What’s the Difference Between a Memoir and Autobiography?

November 19, 20213 min. Read

Memoirs and autobiographies are great ways to document lives. However, choosing whether to write a memoir or autobiography can be a little tricky if you don’t know the difference. You want to pick the style that will best honor your story.

Memoir vs Autobiography

Memoirs and autobiographies are terms used interchangeably. However, they have different formats and rules, making two distinct book types. 

An autobiography is factual and in chronological order. In contrast, a memoir relies on memories to tell your stories. 

What is a Memoir?

Anyone can write a successful memoir with the right mindset. The key is to choose a theme that focuses on an emotional experience. Once you’ve done that, you can frame your stories around your theme.

It doesn’t have to be in chronological order, and a memoir usually jumps around on the timeline. Audiences read them because they’re interested in the story being told. You draw them into it by weaving what is magical about your life into your tale.

‌Writing a Memoir

Writing a memoir begins by picking a theme. It can be anything struggles you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them or funny anecdotes about your life experiences. You can choose a seemingly mild incident and trace how it shaped your path. It’s completely up to you.

‌Once you’ve chosen a theme, begin writing. Again, your audience is interested in the story and not necessarily the date or time. Accuracy is flowing in this type of story.

‌This is not your whole life story, so you should keep the timeline shorter. Stick to memories that relate to the theme of the book, and put them in an order that makes the story flow well.

‌ What is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is usually about someone famous or an important public figure. You don’t want to confuse this with a biography, which is someone’s life story written by a third party. In an autobiography, you get to tell the story about yourself. 

Two big things that are different about an autobiography are that it is factual and follows life events in chronological order. These may start at birth, but you can begin where you like and end where you choose. Audiences read autobiographies to find out more about the author’s life, which is why they tend to be written by notable people. 

‌Writing an Autobiography

An autobiography begins with a hook. Being famous is enough for celebrities, but the average person may need to dig a little deeper to find how to draw readers. 

Once you’ve decided how your story will interest your audience, you can begin researching and writing. When writing an autobiography, it is important to include specific and accurate details. Creative liberties are better suited to other genres. 

Begin by writing what you remember. You can fill in gaps and perspectives by interviewing family, friends, and coworkers. Your autobiography should ideally begin with your birth and end at present. 

‌Learn More About How to Publish Your Memoir or Autobiography at Palmetto Publishing

Finishing the first draft of your memoir or autobiography is a huge accomplishment, and you should pat yourself on the back. However, your work is far from over. If you choose to self-publish, you will need to edit, market, and publish your book. 

Palmetto Publishing is a highly rated self-publishing company. Our services include book design, editing, marketing, and more. Contact us today to speak to one of our knowledgeable professionals about how we can help your book to be successful.  

Related Articles