10 Memoir Writing and Publishing Predictions for 2010

by Matilda Butler on January 2, 2010

catnav-news-active-3Post #22 – Women’s Memoirs, News – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

Happy New Year 2010Kendra 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.

{ 6 trackbacks }

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathryn January 3, 2010 at

All sounds like it’s right about on track. I definitely think the memoir genre is going to continue on as a popular genre and yet will change forms in some ways in the year to come.

Cynthia Briggs January 3, 2010 at

This article is encouraging. I have personal experience in the memoir genre where I find that getting technology behind nostalgia (basically the memoir genre) and make it work is like walking an up-hill grade. Those of us who are “mature” enough to have a memoir to write are often intimidated, and can easily get lost in the everchanging sea of technology.

My book “Pork Chops & Applesauce” is a life-on-the-farm memoir cookbook. Each story leads into a corresponding comfort food recipe. At any rate, getting readers, and cooks in my case, to slow down in today’s pressure cooker world is one of the main challanges of all memoir writers. I’m thankful however for the (mostly) women who purchase my book and keep in touch through my website because they value a time when life was simpler and sweeter.

Blending technology with a memoir is a daily bugaboo for me. Thank you for writing this article as it was a boost for this baby boomer who will not give up on telling her story about life in the good old days! Send your comments to books@porkchopsandapplesauce.net
Cynthia Briggs

Matilda Butler January 3, 2010 at

Hi Kathryn:

We agree with you and are curious about how you see the memoir genre changing. Any thoughts you’d like to share with us and our readers?


Matilda Butler January 3, 2010 at

Hi Cynthia:

Thanks for your comments. So many women memoir writers are working to learn how to blend their writing skill with using the Internet to market their memoirs. You’d be surprised (or perhaps not) how many successfully published authors we talk with are struggling to understand how to draw attention to their book via the Internet. Certainly big publishers are also lost in their efforts to effectively use the new technologies.

Here’s one idea for you. We get a lot of traffic on our website. Would you like to submit a family memoir vignette along with a recipe and some photos for possible publication in our KitchenScraps series? If so, contact us about how this might work. If you haven’t been following this series in ScrapMoirs, then you might want to read some of them: http://womensmemoirs.com/category/scrapmoir/

We include both “how to” articles by our guest blogger Bettyann Schmidt as well as individual KitchenScraps stories.

Independent of your interest in this, let me say that you have a great website.

Best wishes to you as you continue to market your memoir/cookbook in 2010.


Renee Cassese January 3, 2010 at

As a low-tech person I am starting to see that the way to publishing and marketing success is through the internet and all its capabilities. It took me a while to start writing first drafts on the computer instead of in my favored spiral notebooks. Now it’s time to take a few more steps along the continuum of progress. I believe we get what we attract and reach out for so I am hoping for a lot more memoir writing opportunities and communities in my life. and for all of us.

Matilda Butler January 3, 2010 at

Happy New Year Renee. It’s wonderful that you are beginning to see the importance of using the Internet for success with your writing. We’ve all come a long way. Although using the Internet effectively takes time, it is a great challenge that keeps us learning so that we can become more effective over time.

Thanks for mentioning communities. Kendra will be taking up that topic soon as we agree that it is important to all of us.


Susan Albert January 4, 2010 at

My comment has to do with reviews of memoirs. When my memoir, TOGETHER, ALONE: A MEMOIR OF MARRIAGE AND PLACE came out in September, I expected the usual round of reviews from the publications that always review my mystery fiction: PW, Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus. (I’ve never published a mystery that hasn’t been reviewed by all of these.)

But the memoir was simply not noticed. I was hugely disappointed not to get ANY reviews from this list. after a few weeks, I queried my publisher (a university press), wondering if somehow they hadn’t sent review copies. They had. And they had followed up. This is what they heard back from LibJourn: “We’re swamped w/memoirs. We’re doing a roundup of 39, and Susan’s book will be mentioned in that article. Sorry we can’t give it more attention.” It’s still fairly early in the game and some other reviews have come in, but it’s clear that TOGETHER simply isn’t going to get the reviews I expected.

So to your list of predictions (all very good), I will add this one. Memoirists won’t be able to count on getting reviews that will help them market their books. They need to make the most of the reviews and blog note they do get by linking to them, promoting them, etc. It’s a very competitive market out there, and the traditional author’s standby helper, the reviewer, is not going to be of much help. (We’ll do what we can to help at http://www.storycirclebookreviews.org, of course, where we specialize in reviewing women’s memoirs.)

Karen Walker January 5, 2010 at

Great post, gals. It’s nice to know people will probably never grow tired of reading stories about others. It is one of the ways I grow the most, through reading what others went through. The technology, however, has been and continues to be daunting for me.

Matilda Butler January 5, 2010 at

I agree completely about the importance of stories — stories of lives. We do learn from others and I appreciate when someone is willing to share her personal story.

As to technology. I wonder what in particular seems daunting for you? I’m asking because Kendra and I want to reach out to this incredibly wonderful community of women memoirists and help in every way that we can. We’re glad to share what we have learned and are learning (since technology is always changing, we are always learning). But, we need to know what would be the most helpful.

We’d like to build a list of what you and others would like help with and then see what we can do to deliver than information.

Best wishes to you.

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