Julie Coker’s life story is definitely one to remember and her nephew thought so too.
Every life story of our authors is fascinating and provides an important insight into each family’s history. LifeBook is proud to have been involved in the private family autobiography of Julie Coker, former Nigerian television broadcaster and founder of the Richard Coker Foundation charity that supports research into sickle cell anaemia.
I’d just like to ask, why did you give your aunt a LifeBook?
That’s a good question; I gave my aunt a LifeBook because I thought it was good way to get her involved in something quite cerebral or cognitive and I’m finding that it actually helps and inspires her day-to-day, so it was not only to keep her feeling vibrant but also to record her life.
I’m interested to know why you think your aunt is so amazing?
How long have we got for that kind of question? My auntie is Nigerian and she’s lived through the civil war of Nigeria in the 1960s at which time she was Miss Nigeria and I suppose our auntie’s a bit of a Moira Stewart, as she was a newscaster for 30 years in Nigeria. She also dated certain presidents, saw overthrows and underthrows through our whole Nigerian society, culture and history. She knows a little bit about everyone and I felt it was so nice that we had such a treasure in our own family that we could maybe historically write about and give everyone a piece of this in a way.
Apart from your aunt who’s the author of her own story and yourself, does anybody else in the family know about this LifeBook venture?
They do, my sisters know. I’ve got two sisters, of which one is a journalist and very interested in the whole package of LifeBook. I’m going to Nigeria this evening, funnily enough, and I’ll be seeing a lot more of the family and I know that my auntie’s sister (not my mother who passed away unfortunately 20 years ago, but my auntie’s other sister) was so excited about it that I think she’s considering it for herself.
How would it have been if LifeBook had been around, if you’d known about LifeBook when your mother had been alive?
LifeBook is something about accounting one’s life but it’s for the people around them, who are very important and a close-knit family; sometimes you don’t get to talk to your mother or father about what they did, during the war or how they felt when they were growing up because you take it for granted. I feel that LifeBook if my mother; Ibiene Epega, was alive and had depicted her life and she was the author of it, it would have given me and my sisters, my siblings, more of an understanding of my mother and that’s what I get from LifeBook. It’s the question you have as a son or a daughter, or father, or mother, cousin, or brother don’t ask because you don’t know how to ask it and it’s something that you want to know about, so it kind of brings the family together.
We all hope you enjoy your LifeBook
LifeBook was honoured to welcome Mrs Virginia Bayless and her daughter Brenda to the office for a coffee and cake presentation. We had two project managers Sue and Caroline here and of course Roy our founder to do the presentation.
Some LifeBook projects just grow and grow …
I was the project manager working closely with a lovely author on her autobiography when about halfway through her project she revealed that she had already written an autobiography herself, and she asked if we could use that to add to our project.
We decided to amalgamate the two
I had to pass this across to our bespoke division to discuss with the author and her daughter, as her own manuscript was over 115,000 words. We met at her charming retirement apartment to discuss the options together, and we decided to amalgamate the two into one coherent manuscript for her.
Large format, 152,000 and 314 pages later
The final manuscript was over 152,000 words. We upgraded her books to our beautiful larger format hand-bound and stitched linen books, and by the time we had added all her chosen photos hers was one of the biggest books in our LifeBook library. It was such a privilege to see the author and her daughter here at the LifeBook office receiving her stunning autobiography, something I know the family will cherish for generations to come.
We have Mrs Bayless kindly signing her book for our collection and a final photo of Mrs Bayless with our founder Roy Moed.
And to complete the bespoke journey we received this very kind thank you letter from Mrs Bayless.
This editorial introduces some familiar ideas about ageing well.
Ageing well with eight suggestions – use it or lose it – embrace the senior moment – Old dogs new tricks – a change is a good as a rest – there is more time than you think – tasks of ageing – sandwich generation – eat drink and be merry
One – Use it or lose it
If you stop doing things you lose the skills associated with doing them. Keeping on with what you do, even in moderated form, is good for you.
Two – Embrace the senior moments
As we grow older we all forget things, but as Cicero said, he never knew a man who forgot where his money was! In other words we become more selective as we age.
Three – Old dogs new tricks
In many cases age helps us learn better. This is good news for all of us who are planning to age!
