Memoirs: Tips for Getting Started

October 23, 2018

Memoirs are books that tell stories from certain points in your life. This makes them different from autobiographies, which are chronological and contain a whole lifespan.  Memoirs are great because they do not necessarily abide by a certain format, allowing for more artistic freedom. Memoirs are personal, so it is important to use narrative speech to actively engage the reader.  Your stories must be worth telling.  The reader should be personally invested, re-living these moments with you.


Format and Structure:

It's important to determine what stories you are going to tell, what you want to convey to the reader, then formulate the organization around it.  For example, if your first story is an important lesson you learned when you were young, it might be a good idea to end that chapter or section on a story or situation that makes them reflect back to what they learned when they were the same age. Remember, you do not have to put your stories in chronological order, so once you start writing, see how everything flows and go from there!

There are no set guidelines on how to format a memoir. First, you should decide whether you want to organize your book into chapters or sections. If you are going for a more “novel” look, chapters may be the best way to go. If you start writing and find that you are telling stories based on specific topics, it may be easier to divide your book into sections as you see fit.



Pictures are not necessary to include in a memoir, but since you will be telling personal stories, you may choose to include some photos for reference. A popular way to feature photos in a memoir is by placing multiple pages of pictures in the middle or middle-end of the book, with corresponding captions, dates, and a photo description. 


Book Size & Binding:

Memoirs do not abide by an industry standard for size, however, they are rarely larger than 6 x 9 and usually fall within the 5.5 x 8.5 realm. Perfect bound (paperback) books are great for memoirs because they keep the cost down, but still hold up well over time. If you want to print a case bound (hardcover) book, you may want to consider pairing it with a dust jacket – an option that seems popular for memoirs. The option to print on the inside flaps on the dust jackets makes it a versatile choice.

If you are having a hard time deciding on a size and type of binding, visit a local library or book store and look at some published memoirs to get an idea of how you would like your book to look!


Cover Design:

The cover is the first thing the reader sees, so you want to make sure that it catches their attention. Choose an interesting graphic or font. At 48 Hr Books, all of our covers are printed in full-color at no extra charge, so liven your cover up with some color! Come up with a good cover that is not only eye-catching, but also conveys the purpose of your book quickly and easily. A potential buyer may only have a couple of seconds to glance at your cover - make sure they can tell immediately what your book offers. 

Since Memoirs are telling stories of your life, it makes sense to include your picture on either the front or back cover, along with your title and your name. However, if you want to take a different approach, design something that embodies your book, based on the stories you have told or the overall tone.

For something more attention grabbing, we offer foil-stamping, dust jackets, and 3D Diamond printing.


Getting Started with 48 Hr Books:

Book Templates:

We offer offers Free Book Templates that you can use to format your book. They'll open in Microsoft Word or just about any other word processing program, and they come in four standard sizes:

4.25 x 7     5.5 x 8.5     6 x 9     8.5 x 11

You can type your book directly into the template and set it up any way you choose. Be sure to choose the right page size, and when you're done formatting, simply convert the file to PDF format, and the resulting PDF file will be ready to upload to us. You'll upload your files directly to your order, so you'll need to place an order first on our website. If you get stuck or have any questions, remember, we're just a phone call away: 800-231-0521.



If you need help constructing your cover, you can use our Create-a-Cover option for $100. With this option, you can choose a general layout, a background color and texture, and any additional instructions and photos you want included. Upload all the photos to us, and our prepress technicians take your options and assemble your cover using these elements. The $100 is a one-time fee, so if you receive your cover proof and decide you want to change an element on it such as the background color, this is no problem. If you have InDesign, you can use one of our Cover Templates to design your own cover.

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