If you want to hire a biographer, here are answers to some typically-asked questions. This will help you better understand the process if you are looking to hire a biographer, whether from us or anyone else.
1. What goes into my memoir?
When you hire a biographer, the biography will be written from personal interviews, research and fact-checking. If you like, it can include genealogical research beginning with “the Old Country” (Note: more research time equals more cost to you, but a more meaningful narrative.)
2. What will my memoir book look like?
It is critical that you know ahead of time what you want to hold in your hand at the end of this process. Envision the book, then convey this to the biographer. Often, folks want their memoir to concentrate on their most difficult challenges and how they overcame them. They may want a paperback for retail sales or an heirloom book privately published for family only.
3. Where do we start with writing my memoir?
For a full biography, expect a minimum of 10 hours of interview with the subject of the biography. A biographer might also conduct supplemental interviews (with other people that you designate), and will spend additional time writing, conducting research and communicating with you about the project.
4. What kind of memoir writer / biographer do I hire?
Many people find that, in the long run, hiring a biographer with experience in biography is ultimately the most satisfying experience than hiring a writer whose expertise is limited or lies in another field (technical, public relations, the media).
5. What about a photojournalism book vs a memoir?
Using photos to tell your story is a quick and easy way to get the job done without hiring a writer, and many online companies offer easy-to-make photo albums.
6. What makes good memoir writing?
A biographer crafts a narrative that is compelling. The writing makes your heart race, or slow down: you react powerfully to what you are reading. If you want a real story that follows the true themes of a person’s life and fully reveals all the excitement and challenge and wondrous workings of a life, then you need a writer who can conduct efficient interviews, thorough research and whose writing makes you feel something. This will produce an heirloom biography book that will be treasured for a very long time.
7. Can interviews for a memoir be done on the telephone?
Sure. Every professional writer has created interesting stories based on a few telephone interviews. It works fine for shorter projects. It may not be not the best method if the goal is to create a detailed story that reveals a person’s deepest thoughts and reflections about his or her life.
8. What other work is involved in memoir writing?
If you want to self-publish the book or pay a publisher, the other costs include photograph scanning, design and printing. For longer projects, a professional transcriptionist will turn the audiotaped interviews into written transcripts, which the biographer then uses to begin writing. Handling the photographs within the family is the single best way to reduce costs and create an affordable memoir–if your family members have the time, equipment and expertise.
9. How is the cost of memoir writing figured?
Time, travel and expenses. Biographers are usually negotiable to a point, but let’s face it: if it were easy, you’d do it yourself!
10. Can I offer my memoir manuscript to a publisher or literary agent?
If you want to offer your manuscript to a publisher or literary agent, I’d suggest contracting with the biographer for interviewing and writing three sample chapters. Then you can proceed further if you are satisfied with the memoir writer. There are many details to discuss around this question, and Real Life Stories, LLC offers one free hour of consult.