Beyond Amazon.com: Your Memoir As a Keepsake

Beyond Amazon.com: Your Memoir As a Keepsake
Continuing with our look at William Zinsser’s essay, “How to Write a Memoir,” I want to share with you Zinsser’s thoughts about publishing a memoir. At Write My Memoirs, we encourage you to publish your work in some form—but that does not have to be traditional book form. Zinsser says:
“When my father finished writing his histories he had them typed, mimeographed, and bound in a plastic cover. He gave a copy, personally inscribed, to each of his three daughters, to their husbands, to me, to my wife, and to his 15 grandchildren, some of whom couldn’t yet read. I like the fact that they all got their own copy; it recognized each of them as an equal partner in the family saga. How many of those grandchildren spent any time with the histories I have no idea. But I’ll bet some of them did, and I like to think that those 15 copies are now squirreled away somewhere in their houses from Maine to California, waiting for the next generation.”
Zinsser adds that being a memoirist doesn’t have to mean you aspire to being a “published author.” The memoir writing itself, he says, is valuable:
“Writing is a powerful search mechanism, and one of its satisfactions is that it allows you to come to terms with your life narrative. It also allows you to work through some of life’s hardest knocks—loss, grief, illness, addiction, disappointment, failure—and to find understanding and solace.” Very true!
http://theamericanscholar.org/how-to-write-a-memoir/#.UaTLItKsjTo

Continuing with our look at William Zinsser’s essay, “How to Write a Memoir,” I want to share with you Zinsser’s thoughts about publishing a memoir. At Write My Memoirs, we encourage you to publish your work in some form—but that does not have to be traditional book form. Zinsser says:

“When my father finished writing his histories he had them typed, mimeographed, and bound in a plastic cover. He gave a copy, personally inscribed, to each of his three daughters, to their husbands, to me, to my wife, and to his 15 grandchildren, some of whom couldn’t yet read. I like the fact that they all got their own copy; it recognized each of them as an equal partner in the family saga. How many of those grandchildren spent any time with the histories I have no idea. But I’ll bet some of them did, and I like to think that those 15 copies are now squirreled away somewhere in their houses from Maine to California, waiting for the next generation.”

Zinsser adds that being a memoirist doesn’t necessarily mean you aspire to being a “published author.” The memoir writing itself, he says, is valuable:

“Writing is a powerful search mechanism, and one of its satisfactions is that it allows you to come to terms with your life narrative. It also allows you to work through some of life’s hardest knocks—loss, grief, illness, addiction, disappointment, failure—and to find understanding and solace.” Very true!

Formatting Your Memoir

Formatting Your Memoir
For many people, writing a memoir is actually the easy part; the challenging part is publishing it in a form that looks like a real book. At Write My Memoirs, we help our members make that happen.
Formatting for publication can be especially difficult when you include old family photographs. You have to scan the photographs, upload them onto your page and lay out the page to accommodate the photograph. When you have color photos, you have to decide whether to publish them in color, which is more expensive, or convert them to black and white. If you’re not familiar with photo resizing and manipulation, fonts, page layout tricks and a few principles of design, you may have trouble with all of this. You also need patience! Visually, your book becomes a puzzle to put together. Even if you group all of your photos together instead of using them to illustrate your work throughout, you still need to make them look good. A border around each photo can add polish, and captions can help the reader figure out who’s who.
At Write My Memoirs we make it easy on you. Through email and phone calls, we listen to exactly how you want your book to appear and do all of the formatting for you. All you have to do is upload the text and images into your account on our website or email it all to us. We hope you contact us when you’re ready to publish—and we’ll do the rest!

For many people, writing a memoir is actually the easy part; the challenging part is publishing it in a form that looks like a real book. At Write My Memoirs, we help our members make that happen.

Formatting for publication can be especially difficult when you include old family photographs. You have to scan the photographs, upload them onto your page and lay out the page to accommodate the photograph. When you have color photos, you have to decide whether to publish them in color, which is more expensive, or convert them to black and white. If you’re not familiar with photo resizing and manipulation, fonts, page layout tricks and a few principles of design, you may have trouble with all of this. You also need patience! Visually, your book becomes a puzzle to assemble. Even if you group all of your photos together instead of using them to illustrate your work throughout, you still need to make them look good. A border around each photo can add polish, and captions can help the reader figure out who’s who.

