Great Memoir Themes

Woman contemplates writing her life storyYou might be thinking, “Memoirs are just life stories. Why would they need to have themes?” Well, the truth is that memoir themes are vital to your story’s success. After all, a memoir is a specialized autobiography and, as such, it must follow the rules of literature.

What is a theme?

Simply put, the theme of a book is the main idea that ties everything together. This idea might express a basic universal truth, such as Love, Friendship, War, or Faith.

These general themes can be further refined to explore a specific aspect. For instance, in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare broke down the idea of “Love” and particularly examined forbidden love and its potential consequences.

A theme can also delve into a deeper concept, such as the battle between good and evil. For example, I’m currently reading A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, which explores many shades of good and evil throughout.

The theme is usually not stated outright. Instead, the author gives the reader insight into his view of the world and the human condition through the characters’ beliefs, actions, experiences and conversations.

How do themes relate to memoirs?

When you write your memoir, you’re not just publishing a shopping list of memories. You are telling the story of pivotal moments in your life, of the lessons you’ve learned that make you who you are.

To capture your readers’ interest, you will need to share these incidents in the most interesting way possible, highlighting key events (creating action) and the people who influenced you most (who become characters in your book).

So, your memoir must follow the same rules as any good piece of literature: you must be able to tie the threads of your story tapestry together with a compelling theme.

How do I find my memoir themes?

Memoir theme of achieving life goal

If you’re struggling to find a good theme, check out my detailed article: Tips To Find Your Memoir Theme. To summarize, here are some key ideas you can explore:

  1. Look over your life story. Were there any obstacles you overcame? What lessons did you learn along the way? Jot these down, and they might point you in the direction of one or two memoir themes.
  2. Summarize your story in one or two sentences. When you drill down to the core of what your story is about, the theme often reveals itself.
  3. Step back and look at the big picture. Ask yourself questions such as “Why did I make that choice?” or “What would I do differently now that I know what I know today?” These questions could help you formulate your memoir themes.
  4. Talk to someone who knows your story. Since she has an outside perspective, she may spot similarities to unify your message.

I was working with a client who had an oppressive influence as a child. She hadn’t recognized it prior to our conversation, but when the stories started flooding out, she realized that an old schoolteacher wasn’t the hero she remembered him to be. One theme that came from these discussions is how one can overcome childhood adversities to become a success.

So, what are some good themes for your memoir? Well, let’s start with some examples of great memoir themes that I’ve encountered in my two decades as a ghostwriter. Maybe a few will resonate with you. Feel free to make adjustments to make them work for your story.

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. Others will benefit greatly from your story, perhaps finding the strength to pull themselves out of their current hardship.

Note: If you’re still amid the battle and really don’t have anything positive to share, now isn’t the time to write. And if your real goal is to complain to your reader, your story won’t make for a good read. 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 counts and can make for a good story. If your life is filled with examples of courage and integrity, that would be a great theme.

I’ve ghostwritten many books with this theme. In fact, three different clients came to me with stories of escaping communism and fascism in bold and daring ways. We can all learn from their bravery.

Family is important

Family is a good memoir theme

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 a needed commodity. Of course, this theme can go beyond the traditional family structure. If you’ve experienced success and happiness in a non-traditional setting, this can truly inspire others in a similar situation.

Then there is always a need for good advice. Especially in the field of parenting. If you’ve evolved a unique approach that had positive results, you will have an interested audience.

Simply recording your family history for future generations is also a great concept! This is a popular request of a ghostwriter.

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 important example for others. It isn’t always easy to keep your integrity, especially when peers are 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 he’s at an important crossroad in his life and just needs a gentle nudge to make the right decision.

Crime doesn’t pay

Over the years I have received 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.

A memoir from a former inmate will 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 only works if the author is presently leading a successful and ethical life.

Being true to oneself brings rewards

integrity is a good memoir theme

In a world of peer pressure and a constant demand to conform, it can be hard to find one’s way. Influencers from all corners of the globe (or perhaps just down the street) loudly proclaim their “truths” and harass anyone who doesn’t agree. If you’ve remained true to your beliefs despite pressure to surrender, your courage can be a beacon for others to do the same.

For example, many young artists are guided away from their passions by people around them. The ones who have weathered the critics around them and have succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations may instill hope in others undergoing a similar struggle.

Some people have had a difficult decision to make in life and chose an unconventional route. Those authors could motivate others to consider alternative ways as well.

