How to Position Your Autobiography
Genre Types

Ask the Editor: How to Position Your Autobiography

How to Position Your AutobiographyWe’ve kept our eye on a growing trend here at Xulon Press and, of course, wanted to pass this knowledge on to our author family. “Autobiography” sounds like a straightforward, cut and dry genre, but there are so many ways it can be done. We want to help you make the best of your life’s memories in whatever form they naturally happen to take. Some autobiographies are poignantly simple, highlighting events and aspects of life that are common to everyone. Others contain dramatic events only a small number of people experienced, or personal testimonies with very subjective circumstances. Still other autobiographies are completely and masterfully made up!

Which kind of autobiography are you giving your readers? Stating this clearly in a Foreword, Introduction or Prologue is key to positioning your book on shelves and online. Readers will know right away that your book is the kind they want to read. Here is the breakdown of the three major types:

  • Autobiography: All names, places, dates, and events are 100% true to the best of your knowledge. The content flows chronologically, giving details of your family history as needed to paint the bigger picture. The book covers the majority of your life. If you have only changed a minimal amount of names and places in order to protect yourself or authors, your book is still classified as an autobiography.
  • Autobiographical Novel: Some names, places, dates, and events have been changed, tweaked, enhanced, left out or created in order to tell your story. The book centers around a specific point of time in your life and details the circumstances leading up to the main event. The sequence is mostly chronological, but can also include foreshadowing, flashbacks, etc.
  • Fictional Autobiography: All names, places, dates, and events are fictional, narrated in the first person from the perspective of a completely fictional character. While the main character/narrator may be based on a real person, the author invents all the main points and fine details that pull the story together.

While the quintessential fictional autobiography can be found amongst older classics such as David Copperfield and Jane Eyre, these days the autobiographical novel is really taking off. From a former police officer miraculously surviving a shoot out to the twists and turns of an inner-city missionary’s life, Xulon Press authors are telling their gripping stories like never before. If you’re in the process of writing your own autobiography we hope this post has helped you along in deciding on the best way to unfold your story. If you have any questions, comment below!


Vanessa Correa is a Staff Editor at Xulon Press with a total of 10 years of publishing experience in diverse industries including journalism, academic publishing, social media and more. She is a native New Yorker and alumnus of the M.S. Publishing program at New York University. Her passion is translation—her family is from Puerto Rico and her aim is to ensure our authors receive the same high quality services for Spanish books, press releases and other materials as they do in English.

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