Memoir Author Interview: Betty Auchard Muses about Book Marketing

by Matilda Butler on February 15, 2012

catnav-interviews-active-3Post #78 – Women’s Memoirs, Author Conversations – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

In two recent interviews, memoir author Betty Auchard shared her experiences in writing her newest memoir: Home for the Friendless: Finding Hope, Love, and Family.

[If you missed those interviews:
Here’s the link to Part 1 of Betty’s interview.

Here’s the link to Part 2..]

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Question #1. Many memoir authors like the writing but not the marketing. Yet author marketing is vital if people are to read your book. I wonder, Betty, if you’d tell our readers about your experiences in marketing your first book?

storytelling, memoir, memoir writing, life writing, writing, memoir author interviewBetty Auchard: YES, author marketing is crucial for book promotion. If people like you they’ll probably buy your book.

I’m a retired art teacher who was involved with theater work so I loved audiences. In 2001, I became a free speaker and sold five different anthologies that included my stories. I started out with a handsome tri-fold brochure that was designed by a friend and I sent it to many women I knew who belonged to clubs and organizations. These groups had speakers once a month and they were happy to sign me up. Sometimes the audiences were men and women, or just men, but most of my audiences were for women’s organizations. I asked my audiences to pass my brochure along to other groups who used speakers. After four months, word had spread that I was an entertaining, free speaker and people were now calling me regularly to speak to their groups. I had an average of one program a month and did that on my own for four years.

Since 2005, when my first memoir was published, I’ve had two different professional marketing publicists, the first being with me for ten months and the second publicist for a year. I have recently hired a third person who will be with me as long as we both feel something is being accomplished. Each one of these people had a different approach to marketing, which always included me being actively involved. Getting professional help is pricey but better than attempting promotion on your own.

When Dancing in My Nightgown was published in May 2005 it received an IPPY award. That’s when the five anthologies were retired from action because fans in the Bay Area of California had been looking forward to the release of my first book. Speaking engagements tripled. In August, September and October that year I gave a total of 28 free programs. I was worn out from so many speaking engagements.

I got two royalty checks a year and my first one was about $375, the next over $500, and the next was over $800. I needed a break from speaking and that’s when I hired Milton Kahn, a media man who placed his clients on radio and television interviews. Milton always got last minute requests for interviews from all over the country and at all times of day and night which meant that I could be naked or in my pajamas because the interviews were all by phone. It was a fantastic radio experience. I had to put all public speaking on hold for ten months. It was an expensive but terrific experience, AND I got a much-needed break from speaking. The exposure was good especially on the two local shows, one being the popular “View from the Bay” TV show in San Francisco. It was all great fun but my book sales went down during those ten months.

This was proof that I sold more books as a speaker. If an audience likes an author, they buy her and the book is part of the package.

When The Home for the Friendless was released November, 2011, I hired the literary publicist, Stephanie Barko, from Austin, Texas. For one year she tutored me in the importance of active online promotion and had me join the following online activities: FaceBook, LinkedIn, blogging, Twitter, Library Thing, GoodReads, and Story Circle Network. She also arranged for many book reviews from all over the country.

I’ve been fairly active on Facebook, Twitter, and my story blog and inactive on all the others. I was VERY busy the whole month of February 2011 with a virtual blog tour as I was featured on endless blogs and wrote something for each one. Stephanie also made contacts in Iowa getting ready for my nine-day book tour in that state last summer. I don’t yet know if my time with Stephanie was financially rewarding but the rewards were many just the same. I was not very computer literate so I had more work to do than the average computer user when working with her. Half of the time she spoon fed me.

My third and present promoter is a young man named Scott Templeman, a graduate of Penn State in marketing. He’s a self-admitted computer geek who is great with social media and technology. We have just started our work and today he suggested a nifty idea for those purchasing my two ebooks so they can have my autograph. I’m keeping that a secret for now.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Question #2. With that background, do you feel any of your strategies will be different with this second memoir? Perhaps some things you did the first time that weren’t worth your time and/or money? Perhaps some new things you are trying?

Betty Auchard:I have no proof ahead of time how successful something is going to be, but I’m willing to take chances and that’s why I’ve hired someone again. I’m trying new things now with Scott’s direction. I would not take on so many radio interviews again even though they were fun. People often listen to the radio in the car so the motivation for purchasing a book is snuffed out because they’re going someplace that is not a book store. I loved being on four different TV shows because a live audience always energized my presentation. Without a doubt more people have now heard about my two books because of the publicists I hired, but not enough to be impressed financially. I learned new things with each person and I’m looking forward to this next experience with Scott, too.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Question #3.Betty, Women’s Memoirs would like to thank you for your fresh and open discussion of these issues. Finally, do you have any perspectives on book marketing to share with our readers?

Betty Auchard:Yes, I really do. Well, first of all, being published does not put dollars in the bank, so it’s not about making money. It’s an accomplishment to write a good book and have it published. I think it’s an accomplishment to leave well-wrtten memoirs for family members. Writing a memoir and hoping to be published should not be our first goal, However, if a book is interesting enough to be read by others, it’s not necessary to find a publisher. We can either self-publish or publish an ebook free with Amazon’s help.

In either case, the ways in which books are published and marketed are already changing. The Internet is probably the most expedient way of reaching all kinds of targeted audiences. Also, authors are doing a better job of designing their own books for self publishing. My publisher put my books into ebook form so I didn’t have to do it. She is very “into” marketing and she did a clever thing at the end of each of my ebooks. She included an excerpt from the other book with a link that says “buy me now on Amazon.” If I like something a lot and there’s a link to the cash register, I’m the kind who clicks that link before thinking twice. With any luck, my two books will sell each other so I can retire from the stage before I get too old to drive. I’ll be 82 in August and writing and selling my own books is like being back at work full time. I’m not sure what retirement is like because I haven’t tried it yet. I keep saying that next year is my last, but I’m not sure that I believe it because I’m still writing stories. Leaving good stories behind for future generations is another kind of “life after death.” Right now, I’m feeling kind of immortal.

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Betty Auchard’s Home for the Friendless is also available as a Kindle book.

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