I ghostwrote a book about a woman whose young son had horrible symptoms. She defied her doctors by doing independent research and discovered the true nature of her son’s illness, thus saving him. This story continues to inspire parents all over the globe struggling with a similar problem.

Journeying outside of one’s comfort zone expands horizons

Journeying outside your comfort zone is a great memoir theme

So many people have well-established routines that ultimately don’t do much to fulfill their true life goals. I think most people have a vague awareness that things could be different, could be better, but have no idea how to implement the changes required to make a difference.

If you’ve broken the bonds and found new vistas of joy and fulfillment, your journey could encourage others to take their own leaps of faith.

This journey could be literal. Perhaps the author traveled to a different country and immersed himself in its culture, thereby gaining a broader understanding of what others have to endure to survive and a deeper appreciation of his own opportunities.

Or perhaps the journey is more figurative, more internal. It may be that the author has overcome a potent fear in order to pursue her dream. Or possibly she’s been able to make a change for the better, improving her moral compass along the way.

Life transitions can bring new experiences and joys

Shakespeare wrote a famous monologue about the seven ages of man, detailing each stage a person transitions through in life, a concept philosophers have been contemplating for eons. Each shift into a new phase of life can be a potent memoir theme.

Some transitions can be joyful, while others are often fraught with difficulties.  How did you approach a shift in life? Did you discover a new method of tackling a transition that could help others?

For example, perhaps when you and your spouse had children while maintaining full time jobs, you discovered some methods to juggle both successfully. Or if you’ve hit retirement early and have started a new business, you can share your successful actions and help others do the same.

As you begin to write your life story, there are so many great and inspiring memoir themes for you to explore. Really, you just need to look at the positive impact your story could have on others and then write it from the heart.

If you’re in the market for a ghostwriter, and wish to write and publish a book, please contact me. I’d love to chat with you about your memoir project!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How to Conquer Writer’s Block

Interview Questions for a Ghostwriter

Ask a Ghostwriter: How Can you Research a Memoir?

Write Your Family History in 2020

What to Expect In an Interview with a Ghostwriter

How to Edit Your Own Book

Memoir Mistakes You Should Avoid

Need a Ghostwriter?

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

Do you have a great idea for a book and want to make that dream a reality? Maybe you need a ghostwriter!

I know quite a few people who spend a lot of time tossing around book ideas. They plan to write it themselves, but for one reason or another they have trouble getting started. Does this sound familiar?

When to hire a ghostwriter

Maybe you don’t have the time or the discipline. Perhaps you’re not a huge fan of research. Or maybe you just plain don’t enjoy writing. Whatever the stumbling block, it doesn’t have to keep you from finishing your book. A ghostwriter can help you take your idea from conception to fruition.

Here is a handy checklist to help guide you through the steps of hiring a ghostwriter:

Decide on your budget

Before you begin searching for a writer, it’s a good idea to determine your budget. What can you comfortably afford? Don’t go into debt when hiring a ghostwriter.

Pricing for ghostwriting can span a broad range. You should know that you will get what you pay for. Some ghostwriters advertise extremely low rates, but if you’re interested in producing a high-quality book, written by an experienced author, you’ll need to pay them what they are worth.

Be ready to answer basic questions

Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

In order to get a bid from a ghostwriter, you need to be able to answer various questions. A ghostwriter will need to know:

  • How many words your book will be
  • If you’re self-publishing
  • Your deadline
  • The general subject matter or genre of the book.

It’s also wise to ask your prospective ghostwriter about their fee before you get too far in the conversation. There is no sense in pouring out your heart and story, only to learn that the writer is way out of your price range. It’s worth noting that most ghostwriters share their price on their website.

Find a good fit

It’s a good idea to do a little homework on a ghostwriter before you interview them. Start with their testimonial page. After all, it’s more important to read what others say about them than what they say about themselves. Also, review their writing samples to see if you like their style.

Once you’ve determined that they have the experience and writing expertise, It’s important to find someone who you will mesh well with throughout the ghostwriting process. Writing a book is a financial investment, but also an endeavor of the heart; there is a balance.

Pay your first installment and get started

Once you have made your momentous decision, plan to make the first payment and sign the ghostwriting contract so you begin working on the project. These will be required by any professional writer. Don’t wait too long to make your decision. If you love a writer and know you want to hire them, don’t dawdle, because the more popular ghostwriters will get booked quickly.

Plan the time to work with your ghostwriter

Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

As your project unfolds, it’s important to answer your writer’s emails and phone messages promptly. After all, you and your ghostwriters are partners in this project. Your ghost needs you, assisting them to achieve your goals. For that reason, don’t allow too much time to go by without communication.

