Marketing Your Memoir

By Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.

You have written your memoir and now have to get someone to read it, better yet, get many people to buy it. That was the problem that faced me.

As a memoir writer, you have the advantage of a fairly popular genre and the disadvantage of having only one memoir, not a series of memoirs that might support each other. If someone likes your memoir, you do not have another to offer.

Early in my quest for book-marketing insight, I found John Locke’s How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in 5 Months! His other books were novels, sold at $0.99 each, nine different titles, five with the same “hero,” the somewhat unsavory Donovan Creed. Locke sold his How-To book for $4.99, correctly predicting that would-be self-publishing authors, such as myself, would readily ante up the big bucks for it. Glad I am that I did. 

I will paraphrase Locke’s “Business Plan”:

1. Write the best book you can. Done: Ting and I: A Memoir.

2. Create a website. Done: .

3. Use Twitter to get people to your website. Done,

4. Answer all your emails from readers. Will do.

5. Create a simple blog site. Done:

6. Use Twitter to call attention to your blog. Yes.

7. Epublish your ebook. Done, through Outskirts Press and on Amazon‘s Kindle..

8. Repeat the cycle with other books you write. I have co-authored three other memoirs and edited two more.

Locke maintains that his low ebook price, $0.99, encourages uncertain buyers to try his novels, as it did me. He by-passed conventional publishing houses because he wanted to write his books his way, not theirs. He tried many of the suggestions offered him for marketing, but eventually came down to his website - blog - Twitter triad for success. 

Locke emphasized, as well, that he wrote his books with a particular kind of reader in mind, his market niche. Depending on the kind of life you have led, you may have significant constraints on niche-seeking. With a few exceptions, mine has been a quiet life.

Amanda Hocking, twenty-something author of “young-adult paranormal” novels [USA Today, February 9, 2011] sold 450,000 ebook copies of her nine titles, most priced at $0.99, in January of 2011 alone. She writes about vampires, zombies et al., and promotes her book through a blog, Twitter and Facebook. Social media move ebooks as well as helping to sell conventionally published works.

Back to Locke, who emphasizes writing for one’s target audience, finding them, interacting with them, listening to them. With your memoir, perhaps your audience is People Like You. There are elements of the our story Ting and I that should have wide appeal to:

1. Adults who like romance stories, with love, courage, devotion.

2. Would-be career women whose marriages had to come first.

3. Asian - American women, especially those of Chinese ancestry.

4. Couples in their second marriages, with step-children.

5. Couples with one member seriously handicapped or critically ill.

6. Nurses, doctors, social workers who deal with the critically ill.

7. Families providing prolonged health care at home.

8. Those making decisions about home hospice or end-of-life care.

9. All who like inspirational stories about success against the odds.

Your memoir will have a different niche, or niches, but as you identify them, they will suggest key words to use in Internet searches to find the magazines and ezines that your potential audience reads. We were able to get some articles mentioning the book published in magazines and ezines that served these niches.

Both the United States’ and Britain’s national multiple sclerosis (MS) societies accepted articles by us, “Undefeated” and “A Book for My M.S. Heroine.“ [Tina’s quadriplegia is due to MS.] 

The online monthly publication,, for Asian American women, has accepted each short article I have submitted monthly for the past four years. accepted three pieces, as they are interested in first-person articles dealing with aspects of medicine. accepted “Interracial Stepparent and Caregiver.” 

Marriage Magazine accepted “Together Forever.” 

I have been less successful in getting pieces in publications for seniors or in any of the general - circulation magazines, such a Woman’s World, which magazines tend to limit their acceptances to writers with established national reputations and clippings.

Joining the Orange County (NY) Chamber of Commerce opened up many useful channels. I have written several pieces that were published in their monthly sixteen-page newsletter that is included in the local daily paper [circulation 80.000], have gotten excellent advice on marketing and help in doing it from fellow members, and have enjoyed involvement with a nice group of people, alleviating occasional feelings of isolation. The Chamber members I talked with encouraged me to start my blog, a personal web site that contains samples of my writing and allows others to comment on them. A member gave me valuable advice on improving our web site and others are planning to go well beyond that in improving my visibility in social media.

Concerning advice he received from others, John Locke noted that the following did not work out for him:

1. Trying to get his books into bookstores [need an agent and a publisher].

2. Trying to get interviewed by newspapers. [We did get a very nice interview article in a local weekly.]

3. Hiring a publicist.

4. Sending out press releases.

5. Radio interviews.

6. Paid advertising in various media.

Locke welcomes the rest of us to try our luck, but his explanations of his experience made sense to me, so I did very little of the above.

Where does that leave us? Good book, web site, blog, Twitter, friends, and prayer. Fortunately, we are not counting on Ting and I to be a money-maker. It is a love story, with reflections on our experience, our thanks to many, and our tribute to our heroine, Tina (born Su Ting-ting).