At Write My Memoirs we make it easy on you. Through email and phone calls, we listen to exactly how you want your book to appear and do all of the formatting for you. All you have to do is upload the text and images into your account on our website or email it all to us. We hope you contact us when you’re ready to publish—and we’ll do the rest!

Easy Publishing for a Short Book

Is your autobiography, or any other book you would like to publish, no more than 20 pages? Write My Memoirs offers you a special price of just $99 to publish 25 books of that size.

You might think you can’t tell your entire life story in just 20 pages. Perhaps you have a different idea for a book. Our price includes as many black-and-white photos as you want to include.

One of our customers has a great idea for an upcoming family reunion. She has written up the highlights of the clan’s history, and she’ll publish the book to hand out at the reunion. The cover shows a photo of the family a couple of generations ago. It will be a wonderful gift and surprise for her family members. Click here if you would like more information on publishing with Write My Memoirs, or just send us an email and we’ll customize the project for you.

So You Think You Can Publish Your Book!

So You Think You Can Publish Your Book!
Memoir writers often email us to ask how to go the “traditional??? route in getting their book published. This is what we tell them:
Many writers hope that a traditional publisher will pick up their memoirs for publication. The major advantage in going that route is that the publisher will do all of the distribution and promotion. You could be sent on a national book tour, and the publisher can easily get your book into bookstores and libraries. You might even be offered an advance—a sum of money before you’ve finished your work that gives you the freedom to take the time to write your memoir. And if the publisher is interested in your story but you cannot write it yourself, you could be assigned a professional writer to work with you. The other advantage is that once you’ve been published by a traditional publisher, it’s easier to get a second book picked up similarly.
The downside of publishing with a traditional publisher is that after the expense of the promotion, distribution and the publisher’s profit, there’s not that much left for you. Your share of the royalties from sales of the book is usually pretty low, so unless your book becomes a best-seller you will not earn much money in the long run.
But all of that is typically beside the point for an unknown first-time author, because it’s nearly impossible to make the traditional route happen. First you need to find an agent who believes in your book enough to represent you and pitch it to publishers. Just getting an agent is very difficult. Your writing must be of professional quality, your story must be unique and compelling and sometimes you need an introduction to get an agent to read it in the first place. If your story is newsworthy and you’ve been covered by the national press, or even your local press, the publisher may come to you with an offer to publish your book. If not, it’s unlikely that you will be able to get a traditional publisher to publish it.
Self-publishing is so affordable and quick. I believe that today the easier method is to self-publish, establish a website to promote your book, take it around to some bookstores, and then if your book sells pretty well a publisher may take notice of it and offer to publish a second edition to really get it out there. At Write My Memoirs, we do not have any contacts with agents or publishers. But we can help you to self-publish. Please let us know if you decide to self-publish, and we’ll get started on it.

Memoir writers often email us to ask how to go the “traditional” route in getting their book published. This is what we tell them:

Many writers hope that a traditional publisher will pick up their memoirs for publication. The major advantage in going that route is that the publisher will do all of the distribution and promotion. You could be sent on a national book tour, and the publisher can easily get your book into bookstores and libraries. You might even be offered an advance—a sum of money before you’ve finished your work that gives you the freedom to take the time to write your memoir. And if the publisher is interested in your story but you cannot write it yourself, you could be assigned a professional writer to work with you. The other advantage is that once you’ve been published by a traditional publisher, it’s easier to get a second book picked up similarly.

The downside of publishing with a traditional publisher is that after the expense of the promotion, distribution and the publisher’s profit, there’s not that much left for you. Your share of the royalties from sales of the book is usually pretty low, so unless your book becomes a best-seller you will not earn much money in the long run.

But all of that is typically beside the point for an unknown first-time author, because it’s nearly impossible to make the traditional route happen. First you need to find an agent who believes in your book enough to represent you and pitch it to publishers. Just getting an agent is very difficult. Your writing must be of professional quality, your story must be unique and compelling and sometimes you need an introduction to get an agent to read it in the first place. If your story is newsworthy and you’ve been covered by the national press, or even your local press, the publisher may come to you with an offer to publish your book. If not, it’s unlikely that you will be able to get a traditional publisher to publish it.

Self-publishing is so affordable and quick. I believe that today the easier method is to self-publish, establish a website to promote your book, take it around to some bookstores, and then if your book sells pretty well a publisher may take notice of it and offer to publish a second edition to really get it out there. Meanwhile, you’ll keep all the profits. At Write My Memoirs, we do not have any contacts with agents or publishers. But we can help you to self-publish. Please let us know if you decide to self-publish, and we’ll get started on it.

