What is Autofiction?

If you’ve perused our submissions guidelines or FAQs, you may be aware that Josha considers a wide variety of genres for publication. There’s one sub-genre of fiction, though, that we especially like to read, and it’s the same sub-genre as the very first book we published in 2020, Finding Annie. This sub-genre is known as autofiction.

Autofiction, also known as autobiographical fiction, is fiction that is inspired by real events in the author’s life. Exactly how much of the story is fiction versus nonfiction can vary widely depending on the author’s intent, but at a minimum, the spirit of the author’s real experiences is captured.

It’s a way a writer can tell a story, inspired by true events in their life, through the lens of fiction. However, it’s important to note that autofiction is not a memoir written under the guise of being fiction; it’s events from the author’s life blended with fictional characters, events, settings, and information. Autofiction has a blurred line between fiction and fact that may not always be clear to the reader, and that’s the point—it’s a novel, not a memoir.

Originally, autofiction was considered only to be so if the protagonist shared a profession with the author; the protagonist may have shared a similar physical description to the author, possibly even their name; and the reader would not have been able to definitively identify what did or did not actually occur in the author’s life.

In recent years, though, the autofiction genre has broadened to include fictitious stories that are inspired by events in the author’s life, but do not strictly follow their life’s story. The protagonist may be based on the writer of the story in personality or physical description, and the plot may follow true events from their life’s story with an outcome that did or did not actually happen. For some writers, autofiction can help them process traumatic events or explore what-if scenarios of roads untraveled in their own lives. “When you’ve been keeping trauma to yourself for your entire life, internalizing, blaming, and shaming yourself for it, the thought of anyone finding out can be truly terrifying,” says award-winning author Katherine Turner.

The first book of the Life Imperfect series, Finding Annie, was released by Josha Publishing in April of 2020. It follows the protagonist through the early stages of her healing journey. (Spoiler alert coming, though no more than is revealed in five-star reviews!) Annie’s healing includes PTSD from being raped by her high school boyfriend’s older brother during her senior year, as well as recovering from a lifetime of habits of self-harm. Additionally, Annie is a former foster youth, and the woman she calls her mom is actually her foster mother. Throughout the series, Annie eventually tells her ex-boyfriend, Rob, what happened to her and why she left him, and Rob believes her. Eventually, they pursue a romantic relationship and start to fall in love again.

Katherine’s memoir, resilient, was released the following year in August of 2021 (also by Josha Publishing). In her memoir, Katherine shares about her battle with self-harm, which began shortly after she entered the foster care system at eight years old. At thirteen years old, Katherine was raped by her boyfriend’s two brothers; when she tried to tell her boyfriend what happened, however, he didn’t believe her, and their relationship ended because he believed she’d cheated on him. Through Katherine’s writing as an example, you can see how autofiction reflects the author’s experiences while also offering a different outcome for Annie than what Katherine herself experienced. As Katherine has shared, “The idea of writing that story, giving it the ending I desperately needed in my past, was very appealing.”

As a publisher, we enjoy autofiction because we recognize the healing power of fiction, both for readers and writers alike. It’s a genre we’re excited to see more of in the future, and it’s one we believe has a unique power to inspire, encourage, and empower readers and writers throughout their lives.

Editor’s Note: Wildflower Promise, book three of the Life Imperfect series, is currently available for pre-order everywhere books are sold and will be released worldwide on April 10, 2023.

Josha Publishing, LLC is a woman-founded, woman-owned, and woman-run company that is passionate about booksstories, and the power of words to change lives. Learn more about us here and remember to sign up for our newsletter to find out about new content, new books, and submissions update.

What is Autofiction?