Most writers seem to hate marketing, selling, or publicity. The idea of getting the word out about their work seems kind of—well, rude. Are you one of those writers? You’re in good company if you are, but you need to learn some new stuff about how to think about marketing—that is IF you want to be an author who people actually read. Do you want other people to read your book?
The other day someone told me that I shouldn’t advertise so much, that it was off-putting. I understand all too well that sentiment. Just like many of you, I learned, “Don’t toot your own horn, certainly don’t talk about yourself too much or too often. And don’t tell me I should buy anything!!”
Didn’t most of us grow up with rules against telling others that we have something they might need, that we have created something we’d like them to know about. I know that I did. When I was young, my grandmother used to say, “You think you’re something don’t you? Well, you’re nothing. Don’t get so high and mighty.”
It’s possible that I was being an irritating teenager when she said that, but there were many other comments that told me that my voice, my desires, my thoughts of expansion, or self-esteem were “too much,” shameful, and selfish. And that has happened to a lot of people, and it leaves its mark.
Writers suffer from a great deal of this ailment. They whisper, they find it hard to speak out, to write their truths, to claim their space, particularly women. When you become a writer, you have to learn how to break long years of conditioning to be silent, or if not silent, to be cautious about taking up space, or being too pushy, or obvious or demanding. Of course we need to be aware of our effect on others, but some of these early teachings serve us badly. We learn not to say what we know, we learn to hide our lights. It takes a long time—too long—to claim our wisdom, to know what we know and be willing, even eager, to share it. It gets in the way of our writing, and once we write, it gets in the way of putting our work into the world where it can do some good.
I’ve declared 2012 The Year of the Memoir, which means I’m dedicated to support and encourage creating—and selling—your memoir. This happens in stages.
- Arrange your life so you write your memoir. Keep writing, don’t let the inner and outer critics discourage you.
- Find your voice, write your truths. Sit down and write regularly.
- While you are writing, you need to imagine your audience, those whose lives you want to affect by your work. You are not journaling privately, you are writing a book!
- Writing a book, a longer work, a memoir means you want others to read what you have to say and you need to have positive affirmations and visualizations about how powerfully your words will affect others!
- Imagining your audience means that you will write scenes, you will bring the reader into the world you create on the page. You will start to see your story with the eyes of an observer, which guides your narration and perspective in your memoir.
- Finish the first draft, then start working on another draft or two. Have someone mentor you through several stages of your book. You will be thinking about your reader, your audience even more now, and wondering how you can reach that audience.
- Marketing is taking that idea further—that there is an audience who needs your book, people who are eager to read it.
- Marketing means getting the messages out there that will INVITE your readers to you. You need to make it easy for them to find you.
We writers need to learn new ways to think about marketing—that it is a way of giving to others, not taking from them. We are offering our readers a way to see the world through fresh eyes, to learn something new, to be entertained, to see life in a new way by reading our work. We will inspire others to write, to create, to bring their own vision to fruition.
Think of your writing, your book, and your marketing as a gift.
Join us at the National Association of Memoir Writers to listen to Lynn Serafinn talk about the Gift of Marketing. Her spiritual, holistic and inspiring way to see marketing can turn your mind around and make you see it through new eyes!
In what ways have you been reluctant to share your work–for money?
What were the childhood messages you got about selling, marketing, and publicity?
There are so many memoirs to read, and books that help us learn how to write. This is the list of the classic books that I read as I began my memoir journey, and of course so many more books have come out. But here is a great list to choose from. I’ll post some of my favorites along the way–some of my favorites have * next to them.
Adams, Kathleen The Write Way to Wellness; Journal to the Self
* Allende, Isabel Paula
* Allison, Dorothy Bastard Out of Carolina
* Angelou, Maya I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings & other works
Ball, Edward Slaves in the Family
Arenas, Reinaldo Before Night Falls
* Baker, Russell Growing Up
* Balakian, Peter Black Dog of Fate
*Barrington, Judith Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art; Lifesaving
Bateson, Catherine Composing a Life; Through a Daughter’s Eye
* Bragg, Rick All Over But the Shoutin’; Ava’s Man
Brande, Dorothea Becoming a Writer
Brautigan, Ianthe You Can’t Catch Death
Brittain, Vera Testament of Youth
Cameron, Julia The Artist’s Way
Chandler, Marilyn A Healing Art: Regeneration Through Autobiography
Chernin, Kim My Mother’s House & other works
Conroy, Frank Stop Time
Conway, Jill Kerr When Memory Speaks ; The Road from Coorain and other books
Day, Dorothy The Long Loneliness
DeBeauvoir, Simone Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter first of three parts
De Caro, Frank A Boy Named Phyllis
De Salvo, Louise Writing as a Way of Healing
Eggers, David A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Elbow Peter Writing with Power; Writing Without Teachers
*Fox, John Poetic Medicine
Fremont, Helen After Long Silence
Gebler, Carlo My Father and I
Gates, Henry Louis Colored People
* Gilmore, Mikal Shot in the Heart
Goldberg, Natalie Writing Down the Bones etc.
