Today, AuthorHouse presents five tips for aspiring biography writers. Whether it’s a famous actress, a local athlete, or your own uncle, a biography is the best way to ensure that a person’s story gets preserved for future generations. It also provides an opportunity to learn new things about people we thought we already knew well, or explore their motives for the choices they made—sometimes privately, but sometimes very publicly.
So, without further delay, AuthorHouse presents five tips for self-publishing a biography!
Have a deep interest in your subject. Don’t pick a biography subject just because you think there’s a market for that book, or because that person is currently in the spotlight. Pick someone you’re dying to know more about.
In other words, ask yourself, “If no one but me ever reads this book (or if, for whatever reason, the book is never completed), would the research itself be its own reward?”
Be organized. If you’re a thorough researcher, you might interview hundreds of people and review thousands of documents. Simply dumping all those records, transcripts, photographs and notes into a folder with your subject’s name is NOT the way to go.
What filing system works for you? Perhaps you want to divide material into type (interviews, photos, official records, etc.) Maybe it’s easier to divide your files into years of the subject’s life—or a combination of both methods. Make sure you can find what you’re looking for quickly!
You don’t necessarily need a new subject—just a new angle. Just because your person of interest has already been written about before (perhaps many times), it doesn’t mean there’s no place for your biography. Can you write about a lesser known period of that person’s life? Or an aspect of their personality that’s been ignored in the past?
Don’t delay, especially with interviews! Once you’ve decided that you want to write about a particular person, get started as soon as possible. Why? Because interview subjects will, unfortunately, pass away eventually. Waiting a year, a month, or even a week could result in the loss of an eyewitness or a close friend of your subject.
You have to be thorough, but you also have to write the book. Follow leads, pursue hunches, and research your subject exhaustively—but don’t forget to write the book! At some point, you have to make a conscious decision to stop digging and start typing.
As you do your research, you might be able to fine-tune the scope of your project, which will narrow the parameters of your research.
Check out the AuthorHouse Bookstore for biographies and autobiographies from our writer community.