Memoirs and literary publicity
One of our most successful memoirs of the past few years was Jack’s Life: The Life Story of C.S. Lewis by author and film producer Douglas Gresham (B&H Publishing Group, 2005).
What can you do if you haven’t lived a life of Super Bowl victories, rock n’ roll excess or US economic policies?
Of course you think your life has been very interesting thus far, but you have to find ways to make readers believe this as well. Many publicists treat memoirs from unknown authors like the plague because they are typically extremely hard to promote and for the most part, that’s true. However, there are ways to connect a relatively unknown author’s memoir to a larger market.
Two words: newsworthy hooks.
To effectively connect your story to a larger group you have to relate it back to a broad topic and trend by making the pitch less about you and more about the issues or experiences you lived through. In other words, it can’t just be the story of a housewife in
Another example might involve an author with an even more normal, Middle American upbringing. When she graduated from college, she became a teacher at one of the toughest high schools in the country. Through her hard work and determination, she was able to make a significant impact on the school’s dropout rate by setting up after school programs and finding new incentives to get the students to study. She brought student’s reading levels up. After twenty years in the school system, she penned an uplifting and inspiring memoir about her experiences as a teacher. When a publicist looks at such a book they think not about this author’s specific story, but how it can be related to broader issues of education and public schooling in the US (especially during an election year). The author might be pitched as an expert source on the long term effects that the “testing era” will have on education or how policies could change based on who wins the election this fall (and what it will mean for students). These expert source opportunities are a great way to leverage exposure for the memoir.
Obviously, in either case there is definite potential for human interest stories. When packaged correctly, and coupled with the right news cycle, a memoir from a less than famous author can garner solid media attention. For authors looking to promote a memoir right now, think about what you’ve seen in the news and in pop culture lately and how you can connect it to your own story!