Four – A change is as good as a rest
Taking up new things and doing things differently is all part of healthy living. Challenging ourselves is often scary but generally worthwhile.
Five – There is more time than you think
In 1911 there were 400 people in the UK aged over 100. By 2031 the forecast is 41,000. Once one reaches 65, life expectancy increases by five hours every day. Age is not the enemy it was. There is more time than you think!
Six – Tasks of ageing
Carl Jung said that there were tasks of ageing. For instance face up to reality of ageing and enjoy it, review and reflect upon our lives, preserve our energies and be selective about what we do with our time. Above all, be creative and playful! But ageing well is a job of work. Take it seriously.
Seven – Sandwich generation
As the demographic changes, more of us may find ourselves sandwiched between dependent children and elderly parents. This can be a joy or a burden. LifeBook™ may turn a burden into a joy.
Eight – Eat drink and be merry
In amongst all the careful planning and sensible living, we all need a bit of fun! You’ll need to decide whether you’re going to be a good example or a horrible warning! You could always try a bit of both…
These are video interviews of Jules Moëd for the very first LifeBook and the inspiration for the LifeBook company started by our founder Roy Moëd.
Jules Moëd: Life is for living
“I wasn’t too ambitious, I decided that life was for living. I used to take one day off for golf every week; I didn’t work too late and I didn’t come in too early, which worked nicely. I had a nice business, I didn’t owe a lot of money, I didn’t have sleepless nights, and I just ran a business. I didn’t make big profits but enough to live on and I was happy living that way.”
Jules Moëd: Memories of the children
“Well the things we did, we regularly took holidays as we felt that was important and we went down to the coast, mostly to the seaside. It was a very important point of our life with the children because it was time I could give 24 hours a day to them, the kids. Except for the bit of golf I played.
Whereas in Johannesburg I was working and they were in school, there wasn’t a lot of time. We were also members of the Jewish congregation and we played our part, I was on the committee and we built a new Schul in our area and we did things like that.”
Jules Moëd: I do not feel I can contribute anymore
“I’m a little frustrated at the moment in that I don’t feel I can contribute anything anymore. I don’t know where to go, what to do. I don’t know what I can do. The grandchildren, they’re busy, they’ve got to work hard and there’s really very little that we can do to make things any easier or better for them.”
A life-changing autobiographical journey bringing renewed purpose and inspiration to older people across the globe.
When Ali Hall was faced with the dilemma of gift shopping for her elderly father, she, like many of us, considered the regular types of gifts.
Ali Hall: “He gave me everything”
“It’s hard to give your father something, you know – he gave me everything, and sometimes you’re sort of like, what? One more tie for a present and he doesn’t even wear a tie anymore. So what do you get?”
Hall liked the idea of giving her father a gift that had real meaning and, in her search for the perfect solution, she discovered LifeBook.
Ali Hall: “It’s been something positive”
“It wasn’t just some sort of silly throwaway gift for another year of a holiday, so that meant a lot to me. He’s engaging his mind through the LifeBook process. That’s been huge. And it’s been something positive for us to talk about,” she said.
LifeBook is much more than a book
Vice President Author Development at LifeBook USA, Duane Roemmich said, for many, LifeBook is not so much about the book, but more about the engaging process of the book’s development.
“The process involves six months of weekly face-to-face interviews, so interviewers get to know their subjects well,” Mr Roemmich said.
“Participants tell their stories, share their precious memories and the most important parts of their lives. It’s a very meaningful process,” he said.
According to Ali Hall, the autobiographical journey has given her father renewed purpose.
Ali Hall: “It’s something important to do”
“It’s incredible for him to have a purpose, to have a reason to get up, to think about the day, to get dressed to see Anna, the interviewer… It’s meaningful. It’s something important to do,” Ms Hall said.
“When you read his story, his personality is just bursting through the pages – and there are so many stories. I know I’m giving him that gift of remembering really happy times and, I think, you can’t give someone more than that,” she said.
Are you ready to start your journey?
LifeBook was established in the UK in 2012 and expanded to the United States in January.
LifeBook was originally established in 2012 by Roy Moed who was inspired by his own personal journey. His father, Jules, was almost blind and felt he had nothing more to contribute to the world. Moed asked a friend to visit his father for an hour each week to ‘interview’ him and document his stories. He discovered that his father eagerly awaited each visit and relished in the chance to talk about the fond memories and experiences of his life. This very first autobiography inspired Moed to take LifeBook to the world.
