Your life story online and in print

Planning your book

This will be an easy and rewarding process but there MUST be a good plan from the start!

Our advice to the subject (the person the book is about – the writer), or to those assisting with the writing and content, is that you first plan the simple structure of the book. This is best done by determining what each of the chapters will loosely be about.

When we were planning the sample book – about my mum Lillian Bennett – we sat down and came up with the following simple structure around her life as the plan for her book:-

Chapter 1: The early years (essentially childhood & school years to adulthood)
Chapter 2: My Working Years; Marrying Noel; Having the Boys (early adult life)
Chapter 3: The Waiuku Years (family years)
Chapter 4: The nest empties (life after the kids)
Chapter 5: The Family Grows - Moving back to Auckland (grandchildren etc.)
Chapter 6: The new millennium (a busy time of mums life)
Chapter 7: Milestones, facing cancer & losing Noel (coping with getting older etc.)
Chapter 8: Life after Noel (life changed when life partner died)
Chapter 9: Things I have Cherished (reflecting)
Words of Wisdom: What 84 year old Lillian would say to 21 year old Lillian (an interesting piece for to end book).

What mum then did is she used this plan to organise her content. She got a great deal of inspiration from looking at photo albums and generally thinking about the past. She wrote her thoughts down for each of these chapters in handwriting. Time is usually not a problem for retired folk and I know my mum got a real kick out of the whole process. It gave her an added purpose for many months.

We had mums notes typed up and then knocked them into shape after that. The other option is to record the life-story (based around the chapter plan) and then have that typed up and edited.

In most circumstances there will be someone in the family who is good with words who can assist the subject if that is not their forte. It is an enjoyable process for all concerned.

Most of the photos will come from photo albums and it is a neat process getting photo contributions from other members of the wider family as well. Sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandchildren etc. These photos will inspire the story. It is important that each photo has a caption so it ties back to the story. Old photos from photo albums can now be scanned very easy using Apps on good quality phones, this was the method used in the Lillian Bennett sample book. It is also very easy to get all your photos together and get them scanned by a local photo retailer (Harvey Norman, Pharmacies etc.). Make sure they supply them as medium sized jpeg files.

NOTE: We can provide an additional service to write the book and assist with the overall content if it is required.

So, to get started – make a plan!