Gordon, Mary Shadow Man
Gornick, Vivian Fierce Attachments
* Harrison, Kathryn The Kiss
Heilbrun, Carolyn Writing a Woman’s Life
* Hoffman, Eva Lost in Translation
Hooks, bell Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work
Jamison, Kay An Unquiet Mind
Jung, Carl Memories, Dreams, Reflections
* Karr, Mary The Liar’s Club; Cherry; Lit
L’Engle, Madeleine The Summer of the Great-Grandmother
*Lamott, Anne Traveling Mercies; Bird by Bird
*Lauck, Jennifer Blackbird; Still Waters
Lawrence, T. E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Ledoux, Denis Turning Memories into Memoirs
MacDonald, Michael All Souls: A Family Story from Southie
Mason, Bobbie Ann Clear Springs
Mairs, Nancy Remembering the Bone House
Maynard, Isabelle China Dreams: Growing Up Jewish in Tientsin
Maynard, Joyce At Home in the World
McBride, James The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother
McCarthy, Mary Memories of a Catholic Girlhood
McCourt, Frank Angela’s Ashes; Tis
Mead, Margaret Blackberry Winter
*Merton, Thomas Seven Story Mountain; Diaries and Journals
*Metzger, Deena Writing for Your Life
Myers, Linda Joy The Power of Memoir; Don’t Call Me Mother
Neruda, Pablo Memoirs
Norris, Kathleen Dakota: A Spiritual Geography; Cloister
* O’Faolin, Nuala Are You Somebody? My Dream of You
Oppenheimer, Deborah (Ed) Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport
Pennebaker, James Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions
Perel, Solomon Europa, Europa
*Rainer, Tristine Your Life as Story; The New Diary
Reichl, Ruth Tender at the Bone
Rhodes, Richard A Hole in the World
Ryan, Terry The Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio
Santos, John Phillip Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation
Sarton, May Journal of a Solitude; Plant Dreaming Deep etc
Scott-Maxwell, Florida The Measure of my Days
See, Carolyn Dreaming
Stegner, Wallace Wolf Willow
*Ueland, Brenda If You Want to Write
Weisel, Elie The Night Trilogy
Welty, Eudora One Writer’s Beginnings
Williams, Terry Tempest Leap; Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place
Wolff, Geoffrey The Duke of Deception
* Wolff, Tobias This Boy’s Life
*Woolf, Virginia Moments of Being; Letters
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it seems like a good time to start talking about this sometimes very touchy subject of writing your memoir and being able to face your family. Today I’m sharing part 1 of a 3 part series on the topic, so be sure to visit often or sign up for my feed so you won’t miss the whole series.
Everyone takes a collective breath at conferences and in my workshops when the words “memoir” and “family” appear in the same sentence. Hearts beat faster and pulses race as visions of upset family members point imaginary fingers. Sometimes this is all it takes to silence a beginning memoir writer; others go into overdrive trying to figure out how much to leave in or take out so the family won’t be displeased, or worse, uninvite them to family gatherings.
This kind of stress needs to be managed for memoir writers to unfold a very personal story, and explore their deepest truths. All of this must occur for a memoir to be a vibrant and important story. That is what memoir writing is all about—finding our own voice and telling our truths.
During my upcoming NAMW workshop, I’ll address the issues I’ve encountered both in my personal writing journey and the ones where I’ve mentored others.
Be sure to join me for the workshop to find out how to solve for some of the most problematic issues that memoir writers face:
* writing your truths
* defeating your critics
* how to focus on & develop your plot
When these issues are unresolved, the memoir writer screeches to a halt, hounded by guilt and those imagined pointing fingers. The inner critic wins, and the writer is silenced.
When you have the proper tools and perspective all for these challenges, they can be overcome. You are then free to write with a full, clear voice and complete your memoir. Remember, your memoir is about you and how you remember your life–and you don’t need to get approval to write. Be brave and write your story now.