“The real life of of Brian” is the title of Mr Brian Hallards LifeBook autobiography
The LifeBook team are very proud to announce the completion of Mr Brian Hallard’s LifeBook. We see here Mr Hallard’s wife and son, Luke. From LifeBook we have Roy Moed (our founder) and Lianne, Mr Hallard’s project manager. The venue is the private club 67 Pall Mall.
An Unlikely Encounter
At Christmas, year after year, I used to volunteer for 10 days, working with Crisis in London at their central warehouse. We co-ordinated the collection of Crisis guests and also the distribution of food and services in and around London to all the charity’s homeless shelters. Hundreds of wonderful volunteers would come to assist each day, loading and driving vehicles wherever needed. Most of the time we were frantically busy, but occasionally there would be a window of opportunity when we could talk to the other voluntary workers. From the Goldman Sachs banker to the coach driver or the guardsman normally on duty outside Buckingham Palace, we were all doing our bit to help those less fortunate than ourselves. On one occasion, I must have shared our LifeBook story explaining what we did; that is writing private autobiographies and memoirs for families to share.
One day, a call came from a name and face I knew well, having spent many Christmases volunteering together. He and his brother had decided to purchase a LifeBook for their father’s birthday. His father was delighted with the gift. When his personal project manager introduced herself to him, he explained that the challenge would be finding the time for his regular interviews as he was very busy running his theatre. We succeeded and here he is, along with his son, being presented with his books by Roy Moed, the founder of LifeBook, and his personal project manager, in the library of a lovely private club in central London.
This video show Brian opening his fantastic gift.
It’s been a fantastic journey for us. As we now present the LifeBook, the intrigue into your family begins.
Just for fun, here’s an out take from the presentation filming.
I have been making a living from writing for over 50 years, Indeed thinking about it, the
importance of the written word to me goes back nearly 70 years as I am a product of Urdd Gobaith Cymru – the Welsh League of Hope – and I have a group picture including me, aged 5, having won some poetry prize – and I am not the youngest in the group!
At first (after three years in the Parachute Regiment, just form filling then) I was in marketing communications and then, as an advertising agency copywriter, I wrote on a range of subjects from breakfast cereals to technology via cars, banking and travel. I also did a stint as a freelance journalist (‘Hornblower’ of the London Evening Standard, etc) before coming to book publishing, relatively late, in 1996. As Editorial Director of The Old Museum Press and half a dozen other imprints I have produced a few hundred titles and so my name appears in the front papers of some tens of thousands of books out there (we’re not talking Harry Potter here.)
Most of these books have been biography of some sort – most are personal recollections of interesting lives, some have been about companies and I have also written about the origins of golf in Sussex. I am currently working on a social history of Brighton, a book on Victorian Oxford and (as editor) a book on the Napoleonic Wars in the West Indies.
Introduction to LifeBook
I was introduced to LifeBook through the Daily Telegraph and was immediately attracted to the concept – having trialled a similar venture (Heritage Books Limited) some years earlier. The LifeBook model is just right in my view and I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to a range of fascinating stories told by interesting folk. To my mind all people of a certain age have a story to tell and it is my privilege to be able to set that story down on paper.
My life as an advertising copywriter has informed my approach to biography. Products might have a USP and people also have it and it is the role of the biographer to capture it and to express, what I call, the Author’s “tone of voice”. This is what I bring to each LifeBook project – no two are alike.
My First Memories
Often the place to start when planning your memoir is to cast your mind back to your very first memories. Nobody really knows how those first memories cement themselves in your mind, but they often make for some great reading! Since we’re sharing, here’s a few of mine:
The earliest memory I can think of was a time pottering around the kitchen at three-years old, whilst my mother was sitting on the floor at the other end of the room. One of my favourite toys was a pull-back-and-go sailor on wheels, which could move pretty fast. Whilst Mum was looking the other way, I grabbed the toy and pulled it back as far as I could, sending it hurtling off in her direction at great speed. I scored a direct hit on her leg, which I thought was hilarious, Mum possibly not so much.
