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How To Publish an Autobiography

How To Publish an Autobiography

Our stories make us who we are. They shape us, and in doing so, they help us shape those around us as well. This is why your autobiography could be your best asset. If you’ve already written a manuscript that is based on your life story, then you’ll want to know how to publish it. This guide offers you some tactics to help turn that manuscript into the book you want it to be.

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#1. Create a market for your life story. Publishers like to see validation. Anyone can write a story about their life, but will other people find value in that story? One way to begin creating a market for your autobiography is to begin sharing your story with others before approaching the publishing process. Speak to your local newspaper about having a feature done about your life. Look at magazines, periodicals, and other media as well. Find your voice and you’ll be able to effectively share the insights you’ve learned.

#2. How would other people pitch your story? Since it’s your autobiography, it can be easy to have blinders on during the pitching process to publishers. Think about how other people might try to pitch your story so you can take those blinders off. Keep your pitch simple, offer a clear summary of the narrative you’ve created, and discuss what makes your story so compelling. You’ll also want to make sure you keep your personality in your pitch, with a similar tone to the personality that is in your autobiography, so you create consistency.

#3. Determine what makes your story relevant. Every life story has something unusual and amazing about it. For it to be a successful autobiography, however, there must also be timing and relevance factors included. Is there a current trend in contemporary culture that would benefit from your current experiences? Are current events unfolding in such a way that you can help others by telling your story? If you can tie-in what is happening in the world today to what your life story has to offer, then you’ll have more opportunities to get your autobiography published.

#4. Edit your story and then edit it again. You might even consider having your autobiography professionally edited before you begin the publishing process. Mistakes found within content, though expected by readers, can be very distracting. Several mistakes can make a reader doubt the authenticity of the work. Just about every writer and author has an editor which works with them, so don’t feel like it’s the end of the world to hire an editor if need be. If you do edit your autobiography on your own, then try to read the pages out-loud so you can catch the mistakes that may be contained within your text.

#5. Check your layout and then check it again. Publishers have specific layouts which they require manuscripts to follow. If you don’t have the layout correct for your autobiography, then it won’t be accepted for publication. This is true even for many self-publishing options. As you’re editing your manuscript, make sure you double-check your layouts to make sure they are conforming to expectations. If you’re not sure about what those expectations may be, contact the publisher and ask.

#6 Think about your publishing options. There’s a good chance that one of the big publishing houses isn’t going to take your autobiography. Unless you’re a celebrity or famous in some way, the targeted market for your story is going to be somewhat limited. This is why pitching your story to independent, smaller publishers or even boutique publishers is a good option to consider. Make sure that you follow all of their query letter requirements when making your pitch so that your story can be considered.

#7. Enlist the help of an agent. If you want to pursue a traditional publishing opportunity, then it may be helpful to look for an agent who could represent your work. The process of sending a query to an agent is very similar to sending a query to a publisher. Send the first 3 chapters of your manuscript [or whatever the agent wants you to send] with a professional query letter and you’ll often get a response in 60-90 days if there is interest.

#8. Self-publishing is always an option as well. If you don’t think a publisher will take your autobiography or you want to make sure nothing gets edited out of it, then consider self-publishing as a way to bring your story to the market. With print-on-demand technologies today, your overhead costs can be kept to a minimum. You’ll also be able to keep the design and content within your vision because you’re in control every step of the way.

#9. Begin to think in commercial terms. Even if you’re not publishing your autobiography to make money, the financial success of your book must be part of the publishing equation. Think about the commercial options you’ll need to begin distributing your book. What newspapers will you want to have review your book? Do you want to create a blog to start talking about your life? Then stay active in these areas, no matter what publishing option you take. This will naturally attract an audience that may be interested in purchasing your book.

#10. Find a distribution intermediary. This tip is offered for those who chose the self-publishing option. Printing your books is the easy part of the autobiography publishing equation. Getting your autobiography into retail outlets is the tricky part. Some publishers have services which will perform this function for you for a fee. You might consider using e-publishing here to save money, since you can get listings on iTunes and Amazon for a lot less than you can print a book.

#11. Keep going. It can be frustrating at first when it seems like no one but your family and friends are interested in the autobiography you’ve written. Give people time to get to know you. Have conversations through blogs, social media, and forums so you become someone that is real. When people feel like they know you and that your experiences are valuable, they’ll be more likely to want to purchase your autobiography.

#12. Have some fun. Writing an autobiography can be a lot of work. Finding the right publisher for your autobiography can also be a lot of work. Let’s not forget the marketing and distribution needs you might have or the book signing events you might need to schedule. The process should be fun. It will be a fantastic experience if you allow it to be.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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