Marketing is about story. What’s your story and how do others fit into that? Recently I attended a book marketing workshop by Shawn Manaher—an excellent and personable speaker and expert in all manner of marketing, not just for books. Shawn gave us a series of questions to help us authors determine our reader profile. No, not everyone will want to read your book. Really. So imagine who will, and where will you find them. Questions include:
What is the typical age and gender of your reader?
What are their hobbies and interests?
Why do they read this genre?
What concerns, issues, or problems does your book address?
Where does your reader hang out online? (or maybe they don’t so how will you find them)
If you can answer these questions while you are writing your book, you will be able to write directly to that audience. What do they like, what do they want to know? Your marketing will be built into the story.
This got me thinking about why I focus on memoir, particularly historical and cultural ones. Why do I read so many of them? The number one reason is that I am curious. Second is that books about history, and even culture, generally focus on the big picture, not what really happens to people who live that history and culture. And no, I don’t care much about famous people’s special lives, I want to know about the average person. What was their daily life like? What did they think about? How did they face difficulties? Someone once accused me of being interested in everything. Of course, isn’t everyone? (No!)
I wrote Cherry Blossoms in Twilight primarily for my family, to save my mother’s fascinating stories of growing up in Japan around WWII. I published for the world because nobody else had written about that. Even in Japan, that was not something the survivors cared to even talk about. There was a huge gap in history and perspective that needed to be filled. I worked with a Korean War veteran to turn his many pages of notes taken on front line combat duty into a readable series of stories, Battlefield Doc, because I had never heard such stories before. Sometimes when I read other veteran’s stories I wonder how they were in the same war! Depends on where they were.
Why are you writing your memoir? Why would you publish it for strangers to read? All memoirs are treasures for family legacy, but some cry out for the world to read. They capture details left out of history books. They give a different perspective. Some help others through difficult issues. Some are just fun! Almost all of them are learning experiences. Mostly, since memoirs are very personal, they hold hands with their readers and show them we all have a shared humanity. In a diverse and troubled world, reaching out to others and encouraging empathy and understanding is a good thing.
If you want to know more about book marketing (lots to learn!), follow Shawn Manaher’s Book Marketing Tools blog.