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Is Your Memoir a Vanity Project?

Not so long ago, inexperienced authors who struggled to get published might fall prey to a vanity press. These were book publishers whose business model was essentially a scam: They’d do little more than take your money, throw your unedited manuscript into a sad little binding, and “market” your work, which would, predictably, never achieve the promised bestseller status. Gosh, bad luck!

So you can understand my chagrin when I described Remarkable Life Memoirs to a new acquaintance over cocktails only to hear: “Oh, so you’re like a vanity press?”

Sigh. Take a drink.

Remarkable Life Memoirs specializes in privately published books: memoirs, biographies, family histories, adoption stories, tributes to beloved relatives, heirloom collections, wartime diaries. In short, we help people tell life stories in their own voices.

So why do I struggle with explaining who we are? Maybe because I’m defining RLM in terms of what we’re not.

We’re not conventional publishers. Our clients, unlike theirs, have no interest in selling books to the general public—or in selling books at all. Their stories are designed for a select audience of friends and family who are truly interested in their life experiences and family histories. They have a story to tell, and it’s not subject to what’s hot this season.

We’re not do-it-yourself-ers either. Our clients expect professionalism. They wouldn’t edit their own memoir any more than they’d design their own house. Instead, they want to put their life story in the hands of veteran editorial and design specialists who’ve spent decades making good books great.

And we’re definitely not a vanity press. (Let’s just lay that phrase to rest once and for all. If a publisher promises that you’ll sell thousands of books, and wants you to pay for that dubious privilege, please stop reading now and book a flight to Vegas instead. At least you’ll have fun while losing your money.)

So if you have a life story to tell and you want it to be beautiful as well as readable, let’s talk. It’s anything but vanity to know yourself and to want to share your story with the generations still to come. And if you can explain that better than I can, let me know. I’ll buy you a drink!

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