How to Get Paid Writing Memoirs

Many memoirs are written for personal satisfaction and often appear as books of less than one hundred pages distributed to a small number of family and friends. Often, no more that twenty-five books of a memoir like this are printed. There is no intention the memoir will become a best seller.

You can get paid writing these kinds of memoirs.

How to Get Clients
Let people know you are available to write memoirs. Create a website and a blog; print and hand out business cards; print and hand out ballpoint pens with your name, telephone number, and Web addresses; create your professional profile on Google, Yahoo!, and Linkedin; join a local or state writers’ club and become actively involved in their activities; be available to speak to organizations and professional groups.

Consider writing your first memoir for free for a family member or friend, then use the book as an example of your work.

What to Charge
You should charge a fee that best represents your skills and expertise. Determine what hourly wage you are prepared to work for. This could be $50, $100 or more. I have seen memoir writers charge $300 per hour. Turn your hourly rate into the total cost you will quote a client. It is not uncommon for memoir writers to charge $5,000, $10,000, or $50,000 for a project.

Offer your client a written contract that spells out what you will do and what the client will do. View a sample contract here.

Interviewing and Writing
Set up a series of interviews with your client. These could be sixty to ninety minutes each once a week for several weeks. Get a digital voice recorder for the interviews. After you have transcribed each interview (I prefer to pay someone to transcribe so I can concentrate on writing), you should edit, rewrite, and arrange the manuscript so events appear in a logical sequence and the finished manuscript sounds like the author. The editing and writing will take approximately ten times longer to finish than the interviews.

Present the final manuscript to your client. I prefer to put the manuscript on a CD rather than print out the pages. Your manuscript should have a contents page, page numbers, and chapter headings.

Producing a Book
Make a separate agreement for preparing the manuscript to become a book. I use ten percent of the interviewing and writing fees as an initial guide.

Producing a book involves finding a short-run printer, often called an on-demand printer; exchanging emails and telephone calls with the printer; determining the cover art and the appearance of the inside pages; proofreading; and printing and delivery of the finished books. The client pays for each of these services and pays you to facilitate their completion.

Here is wishing you the best of success with many happy clients.

File photo.


  1. Wayne, Just got the link from LifeWriters - I've looked for this info for a long time but not gotten as much detail as you offer. Do you know of any way to make a program that goes on a CD that a client can type into? A friend once suggested a program like that as a marketing tool, but I don't know what expense that would become. Cordially, JoAnn (a St. Louis neighbor)

  2. Glad the information was helpful, JoAnn. If you provide the client with the memoir on an RW-CD, which stands for Re-Writable, that should do it.

  3. I'm thinking seriously of entering this business, and looking for information about my competition, how much to charge, and so forth. I found your blog very helpful. Thank you so much.

  4. Thanks, Phyl. Guidelines on what to charge are plentiful on the web and they are all different. You may charge by the page, by the word, or by the project. Here is one of the latest lists to give you an idea where to start: Best wishes for every success.