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Book Reviews Writing Memoir

Writing Memoir: The Practical Guide to Writing and Publishing the Story of Your Life

Jerry Payne ghostwrites memoirs. I’ve never met a real ghost – writer or otherwise, so I could not resist this book. Jerry contacted me and asked me to review his book. I don’t do that often, but his book sounded helpful.

It was.

Writing Memoir by Jerry Payne

Whether or not you want to write your memoirs, Writing Memoir: The Practical Guide to Writing and Publishing the Story of Your Life is a handy how-to book is a keeper to reference often. Payne defines a memoir as centering “on a significant part, or time, of your life.” It is not “just a dry recitation of facts and dates.” Jerry Payne outlined how to write and publish a book. He included the nitty-gritty of editing and publishing.

Jerry Payne’s Tips for Writing a Memoir

Chapter Three lists specific books that he found helpful when writing memoirs. I did not have any of these books, so they are going on my reading list. Below are just three of them.

“Not everything needs to be described in detail, and not every scene needs to be painted.” Dialogue is important, though.

The “true heart of most memoirs lies in what I call the turning point. … In all of these cases, the characters materially changed not just their circumstances, but, in a very real way, who they were.”

“Your memoir isn’t about you.” If you know this already, you are probably farther along in the writing process than I was two days ago when I read this book.

Payne starts each chapter with a quote. I loved this one. ““I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.” —STEVE MARTIN”

  • This is practical advice I have not found anywhere else. Payne explains what beta readers are, how many you need, and who to get. Many writers today did not attend college to become writers. They do not have the background to understand all the details that writing encompasses. Payne helps sift through all the rhetoric and give writers the bare bones tools they need to create a good product.
  • Here’s a no-brainer I bet you never considered when you wrote your first query letter. “Nonfiction is often more about the author than the content, (while)…fiction, on the other hand, is judged more on the story itself.”
  • After reading this book, the reader will realize the difference between indie and vanity publishers, and the value of both.
  • Did you know that you must have different ISBN numbers with each version and every time the price of the book changes?
  • Finally, Payne unravels the mysteries of publishing. Writers spend hundreds of dollars on courses that help them understand these steps. Payne makes it almost free in comparison, and his writing is easy to grasp.

YOU may write someone else’s memoir

Would you believe that the day after I read his book, someone approached me about taking dictation of his story and writing a book? Thank goodness I read Payne’s book and was able to explain to the gentleman that writing a book of memoirs involved more than typing up dictated notes and publishing them.

As I explained about the process, he thanked me and said I had given him a lot to think about. After lunch, he approached me again and asked how much it would cost to write his book. Telling him I would get back to him, I emailed Jerry. Would you believe that to hire a ghostwriter would cost  $30,000 to $40,000 for a 200 to 300-paged book? After reading about all the work that goes into writing a quality book, I can help this business owner face the prospect of writing his memoir realistically.

Jerry Payne

 Thriller Reviews

Thanks to Suzanne Marsh I Read Novels for submitting reviews. Please check them out.

2 replies »

    • He wrote the book on memoirs. I can’t charge that to the man who asked, but I’m not in the dictation business either, which was his original request. Are you coming back from England????? Will u be back when I get to Australia? ????





Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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