You have written your book and now have to get someone to read it, and better yet, get many people to buy it. That was the problem I was faced with. If you are a memoir writer, you have the advantage of a fairly popular genre and the disadvantage of having only one memoir and 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 (2011) How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in 5 Months! His ebooks were novels, sold at $0.99 each, nine different titles, five with the same “hero,” the somewhat unsavory Donovan Creed. Locke sold this 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. Well, pretty glad.
I will paraphrase Locke’s “Business Plan” and compare it with my own efforts for my book:
1. Write the best book you can. Done: Ting and I: A Memoir.
2. Create a website. Done: tingandi.com .
3. Use Twitter to get people to your website. Done: “@douglaswcooper” has approximately 10,000 “Followers.”
4. Answer all your emails from readers. Will do.
5. Create a simple blog site. Done: http://douglaswinslowcooper.blogspot.com. By June 2015, I had posted over 400 blog entries in a four-year period. They averaged about 100 visits per entry. Not a big deal, but not chopped liver, as they say in New York City.
6. Use Twitter to call attention to your blog. Doing it. Facebook, too.
7. Epublish your ebook. Done, through Outskirts Press and as Kindle book through Amazon.
8. Repeat the cycle with other books you write. Doing it.
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 Internet triad for success. He 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. Some of Locke’s luster lessened when it was found that he had paid for many of the favorable reviews that helped propel his books high on the bestseller lists.
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 a memoir, perhaps your audience is People Like You. There are elements of our story Ting and I that should have had wide appeal to:
1. Women who like romance stories.
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 hospice care.
9. All who like inspirational stories about a person’s success against the odds.
Your book will have a different niche, or niches, but as you identify them, they should 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 that mentioned our memoir published in magazines and ezines that served these niches.
Both the United States’ and Britain’s national multiple sclerosis (MS) societies accepted articles about us and our book, “Undefeated” and “A Book for My M.S. Heroine,“ as Tina’s quadriplegia is due to M.S. The online monthly publication, asiancemagazine,com, for Asian American women, has accepted each article I submitted monthly for the past fifty months. Youandmemagazine.com accepted three pieces, as they are interested in first-person articles dealing with aspects of medicine. Wellspouse.com accepted “Interracial Stepparent and Caregiver.” Marriage Magazine accepted “Together Forever.” I have been less successful in getting pieces in publications for seniors or into any of the general-circulation magazines, such as Women’s Day, 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 public newsletter [circulation 80.000], gotten excellent advice on marketing and help in doing it from fellow members, and have enjoyed involvement with a nice group of people, thus alleviating some feelings of isolation. The Chamber members I talked with encouraged me to start a 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 paper and an exceptionally sympathetic and well-received article in a local monthly magazine.]
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, and prayer.
P.S. In 2015, after four years of my promoting my Ting and I, I was given the gift of an hour with a professional book publicist from the Bradley Communications group. We discussed what I had done to promote the memoir, and he told me I had done the right things and that memoirs from unknown people rarely do even as well as the few hundred I had sold.
Excerpted from my opus, Write Your Book with Me, published by Outskirts Press and available from OP and online booksellers like amazon.com and bn.com.