Everybody has a story to tell, and if you look in the mirror, you will see the best person to tell yours. You! Nobody knows your life better. But why would you want to write your life story, and how could you begin to accomplish something that seems so daunting?
You might think your life isn’t exactly a page-turner and that nobody would want to read about you. On the other hand, perhaps you feel that you don’t know much about your predecessors and regret that you never asked them about their lives. If you wish that your parents and grandparents had written their life stories, you can be certain that your children and grandchildren feel the same about you.
When you’ve decided that you want to leave your family the legacy of your life story, you might wonder how to get started.
Writing a book is no easy feat. It takes time and serious commitment. To craft a story that people want to read demands skill, experience, and an expert understanding of how to construct narrative. Unless you’re a professional writer, the task can feel overwhelming. Given these challenges, it’s no surprise that many people find themselves wondering if they should find someone to help.
If you’re thinking of turning your memories into a book, working with a ghostwriter could be the perfect solution for you.
What is a ghostwriter?
Quite simply, ghostwriters make their living by writing for and in the name of someone else. They accept commissions and write to a brief on whatever subject is required. They don’t receive credit for their work and their names don’t appear anywhere in what they write. Like ghosts, they are invisible.
Good ghostwriters are professionals with the time, experience, and skill to work at a high standard. Some specialize in particular fields; others write across a range of topics and sectors. Many have considerable expertise in memoir writing. These ghostwriters offer wonderful opportunities for you to tell your story the way you want to tell it but without the struggle of putting pen to paper yourself.
Before you hire a ghostwriter
When you’ve decided to take the plunge and hire a ghostwriter, you’re immediately closer to turning your experiences into a book that you and your family will treasure. There are still, though, things to think about and steps to take before you pick up the phone or send an email.
The process of finding the right professional to pen your memoir should start with thinking about the story you want to tell. Do you, for instance, want to tell your whole life story from your birth during the Depression to your retirement on a sailboat? Maybe you hope to regale your family with humorous edited highlights of your life on the stage or to write a poignant memoir about your time as a foster child? How personal do you want your story to be? What tone and writing style will sound like you? Do you want to tell your story chronologically or to organize it by theme? Will the material be technical or specialist? The answers to these questions will help you match yourself with a suitable ghostwriter.
You might also think about how long you want your book to be, not least because ghostwriters usually charge by the word. Everyone’s story is different, but you don’t want your book to be so short that it doesn’t satisfy your readers’ curiosity or so long that it puts everyone off. As a rule of thumb, somewhere between 35,000 and 70,000 words will be enough to tell your story. You should also consider how many photographs you want to include.
Perhaps you already have material that will help you tell the ghostwriter your story. Diaries, photograph albums, newspaper clippings, school certificates, and other records will help you remember what happened, and when, and add depth and richness to the telling of your experiences. Bring all these documents together, organize them, and keep notes of any memories that they prompt.
Finally, when do you want your book to be finished and delivered? Perhaps you hope to have it ready ahead of a significant celebration, or time might be against you. Tight schedules can be an important factor when embarking on a project as ambitious as writing your memoirs.
You don’t need to have everything finalized at this stage, but taking these preparatory steps will get everything off to the best start.
Choosing your ghostwriter
Finding someone to ghostwrite your life story can be the moment when things get harder, and you might have to kiss a few frogs before you find your ghostwriting prince or princess.
Finding people willing to write your life story will be easy because there are many writers out there. An Internet search for “ghostwriter” will return results for millions of writers offering their services, either on their own websites or in the many freelance writing platforms. Unfortunately, although the Internet is great at finding things, it’s useless at judging their quality, and you’ll have to wade through a vast parade of the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are great professional writers, but there are also many scammers, people who can write but not in the way you want, and well-meaning amateurs who don’t have the skills to deliver your story.
You’ll also find all manner of prices. While it can be tempting to gamble and go for a cost at the lower end of the scale, you’ll likely end up wasting time, energy, and money. You could be left with a poor-quality product that makes you want to start again or obliges you to abandon the project.
Dedicated memoir providers
Sifting through those thousands of potential writers would be a time-consuming undertaking, and finding the right person to write your memoir is something of a lottery. Perhaps, if you’re unnerved by the potential to get things wrong, it’s time to go to the experts.
The best way for you to write your life story might well be to use a specialist company such as LifeBook Memoirs—the world’s leading bespoke memoirists and autobiographers.
How it works
When you work with LifeBook Memoirs to write your life story, you don’t have to worry about finding a ghostwriter, a typesetter, or someone to edit your photographs. Nor do you have to think about the many administrative tasks that go into creating a book. Every part of the process is taken care of by an expert team of professionals. This team, comprising a project manager, an interviewer, a ghostwriter, an editor, a typesetter and designer, a proofreader, and a bookbinder, works with you to create a stunning handmade book that tells the story of your life in all its depth and richness, in a style that is distinctively and uniquely yours.
A trained, experienced, and personable interviewer, commissioned specifically for your project, meets with you regularly to hold a series of twelve 90-minute conversations. They guide you through the interview process, collecting and recording all those fascinating memories and experiences you’ve amassed throughout your life.
The content of your interviews is then crafted into a flowing, coherent narrative by a professional ghostwriter. Chosen for their ability to capture the unique character of your storytelling, they ensure that your personality shines through in every word. At regular intervals throughout the project, they submit their work to you for review. This offers you the opportunity to discuss progress and to stay in control of every aspect of your book from beginning to end.
Your editor polishes and refines your story, making sure everything is clear and consistent, and your typesetter ensures that your book looks fantastic and provides a wonderful reading experience. Your proofreader casts an expert eye over the text, to check that the grammar and spelling is perfect, after which the manuscript is passed to our specialist printers and binders. They print your memoir on beautiful archival-grade paper and hand-stitch and section sew its pages together.
These many different elements are overseen by your personal project manager, who works with you on every step of the way to ensure that writing your memoir is a rich and rewarding experience. At the close of your project, you will receive a beautiful book that preserves your memories and gives pleasure to you and your family for years to come.
Your LifeBook project
If you’re hoping to pen your memoir, please contact us. Whether you are ready to commission your LifeBook project or just want to ask questions, our dedicated team is here to help. If you would like to see some of the thousands of memoirs we have helped our authors to write, or testimonials from authors and people who have gifted LifeBooks to their loved ones, you can find them here.
Written by Kate Parry, LifeBook Memoirs editor