Back to Back Issues Page
Your Life is Your Story, Issue #041 – Will It Sell in Peoria?
May 20, 2007

"Your past is your story up to now. The future is the story yet to come. The present is where you live with that experience, your hopes and your dreams."

Your Life is Your Story Newsletter

May 20, 2007
Issue #041 – Will It Sell in Peoria?

From Tom Gilbert – Editor and Writer,

In this Issue:

Opening remarks: Personal History Month
Featured Article: Will It Sell in Peoria?
Resources You Can Use: The Veterans History Project, My Living Legacy CD-Rom

Opening Remarks: Personal History Month

Here it is – another May. This is the month that personal historians consider Personal History Month. What can this mean for you?

Last month I stressed the importance of creating a memory list. This month make a commitment to write about one of your core memories. It might be the start of writing your life story. Or maybe it will just be an exercise. Why not give it a try? Make this year’s Personal History Month memorable for remembering and writing. And I hope you read this issue’s feature article, “Will it Sell in Peoria?” about the “why” of writing your autobiography.

Thank you for the opportunity to present another ezine issue to you. Feel free to email me with questions and comments. I welcome the feedback.

You are receiving this e-zine because you signed up for it or someone who is subscribed passed it along to you. If a friend DID forward this to you consider subscribing by visiting our signup page . Also, let me know what you’d like to see more of in this newsletter – simply reply to this email e-zine.

While the main focus of this newsletter is to share thoughts, ideas, and insights on life story writing you should know that I offer various services and also mention some products and services that can be helpful. You are under no obligation to purchase anything, but if any of these products or services are helpful and you decide to utilize them then I am most grateful.

Thanks for reading. – Tom

Featured Article: Will It Sell in Peoria?

Why should you write your story? What is your driving force to publish your autobiography?

These are good and important questions. Your primary reason should not be because someone told you to. I encourage people all the time to tell their stories and I do think it is important. But you should have a driving desire stronger than the recommendation of others. Don’t do it out of guilt. Do consider your responsibility to your family and friends. And most importantly, spend time wrestling with the “why” of telling your story, because inside that why is the motivation to get it done.

From time to time I get contacted by people who believe they have an incredible story that absolutely should be written. They tell me things like, “it will be a page turner! It is an incredible tale of struggle over adversity and challenges. It has a powerful inspirational message. It should be published by a major publisher and made into a hit movie.”

All of that may be true, but the last couple of points always concern me. If you have a great story by all means tell it. But if your primary motivation is to create a best-seller for fame and fortune I get concerned.

This is not to say you shouldn’t pursue writing your story. Many people have a great story, a powerful story that should be shared with the world. And there are many instances of best-selling autobiographies, life stories and autobiographies that have become best-sellers and successful movies. I certainly am not out to kill anybody’s dream.

But the odds of success are stacked against most of us. While your primary goal should not be to write your story for fame and fortune commercial success that is the goal of major publishers. They simply do not want to take risks on projects that won’t be financially successful. And because of the volume of projects submitted for publication just getting your manuscript in the right hands is very, very difficult.

I believe your primary reason for your autobiography (the “why”) is to share your experience and life values and lessons with your family and network of friends. Your story may be funny and entertaining, but it also should have weight and depth. Don’t sellout to short-term entertainment. Be willing to put in the work required to write an autobiography of substance.

Your major motivation has to come from within. It needs to be a desire to tell others who you really are and to preserve your personal story for the value it carries for your family history. I have always said that everyone has a story to tell. I will continue to chant this mantra.

If you are serious about your life story and want to preserve it regardless of its financial potential, then by all means get started! You can begin today by journaling, reviewing your life, taking a workshop, and seeking the help of professionals. Personal historians are a growing group of passionate life preservers. If your story is good enough to become a best-seller or movie your first step is the same as those who simply want to preserve their memories and life lessons for their circle of friends. It is to start.

If you do write your story you will eventually need to decide how to publish it. There are numerous options. Some are more expensive than others and some are more professional than others. Self-publishing is a booming business. If you intend to sell your story I recommend a self-publishing route and the necessary hard work of self-marketing. If the story is good enough it will sell. Your sales might start small, but if it is really good, and you persevere and utilize smart marketing strategies, your sales will grow. And a side benefit may develop. Your chances of getting noticed by a major publisher increases greatly when you have a track record of sales.

Personal historians often specialize in particular niches. I do not work as a writer’s agent or advocate for commercial publication. I prefer to work with people to tell their story for its inherent value. When it comes time to publish I can recommend various smaller publishing options. There are others who focus more on both the publishing aspect and as an editor/evaluator of someone’s autobiography or memoir. One such person is Tim Harper. He operates Long Dash Books and offers services as a book coach and editorial/publishing consultant. He claims affordable self-publishing options and personalized service, something worth considering as some of the larger self-publishers don’t offer as convenient help and consultation. Find out more at Tim’s site,

There are numerous self-publishing options and you can easily search and research them on the Internet. A few popular options include iUniverse, Trafford, lulu and there is a great site about publishing and writing from Dan Poynter, an acknowledged expert in the field – Para Publishing. I have a working arrangement with Family Learn’s iMemoryBook and you can find out more about this professional and affordable option by reading this article I wrote.

Whatever publishing option you pursue keep in mind your primary reason for writing your life story. Your autobiography is a story full of life experiences and in writing it you will discover that you have something of value to share with others. This is a great way to express your gratitude for life — lumps and all.

You can read other articles on life-story writing here.

Resources You Can Use

The Veterans History Project

Memorial Day is almost here and it is a good opportunity to remind you of the importance of the Veterans History Project. This project was created by the United States Congress in 2000 with the goal of capturing the stories of veterans through narratives, correspondence and visual materials. The project relies on the voluntary efforts of people who will collect and preserve stories of wartime service. The focus is particularly on gathering the stories of veterans from World War I and II and the Korean War. It is critical to gather their stories before it is too late. You can find lots of great information about veterans, the project and how you can participate at the official website,

My Living Legacy CD-Rom

A growing trend in life story preservation is using video. There are many professional video biographers who can do a terrific job. But if you are interested in doing it yourself, whether for your own story or for others, the My Living Legacy CD-Rom is an information packed resource that takes you through the countless details, preparations and technical information to help you navigate a successful video story. Many hours went into creating this CD-Rom and it is an inexpensive purchase (just under $20) that is a worthwhile investment. You can find out more at

Closing Information

That’s it for this month’s issue. Thanks for reading. Be sure to visit our blog regularly, and here’s to telling your story. Do give it some serious consideration because I just know you’ve got a great story to tell! Be sure to see the Get Started section.

Any comments, ideas or feedback is greatly appreciated. Just reply to this ‘zine and tell me what you think!

Until next time, – keep your story alive!

Tom Gilbert

Back to Back Issues Page