How to Publish Your Own Memoir in Months

I had an amazing opportunity this spring and summer to collaborate with Glenn Chelliah to develop, edit, and publish his memoir, My Emigration to the United States and Achieving the American Dream. We began work on this book in March, and he received finished copies to give to his family for his seventy-fifth birthday in September.

Glenn’s family, particularly his adult daughter, had wanted him to record his life story both for his family now and future generations. Together, Glenn and I wrote chapters on his life growing up in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), his college years in Philadelphia, his career in the pharmaceutical industry, his family life, and his travels around the globe. We had no expectations for how long the book would be when we started, and it ended up being a nicely sized 144-page volume, including several family photos (in color) and Glenn and his wife’s family trees in an appendix.

Here’s how this project came together, in the event that you’d like to consider writing your own memoir:

Developmental Stage (March through Mid-May)

  • Glenn submitted outlines of potential chapters of his book
  • Glenn and I met via Zoom to discuss how we wanted to collaborate on the writing process
  • I referred to the outlines Glenn provided, expanding or refining the prose, reorganizing thematic elements, and asking pertinent questions
  • Glenn sent feedback on chapters to me and I incorporated his suggestions
  • Glenn and I reviewed the final manuscript one more time for redundancy, missed information, and flow

Production Stage (Late May through September)

  • I sent the manuscript to a trusted copyeditor to review the manuscript for grammar, usage, and style
  • Glenn and I reviewed the copyeditor’s changes and queries and finalized the manuscript for production
  • Glenn and I worked with designer Gary Rosenberg at The Book Couple to typeset the book, design the cover, and upload the final files to Ingram and Amazon for printing
  • The designer sent Glenn and me page proofs (after approving the design) to proofread
  • The designer created a cover for Glenn’s feedback
  • Glenn and I worked on back cover copy for the book and sent it to the designer
  • The designer finalized pages based on our feedback and uploaded the finalized pages and cover
  • Glenn ordered and reviewed a finished copy of the book and made a few changes that the designer incorporated
  • Glenn ordered finished copies of his book via Amazon to give to loved ones (he can reorder at any time, or you can order one for yourself)

In just six months, Glenn turned his “someday” dream into a reality and is now a published author. His family and friends can read his life story, and future generations will understand their roots in Ceylon and the life Glenn made for himself in the United States.

You can purchase a print or ebook here.


If you are interested in self-publishing a memoir or another type of book, let’s talk about how we can make your dreams a reality. The flow of the project I listed above is quite typical for publishing, and we can customize the timeline to meet your needs. The book does not need to be long or contain any specific elements. It can be as unique as you are.

2020 in Review

I plan to close up shop tomorrow until 2021. After this particularly exhausting year in a global pandemic, I’ve vowed to rest and recharge in the final days of December 2020 to head into the new year with as much vigor as possible. I hope you are also able to do the same.

Despite massive shifts in how we live in 2020, I am thrilled that my freelance publishing business could keep chugging along this year. I began Silver Scribe Editorial Services in May 2013 after leaving my job as managing editor at a book publishing company to find a better work-life balance with my young children (who are now well into elementary school and learning virtually next to me as I write this post). Thanks to loyal clients and new opportunities, I’ve been able to “have it all” in my eyes — keeping a career going while also balancing the demands of parenthood.

Thank you to everyone who has sought out my services over the last seven-plus years. It’s my hope that I’ll be able to continue working in this capacity for many years to come.

I always like to review my work by the numbers, so here’s the brief summary of 2020:

  • 40-plus articles for Healthline (writing, including articles on some pretty gnarly animal bites, including the blue-ringed octopus, the venomous box jellyfish, ball pythons, chiggers, and carpenter ants, oh my!)
  • 10 academic journal issues (copyediting)
  • 6 books for self-publishing authors through Reedsy or this website (copyediting and proofreading)
  • 5-plus permissions projects for a large textbook publisher

These numbers remind me again how lucky I am to work on a variety of projects. I am truly never bored in this line of work!

A final remark I wanted to make is about changes in editing and publishing in 2020. Changes to grammar, usage, and style evolve over time, and this year had a few seismic shifts, in my opinion. Mainstream style guides embraced the move to a singular “they” and shifted the treatment of racial terms in the wake of our national conversation on race. Where I was once a stickler on using “him or her” or something of that effect when a singular pronoun was ambiguous, I now openly embrace the singular “they” and believe it is a great compromise to our language’s lack of a gender-neutral singular pronoun. Also, I am now in regular conversation with editors and authors about whether to capitalize racial terms. I think this is a positive move forward, as it opens up a dialogue about how to address these issues in our culture and offers an opportunity for authors, editors, and publishers to be more intentional in the conversation surrounding race.

Again, thank you to everyone who supported my work in 2020, and I look forward to a productive and successful 2021!

A Recent Collaboration

Parenting Teens in a Digital World

Rachel Simmonds, author of the newly released Parenting Teens in a Digital World, and I collaborated on her work back in September. I copyedited this informative, concise handbook for Rachel and was impressed with her knowledge and strong beliefs in how to introduce children to various technologies and manage them in their teen years.

Rachel is a teacher and parent who brings real-life experience to her topic. She is also a dream author to work with. I wish her well in getting this book into the hands of parents who need her wisdom!

A Recent Collaboration

I recently finished a flurry of projects. While most of them were excellent academic works or health articles, I had the joy of proofreading a trade book on parenting a few weeks ago: The New Mom’s Guide to New Dads by Andrew Shaw.

new-moms-guide

Andrew found me on Reedsy, a freelance site I began collaborating with last year. His instructional book for new moms (and dads) is both humorous and insightful. My kids are now far removed from the baby phase, but many of his anecdotes reminded me of those crazy first years of parenting. Andrew is a dad blogger who is doing an excellent job at creating awareness of what a dad experiences when he welcomes a child. (He is also very quick to point out the demands of motherhood, too.)

Andrew left me some complimentary feedback after I proofread his project:

Natalie was prompt and thorough in her proofreading. She worked within my deadline and made it easy to collaborate!

It was equally rewarding to work with you, Andrew.

This book is available on Kindle.

 

 

 

Recent Work

Despite my absence here on the blog in the last few months, I am still working away on both editing and writing projects! I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with some individual authors lately on large-scale publishing projects, particularly books and dissertations. Here are a few words of praise I’ve received recently, in the event these hearty endorsements convince you that I am capable and easy to work with for your own project.

“Great job, no complaints. I would be happy to hire Natalie again.” —Barbara, author of a forthcoming book on writing for academia

“Natalie does great work and it was a pleasure doing business with her.” —John, author of a forthcoming book on tuning instruments

“I am reviewing the editing and it is wonderful. . . . Thank you so much.” —Michael, author of a forthcoming book on boating and sailing