Why Write Biographies?

by Debra Smith, CES Editor (read more about Debra)

crazy student

Research!

Writing a book about a person’s life can be tedious, time-consuming, and fattening. Research may require countless hours on the Internet, searching archives, conducting interviews, fact checking, and securing permissions. However, research also allows you to explore, meet fascinating people, and perhaps inspire the next generation.

Getting started may be the biggest hurdle. Think about a biography you read as a child—what made it memorable? Does it influence who you are today? Publishers are sometimes open to biographies, even as they reject a flood of fictional stories. There is less competition because fewer writers have the time, interest, and research skills to do this job well.

So, who will you write about? You may already have an inspiring person in mind or just seeking to fill a niche. Perhaps an educational publisher has a series about inventors, and you have always wondered about who invented the microwave, Ziploc bag, or prosthetic limb. A writer hooked on history might research about their indentured-servant ancestors and discover a fascinating story. Whoever you choose as a subject, be sure you like that person—they will be with you for a long, long time.

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