9 Tips to Publishing Your Memoir Yourself 

If you believe you have the skills and stamina to undertake handling the publication process yourself, read on. The following will help you to succeed.

1) Do you want to reach a larger audience than family and friends? If so, a “real book” will be necessary. For some books, a simple binding such as a three-ring binder or other store-bought binding will be adequate. For a more widely distributed book, a more professional binding will be required.

2) Inquire locally about printing, photocopy and binding options. Request estimates also from large, regional book printing firms.

3) Read several books on self-publishing to familiarize yourself with the work that goes into preparing and printing a book. Whether you act as your own publishing contractor or hire a professional, knowledge is power!

4) Make a preliminary budget (both of time and money) you can/want to invest in this project. This will help you determine the possible (viable) scope of your publication and your book’s distribution.

5) Design a book jacket. It remains true that people judge a book by its cover. You will want a professional looking book to give your work the best chance. Go to a bookstore or library and study the best book designs you can find and imitate them. Do you have the know-how to use design software? (It remains that most people overestimate their ability to design a cover!)

6) Use a scanner to reproduce your photos for publication. Inquire from your printer for the best dpi for their press.  Do you know how to work with your photos so that you can eliminate the gray and degraded look or repair tears?

7) Establish a preliminary timeline. Is there an anniversary, family reunion, convention or holiday in the next three to five months that is your obvious publication date? (Of course, you may need to readjust as you go.)

8) Have your manuscript edited and proofread so that it is truly as good as it can be. Many new authors are so eager to finish their projects that they short-sightedly omit working with an editor–a final chance to be sure that the text conveys all the meaning you intend. A good editor will not alter your voice. Rather, s/he will ensure that you communicate clearly in that voice and will find discrepancies you can’t see any more.

9) Read the book again once you believe it is totally ready for the printer. This is your last chance to make the book the best it can be. Look for layout and design issues at this stage.

If your responses to these suggestions indicate you are in the running for a successful self-publication, you will be on your way to holding your finished book!

Good luck publishing!


About Denis Ledoux

Denis Ledoux began helping people to turn their memories into memoirs in 1988. Denis was named Lifewriting Professional of the Year by the Association of Personal Historians in 1996. Today, Denis is a writer, educator, teacher, autobiography co-author, memoir-writing coach, editor and publisher. He directs The Memoir Network, an international group of memoir professionals who use his method and materials to help people write lifestories. Denis also offers writing tele-classes and leads memoir writing tele-groups.
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