In essence, with a memoir, there is no "story" in the absolute sense. There is only a deep dive into what the audience will pony up time and money to read.
It could be juicy details from the politico's until-then secret life. Those are always fun and usually always sell.
It could be insights into how to create a presence, no matter who you are and even if you might be stuck at the time.
It could be warnings about career strategies that blow up 99% of the time.
That's the purpose of a memoir: To deliver what wasn't available before, in the handy format of a supposed "story."
The tragic flaw among most of those planning a memoir is their naive belief in the power of their story. The old-fashioned term for that was "over-confidence." And it stems from lack of experience. Because their story hasn't been tested out in the marketplace of dollars, eyeballs and buzz, they are certain that the details are worth, ha-ha-ha, the cost of a ghostwriter.
That's where we ghostwriters have to be totally selfless. Instead of jumping to sign the contract for the first draft and a second one, if needed, we push back. We ask the prospect what are the takeaways from that personal narrative. Based on those, we might suggest alternatives. They might be a series of blog posts, an interview on YouTube, a bylined opinion-editorial published in a brandname such as The New York Times and/or a thousand tweets.
From Africa I received a call about a possible memoir regarding the man's education in the U.S., his struggle to re-orient himself in his homeland, and then how he found his niche as a teacher for very young children. My gut told me it was too much his story, with not enough takeaways for the audience. We agreed to several other alternatives.
Everyone has a story. Mostly everyone would fare better socially, emotionally and professionally if they lifted themselves out of the framework. And just lived in the today. Then there would be no temptation to tell any story.