Biography

Question: I want to write a novel but I want to write it about my own experiences as if it were a biography. I am afraid people will not be interested in my personal events since I'm not exactly anybody famous, what to do? I thought of depersonalizing the experiences but I'm not sure how exactly. can you help me?


Answer: First, just on a technical point, a biography you write about yourself is called an autobiography.

Second, you are quite correct that biographies generally sell only if they are about people who are famous or who have made a very large and notable contribution or impact on society. You sell a biography by showing readers that it is about someone they would find worth knowing about.

Don't take that personally. It's a problem of marketing. Lots of people have interesting lives, but not all of them will sell books.

That said, the stories told in biographies do not have to be as interesting as those in novels. The style, voice, and characters do not have to be as compelling. People read biographies more for the facts of history than the plot. And this is where you might have an opportunity...

If your book has a great story, and is told in a compelling style and voice, with great characters... if it would be a great read even if the characters were completely fictional, then it still may be publishable.

So one option is to fictionalize your story. You would then have the advantage of being able to alter the events a little to improve the plot. Change the names of the characters, or use one character to represent several real people. Writers do this all the time.

The key will be how good a writer you are.

It might be worthwhile trying to write this story even if it doesn't get published, just because it can be a personally rewarding project. You may also find that your skills as a writer, your voice and style, grow in the course of writing this book, so that after a few drafts or revisions it becomes worthy of being published.

But that's hard to predict. Everything's a long shot in this business.

Best of luck.

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