Publish Your Life Story, But Do Not Pay For It
One of our neighbors faced this dilemma a few years ago. In the 1960's, he and his wife were sent from South Korea to the United States to study. They were both in their 20's and they had to leave their two young children behind in Korea with relatives. After being in the US for a few years, our neighbor became a college professor at a major American university, and they were able to bring their children here to live. Now our friends are in their late 60's, and their children are grown. These adult children wanted to know about their parents' lives in Korea, as well as their early years in the United States, so our neighbor wrote an autobiography and had it printed at a vanity press. He gave copies to his children and neighbors, which is how I came to read it. I loved his book, and thought it was a very kind thing for him to do for his children.
However, not everyone can afford the luxury of printing books at a vanity press, which can cost thousands of dollars ... which few people ever get back in sales. Instead, more and more people are discovering that they can use the free publishing services on Amazon to produce paperback books and Kindle e-books, at no cost, except $5 or $10 for the books they actually order. If you don't buy a book, it costs you nothing to use the service.
Write Your Book Using CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing
Today, you can write a book as a word document on your computer and submit it to Amazon.com's CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. You need to follow their detailed formatting instructions, but it isn't hard. Here is a brief summary of what you need to do:
* Write your book as a Word Document
* Download one of the free CreateSpace templates; cut and paste your autobiography into it.
* Put a page break at the end of each chapter and at the end of your book.
* Open an account with CreateSpace and follow their instructions to upload your book from your computer onto their website.
* If they tell you that you need to imbed your font, follow their simple instructions to do that.
* Follow their instructions to create your own cover. You can use a generic photo that they provide or you can upload a family photo and use it on your cover.
* They will suggest a price that will cover the cost of printing the book. It will probably be an odd number, such as $4.37. Round it up and approve the price.
* Order a proof and have it mailed to you, so you can see what it looks like. If you are satisfied, log back onto the site and tell them to publish it. It will be available for sale on Amazon.com within a few days, and your relatives can order it.
* Tell CreateSpace you want the information sent to Kindle Direct Publishing. Set the price there at .99 cents. Your family can download it on their Kindles for that amount.
* You may even have strangers buy copies of your books ... but only if you promote it. That's OK. You primarily did this for your family and friends.
* When you receive royalties from the sale of your books, you can use the money to do something fun for your family. It won't be much, but it will be exciting to celebrate with pizza or a bottle of wine!
Books That I have Written on CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing
Although I have not written an autobiography (perhaps another year), I am working on helping my father and mother put together the story of their lives. My father is currently recording stories from his life and I have promised to write them up and publish them, when they are ready. It may take a few years for my father to finish his part, but I am enjoying the process.
I have already written a few Kindle books. One is: "Your Guide to a Fabulous Las Vegas Wedding." Others are: "The Mayor and the Garbage" (a novel for 9-12 year olds), and "Romantic Budget Wedding Ideas" (a book for anyone trying to save money on a wedding). You can use the links to them to read an excerpt, and see how I formatted the books, wrote dedications, etc.
Benefits of Publishing an Autobiography
Your descendants will really appreciate the opportunity to read your life story. Even if no one else ever gets a copy, you will enrich the lives of your family members by sharing a little bit about your own life. Were you a war veteran? Did you move across country? Did you have to take care of ill family members? Did you suffer from a great disappointment, or go on an exciting adventure? All of these topics will be interesting for your family members to read.
To top it all off, you may even be able to sell a few copies and make some money from your autobiography! Your experiences may enrich the lives of others.
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photo courtesy of moguefile.com