Post #22 – Women’s Memoirs, News – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett
Kendra and I often talk about the past, present, and future of memoirs. Just for fun, we decided to share with you our 10 memoir writing and memoir publishing predictions for 2010. I’ll lead off with my first prediction:
1. Still More Memoirs: Memoir has been a popular genre these past several years, and I don’t think it will fade any time soon. In 2010, we will continue to see a rise in the number of published memoirs and the genre will become even more creative. A few years ago, no one had heard of a graphic memoir and today there are a number of fine examples on my bookshelves. Print-on-demand publishing, even for larger publishers, will help with the economics of memoir publishing.
2. More Varied Use of Memoir: Matilda, I agree with you and actually think we’re going to see elements of memoir make their way into other genres. I’m noticing books–self-help, business, diet–naturally integrating memoir vignettes and threads of memoir throughout their pages. This has the effect of making otherwise dry nonfiction more engaging and personable. It’s a nice touch.
3. Memoirs Go Digital: Large as well as small independent publishers will begin to offer more memoirs as electronic downloads. Although some publishers refuse to release digital versions at the same time as they publish the printed copies, I believe there will be pressure for more non-paper-based memoirs. Some will be Kindle Wireless Reading Device products, some may be released as generic downloadable ebooks, and even more options are on the horizon as the months roll by. If the market for a specific memoir is not well-defined or large enough for a publisher, a trial ebook may prove a good move.
4. # of Books on Kindle Doubles: Oh I like that last point, Matilda. Once the book is written and layout complete, creating and releasing PDF for digital download is virtually free. Yes we’re going to see a lot more. Who knows if Amazon and Kindle will continue to rule the digital book market, which is still in its infancy. Personally, I think that as with most technologies, the day will come when digital books will become standardized across platforms. Still, Christmas 2009 was a big one for the Kindle. The number of ebook downloads on Christmas Day surprised even Amazon. Today Amazon offers almost 400,000 digital books for download. I predict that the number of books available for Kindle will double in 2010.
5. Self-Published Memoirs Evolve: Kendra, you write a lot about publishing, but I’m going to take the lead with a prediction about this. Self-publishing, while not for everyone, will not only continue to be an important avenue for memoir authors but will grow during 2010. Authors are beginning to see that writing a memoir is only one phase of the process, no matter who publishes their book. If an author wants a book to be successful, she will need to be actively engaged in marketing the book. The rise of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gather and others as well as easy-to-use blogging platforms mean the serious author can connect with potential readers and create a marketplace for her books. Not only will the field of self publishing evolve, but it will also encompass electronic versions. Print-on-demand, once the domain of the self-published memoir author, has now been adopted by small, medium and large publishers. Perhaps it will be self-published memoir authors who will show new and creative ways to release and market digital memoirs.
6. One-Direction Marketing All But Dies in 2010: Matilda, I agree with your assessment of self-publishing, and that puts book marketing 100 percent on the shoulders of the author. In truth, any author (regardless their publisher) who wants to increase book sales needs to actively market. Marketing may well come to take more of an author’s time than writing. That said, I want to suggest to budding marketers that they need to think of marketing not as a traditional one-way discourse from author to reader but as a two-way conversation. Readers and customers have many ways–from blog comments to online communities to personal library sites (e.g., Shelfari)–to express themselves and share their thoughts with authors and other writers. This is not fad. It’s a fundamental change in marketing, so prepare to commune with your readers.
7. Facebook Becomes THE Most Ubiquitous Marketing Tool: Matilda, I’m going to interrupt the flow and post another prediction because I feel they are connected. I see Facebook fast becoming the face (sorry for that little play on words) of social media. Facebook was THE most visited site on Christmas…more than Google for the first time. When people want to communicate, share, and connect online, they turn to Facebook first. With the number of users approaching 400 million, author-marketers need to reach out to their readers through Facebook. If you don’t yet have your own Fan Page, stop reading right now and set one up. I’m also noticing that most other social networking tools are linking with Facebook so that what you do on Twitter or your blog appears on Facebook. This trend will continue in 2010.
8. Memoir and Media Courtship turns into Marriage: Kendra, it’s interesting just how many of our memoir predictions deal with technology. And I have another one. In 2010, we’ll see memoir authors incorporate multimedia elements into their text in a new and exciting electronic book environment. Right now, authors feel they are pushing the envelope by creating video book trailers. By the end of the year, most authors who take their writing seriously will be doing this. Flip UltraHD Camcorder and Mac or PC video editing software means every author can create a book trailer and find new ways to connect with her audience. It’s not that much of a stretch. A good video needs a good script — just the talent that a writer has. Many memoirs can be enhanced by incorporating multimedia elements such as interviews, childhood videos, narrated family photos, etc. It’s already easy to do this in blogs, and more and more authors recognize the importance of building an audience via blogging. The first efforts may not be glamorous or even highly successful, but a lot will be learned to prepare us for future memoir formats. Not all marriages work out either.
9. More Twitter Tools Encourage Micro-blogging: I’m glad you mentioned multimedia, Matilda. In fact, it made me want to follow with something about YouTube. But instead I’ve decided to conclude my predictions with Twitter. Twitter has been one of those tools that instinctively people believe to be significant but just can’t quite figure out how to use to their benefit. If that describes you, don’t worry. Even the Twitter people have had problems with this. But more tools will help in 2010. These tools are making Twitter more meaningful all the time, so don’t give up on it. Tools like Twitpic, for example, make it easy to send photos out to followers. I also like Hootsuite to manage my many Twitter accounts and Tweepular (although it’s been down and going through maintenance for a couple of weeks) to get more followers and weed out those who don’t follow me. And one last thought about Twitter: Some argue that micro-blogging is a good writing exercise because with only 140 characters to work with, you learn economy.
10. Progress in Getting a Memoir Written: Thanks, Kendra. Now I’ll wrap this up with one last prediction. I may be a year early with this, but I can see a time when technology and templates help a person through the process of writing a memoir. Right now it is easy to get lost. Too many stories are never recorded, not because people don’t want to pass them on but because the process is too difficult. There isn’t a simple solution. A structured list of questions doesn’t evoke the stories we really want to tell. Those questions are better at helping us record the facts of a life. We’ll see, but I think Baby Boomers will “demand” new ways to share their stories and the marketplace will respond.
From all of us at Women’s Memoirs, may 2010 be your best, most successful, most productive writing year yet.