By Ana Starns
It’s been called an uplifting experience, a special treasure to share to keep your spirit alive, and a way to learn about overcoming struggles. The descriptions of a memoir can vary and be as different as the person who’s chronicling their life experience while having an impact on so many people.
Ilse Paradies Strand, author of “As I Remember”, says for years she reminisced to her children about her childhood, the years she spent in Germany during World War II, joining the U.S. Army as a young woman, learning English and later having eight children, five of them adopted.
Strand had an amazing story to tell, not only to her children but to the world – and so many could eventually relate to so many of her challenges and accomplishments.
Rory Henrique is a high-level executive, getting ready for retirement. He wanted to write his life story, with a focus on the lessons he learned working as a Portuguese businessman in America. He felt his experiences could really help others. In fact, he had previously written his story in Portuguese as two separate books, but he didn’t feel he had the time to rewrite the English versions.
Strand and Henrique are just two of the millions who are part of the Baby Boomer generation – anxious to tell their stories.
Some are even calling this “the age of the memoir” perhaps because men and women are living longer and want to share what they’ve learned during their life so far. Surveys show that nearly 81 per cent of the population want to write about their life experiences. But that’s easier said than done.
While an individual’s experiences may include twists and turns and lessons to share, they may not possess the skills needed to put those great ideas and thoughts on paper. They may also not have the time, or the organizational tools needed.
One of the easiest solutions around that dilemma would be to use a ghostwriter. But what exactly does a ghostwriter do? How often do people turn to ghostwriters?
Overall, they work together with the author; establishing a timeline for the project, help the author navigate the publishing industry, offer editing tips and publishing advice.
As a book coach and ghostwriter, I understand how to interpret an individual’s voice so that I can help their vision be properly communicated. Using cognitive and social empathy, I listen closely to the emotional story of each individual I help, making sure I capture the heart and soul of the experience that person has been through, the joys and sorrow.
If you are excited to write your memoir, there are a few basic tips to get started.
1. Review Your Needs
Which events in your life will you use to create the narrative arc?
What can a book coach specifically help with?
Do you need a ghostwriter to help with writing, transcribing, researching, etc?
2. Get Timeline of the Project
Plan this like any other project – set timelines, milestones, etc., whether working on your own or with a ghostwriter.
3. Traditional vs. Self-Publishing
If on your own, research how you are going to publish: traditional or self-publish? Do you want to hire a ghostwriter who is knowledgeable about the publishing industry and have existing relationships with professional editors? Trying to find a compatible editor can waste a lot of time, so make sure you are confident that the editing process will be seamless after the manuscript has been written.
If you hire a ghostwriter, make sure he/she is aware of current trends on book marketing as well so that when the time comes, the author or book marketer does not have to change content in your book to make it easy to market. Think SEO – if done right at this stage, the book will be well on its way to get high ranks on major search engines and Amazon when it is published.
5. Visualize Your Book
Imagine in 3D:
What size is your book: 6 x 9 inches or 5 x 8 inches?
What does the book cover look like?
Is the cover glossy or matte?
Once you go through the checklist and agree on the basic elements – the rest
Remember, whether you want to write your memoir to inspire others, preserve a family legacy or heal from a traumatic experience, each chapter of your life is a special milestone in your own personal journey.
Ana Starns, Ph.D. wears many hats as a book coach/lead ghostwriter at CaryPress Publishing, memoir ghostwriter at Memoir Therapist.