Memoir Marketing Discussion: Leaving the Hall Light On with Madeline Sharples

by Kendra Bonnett on July 1, 2011

Book Business PaperclipPost #76 – Women’s Memoirs, Book Business – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Marketing and Promotion on the Internet

Matilda Butler and I are pleased to be part of a blog book tour organized by WOW! Women on Writing for Madeline Sharples’ new book, Leaving the Hall Light On.

As many of you well know, at Women’s Memoirs we are as interested in the the marketing efforts that go into the promotion of a new memoir as we are in the actual writing. After all, in most cases, writing the book is only half the job. We need to get our work into the hands of readers. We need a platform to which we can draw potential readers and a variety of tactics for making our presence known. As Madeline approaches the end of her WOW Blog Book Tour, we had the opportunity to ask her for her marketing insight:

memoir-healing, memoir and journaling, autobiography, memoir and suicideMadeline, thank you for joining us at Women’s Memoirs. I’m delighted for this opportunity to pick your brain and share your advice on book marketing with our readers. Let’s jump right in.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Because there is increasing discussion (and consideration) among authors of the alternative forms of book marketing, in particular the Internet, I’d like you to share your approach with our readers. I’m curious, for example, what pointed you in the direction of the Internet? How many different ways are you putting the Internet to work to promote your book? Are you posting on many different writing and journaling sites? Also, I know you have a blog…tell us a little about your blogging experiences as well.

Madeline Sharples: I seem to gravitate toward young people, and a couple of my young friends were definitely instrumental in getting me started. My niece began a blog in 2007, and I just decided to follow suit. Another one of my young friends said I just had to get a Facebook account. I took her advice almost immediately, and I was off and running. Because I have always been computer savvy, I naturally gravitated to what the Internet has to offer.

I blog and participate in Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Poets at Work, BookBuzz, and soon I’ll be a monthly contributor on a health and fitness website to help attract readers over sixty. Facebook has several sites where I regularly post: Putting a Face on Suicide, Loss of An Adult or Young Adult Child, Grieving Mothers, Suicide Loss, The Compassionate Friends, American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, and the Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society besides my friend and author/fan pages.

Besides my personal blog, Choices, and blogging on the author’s Red Room website, I have posted on sites such as:

  • Guide to Literary Agents about my book’s revision process
  • Poetic Asides where I participate in poem-a-day challenges. I plan to pitch a couple of articles there about writing poetry during next month’s pitch opportunity.
  • Perigee-Publication for the Arts published my poems and an excerpt of my book
  • Folded Word’s unFold twitterzine has published my twitter-length poems and interviewed me for their newsletter
  • Survivor’s Chronicles has published several of the poems, now appearing in my book
  • Memoir (and) has published two of my poems and I served as a reader there for about a year. They also printed a full-page ad for my book in last month’s issue.
  • A River of Stones periodically asks for short observational pieces. I wrote one a day during the month of April.
  • The National Association of Memoir Writers has scheduled me to post about writing through grief and participate in a NAMW roundtable in September
  • Huffington Post/AOL That’s Fit page published my piece “Keeping Fit After Seventy” on June 9, 2011.
  • I also won an honorable mention on one of WOW’s writing contests.

However, my blog Choices is my major writing avenue. I created it in late 2007; never thinking it would be a vehicle for promoting a book. I just thought it would be a good way to keep up my writing and muse about what I was going to do with the rest of my life. That experience started off very slowly–at first I got very few comments. Once I learned how to add tags, photos, and links it has really taken off.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: In addition to the Internet, are you also doing some more traditional book marketing, such as local appearances, a cross-country book tour and signing, and press releases? Did you also send out copies of your book for reviews in local papers? Do you give talks at local libraries, schools etc.?

Madeline Sharples: I launched my book with a very successful and well-attended reading and signing at my local independent bookstore, Pages. An article in one of our local newspapers, The Beach Reporter, drew in some folks besides people I invited. Otherwise, we sent out review copies to a couple of other local papers, including the The Los Angeles Times, but no word from them yet.

I have not scheduled a cross-country book tour although we are pursuing a couple of independent bookstores in Southern California for signings.

Yes, we have sent out press releases and queries to online book-related blogs. I’ll have a review posted on 100Memoirs shortly, and I have two radio interviews scheduled in July. I also did a group signing with the Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society at a local book fair in June. I will be a part of another GLAWS signing event on July 23 at a local Barnes and Noble. I have not pursued libraries and schools yet, though we have just decided to go down the public speaking campaign avenue.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: I looked at your website and read about your connections with other people who have lost children to suicide. As I see it, this is a powerful (and important) platform from which to launch your book. I don’t mean this in a crass or exploitive sense because the subject is too important to be “used” but you can help while getting your book more widely known. While your platform is pretty clear, others have to work harder to figure out their platform…but everyone does have one. How do you build on your platform?

Madeline Sharples: Actually, it is important to me that my platform not be “suicide of a child” but a broader two-fold platform of coping with extreme loss and the grief that comes from losing a child, as well as practical steps to rebuild one’s life and carry on. Subheadings under “coping with extreme loss” would be losing a child to suicide and parenting an adult child with mental illness. I also write about how I turned to daily exercise to assuage my grief and as a result I have emerged as a very fit and healthy seventy-year old. I’ve added this as another way to attract readers to my book. My That’s Fit article got a huge response from older and younger readers alike. And I hopefully will continue to get readers in my new contributor role on another health and fitness website. My goal throughout is to inspire people to live a full, productive, and healthy life.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: I see that you have not created an ebook or Kindle version of Leaving
the Hall Light On
. Is this in your plans? Please explain.

Madeline Sharples: The Kindle version of Leaving the Hall Light On will be available Spring 2012.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Finally, now that you’re well into your WOW blog book tour experience, I wonder what insight and advice you can pass along to other writers who are still wondering about the value of blog book tours. Do you have some sense of the value of such projects? Or any advice for writers to help them get the maximum value of a blog book tour?

Madeline Sharples: Actually it is still too soon for me to assess the value in terms of book sales. Some of my guest blogs attracted many comments; some none at all. However, I would recommend that an author embark on a blog book tour if given the opportunity. Any exposure will, I think, be good for sales in the long run.

I cannot stress enough that the tour was a lot of work. I wrote a total of fourteen posts for my WOW tour, including this one. So I advise writers to begin their pieces early and review them carefully before sending them to the blog owners. No matter how careful I was, I still found a typo or two once the pieces were live. It’s also a good idea to communicate with the blog owners before and afterward to get and keep a rapport going. I also thanked the owners as a comment on the day my posts appeared. And, I recommend going back to the blog several times during the day of the post to respond to any comments.

NOTE: If you like this article, let us know by clicking on the LIKE button just below. Thanks. That helps us know the type of article you like. And you can read more about Madeline Sharples and Leaving the Hall Light On by reading Matilda’s interview from a week ago Wednesday.

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