This blog was featured on 10/14/2017
Setting an Example: Author Panel Reading & Discussion

A few weeks ago, I attended my first memoir author panel discussion and reading. It was like a book club get-together, comfortable and informal, as SWP authors, Annette Gendler, Iris Waichler, Laurie Kahn, and Nadine Kenney Johnstone, shared their stories.

My memoir will make its debut next spring, and until then, I’m learning all I can about how to market and promote my book. This event was just one example I can learn from about how to promote my book, and how to promote myself.

On promoting my book:

Listen intently to the author’s reading selection. These selections were a snapshot of what’s to come in the book. The reading left me with questions and wanting to know more. I was intrigued and welcomed into their story.

Pick a passage for your reading that resonates with the audience, engaging them and leaving them wanting to hear more.

Learn the backstory about a book. By this, I mean, was it always a memoir or did it start out as self-help or instructional, maybe it was two stories and then was made into one. I find that some memoirists start out writing with one particular theme, for example, but end up writing something completely different or even with changed objectives.

Sharing the writing process of your book’s journey is inviting, and welcomes all who want to read your story.

On promoting myself:

Ask specific questions. I wanted to know their motive for writing a memoir, or why memoir at all. This is a typical question I'm asked frequently.

You can learn from other memoirists how to answer questions such as these when they are posed to you. Listen carefully not only to how those questions are answered but also to what is said. You are the person behind the book and if you can get the audience to know you, they will want to know your book.

Keep in mind that memoirs reflect a slice of humanity with common universal themes. Engage your audience by finding commonalities. Mention something we all share with your selected passage and include it in your answers to their posed questions.

Humor, from the subtle smiles to the outright laughs, goes a long way. Humor is infectious and is a spark to unite and bring an audience closer to you. Keep a light, friendly, tone, engaging humor when handling downer topics or discussions.

On promoting your book and self:

Get out there. Go to author readings and discussions. Memoirs share similar journeys; memoirists want to get to know people as they share their stories. Increase your circle of fellow memoirists as they can be a source of support, guidance, and inspiration. “Friend” them on Facebook, “follow” their pages. Meet audience members and continue cultivating their interests so they can “friend” and “follow” you. Building connections and followers is just one piece, albeit important, of the promotion package.

Sitting as an audience member allowed me to learn more about me and my book as I listened to four memoirists speak their story. It was an invaluable time spent applied to my continuous practice as a writer, author and memoirist.

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