Welcome to Family Sleuth Memoirs, your one-stop shop for telling the story of your life and recording it in book form.
Every life worth living is worth preserving for posterity – for future generations to embrace and appreciate. And when it comes to your legacy, there’s no time like the present. Loved ones die. Memories fade. Photos get misplaced. The stories that define your life and those of your family members or organization need be vividly captured in a way that no yellowing scrapbook can do justice.
How long have you been talking about wanting to sit down and commit your fascinating story or that of a beloved relative to tape so it isn’t lost to the ravages of time or procrastination?
Now is your chance to do just that instead of just talk about it.
Family Sleuth Memoirs – founded in 2018 by award-winning entertainment journalist Ray Richmond – brings your history to life by recording interviews with your children, your grandchildren, your parents, your friends and work colleagues, or just yourself.
Those hours are transcribed into notes and transformed into a colorful and accurate life chronicle told in your unique voice. That manuscript is then joined with prize photos, documents and researched elements of your family tree and designed into a sleek, elegant, hardcover bound book to be enjoyed as the most special of gifts for friends and family – and cherished for generations to come.
Every person has a story to tell. So does every business and organization (public, private, for-profit and not-for-profit). Share those stories with everyone connected to your personal life or your company career in a custom-designed book crafted by a professional journalist and author.
At Family Sleuth Memoirs, we help you preserve the past and present for the future.
Why should I commission a memoir?
There are so many reasons. First-person narratives and family histories are important documents. But perhaps the primary reason to write a personal or family history is you don’t want your story to die with you. When you commission a book, it lives forever – as it deserves to.
Why should I use you and not another personal historian for my book?
Because I’m the best interviewer there is. I spent more than 35 years drawing people out of their shell, including some of the most difficult celebrities walking the earth. I’m expert at putting people at ease. Part of the reason for that is my genuine love of people and interest in their stories, in what makes them tick.
In what voice do you write the book?
The book will be crafted in the client’s first-person voice unless he or she would prefer it be written in third person.
How long does it take to produce a book?
It’s contingent on a series of variables – including the amount of material and complexity of the project. But a good ballpark is three to six months. If necessary to meet a deadline or event, a book can be put together in as little as 10 weeks, from interviews through design of the cover and layout through printing and binding.
How long do you spend interviewing the client(s)?
It depends, but figure a minimum of six hours and likely much more – up to 25 to 30 hours if necessary to tell your story with accuracy and vitality.
How much will it cost to put together a written/produced memoir in book form?
The cost of each book depends on the scope of the project. That includes the number of individuals interviewed, the length of the book, the number of photos and graphic elements incorporated, and the number of hours involved (as well as if there is any travel for the writer-interviewer). For further discussion on specifics, contact Ray Richmond, who also has an hourly rate of $100/hour for editing an existing manuscript. Once the client’s requirements are determined, a price can be agreed upon.
I’m a horrible speller. Can you guarantee that my book won’t have any errors of spelling or grammar?
In a word, yes. We at Family Sleuth Memoirs pride ourselves on perfect spelling and grammar, and your book will be error-free on that score or a partial refund will be given. What we cannot guarantee is the correction of factual errors supplied to us and whose veracity is beyond our control.
Are there other expenses beyond those for interviewing and writing up the manuscript?
Yes. There are extra fees for transcription, for designing the book layout and cover, and for printing and binding the books. I work with outside professionals to create an elegant keepsake book, passing along their fees to the client.
Can you create a digital ebook as well as a bound book?
Absolutely. We can create either or both. However, different fees apply.
Do you make audio and video personal histories as well as print?
Yes. I can capture your story on audio and subcontract out with a videographer to produce a video biography of your life. Inquire via email on how that works.
Can you travel to my area to conduct the interviews?
Yes. Have recording device, will travel. Expenses naturally must be paid by the client.
Can you help sell my memoir after we’re finished writing it?
That unfortunately isn’t a service we provide.
Ray Richmond has worked as a journalist and author since 1978 and was a television critic, columnist and reporter for a number of publications, including The Hollywood Reporter, Daily Variety, the Los Angeles Daily News, The Orange County Register and (online) Deadline Hollywood. He has interviewed many of the most famous celebrities and icons in the world, including Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, Shirley MacLaine, George Burns, Chris Rock, Martin Scorsese, Ben Stiller, Amy Schumer, Steve Carell and Jimmy Kimmel.
As an author, Ray’s books include The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1997), This is Jeopardy!: Celebrating America’s Favorite Quiz Show (2004), TV Moms: An Illustrated Guide (2000) and My Greatest Day in Show Business (1999). He has also ghostwritten many books, including the final season hardcover tribute compilation for the Emmy Award-winning FX drama series Rescue Me.
In 2017, Ray fulfilled a lifelong dream by writing and producing a stage play. Entitled Transition, it told the story of the November 2016 meeting in the Oval Office between President Barack Obama and President-Elect Donald Trump some 36 hours after the election. In December 2017, the Huffington Post ranked it as one of the 10 best original plays of the year in Los Angeles.
Ray was born in Whittier, California and raised in Southern California, coming of age during a time of colorful change in the region. He was graduated from Hollywood High School in 1975 and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from California State University at Northridge in 1980. He is the father of three and grandfather of one and makes his home in Valley Glen, CA.
It was his being asked by many friends to help steer their personal stories that convinced Ray to pursue Family Sleuth Memoirs. As a professional journalist with great curiosity about the lives of others, it’s something of a perfect job. He modestly believes it will help lead to his changing the world as we know it.
When Family Sleuth Memoirs writes your book based on interviews:
The process begins with a contract outlining time frame and deliverables.
After an initial meeting or telephone consult discussing possible interview questions and topics surrounding your unique story, Ray will spend between 6 and 20 hours (or as much as 30) interviewing and recording. Family members are interviewed as requested. A book can incorporate the memories of a few, or each may choose to write a separate book.
You and your family will want to make a list of some favorite stories and anecdotes to discuss during interviews. Also, if the family has specific topics, our standard questionnaire will be adapted for additional questions surrounding the unique life experiences of the narrator. Any area that proves uncomfortable can be deemed off-limits.
WRITING AND EDITING
The interviews are transcribed and a first-draft manuscript is organized and created.
The client is supplied the first-draft manuscript and reviews it at his or her leisure. Changes are made as requested. A second draft is written, Corrections are made, but any wholesale changes incur an additional fee.
Once a final draft of the rewritten manuscript is approved, the second phase – creating an elegant keepsake book – begins.
When the client has an initial rough manuscript and enlists Family Sleuth Memoirs to edit, revise and package the material:
The client furnishes FSM with a copy of the manuscript.
Family Sleuth Memoirs edits and organizes the book.
The client is presented with a first draft of the manuscript for review. Changes are made as requested.
Client receives a second manuscript. Once approved, the second phase – creating an elegant keepsake book – begins. FSM adds the special touch of historical photos, maps, document copies and other graphic elements to make the book even more engaging. Careful proofreading and copyediting is also provided.
LAYOUT, DESIGN AND PRINTING
Graphic Design is one of those little-recognized features that distinguishes professional-looking books from amateur efforts. The distance of the text from the spine, the adjustment of text to end on a particular page, the placement of photos in the text, the choice of font/typeface, all make a profound difference in the style and look of your book.
Using the expertise of a professional graphic designer, we incorporate as many as 30 to 35 of your prized family photos into the book while also designing a dynamic cover. After the client’s approval, the book goes to the printer.
We use a professional printer and binder to give your book the highest quality appearance.