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Writing and Marketing a Memoir is not for Sissies
By Margaret Norton, Author of When Ties Break,
Five years ago, after the deaths of eight people I knew, I started writing to deal with my pain. I shared my journal with a few friends, and their response was, “That’s good. You should write a book.” Up to then, my writing experience was limited to church newsletters, job training materials, and Christmas letters. I felt that my story was interesting as well as inspirational, and I blindly plunged into writing my first book.
The initial manuscript was completed in about six months, but the revision process took about a year. Initially, I included everything. I dumped all my feelings onto paper. At the beginning of this journey I had one main question – why didn’t my brother and I get along? As I pondered this question, I went all the way back to childhood. The end result was a book covering over fifty years – much longer than most memoirs and in some ways more like a biography. I found that my book, much like my life, didn’t necessarily fit into a neat, predictable package. The end product was a streamlined version of the first manuscript.
While writing, I collected ideas on how to promote my book. Everything I read said this would be very difficult. I read that, but I didn’t believe it. My BS is in marketing; I have sales experience and know a lot of people. This will be the fun part, I thought. Maybe not easy, but certainly something that I can do. My book, When Ties Break, was released on August 3, 2010, and these are a few of the things I’ve learned since then:
- Independent book stores are more approachable than the large chains.
- Not many people attend book signings for new authors. Don’t be disappointed. Take them as an opportunity to get out and meet new people. You have to talk to people.
- You don’t make much money at book sales, but you make connections.
- Connect your reviews to your Amazon book page by signing up for an author page.
- Create side businesses to help promote your book. I have a speaking and a life coach business.
- Contact book clubs to see if they would read your book one month, and offer to come either in person, by phone, or using Skype.
- Utilize the Internet, especially social media sites. Use them to promote events like book signings and to connect with readers and other writers.
- Writers support other writers. Accept their help. In return, remember to help others.
- Book blogs are an easy way to promote your book. Offer to give a free book or pdf.
- Sign up for Google Alerts with your name & your book. See what others say about you.
- Remember, it’s one book at a time. Initial sales will probably be low. Create a demand for your book by working hard to market it.
- Your publisher and others may help, but the ultimate job is yours.
- Take pictures of your events, and put them on your website or blog. Have fun. Write and blog about your experiences. It’s okay to brag.
- Connect with & talk to your readers. They give you ideas and encouragement.
Finally, be thankful. With the high rate of rejection, you are fortunate to be published. It is very hard work promoting your book, but it is fun and rewarding.
Bio: Margaret Norton has always pushed the envelope – never totally accepting the status quo. A people person, her greatest joy comes from helping others. Stopping abuse is her passion. Writing When Ties Break helped her uncover and deal with her deepest hurts. She believes that by sharing her story with others she can break the cycle of abuse – one person at a time. As a personal life coach, Margaret founded Life Transitions to help individuals deal with change. In addition, she is a trained Stephen Minister and a Dale Carnegie Coach. This training, along with her personal life experiences, makes her a caring and compassionate coach. Her stories have appeared in A Light along the Way, The Upper Room, various local newspapers, and online. Margaret is a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, WOW! Women on Writing’s Premium Green network, Story Circle Network, The Guilford Nonprofit Consortium, the Editorial Freelance Association, the National Association of Professional Women, and The UNC-W Alumni Association.
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