Memoirs Lite? New Option Lets You Publish a Shorter Book

Memoirs Lite? New Option Lets You Publish a Shorter Book
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Great geniuses have the shortest biographies.??? Whether you consider yourself a genius or not, if you can put your life story into 20 pages you’ll like our latest option here at Write My Memoirs—a special price of only $4.95 per book to publish your short book. Our books are 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches, which fits about 300-325 words per page.
A short-book idea might appeal for a variety of purposes. For one thing, while a biography typically ends with the subject’s death, an autobiography can feel as if you’re never quite finished. There is always a new adventure on your horizon, so you might want to publish a series of small books to have something tangible even as you continue to follow your life into your later years. Or maybe your youth, military service, career or retirement warrants its own title and volume. Perhaps there’s one particularly compelling or well-written story from your life you would like to have stand alone—perhaps for wider distribution. Even if you include it as a chapter in your memoir, you might also want to try to sell it separately on a website or through bookstores, or use it as a present for your grandchildren.
We also are happy to help you publish any book—even if it is not a memoir. For example, a book of poetry may be only 20 pages. Please visit our publishing page for details.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Great geniuses have the shortest biographies.??? Whether you consider yourself a genius or not, if you can put your life story into 20 pages you’ll like our latest option here at Write My Memoirs—a special price of only $4.95 per book to publish your short book. Our books are 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches, which fits about 300-325 words per page.

A short-book idea might appeal for a variety of purposes. For one thing, while a biography typically ends with the subject’s death, an autobiography can feel as if you’re never quite finished. There is always a new adventure on your horizon, so you might want to publish a series of small books to have something tangible even as you continue to follow your life into your later years. Or maybe your youth, military service, career or retirement warrants its own title and volume. Perhaps there’s one particularly compelling or well-written story from your life you would like to have stand alone. Even if you include it as a chapter in your memoir, you might also want to publish it separately to sell on a website or through bookstores, or use it as a gift for your grandchildren.

We also are happy to help you publish any book—even if it is not a memoir. For example, your book of poetry may be only 20 pages. Please visit our publishing page for details.

Oates Memoir Examines a Familiar Emotion: Grief

Oates Memoir Examines a Familiar Emotion: Grief
I’ve enjoyed some fiction by prolific author Joyce Carol Oates, so I was interested to learn that she’s written a memoir that does not follow the traditional mold of telling her life story but, rather, covers primarily the mourning period that somewhat paralyzed her creativity after her husband’s death. The recently published book, A Widow’s Story: A Memoir, was featured this past Sunday in the New York Times Book Review.
As a memoir writer yourself, you may fear that you have nothing new to say about life on earth, that every observation already has found its way into print or onto the Internet. Oates is not the first woman in her late 60s to lose a husband to pneumonia at age 77. This is not a tragic tale; it’s an ordinary one. Yet every story is different. To be sure, Oates brings her considerable gifts as a writer to keep the reader engaged in her narrative, but the real hook is simply the uniqueness of every human experience, every personal relationship, every life.
You don’t have to blaze new ground with your memoir. While many people may share your history in one aspect or another, no one has built the same combination of experiences. You are sole owner of the episodes in your life, and your recollections further reveal your unique reactions. Someone else would have made other choices, acted in different ways. Your memoir will be something that no one else could have authored—only you.

blog81I’ve enjoyed some fiction by prolific author Joyce Carol Oates, so I was interested to learn that she’s written a memoir that does not follow the traditional mold of telling her life story but, rather, covers primarily the mourning period that somewhat paralyzed her creativity after her husband’s death. The recently published book, A Widow’s Story: A Memoir, was featured this past Sunday in the New York Times Book Review.

As a memoir writer yourself, you may fear that you have nothing new to say about life on earth, that every observation already has found its way into print or onto the Internet. Oates is not the first woman in her late 60s to lose a husband to pneumonia at age 77. This is not a tragic tale; it’s an ordinary one. Yet every story is different. To be sure, Oates brings her considerable gifts as a writer to keep the reader engaged in her narrative, but the real hook is simply the uniqueness of every human experience, every personal relationship, every life.

You don’t have to blaze new ground with your memoir. While many people may share your history in one aspect or another, no one has built the same combination of experiences. You are sole owner of the episodes in your life, and your recollections further reveal your unique reactions. Someone else would have made other choices, acted in different ways. Your memoir will be something that no one else could have authored—only you.

