I’ve been a biography author, a biography editor and a biography publisher. It’s my second favorite genre, a tad behind autobiographies. What I like most about biographies is learning what makes famous people tick. Reading about their life experiences not only helps me to understand what molded them into whom they became and why; it also promotes self-reflection. What kind of person would I be, given the same circumstances?
Authors of biographies tend to share four qualities. They:
- Are interested in the life history of their subject
- Like researching, organizing and interpreting information
- Are sticklers for detail
- Like to write
Possessing these qualities, however, is only half the battle. Biography publishing companies require much more from aspiring biographers. They don’t have the time or money to publish an unfinished manuscript from an unknown writer, except, maybe, if the unknown writer has a unique twist on the subject and a well-written, tightly-edited, finely-polished manuscript.
Even then, expect letters of rejection until, and with luck, the manuscript lands on the desk of someone who finally “gets it.”
That’s why many aspiring biographers get help writing a biography. They hire a writing coach or editor that specializes in biographies to show them how to perfect their manuscript.
Writing does not come easy for all published authors. Yes, some biography authors are more gifted than others, but mentoring, hard work and persistence ultimately make the difference.
Published biographers don’t quit, despite the odds. They continue learning their craft, honing their writing skills and re-working their manuscript. They seek guidance and welcome constructive criticism. They make their manuscript the best it can be and when they still can’t interest a trade or independent publisher, they seek alternative means of publishing a biography.
Optional ways of publishing biographies include vanity presses and self-publishing. Vanity presses charge the author, but have the services required to print and market a book. Self-publishers learn how to publish and market their biography on their own.
More and more biographical authors begin their careers by using these publishing alternatives. Vanity publishers can be worth the investment, if the author has the money. Self-publishing is a way to control costs. Start by publishing the biography as an e-book, and then reinvest the royalties in printing a paperback and marketing both versions.
The point is: Don’t quit! Quitters do not become published biographers.
Need help writing, editing or publishing your biography? Contact me for a FREE 30-minute phone consultation.
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