Unless you are a celebrity, your memoir may be hard to sell. Do you want to sell it to strangers, or is making a gift for your family enough? Why would strangers want to read it? These are important questions to determine before spending a bunch of money on publishing. Can you tell I just attended a book marketing workshop? (This one with Judith Briles, The Book Shepherd)
Selling to strangers is a business, requiring much more professional diligence and know-how, including about the dreaded marketing. If you don’t get out there and tell the world of strangers about your book, they won’t know it exists. If you are lucky enough to find a traditional publisher for your book, don’t expect them to put much effort into publicizing either. Times have changed. Check out all the famous authors on Twitter or Facebook.
What makes your memoir stand out? Are there others like it? If so, how is yours different? What angles will you use to promote interest in it? Is it worth paying for a good editor, cover designer, and interior formatter if you don’t want to mess with marketing? Assuming you have a decent story decently written, self-published books generally fail for two reasons: unprofessional appearance (including lack of editing), and/or a lack of marketing—or not knowing how to market effectively. Many traditionally published books fail, too, mostly due to lack of marketing. Let’s face it, there are millions of books out there to compete with.
What would be your definition of failure? For many memoir writers, just getting the book created is a huge success. Congratulations, you actually did it, you and your family should be thrilled! That’s no small feat to finish a project like that. How many books would you need to sell before you feel successful? Breaking even financially would be nice, but unless you know what you’re doing in the publishing and marketing department, you very well may not. If you expect to make lots of money on your book, you will probably be very disappointed.
So think twice about whether to publish just for family or whether you want to spend money to perfect your book and then actively market to strangers. Book marketing is an art requiring learning from experts, and knowing how to write your book so that it can be marketed easily is another learned skill. I see a lot of authors on social media who are merely annoying – nothing but buy my book, buy my book. Don’t be that author.
There is no shame in realizing you don’t want to put on a business hat and learn how to be a publicist. Your family should be proud of your accomplishment. You should be proud of your accomplishment. If you want to go family-only, you can relax and just enjoy the journey and bask in that glow of doing something truly worthwhile. If you want to sell to strangers, get your hat on and start learning now. Bask in the glow later.
How much does the average author earn publishing their book – Derek Murphy
(Serious author-publishers, check out Derek’s website, CreativIndie)