The market of memoir writing is a harder sell than non-fiction and requires more deliberate planning. Memoir is creative non-fiction while non-fiction is a wide genre including also the category of self-help. For example, the content in the titles like “5 Ways to Build Your Business on a Shoestring Budget” and “Ways to Overcome Challenges in the Workplace” are self-evident and promising with action steps.
So how can you determine if your memoir will sell? By saleable, there must be something “inspirational” for the reader beyond the storyline. Of course, a lot depends on your marketing efforts, but what first steps can you take to ensure it will have appeal to your target audience. Here are three top ways to determine if your memoir is truly appealing to your target audience:
1. Your book provides lessons that can be applied in life such as a philosophy of living or a new approach or mindset. Does your memoir provide a way for your reader to re-look at his/her life with different “story” eyes? If you’re just telling a story without connecting it with universal themes, then maybe you need to take a look at your takeaway points for each chapter.
Here’s a sample from my memoir, Accidental Soldier: What My Service in the Israel Defense Forces Taught Me about Faith, Courage and Love.
The emotional challenge of this scene is how to keep the faith and stay positive during a physically grueling 28 kilometer march in a foreign militaristic mentality. Can I handle it?
Chapter Sample 17
Soon enough, I feel myself fading away and hear myself saying the dreaded words in Hebrew, Ani lo ichola yoter! “I can’t go on any more!” I don’t want to quit. Please let me finish the march! I squeak the words breathlessly. Svetlana eventually hears me and to my great surprise, grabs me by the arm and pulls me so close, we begin running at the same pace as the others. Boi, Dorit, Boi, – “C’mon!” she shouts. With each shout, I try and keep the pace. I keep saying my new mantra to stay positive inspired by my former officer-turned friend, Galit. Her words of inner strength once fearlessly held me together at the breaking point of my punishments, but now, they’re not quite enough to keep going for another ten kilometers. My side muscles ache now with intense jabbing pain.
2. Your memoir has an appealing cover. This is not an area to skimp and you shouldn’t find a quick and easy cover design for pennies. A cover tells a story. Yes, that’s right. A cover should tell its own mini-version of your written memoir. Now, a well-designed cover is important for any book really, but I believe even more necessary for memoir. Book market research shows that a well-done cover is the fastest way to appeal to your reader’s emotions. This brings me to point #3.
3. Your memoir has appealing emotional content. Can your reader see him/herself in your story? Does your memoir tell a dramatic hero’s journey of transformation? The takeaways must also link to the journey of transformation as well.
Do you agree with these points? What other categories would you consider adding?