Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

When Writing Memoirs, Keep in Mind a Reader Profile

Your memoir will be more focused and enjoyable to read if it’s aimed at a specific readership.

You can’t be all things to all people, the saying goes. That’s the core message of the seventh of Kurt Vonnegut’s eight rules for writing short stories, which I’m reviewing week by week and applying to writing memoirs.

Rule 7: Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

This advice is pertinent to writing an autobiography. Let’s say your primary purpose is to provide your grandchildren and generations thereafter with the gift of reading about your life from your personal perspective. In that case, you’ll probably want to include many details about your family and the upbringing of your children (their parents). Now let’s say you’re writing a book for wider distribution. The general reader who enjoys autobiographical work will be more interested in the adventurous episodes of your life. Maybe you’ve been a soldier, competitive athlete, accomplished professional or victim of a tragedy. These tales will more likely keep the reader involved than if you go into great detail about raising your children. With this reader in mind, you also have more freedom to describe adult-oriented situations with language appropriate for that readership.

You may even want to write two autobiographies. One can be a G-rated memoir for your family, while the other takes a more sophisticated approach. Bottom line is that I agree with Mr. Vonnegut: you want your life story to be focused and healthy, not to catch pneumonia!

Like this article?


Then just set up a chapter and start writing your memoir. Don’t worry about rules. There are no rules to writing your memoir; there are only trends. These trends are based on techniques and features identified in current top-selling memoirs. At best, they’re the flavor of the month. If you’re capturing your life in print for your family, for your own gratification or to inspire readers, rather than aiming to set off Hollywood screenplay bidding wars, these trends don’t even apply to you. You’ll write the memoir that suits you best, and it will be timeless, not trend-driven.There are no rules, but there are four steps:

1. Theme/framework
2. Writing
3. Editing/polishing
4. Self-publishing

You’ve researched this, too, and you’ve been shocked at the price for getting help with any one of those steps, much less all four. That’s because most memoir sites promise to commercialize your work. They’ll follow a formula based on current memoir trends, because they want to convince you that they can turn your memoir into a best-seller. These sites overwhelm you with unnecessary information not to help you, the memoir author, but to address Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithms so they can sell more.

That’s not what we do at Write My Memoirs. Our small community of coaches, writers and editors are every bit as skilled as any you’ll find, and we charge appropriately for their expertise and the time they’ll spend helping you craft a compelling, enjoyable read. But you won’t pay an upcharge for other websites’ commercialization, the marketing that follows, and the pages of intimidating “advice.” You can sell your book if you like—we have ISBNs available for you—but our organic process of capturing your story takes a noncommercial path.

If you want help with any or all of the four steps above, choose from our services or save money by selecting one of our packages. If you’d like to talk about what’s right for you, schedule a call. One year from now, you can be holding your published memoir in your hand. And at that point, it will be a big deal!