Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 8/9/13

I love working with Memoir writers!

Just this morning, I spoke with a gentleman who is “just about ready” to begin the process of telling his Granddad’s life story and wants to be prepared to self-publish it “because the New York Library folks are waiting.” WOW! That is the first time I’ve heard about a library historian contacting someone and requesting a detailed manuscript.

“I don’t want a bunch of pages that have no life to them,” he continued. “There will be personal photos and historical references; even illustrations of tools that only exist in museums now.” Needless to say, I’m very excited to begin this project. I gave him my short outline of topics hoping that he will follow my suggestion and sort his “box full” of materials into category-specific file folders.

When I created my own mother’s Memoir book, I jumped into the project with little organization and no thought of self-publishing. Since then I’ve learned many lessons and realize that even if a person has no living blood-relatives, the historians of our world crave detailed stories of “real lives.” My local history librarian reminds me often: “Every person has unique experiences and life-lessons to share and the people walking the earth today need to know them.”

So to those who are considering writing a Memoir—your own or that of a family member—here is my short list of File Topics to get you started.

  •  Start with photos; a favorite picture of the main “character.” Then add all the photos you can find—even photos you don’t think you’ll actually use—as often a part of picture can be cropped to enhance the story.
  • Collect copies of documents. Birth certificates, marriage licenses, graduation certificates, baptism announcements, ID cards from military service and/or companies worked for, award certificates, driver’s licenses, etc.
  •  Print out the Family Tree. Just looking over the growth of this tree is exciting and gives valuable information.
  •  People in My Life. This file is really fun to build. I’ve seen a bit of everything in here including a photo torn in half with a note attached that said, “Missing piece is a reminder of my best boy-friend who moved away when I was 11 and we never saw each other again. I kept this half—the picture of him—and he has the other half, the picture of me.”
  •  States lived in. This can later be expanded to the trail taken by parents, grandparents…etc.
  • Education and Extra-curricular activities…
  • Marriage and Children…
  •  Faith and Beliefs…
  • Career(s) and Stewardship of Finances
  • My favorite…books, TV shows, movies, radio stations, etc.…and why.
  • Maturity (at any age)
  • Tough Times and Victories
  • The Legacy I hope to pass forward

These topics are then extended into numerous categories which become specific to your story as it is developed. This is where a ghostwriter can be of assistance. The old cliché quote, “No man is an island,” (John Donne, 1624) remains especially true in this genre of writing. The Memoir writer is so close to the events and emotional connections that often valuable pieces are lost. Building your Memoir with an unrelated writer who has experience in this field can create magic in the memories.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

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