Most of us want to be remembered by our loved ones, and we have interesting experiences and lessons to impart to the next generation. Many people publish their memoirs in retirement, but some of the best stories that were not recorded as they happened are lost to time.
How best to pass along your experiences and wisdom? This newsletter features some powerful, easy and surprisingly inexpensive tools for publishing your memoir. These text tools are not dotphoto services, but dotphoto is a great place to preserve, edit and print your best pictures.
Printing your memoir
Countless friends have spent $5000 to $20,000 to publish their memoirs, which is a shame because you can do it for free – and many of the memoir “publishers” use the same free service.
In 2005, Amazon bought CreateSpace, a self-publishing service that enables you to upload, distribute and print your own books. The service has been re-branded Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and the software is greatly improved: format your word-processed document to the size of your book, save it as a PDF, and upload the PDF to KDP.
KDP will sell your book on Amazon, make it available on the Kindle eBook, and even enable distributors and bookstores to buy your book. Stores are unlikely to stock your book, but your friends can buy your book online or special-order through stores, and you can buy single copies from KDP for dollars each – rather than paying for 1000 books upfront from the typical memoir publisher.
The most important element of a good story is drama: that is, the reader wonders how the story will turn out. Because most amateur memoirs have little drama, they often go unread. The typical memoir theme is: I overcame every difficulty to become the successful person I am today. The truth about most of our lives is that we are buffeted by winds we cannot control, we nearly drown, we struggle, we are rescued, and we are happy we survived – and sometimes thrived. Our actual drama is more satisfying than the myth we tell ourselves. If you want your family to read your memoir, capture the drama. Be self-effacing, funny, and surprising.
Finding a Ghost Writer
A ghost writer can help craft a dramatic story. A site called Fiverr, so named because its original premise was to accomplish small tasks for $5, lists their top ghostwriters here:
The Proper Use of Facebook
It’s been a tough week for Facebook, which had a six-hour outage last Monday and a whistleblower testifying in Congress this week. Almost no one has ever made a friend on Facebook, but the service is a good blogging site. I use Facebook to record interesting experiences that I would probably forget in the long run. Sometimes, my friends give me feedback; sometimes, they pay little attention, but these experiences are not lost to time.
Every two years, I ask MySocialBook (not a Facebook or dotphoto service) to print a 380-page, color book of my Facebook posts and many of the comments. With a coupon code, the price of the book is about $85.
How dotphoto helps preserve your memories
Photos are essentially memory keys. We see a picture, and our minds flood with associated thoughts and feelings. It’s why they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Dotphoto Club, Family and Pro members can store images up to 6000 pixels on a single side – or up to 36 megapixels (6000 x 6000). By comparison, Facebook downsizes images to 2048 pixels or up to 4.2 megapixels (2048 x 2048) — only 11.7% the resolution of dotphoto. dotphoto’s added resolution is particularly helpful for group photos, panoramas, or any photo that might be cropped to highlight some person or event – for instance, a close-up of a person in a sporting event or crossing a graduation stage.
When I post on Facebook, I first upload my photos to dotphoto where they can be preserved in high resolution. Then I edit and crop the photo, and copy and paste the photo from dotphoto to Facebook. Because Facebook is not saving a high-resolution image, I’m not concerned about pasting in a screen image for my blog.
If you edit the titles of your dotphoto pictures, you can print them on the back of your 4x6s, and those prints will act as excellent memory keys when you are ready to write your memoir.
Other websites we like
MasterClass: Learn how to write your memoir
One of the best ways to learn anything is to study the most successful people in the field. MasterClass is a streaming service that you can run on Roku, your phone, or any smart TV. Steve Martin teaches humor, great coaches teach team building, and you can learn how to write practically any form from Shonda Rhimes, Aaron Sorkin, Dan Brown, David Sedaris, Malcolm Gladwell, Neil Gaiman, R.L. Stine, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, and many others.