What Does it Take to Market a Memoir, Biography, or Autobiography?

Memoirs are a tricky thing to write, much less market, and their cousins the autobiography and the biography are equally so. When an author draws from real life and the history of a moment in time, it can seem daunting to do the deep research, trap the sands of time on the page, publish a finished book … and then also have to market that book! And given the fact that your book is deeply invested in, the facts, there is a widespread reluctance on the part of memoir, biography, and autobiography authors to pump up the drama in the heightened emotion of the kind of sales copy you’ll find tied to works of both literary and genre fiction. That said, there are some reliable and useful ways to market your work of non-fiction drawn from real life that ought to prove helpful as you set out to start marketing your latest book.

1. Identify your readers and where they “live.” We bring up this point often, as it applies to marketing for so many different genres in so many different ways. When it comes to memoir, biography, and autobiography, we’re talking about a very specific subset of readers. Readers of these branches of non-fiction are not always hugely prolific readers, in that they may not read widely on many topics, but they are incredibly deep readers and will often read more than one book on the same topic, to ensure they have a thorough picture of a time, place, or life. As a result, they’re not necessarily shopping for their books or their ebooks in the same place as everyone else; they’ll be just as likely to turn up online in history forums dedicated to particular time periods or particular military campaigns or particular Napoleonic-era war ships. Don’t be afraid to get hyper-specific in your marketing: identify key bloggers and other authors writing about the same subject, place, or time as you are and reach out to them. History buffs hosting influential profiles on Instagram, YouTube, and podcasts are another great resource to identify and consult about doing a social media or blog tour!

2. Get in touch with your local history buffs. Do not underestimate your own community’s potential hunger and thirst for non-fiction in the memoir, biography, and autobiography subgenres! Memoirs by small-town retired war vets routinely pack out libraries hosting readings and signings, and travelogues and tell-alls too. People are excited to expand their world and taste of other lives, and they haunt libraries, museums, and local businesses looking to connect with those stories. When you start to market your book, make sure you include a book reading or signing at your local public library as one of your first and most highly publicized events, and reach out to local organizations such as the VFW, Elks, Rotary, and Kiwanis clubs as well as your local museums, universities, and archives for partnerships. All of these organizations take an interest in preserving history and in expanding the career prospects of young entrepreneurs. What better way to inspire the next generation than with a book about a well-lived life?

3. Bring it home. That is … don’t be afraid to make this book, and the marketing of this book, personal. After all, the average reader picks up a memoir, biography, or autobiography in the first place because they’re fascinated with the outline of a life–and because that reader wants to fill in some of the blanks! Don’t shy away from making the most of your personal experiences or the personal experiences of the historical figure around which you’re centering the book in your marketing campaign, and make sure to touch upon the perspectives and worldview that have informed your writing; just as you want your book to ring true on fact-checkable details, you also want all of your marketing copy to ring true to your personal voice. Even if you didn’t draw from your own life for the content of your book, there’s room in the margins for your story. Think of Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks–Skloot herself is present in the text as narrator, and the author doesn’t shy away from including her very hands-on research process as a part of the braided story of the book. That braiding continued in her marketing of the book after its release. You can always share significant places, things, or aspects of your story, and engage your readers with all kinds of digital media (blog posts, pictures, videos, and social media posts) during the marketing process. So, start thinking of what makes your story unique, and think of how you can use that to draw readers in — outside the pages of your book.

No matter what steps you intend take to market your memoir, biography, or autobiography, we’re with you on your journey–and eager to help you travel that path as smoothly and effectively as possible! And if you’re still not sure where to get started in marketing your book, it may be time to lean on an expert. There’s never a better time than now to inquire about the wonderful lineup of marketing options available to you through Outskirts Press; simply visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com, where you’ll find countless further recommendations to suit your marketing needs.

To see our staff picks of amazing memoirs, biographies, or autobiographies from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

 

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