How much should you pay for help writing your memoir?

Personal historians are professionals who help everyday people preserve your life stories. Your imprint on the world matters to a lot more people than you probably know. Personal histories (memories or autobiographies) can come in the form of audio recordings, videos, and books. Personal historians are sometimes called memoirists, ghost writers, writing coaches, oral historians, biographers, and book coaches.

So, how much should you pay a personal historian to help you write your memoir?

The answer to that question is like going to a car dealership and asking, "How much is it to buy a car?" (Comparison complements of our colleague, Dan Curtis). It all depends on what you’re looking for.

It would be silly to compare the cost of a Smart Car to a BMW. The same is true when shopping for a personal historian to preserve your most treasured life stories. Your memoir is a legacy gift that grows more valuable with each generation.

Ask yourself, “What is the value of my life story?” Just as with any important purchase, you take into consideration the experience of the personal historian, the quality of her work, and customer service from the first meeting to the delivery of your memoir book.


“Affordable” writers & coaches

Please don't miss my point! I believe that working on your memoir, however you can and with the encouragement of whomever is willing to help you, is better than not writing one at all. My passion is preserving our treasured life stories to connect us with ourselves, our families, and our communities. A homemade memoir is more precious than having none at all.

However, as the saying goes, "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is." Don’t skimp on the quality of time, attention, coaching, editing, proofing, designing, and the publishing (or private printing) of your memoir. Your memoir is worthy of the experience of a qualified professional.

Ultimately, you get what you pay for. If someone offers to charge you only $1,000 to edit and print your 30,000-word memoir, I recommend that you look carefully at their previous work. Ask for a reference. You will likely be doing most of the work, if it ever gets completed to your satisfaction. Three of my clients hired me to finish a project years in the making, or to fix problems introduced by a "friend who's good at writing."


Professional Personal Historians

Personal historians help everyday people create memoirs they are proud to share with family and friends; possibly even sell on The cost is tailored (or packages offered) and are estimated based on the hours of coaching, hours of interviews, number of photos, book design, editing, proof prints, ISBNs, and other publishing costs.

Consider how much we invest in things that are of passing value. As soon as you drive a new car off the lot, the value drops incredibly. How much have you invested in technological gadgets such as smartphones, giant televisions, or fancy furniture, jewelry, or collectibles. Those are good things to enjoy while we're here, but consider that all of our "stuff" will be trashed or given away when it is no longer useful to you. As you move or downsize, your children will hand-pick those few items they find sentimental, but most of it will leave the family. Our kids and grandkids want to know how they are like us, or how we have lived such different lives than they expected. You were a kid once too, and they'd probably never believe the stories unless you tell them! They'd rather hang on to the memories of you rather than your stuff.

Personal historians are trained to help you make that magical connection between the generations. The investment for a professional personal historian who can manage the whole project – from coaching, to interviews, and write, edit, and publish a paperback or hand-made, leather legacy book – can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. Most will work within your budget, even set up payment plans that suit your financial situation. Unedited audio recordings and short-form books up to 50 pages or so generally cost between $500 and $2,000.

A personal historian has to be a master of many trades and a consummate project manager to create your legacy life story book; one that your great great grandchildren will be proud to revisit time and again, and read to their children who want to connect with their ancestors in a deeply moving way.

If you’re interested in how The Cheerful Word can help preserve your life story within your budget, Contact Me Today.