life as they did. It shouldn’t be a dry account of a series of incidents, but a passionate retelling of a personal journey.

Virginia Wolf said it best in her autobiographical essay “A Sketch of the Past”: “The reason so many memoirs fail is that they focus on the events or what happened and leave out the person to whom things happened.”

In order to accomplish the goal of putting the reader in the middle of the action, you really need to use the first person. This allows the reader to feel like the author is telling their story to them directly. Of course, I’m sure there are exceptions and it might even be possible to write a memoir in the second person, but it’s best to tell your story in the first.

Is it a memoir or an autobiography?

Some writers will tell you that you can use memoir and autobiography interchangeably. And some would shoot me for saying that. People get very passionate about the subject.

If we dissect the difference, an autobiography is usually less personal and focuses on the complete chronological life of a person, whereas a memoir focuses on a specific event or time period.

Any autobiography can be similar in feel to a biography, just written by the author as opposed to a third party. It’s often more factual and historical in nature, whereas a memoir tends to be emotional.

Although memoirs are classified as nonfiction, they follow many of the same rules as fiction. For instance, dialogue is key to a good memoir. As with a novel, the conversations between characters help move the story forward. Also, even though one writes in the first person, the writer’s axiom of show, don’t tell applies well.

Is it a memoir or a diary?

A diary is yet another style of telling your life story. One classic example is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. It is a book that tracks a segment of someone’s life through entries written on specific dates.

The format of a journal entry, where you are really having a conversation with yourself, doesn’t often work as a memoir. Anne Frank’s diary would be an example of one that did work well (although some may say it wasn’t a memoir).

In the end, it really doesn’t matter much what you call the style of your book, as long as it communicates to others and allows them a peek into your life. Consider your message and tie that thread through the tapestry of your story. Perhaps your readers will improve their lives as a result.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How To Write A Nonfiction Book

Seven Tips For Writing A Great Memoir

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Working With A Ghostwriter – What Steps Should You Take?

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Should I Fictionalize My Memoir?

cartoon my lifeMost of the ghostwriting requests I get are from people who want to share their life story. They often say, “I’ve been told by many friends that I should write a book!” Sometimes their friends are right, sometimes not, but it’s a good indication if many people are pushing you in that direction.

At some stage in the process a person consider writing a book will decide it’s time to pick up the phone and ask for advice from a professional.

Once a person has decided to write their memoir, one of the first questions they face is, “Should I fictionalize my memoir?”

That’s a good question! And as you might guess, the answer really depends on you and your project.

It’s always more appealing to readers to learn that a story is completely true. People love stepping into the author’s shoes for that brief moment. However, there are reasons why you might not be able to stick to the complete truth.

So, what do you do? Be honest or creative?

Are you in the middle of this internal debate? If so, here are a few reasons why you might choose to fictionalize your memoir:

  1. Bluntly, your story just isn’t interesting enough. I tend to be rather straightforward, so I apologize if I’ve offended you. It’s just that there are stories that are fascinating and others which might make a good short story, or as a fellow ghostwriter and good friend of mine would say, “That sounds like a newspaper article!” If you need to add some content and pizzazz, consider turning your book into a novel that’s just based on your life story.
  2. You’d really like to add in a space ship or two. There are times when you might like to alter history a bit. Most fictionalized memoirs don’t enter the realm of science fiction, but there might be a few tales you wish to add to your story, which never really happened.
  3. Your family would never speak to you again if you aired your dirty laundry. It’s easy to disguise most people’s identities in your book by simply using an alias. It is common to change names, or even just use Dr. Q. instead of Dr. Quincy, to protect the identity of a character. However, your brother is your brother and there is no way to get around that. Your family is more than likely to know whom you’re talking about if you discuss your brother, as they know him just as well as you do.
  4. You’re a stickler for details and it’s all just overwhelming. Most people fudge the facts a bit in a memoir, not worrying if Grand Central Station was truly crowded on Christmas Eve back in 1965. It’s hard to remember such a minor detail and the small handful of people that do probably won’t make a ruckus if you get it wrong. Still, if some of these facts are important to you and you don’t want to worry about getting them all correct, why not turn your memoir into a novel?

Of course, in the end the decision to fictionalize your memoir is up to you. If you have a fascinating story, one that works as is, keep it nonfiction. When you can keep the real timeline in tact and still have a fascinating story, it’s the best course of action.

Still unsure? Feel free to give me a email me if you need a sounding board!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

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