If you want to hire a biographer or memoir writer, 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 biography?
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 biography 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 author. 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?
For a full biography or memoir, expect a minimum of 10 hours of interview with the subject of the biography. A biographer or memoirist 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 biographer or memoirist do I hire?
Many people find that, in the long run, hiring a biographer with experience in biography and memoir is ultimately the most satisfying experience than hiring a writer whose expertise is limited or lies in another field (technical, public relations, the media).
Here at Real Life Stories, we strongly recommend that you limit your search to biographers and memoirists who can show you a full book that they have written without help, and furthermore you want to read five or ten pages of that person’s writing to be sure you like his or her style. Each writer has a different way of putting together words to tell a story. Some people are mechanically arranging words in order to get a chronology down on paper; others are creating a manuscript that artfully weaves together different strands of a person’s life while imparting key information. You may see samples of our biographies here.
5. What is the difference between a memoir and a biography?
Excellent question! We explain this here.
6. What makes a good biography?
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 biography be conducted remotely?
Sure. We now interview clients via Skype, telephone, and email.
8. What other work is involved in biography writing?
Real Life Stories, LLC covers the entire process for you, from interviews to the printed book. We manage photograph scanning, design and printing.
9. How is the cost of biography or memoir writing figured?
Time, travel and expenses. Labor for writing a memoir will total at least 400 hours; figure $42 an hour for an experienced memoirist, and you have $16,800 (our rates are lower than this). Writing and research for a full Heirloom Biography will total at least 1,000 hours; figure $50 hour for an experienced biographer, and you have $50,000 (our rates are lower than this). 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 biography 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 biographer. There are many details to discuss around this question, and Real Life Stories, LLC offers one free hour of consult.