This Memory Leads To Another Memory
This memory leads on to another I have from that time, of my cat Buster running crazy-eyed under a bush whilst I was digging a much-needed hole in my parents’ garden. My toddler self decided to give said bush a good whack with my toy spade. Well, why not? Buster, not surprisingly, shot out from his presumed place of safety. (Buster was fine, by the way, and no animals were harmed during the writing of this post.)
There is also a hazy memory of mine of an outing to Dinton Pastures Country Park in Berkshire, a great place to feed the ducks on the lake there when you are a suitably duffle-coated two-year old. My duck-feeding technique back then? Launch the bread as fast as possible at the poor creatures whilst shouting “BEER” at the top of my voice. I can’t really explain that one, I’m afraid, it doesn’t make feeding them any easier. Needless to say my parents filmed that particular episode and Mum (possibly as revenge for the sailor story) has subsequently shown it to many people over the years.
Don’t forget the best bits
To reflect on these memories brings a smile to my face, as I recall those simpler times, before I had to worry about what to write in an article on planning for life stories. The task of drafting a memoir should never be too contrived or worrisome a project. Certainly, piecing together a rough timeline or a thematic guide to the book is a useful exercise when you first get started. However, simply taking some rough notes or retelling one of your favourite experiences can bring everything flooding back, with one memory leading to another ‒ and another.
LifeBook support team
So, that’s why my job is to help LifeBook authors, which I do by guiding them through their own memoir-writing project. Over 12 sessions, our authors share their stories face-to-face with their specially assigned interviewer, who will be on hand to help gather these stories and prompt for details around them. One of our ghostwriters is assigned to the project and takes the stories from each recording of these conversations, converting them into a personal memoir. This memoir is carefully prepared and four review drafts are sent to the author as their book is being written. A further main review draft and a final edit later, we’ll typeset and then print five hardback, linen-bound copies of the author’s book.
It is always those little details that you remember which really stand out in the book. Having personally worked with over a 100 authors since I joined the company, with each new project I still look forward to that record of the first memory being placed into the book.
How we turn your memoirs into a LifeBook
LifeBook has the largest pool of professional ghostwriters in any autobiography service company in the world. LifeBook’s ghostwriters are passionate about bringing our authors’ lives to life, and in their own voice. Our ghostwriters currently write in British English, American English, French, German, Spanish and Greek and have various religious and cultural backgrounds.
LifeBook Ghostwriters are carefully matched to the author
Our ghostwriters are carefully matched to each project based on their particular skills and knowledge to ensure that they effectively understand, appreciate and capture the author’s background and story. Having passed our test and been trained in LifeBook’s style, they use their professional experience to deliver a priceless legacy in the author’s voice.
It is important that a ghostwriter can relate to different cultures. The use of English differs between the USA, the UK, Australia and Canada, not just in spelling but in idioms and cultural references. Similarly, the Jewish culture uses many Yiddish terms and we have ghostwriters who are very familiar with these unique terms and phrases.
Our ghostwriters tell us how much they enjoy the different projects and stories in which they become engaged. They also describe the satisfaction they get from knowing the books will be read and treasured for generations to come.
Experience the journey of a LifeBook autobiography by listening to real testimonials from our clients, interviewers and ghost-writers. We come across many reasons why our clients want to create or gift an autobiography, but whatever the motivation it can be cathartic and enlightening to be interviewed about your own life.
This recording is from one of our clients Anne, who bought a LifeBook for her mother, who is in her 90s and also a tribute book for her father.
Anne – A LifeBook Client
‘Hello, my name is Anne Stephens. I thought long and hard about trying to do a story for Mum, especially her experience during the war. Her father was a farmer in Sussex during the war and they ran a B&B here and I know there are lots of stories that she’s told me over the years about her life here as a teenager and when she was a land girl during the war. My dad’s story we’re also doing at the moment though he has passed away and all about his military campaigns in the war. All about his life, his father’s life and his mother’s life which was extraordinary, travelling in the Far East in the early part of the last century and right up to his death here in Sussex. My mum’s still alive aged 94 and enjoying her book immensely and we’ve got lots of copies. We lend them to friends and they’re all inspired’
The role of a LifeBook interviewer is extremely important to making the experience interesting and enjoyable for the Author. We hear from Diana on what she loves about being an interviewer.
