Memoir Marketing: Your Platform and the Statue of Liberty

by Matilda Butler on October 28, 2011

Book Business PaperclipPost #83 – Women’s Memoirs, Book Business – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Memoir Book Marketing

memoir, memoir platform, memoir writing, memoir marketingOn October 28, 1886, New York City and the United States celebrated the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France to honor the relationship between these two nations that was forged during the American Revolution. Now, 125 years later, another celebration in New York City will reenact many of the same elements from the original day.

The statue became a National Monument in 1924 and was beautifully restored for the July 4th celebration in 1986. This year, Lady Liberty becomes updated with five of her very own webcams showing views of New York Harbor. One of the five will also have audio enabled so that the sounds as well as the sights will be available to anyone with Internet access. Can smells be far behind?

Statue of Liberty and Memoir Platform Building

Why am I talking about the Statue of Liberty on a day when the designated topic is platform building for book promotion? Good question. But before I get into that, let me add one more component. The poem inscribed on the pedestal of the statue in 1903 was written by Emma Lazarus. I’m sure you had to learn it in elementary school:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Now, back to platform building. If you have been writing a memoir and thinking about publishing it, then you have probably been reading about the need for a platform. Yes, potential publishers want to know if you have a platform. Even agents will ask you about your platform. And, if you decide to publish your memoir on your own, you definitely need a platform to ensure sales.

Okay. Here’s a quick look at platform, a concept that is both simple and complicated. For this week, let’s take the simple side.

1. Think of the Statue of Liberty as you — a person with a story to tell.

2. Think of Lady Liberty’s pedestal as your platform — a place that gives you visibility.

3. Think of Emma Lazarus’s poem as your message — a theme (universal) and message (your specific one) that is revealed in your memoir — something that you want to talk about. [Remember, theme and message apply to your marketing writing as well as your memoir writing.]

Now you have the three ingredients to begin building your memoir platform. A platform gives you visibility. Many people use a blog to create a platform — a place where you can express your ideas and develop a following. But it doesn’t have to be a blog. You could develop your platform through the organizations you belong to. For example, if you are active in Girl Scouts and are writing about childhood lessons learned, then you have visibility among the parents of the Girl Scouts. Of course, if you want to be successful, you’ll need to build a higher platform so that more people can see/find you. Instead of just being active in the local Girl Scouts, you could become active in the statewide or regional Girl Scouts.

Substitute your ongoing interests for the word Girl Scouts. If you are writing a spiritual memoir and are active in a church group then you will want to extend your visibility beyond your local church or religious organization.

Does platform building take time? Is it work? Of course. But it is the expansion of your passion for telling your story. You will need to find your own unique platform. For example, if your memoir is about growing up in China, then you might blog about travel to China today. Then you build an audience of people who are interested in your writing, your perspective, and who will be quite likely to purchase your memoir about your perspective on life in an earlier time in China.

You, your life, your platform (visibility), your theme and message all connect. Don’t wait until you have finished your memoir. Start now. Then when a publisher asks about your platform, you’ll be prepared with a good response.

What do you think will be your platform? Be sure to share your ideas below in the Comments field.

Want Access to More Marketing Information?

Kendra, as you know, is our marketing guru. She has created a page with some information about marketing including a couple of lists from our memoir marketing workshop at the Association of Personal Historians. Click here to sign up for access to this private marketing page on our website. After you sign up, you will receive an email giving you the password. We have information there now and will add more in the future.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sherrey October 31, 2011 at

Matilda and Kendra, thanks for some insight to what “platform” is and how it’s built. Thanks so much also for what you bring to those of us who are working on memoirs and hoping to publish some day. It’s invaluable support!

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