Writing Memoirs: Biography Fiction
Award winning author Jan Sikes spoke to the Texas High Plains Writers group in November about her biographical fiction series detailing life with her extremely talented husband, country singer Rick Sikes. The events are true; but to be able to share these immensely personal details, she tells the stories in third person and replaced real names with fictional names. To be able to tell the story, she fictionalized dialogue into scenes that she didn’t witness first-hand. She noted that the series is semiautobiographical told in a fiction format, 90% true and 10% fiction.
This method poses a unique way to write your family stories, and because Jan wanted total control of the material she self-published.
Self-Publishing Key Points
Jan stressed the importance of having a “good quality piece of writing before you release it.” That means hiring a professional editor. True, there are more opportunities for writers than ever before, but self-publishing has a bad rep because of the less than quality material that has flooded the eBook market place. Constructive feedback is very important.
Have a publishing imprint and purchase an ISBN number. The $5 package from CreateSpace is limited as to where your book can go. It will only be available on Amazon.
Jan reminded us that whether you’ve gone with traditional or self-published, writes must promote themselves. Traditional publishers have very limited marketing funds, and understandable those dollars are targeted for a small group of top selling authors. Mid-list authors, whether traditional or indie publishes, have to do their own promotion. For her particular series, Jan has seen the most success through one-on-one interaction with readers. She participates in community events and book festivals throughout the year.
For indie authors, there are numerous organizations that support and assist with promotion. Jan recommended the Texas Association of Authors, Independent Authors Network, and the Historical Novel Association.
Thinking About Theme for your Story
The success of this series and her unique writing style is in part because of a no secrets left unturned approach. Remember that old saying, “write like your momma’s passed on and will never read your story”? This is real life at its darkest. The main characters take a downward spiral into drugs, motorcycle gangs, Texas honky-tonks, and federal prison. Despite the events in life and insurmountable odds, what emerges from the chaos is a love story with music being the salvation. Rick built the first sound studio inside the walls of Leavenworth and was able to smuggle his songs out to his family and fans.
While each book can stand alone as a fascinating read, I started with the second book in the series, The Convict and The Rose, which won a first place award for biography fiction from the Texas Association of Authors. Music CD’s are also available.