When I work with a client I love to shoot emails back and forth throughout the week. I also find myself picking up the phone to talk to him or her at least once a month.

Create a marketing plan

Writing the book is certainly the foundation of your project, but make sure you have strategies in place for marketing your book once it’s published. It’s a good idea to create an author’s website and start blogging before the book is released. Also, be active on social media and connect with your readers. It’s never too early to think about marketing.

With a great book idea, a little bit of help, and a lot of preparation, your book can become a reality! If you realize that you need a ghostwriter, please email me and let me know how I can help!

What To Expect When Looking For A Ghostwriter

 

hire a ghostwriter to help you write your bookI’ve been ghostwriting for twenty years now. I tackle fiction, business books and memoirs and strive to always capture my client’s unique voice with every word. There really isn’t any genre that I can’t write for another author who is looking for a ghostwriter.

Having said that, I’m incredibly picky about the clients and the subject matter I take on. Why? Because I’m tied closely to that person and project for a long while. A book often takes a year to eighteen months to write, and my clients often become fast friends.

Who typically hires a ghostwriter?

When someone reaches out to me asking for help with their book, I can tell that they often have no idea what to expect when looking for a ghostwriter. I understand, as mine isn’t a common vocation. In fact, most people I speak to about my profession seem surprised to learn that people will actually hire someone else to write a book for them (then put their own name on that book). It’s done more often that many seem to realize and is completely ethical.

It’s not just the celebrities and politicians who reach out to hire a ghostwriter these days. Quite a few people hire me to write their life story simply to share their adventure with their descendants. In addition, many professionals seek out a professional writer who can put in the time and energy to put their vision on the page or bring their story to life. After all, it does take hundreds of hours to write a book. How many CEOs, visionaries, and entrepreneurs have that sort of spare time on their hands? And if they do, my bet is that they’d rather devote the weekends and evenings to their families and friends. Maybe travel a bit. Take on a new hobby.

What’s the cost?

No doubt about it, hiring a ghostwriter is an investment. I charge $25,000 per 100 pages. That’s about a dollar per word. While that might seem pricey, some ghostwriters run a quarter of a million dollars or more.

Plan to put 25% down and pay the rest as the book unfolds. Never ask a ghostwriter to accept a deferred payment; they could never run a business that way.

Here’s a humorous skit about the costs involved with hiring a ghost:

Who gets the credit?

Most often, the ghostwriter never receives any credit. We sign a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA), swearing secrecy for the project. Now and then it might be in the best interests of the author to give the ghostwriter a writing credit (such as a “with” or a “as told to” tag on the cover). And some gracious clients will give a kind acknowledgment in the back of the book, thanking the writer for their assistance. I am always tremendously grateful for such a gift. However, I personally never expect a credit and am happy to remain the invisible ghost for the book.

How does ghostwriting work?

My clients really become new writing partners. Most will provide me with a lot of notes, which will help me form a good outline. Then we’ll chat on the phone until I have all the information I need. Each client is different, because each author has a unique story to tell and everyone has their own style. Some clients require hours of conversation, while others have very cohesive notes right from the start. The process is almost always different with each person.

What is the ghostwriting process?

When you’re looking for a ghostwriter, I’d say that the process can be broken up into three phases:

  1. The Research Phase: It’s hard to write a book without all the information upfront, so I like to dive in and immerse myself in the content before I begin writing. Once I have everything I need, I’ll write up an outline for the client. This will act as our road map for us for the entire process.
  2. The First Draft Phase: Once the outline is approved, I’ll write the first draft. I often send pages as I write the book, getting feedback and approval along the way. Not every ghostwriter works this way, but I find it works well. I wouldn’t want to finish the book only to realize I’d misunderstood a key element.
  3. The Editing Phase: After the first draft is approved by the client, I begin editing. I normally hire one or two editors to review the manuscript after I finish. The client is rarely involved in this stage as I would have already received all the feedback and comments in the previous phase.

It takes time

It's time to start writing your business bookHiring a ghostwriter makes writing a book simple and easy. However, I should warn you, it does require some time investment on the part of the author. Still, we’re taking dozens of hours rather than hundreds. Plan to spend a few hours a week answering questions and reviewing pages. Most clients find the process rewarding and, in the end, they always have a book with their name on it.

If you’re looking for a ghostwriter, please email me, so we can put you on the calendar to get started as soon as possible.