Conference: Telling difficult life stories and getting them read

Enthusiastic attendees at the 2022 Life Stories Australian conference

By Sally-Anne Watson Kane

All who attended the Life Stories Australia (LSA) Conference 2022 agree that it was an enormous success.

LSA members who attended the all-day conference on Friday 2 December 2022 were treated to an entertaining and insightful day of presentations and discussions about topics related to documenting and preserving life stories. Jacqueline Kent presentd on biography writing; and a panel of experts from the publishing industry helped us on how to market our books.

Thirteen LSA members attended the conference at Curate in Melbourne’s CBD, several from interstate, and four members attended via Zoom.

Jacqueline Kent, on biography writing: ‘Some things they don’t tell you…’

Jacqueline Kent, biographer

Jacqueline Kent presented an extremely engaging discussion on biography writing. She explained how she approaches writing biography. We learnt how to approach, plan and write biography, the difference between authorised vs unauthorised biography and some of the potential pitfalls. She gave us a number of great tips for interviewing for biography, including the types of issues to draw out in an interviewee (e.g. how they felt; the tiny personal details that make the story come to life) and the interface between a life story/biography writer, the subject and the subject’s family.

Lunch and networking

Curate provided a delicious luncheon while all present took advantage of this face-to-face networking opportunity. The room was buzzing with life story documenters’ discussions until everyone was herded back to their seats for the second session.

Panel of experts on: ‘I’ve written my book; how do I get others to read it?’

LSA President Deb Gough interviews Tim Coronel, Ellen Coates and Robbie Egan

LSA President Deb Gough hosted a panel of speakers from the publishing industry:

The topic of ‘how to get your book out there, into the public eye’ was discussed. Pertaining to the publishing (including the self-publishing) industry, insights were broad yet riveting for those interested in marketing their life story, memoir, autobiography or biography. Getting your life story book or video into public lending and other libraries or listed on the online registries available to the public was also discussed. The panel answered many questions from LSA members. After the panel discussion, all present managed to squeeze in a quick five minutes of networking and grabbing a cuppa, prior to the final session of the day.

Results of the LSA pricing survey

President Deborah Gough presented the closing session of the conference. The results of the recently conducted pricing survey among LSA members were summed up. The results showed the average length of life stories projects and the average earnings from a project, as well as other topics relating to life stories. The President noted that a larger number of participants in the survey may have produced different results. LSA will conduct another survey in 2023, and compare results with the results of this survey.

The results of the 2022 survey will be presented in the LSA website’s members’ page.


LSA President acknowledged and thanked Imelda Cribbin for organising the venue and many aspects of the conference, and other board members for assisting; Adam Rickard, and Curate, for their assistance with microphones and IT throughout the day; and thanked all for attending.

Sally-Anne Watson Kane is an LSA board member, and owner/operator of On Time Typing, Editing and Proofreading / On Time Typing Books and Life Stories.