Enter Your Memoir or Other Work in a Writing Contest!

We had an email from a member who wanted to enter a chapter from her memoir in a short story contest and asked us whether we knew of any such contests. A little research turned up quite a few of these competitions, both with entry fees and without, so I thought I’d post them here on the blog in case others of you would like to see whether your work can earn you money and accolades. Check right away, because some of these deadlines are approaching.

  1. This page lists a bunch of contests: http://www.writers-editors.com/Writers/Contests/contests.htm
  2. Here’s another long list, and then you’ll have to google the name of each contest: http://www.suite101.com/content/first-quarter-2011-short-story-contests-and- awards-for-writers-a326426
  3. The Gemini Magazine contest: http://www.gemini-magazine.com/contest.html
  4. The Southeast Review contest:  http://southeastreview.org/contests.html
  5. Some international competitions: http://www.be-a-better-writer.com/creative-writing-contests.html

That should keep everyone busy! You can enter just a chapter from your memoirs or, of course, an entirely separate short story. Please let us know either here or on the WriteMyMemoirs Facebook page if you win something—or even if you enter! We would love to announce your success. And if you would like to publish your story into a small book to hand out, please keep in mind our very affordable publishing services.

A Posthumous Memoir Can Honor a Loved One

Before I supply those puns I promised last time, I want to take this last blog post of the year to discuss a more serious matter. Last week one of my relatives lost his dad. His grandchildren are grown and got to know him, but his little great-grandchildren never will. That got us thinking here at WriteMyMemoirs about how to honor a loved one who has passed away.

When someone dies, the family typically hears all sorts of nice comments about the person. Friends and relatives tell stories you may not have heard before. You already have your account on WriteMyMemoirs, so it’s easy to write these down so that you never forget them. Just go to the table of contents and set up a new chapter with the name of the person whose memory you want to honor. It doesn’t have to be a family member; it can be a friend. Start with your own testimonial, and invite others to email you their comments that you can then copy into the chapter. With photos of the person at different ages, your tribute will be complete.

After you have recorded as many comments as you feel necessary, you can have a small memorial book published right here on WriteMyMemoirs by going to our Publishing Page. Distribute one copy to every person who contributed thoughts, and save a few for future generations to come along. This could be an amazing tribute to someone you miss.

Creating a Cover for Your Memoir

As an online publisher, we’d like to help you, at every stage of the process, to produce a true autobiography. Your cover is an important component of your book, so let’s discuss that.

You can have a solid color with no image but just your title. It’s sleek and certainly the least labor-intensive way to go. But, come on, you can do better than that. At least come up with some sort of design. You must have a budding artist in your family who can create a graphic for you; email that to us, and we can turn it into your cover.

The obvious choice is to cover your book with a photograph of yourself. Then the question becomes: what age of myself do I want to present? You may like your look best at a certain age, which is a good enough reason to dig up a photo from that time. Who you are right now, even with gray hair and a few facial lines, is another appropriate option. You’re looking back on your life from this moment, so the author and the subject of the book are both accurately represented by a current picture. Another good idea is to put your family home or the home in which you grew up on the cover of your memoir. When you choose an earlier photo of yourself, a house or other object, you can run it in black and white to convey the image of a time gone by.

The Next Step For Your Memoirs: Publish!

I’m so excited to announce that Write My Memoirs now has everything in place to help you publish your memoirs into a real paperback book. After you’ve invested all of the time and your heartfelt work, it makes sense that you’d want to preserve your life story in something tangible, not just online.

We understand that self-publishing websites can be confusing and typically require you to submit special formats or fill out lengthy forms. That’s why we are determined to make it ultra-simple for you. Since your work already is stored here in your Write My Memoirs account, there is no need for you to resubmit it or transfer it to another format. We can take your chapters just as you have them and create your book. You’ll find our fee for this competitive with other online publishers, while the convenience can’t be matched! Just push the “Buy Now??? button and select credit card or PayPal payment, and we’ll do the rest.

For more information, please click here to jump to our memoirs publishing page. There’s also a link if you scroll to the bottom of the Write My Memoirs home page. Prices apply to 10 copies of your book so that you’ll have enough to hand out to friends and relatives. We also can run a higher count—just ask! In future blog posts, I’ll give you tips about selecting a cover for your autobiography and answer more questions you may have about publishing your memoirs.