Diana – A LifeBook Interviewer
‘What I love about being an interviewer is I get to listen to the most amazing and fascinating life stories and everyone, whatever they have done in their life, has a story to tell, be it of love, friendship, work, travel. I feel incredibly privileged to be part of the process of recording someone’s memories and, rather selfishly, I get to take away a piece of advice from every story I hear’
The author is of course the most important part of this journey and our aim is for them to enjoy the project as they recount stories of their life to an interviewer, but then sharing the LifeBook autobiography with family and friends is a fantastic gift and legacy.
Keith – A LifeBook Author
‘In the past, I’ve enjoyed telling my children, and later my grandchildren, about my own childhood which, of course, was so vastly different from their own. They always seemed amazed. I was persuaded by my daughter to record these memories in written form, primarily for my grandchildren, using LifeBook. I’d always collected photographs of my ancestors that I remembered well and these would illustrate my memories. The process for completing the LifeBook exercise was very exciting and wonderfully managed by them. It brought back many happy memories that I had almost forgotten. I realised I had enjoyed some exciting and historic times. All my grandchildren received a beautiful bound copy and all think it was well worthwhile and gives them a first-hand description of their ancestors. Well done LifeBook’
LifeBook have a large collection of professional ghost-writers, in the US, UK and around the world. The ability to create a sympathetic and engaging narrative from our Author’s recordings is a skill one has to develop. As Alwyn says in his testimonial the key is “capturing the voice of the person whose life story you’re listening to”.
Alwyn – A LifeBook Ghostwriter
‘The thing I most like from a writing point-of-view is really capturing the voice of the person whose life story you’re listening to so you get a sense of them as a person, as an individual. You get a sense of their approach to life and everything else and, obviously, you listen as they speak their words and it’s your job to piece it together in a more organised way perhaps or take out a few of the bumps. You get real appreciation as a writer of their whole life really and everything that that means as they look back, you get a sense of their aspirations, the background to values, their whole life. Sometimes you get a real sense of, and then their relationships, what’s happened in families, marriages, whatever else, which is really moving often and you get a sense to of their regrets as they look back and, also, of their real hopes and ambitions for their future or, perhaps, their children or grandchildren’s future as well’
We hope you enjoyed listening to our testimonials. If we’ve kindled your interest in a LifeBook autobiography for yourself or maybe a loved one please feel free to contact us.
Everyone has a story to tell.
If you’ve ever thought about writing your autobiography, at LifeBook we have compiled a to-do list that will make the task much easier.
Read our tips and start your life story today.
Top tips for autobiography writing
- A little preparation and forethought will make writing your autobiography a quicker and more efficient task – and reduce the risk of leaving something out.
- Decide on the era you want to cover – will it be all your life or will you be restricted to a specific period, such as childhood or working days?
- Think about how you wish to structure your book – do you want it to be purely chronological with all aspects of your life during certain years included or do you want it to be structured according to topic?
- If you wish to include something about your family history, draw up a family tree as far as you are able, adding short background notes where relevant.
- Make a list of events you wish to cover, adding dates if possible.
- Under every event, jot down any thoughts that come to mind in relation to it.
- Create a list of the main people who have featured in your life.
- Under each name, record any special memories relating to that person.
- Writing a list of decades can help you think about things that have happened to you at certain times in your life.
- Make a list of schools you attended; add the names of any teachers you recall and note any specific memories.
- Create a CV covering your work life, recording anything of note (including people you met, worked for etc) in each role.
- If you have travelled, list the countries visited, adding any relevant experiences or observations.
- Make a list of any random thoughts and events that you may wish to include, even though you might be uncertain as to where ‒ or if ‒ they will appear in your life story.
- Note anything that you wish to check on or query ‒ you might want to clarify dates, names, places, sequence of events etc with other people, for example.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help ‒ others can assist by jogging the memory or offering opinions on what you should and shouldn’t include.
- A word of warning: always bear in mind that you should be wary of including anything that is likely to upset other people, invade a person’s privacy or damage their reputation.
You’re now ready to get started.
With these steps complete, you’re now ready to get started on creating a written record of your life, that lasting legacy to pass on to your family and friends ‒ and if you feel you can’t manage that task unaided, our team at LifeBook will be happy to offer you all the support you need to achieve your goal, from words and images to design and typesetting, plus we will even get your books printed for you.