We understand just how meaningful it is to commit your life story to print. So, while we make the writing experience as easy as we can for you, we bring a level of best practice, attention to detail and painstaking craft to everything on our side.
If you’ve ever started to try to write an autobiography before and then stopped, you’ll quickly realise how important your project manager is. They are the ones who make sure everyone keeps to the timetable. They know how to encourage, without ever pressurising. They give you time to review what we have produced, while making sure the project never loses momentum. Some of our authors become lifelong friends with their project managers, sending updates of how family and friends have loved their story. Long before your book goes on the press, you’ll appreciate that your project manager is the central cog in the LifeBook machine.
Chapter 1. Everything starts with your interviews. That’s why your interviewer’s most important quality has to be their ability to listen. So, once we know a little bit about you, it is all about matching you with the right person. Not just to listen but to probe and push and tease out the story you want to tell. The context, the personalities, the drama. The events that shaped your life. The story of you. Your interviewer is such an important figure in your LifeBook that if we don’t have the right person, we go out and find them. It adds to the time (anything from 2 to 8 weeks) but you shouldn’t tell your life story to just anyone. Twelve 90-minute meetings over four to five months follow, with each at a time arranged to suit you. Ten of the meetings are for storytelling, the last two for reviewing your manuscript. Your interviewer doesn’t come alone either. A state-of-the-art scanner comes too, for scanning the photographs and documents that are also part of your story. And everything is recorded because when the talking stops, your ghostwriter must start.
Every one of our ghostwriters has devoted their entire career to the written word, whether in media, journalism, or academia. Your chosen writer will craft your words, find “your” voice, and become you. Your life story could not be in better hands. Even so, you’ll receive regular drafts—“words in progress”—and you can always discuss changes when you meet your personal biographer at your review sessions. If you forget something during an interview, you can add it in at your next one. The night you saw that unknown four-piece band in Liverpool, that split-second the doctor looked at the two of you and said “triplets,” your writer will find a home for it in your story.
Next the honing and polishing of ‘your’ words. With your writer comes your editor. Their first task: to scrutinise the working draft and make sure it is free of mistakes. However, it is about more than correct spelling and accurate dates. Your editor will pore over your narrative, seeing that it flows, picking up on areas which may need more telling, and above all making sure the tone of the writing really reflects your personality.
You are now ready to go on the greatest journey any autobiographer ever makes, from galley proof to beautifully bound, section-sewn, linen-covered hardback book, in the company of our typesetters, proofreaders, printers and bookbinders. Their meticulous (maybe it’s obsessive) attachment to proper craft skills won’t disappoint you.
First, one of our typesetters will take charge of design and layout, the seamless marriage of text and imagery. Then it must pass under the zero-tolerance gaze of our proofreaders. And your gaze too. You’ll also receive a set of proofs. Then when everything is perfect, error-free and signed off, it is time to go to print. Printing, stitching and binding are specialist crafts. The book is, in fact, made in sections and sewn into the whole. This way any page opened will lie flat. It’s easier to read this way and it will never split Then there is the linen cover, embossed with gold or silver lettering, and a bespoke dust jacket before your book is placed in its gift box and shipped directly to you. In fact, you will receive 10 copies. Finally, a word about the paper we print on: 148 gsm archival Mohawk, the highest quality there is for books. It’s guaranteed to last 100 years. It will probably last much longer. Like every great life story.
There are some things that can’t be put into words. A look, a smile, a time, a place. Pictures, newspaper cuttings, wedding certificates, school reports. Documents, perhaps ones that have been hidden in attic boxes for decades, are a vital part of your story. So, in the safety of your own home, we scan them and bring every single one that you want to include back to life.
A LifeBook is your story in your voice. So, besides the printed words are your spoken ones. In your final meeting we record you reading your favourite excerpts from the book. These 60-minute Audio Highlights are part of the USB MiniBook, which comes with the actual LifeBook, and includes a digital version of it, your copyrighted Word document and scans of your carefully restored images.