Unless you’re Barack Obama or Steve Jobs, marketing a memoir can seem like an impossible task. People buy memoirs because they want to know more about the person who wrote it, so what is going to make people want to buy yours?
It’s not unheard of to successfully publish a memoir as an unknown or new author — far from it. Despite what you might think, memoirs don’t need to be celebrity-driven to succeed. But they do need to tell a compelling story that people can connect with.
Once you have this key, the next step is figuring out how to communicate your story to potential readers, which is where your marketing strategy comes in. This post will take you through a few tips and tricks for marketing your memoir — hopefully putting you on the road to success.
Taking the time to think about who is going to buy your memoir (and why) is going to be the basis of your outreach. You need something solid with which to target your market that’s more than just: “Listen to my story.”
As many marketers will tell you, selling a memoir requires you to identify your reader, just as any author would. To do so, ask yourself:
● What other authors do they like?
● What are their interests?
● Where do these readers hang out online?
Whether your target reader is a banker who’s interested in the lives of the 1%, or a college student with whom a story of athletic success in the face of adversity will resonate — the more detailed about your target audience you get, the more effective your marketing strategies will be.
Defining your audience will pay dividends once you start searching for leads, deciding on a cover design (does it appeal to my reader?), writing sales copy, paying for Facebook ads, everything.
Making the most of the personal experiences and viewpoints that have informed your memoir is a unique tool that you have at your disposal when marketing your memoir.
Lots of writers keep up-to-date blogs and author websites where they interact with readers and subscribers, share rejected chapters, and blog about the travails and successes of their publishing journey. It’s a great way to get people invested in your success, and bring your story to life.
You can share significant places, things, or aspects of your story, and engage your readers with all kinds of blog posts, pictures, videos, and other media. So, start thinking of what makes your story unique, and think of how you can use that to draw readers in — outside the pages of your book.
Once you’ve established your target audience, it’s time to throw yourself into spheres where these people are. Facebook groups exist for literally everything, whether your target reader is a Canadian farmer, someone interested in 1970s Ireland, or a scuba-diving fanatic. Do not bombard them with Amazon author page links the day after joining these groups, but instead establish relationships: give as much as you take, and you’ll soon reap the benefits.
Use Facebook groups to conduct market research, and to establish a clearer picture of people you might want to target paid advertisements towards. If you think a lot of these people listen to a certain podcast, see if you can get on it. If they all rave about a certain blog, look into offering them a guest post.
Be open to interviews and similar — with memoirs you are the brand. With the help of a publicist, or often alone, you can maybe get yourself on local TV or radio — who are always desperate for guests. After all, you’ve got an interesting story, that also happens to be true.
Expand further by establishing and sustaining an author email list; this should be a key tenet of your marketing strategy, and will help your readers stay up to date on your blog, social media, and book releases.
You might also want to consider paid promotion on social media. Marketing is all about getting your name and your book out there — this is guaranteed to do exactly that.
Writing the memoir is just the first step. Step two is employing these tips — and your own marketing tactics — to make sure your memoir gets picked up by readers that are waiting for a story just like yours.
If you want more, expert advice, check out this post by Reedsy which gives top tips from the experts on promoting your memoir.
Jessica Hatch is a writer for Reedsy, the world's largest marketplace of professional editors, book designers and ghostwriters. He also curates a series of free webinars and online courses designed to teach writers how to create and publish better books.