When choosing to write your own story, the reader's expectations and needs need to be kept front and center. A personal story or personal testimony is not a genre in itself, but a memoir is, an autobiography is, and nonfiction/self-help or Christian living/spiritual growth is.
Trying to write both a memoir and a self-help book at the same time can be unnecessarily complicated for a first-time author. Clear decisions toward a clear genre that offers a proven structure can really help a book concept soar.
People come to books for help or entertainment to make life easier to bear. If they feel more confused upon looking into a book, they will disengage. That's the last thing we want.
Clear, organized, and targeted content is king.
I don’t often tell writers to write their story without recommending that they thoughtfully consider three things:
1. HOW they want to tell it
this relates to genre. I do not recommend mixing nonfiction/self-help/Christian living with memoir. Choose one. For those who understand this: don't be double-minded. Be stable-minded and decisive about what is the best way to tell your story. Research the memoir, autobiography, and the nonfiction/self-help, Christian living/spiritual growth books. Find out why most agents, editors, and publishers say the former do not work best for first-time authors.
2. WHY they want to tell it
Is it for you?—"I just want to tell my story, because..."
Is it for them—your readers?—"I want to show people, teach people, bless, entertain, motivate, encourage, share with people something that will make their life better and I may use bits and pieces of my story ALONG WITH other illustrations, anecdotes, research, insights/revelation, or resources to do it.”
Technically the idea of putting anything "out there" is about public consumption, so essentially book publishing is pretty others-centered, reader-centric—however you want to say that, but will they know it's about them when they read the book, or will they be left wondering "What's in this for me?" and get no answer?
3. WHOM they want to tell it to
Read this as “who would want to read it?”
The strength, authenticity, and uniqueness of your voice can be compromised without clearly identifying your target audience (and, in my mind, it can be compromised by not making a clear decision on the genre you will write in). Your audience will get you. You won't have to soften your tone or try to double-talk, give extensive (unnecessary) context and background to the right audience. You will be able to focus on the specific part of a concept or area you have a unique perspective or revelation on.
For more on this, check out my book So They Say You Should Write a Book. It is a step-by-step guide for new authors to writing a book people will buy and read.
You can also schedule a one-on-one content development consultation with me, if you need help sorting out the content you’ve already put together for your book.
Are you writing your own story? How is is going? What are some of the things you are excited about? What are the things you are finding hard?