I recently read a self-published autobiography (of which the title and author shall remain unnamed) by a gentleman in Christian ministry. The book started out telling the story of the author’s renegade years and subsequent conversion to Christianity. Then it quickly turned into story after similar story of names of people and ministries in various countries with whom this gentleman had worked.
Needless to say, after his conversion, the book rapidly became boring and pointless. I kept reading thinking there would be a message in the story somewhere for the reader. Sadly, I was wrong. It turns out the book was really just a walk down memory lane for the author.
The book may have been interesting to people who knew or worked with this gentleman, but for a stranger (like me) it was meaningless and not even uplifting or inspiring.
While it is true that people love to read biographies and memoirs (and this category of books usually sells well), just because a book is about someone’s life does not mean people will want to read it. I doubt the book I read will ever sell very well.
If you are thinking about publishing an autobiography or memoir from a person who is not famous, I recommend that you make sure the book is either 1) an unusual or fascinating story of interest such as Growing Up Yanomamö by Mike Dawson, a missionary to a stone-age tribal people in South America; or 2) a miraculous or inspirational story for a specific population such as Climbing Mountains: One Young Woman’s Journey through Breast Cancer by Stacey Charbachi, a twenty-something young mother who faced and survived breast cancer.
People are not interested in reading someone’s ramblings about their life journey, especially if they do not know the person. We read memoirs or biographies either because we are interested in someone’s life story, or because a story speaks to a specific issue or problem that we face and we want to draw inspiration and courage from someone who has already walked and survived the path we find ourselves upon.
In short, make sure your memoir matters, or at least is entertaining.