The Process

  © Mick Stevens/The New Yorker Collection/

© Mick Stevens/The New Yorker Collection/

For a commissioned memoir (or as-told-to memoir),  we will interview you after we have outlined together and discussed some of the main events and themes in your life. During the interviews, we will keep you on track, actively listening to you (this is now called “compassionate listening”). We will encourage you to share your stories, observations, and reflections; at the same time, we will respect your feelings, your secrets, and your privacy. The transcripts from our recorded interviews will evolve into the substance of your memoirs. Upon completion of the interview transcript, or if you have already written your memoirs and hired us for an assisted memoir, the remaining steps of the process will be the same: editing, design and formatting, reviews and alterations, printing and binding, and delivery to you. 

Here's a little more detail.

Letter of Agreement:  First, we will discuss your needs, including health and time-frame, and think about whether we want to work with each other; if the answer is yes, we will send you a letter of agreement outlining our mutual expectations and responsibilities. The letter will go back and forth between us for alterations, as desired by you, until accepted and signed.

A commissioned memoir begins with interviews, transcriptions, and editing:  If you want a commissioned (as-told-to memoir), we will interview you in person at a place of your choice. Usually, the interviews are done over two or more two-day sessions for a total of about 18 hours. Then we will transcribe the recordings and edit the transcription for clarity, logic, accuracy, and voice. We will make sure that your personality comes through and the narrative is authentic. Light fact-checking as needed can be part of the process. The text will go back and forth between us for alterations.

An assisted memoir begins with editing:  If you've already written your manuscript, we will edit for clarity, logic, accuracy, and voice. The text will go back and forth between us for alterations. If you do not want your manuscript edited or proofread, we will not read it. We will handle all of the details of design, formatting, and print processes.

Image processing, Genealogies, and Maps:  You will provide the images and captions you want in your books. We can touch them up, adjust their color and contrast, and even provide heavier photo editing services, according to your desires. For samples of our work, see image processing. We provide all memoir-related services, such as well-designed genealogy charts, professional translations, and custom maps.

Design and formatting:  You can request a custom design for your book interior, or select from one of our template designs to use as is or with modifications. We will then flow your text into the design of your choice and make adjustments wherever needed. The formatted galley will go back and forth between us for further alterations, and then we will send it to one or more eagle-eyed proofreaders to catch remaining problems.

Print and bind:  We will explain your options for printing and binding. We will explain terminology like digital and offset printing; glued and Smythe-sewn binding; softcover and hardcover materials; interior text materials; dustjackets and ribbons. You will decide what you want and we will make it happen.

When you are ready, we will send the files to the printer and bindery. We will work with them and preview your book to ensure accuracy and quality before they ship the books to you.

Once the books are delivered to you, it will be your time — time for the thrill and satisfaction of re-reading and distributing your own books!

For more details on these and related services, see Services.


We charge fees for processes that are measurable and predictable, such as standard design and formatting (per page), and an hourly fee for processes that depend on you, such as Author Alterations, and as-needed research.

Typically, a book that has received our personal attention costs at least $4,000 to service and $1,000 to print. A set of personal interviews (15 to 20 hours), transcribed, typically costs $8,000 including travel. A well-written commissioned memoir typically begins at $40,000 to service and $2,000 to print.

If you have already written your memoir, contact us for an estimate.