Writing your autobiography is the fun part. Getting it published is another matter. First-time authors may want to consider the following approach to publishing an autobiography.
- Determine why you’re writing an autobiography. Is it for personal reasons, such as resolving an issue or understanding the meaning of your life? Are you writing it to show others about how to do something, or for fame and fortune?
- Identify your target audience. Are you writing your autobiography to share with family, friends and colleagues? Are you writing it for a wider audience, such as training professionals, educating parents or the mass market?
Knowing why you’re writing your autobiography, and for whom, will help you identify not only how to write your autobiography but, perhaps as importantly, how to identify autobiography publishers. Four methods of publishing the autobiography include:
- Trade book publishers. These are the mass-market publishing companies whose titles dominated the New York Times Best Sellers List. Most autobiographers can only dream of getting a book contract from them. Because their resources are in such high demand, editors are nearly unapproachable without the help of an established literary agent. The agent negotiates a deal on your behalf; the publisher provides its system of services to you at little or no cost and pays a royalty on each book sold.
- Independent book publishers. Sometimes referred to as “indie publishers,” these small publishers generally specialize in a few genres, such as autobiographies, biographies and memoirs, and offer some or all of the services trade publishers do, except on a smaller scale. They generally publish a limited number of titles per year, are more approachable than trade publishers and pay a royalty.
- Vanity presses. These publishers charge for their services, including everything from proofreading through editing, printing and marketing. They do not have the distribution system of trade and indie publishers, but generally have the other expertise and services offered by indie publishers. Authors usually retain the copyright and sales profits.
- Self–publishing. This is do-it-yourself publishing. You do everything, or get help from family, friends and colleagues. Self-publishing includes publishing an e-book and/or a printed version of your book and marketing it on your own. Authors retain the copyright and sales profits.
Finding a publisher is much less difficult once you know why you want to write your autobiography, identify your target audience and understand the potential publishing options.
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