First-time memoir authors are likely to have no solid writing credentials, much less an agent or publisher. How do you get writing credentials? Write!
Bylines Validate You as a Writer
Even a handful of online articles with your byline can build credibility for you as a writer as you begin to market your memoir, which you can do before it’s ready for publication. Write about things you know, and research websites that invite people to submit essays. There are lots of advantages to doing this:
- Typically, your byline will be accompanied by a short bio. Given even just two or three sentences, your bio can easily mention that you’re the author of an upcoming memoir. If you can be more specific with the memoir’s name and the exact date or just month of publication, even better.
- If you want an agent to represent you, or if you send your memoir manuscript to a publisher, impress them by including links to articles that carry your byline. That shows them that some professional outlet thought your work was worthy of publication.
- These links look good on your own book website or blog as well. They say: I’m a professionally published writer. You can trust that my memoir is a well-written book.
- Many articles offer readers the ability to leave comments. Keep an eye on your article, and respond to comments. This establishes a conversation with the very people who are potential buyers of your memoir.
- You may get a little money for your efforts. But while some online outlets will pay for your material, that shouldn’t be your main consideration.
- Writers write, and they constantly get better and faster at writing. Now that you’re a memoir author, writing frequently on other projects will help your writing flow so that it’s easier to motivate yourself to sit down and work on your memoir.
What to Write About
Ideally, you’ll find a website to carry your article about something directly related to your memoir. From your memoir’s theme to anything your memoir covers—your work, specific issues in family life, the geography you describe—you can speak as an expert by virtue of the fact that you’re writing a memoir that includes information on that subject. You are an authentic voice in that community. Don’t diminish the right you’ve earned to be an authority and the contributions you can make with a good article.
To just get your name out there, you also can write about something completely unrelated to your memoir. This won’t necessarily reach the target market for your memoir, but it will provide the other benefits of giving you a byline, links to share and a bio paragraph.
Here’s an article I wrote about a hot pop-culture topic that was published on sixtyandme.com. You can see that it’s been generating comments, and it’s even popping up on searches. Am I using my own blog here to help promote it? You bet.
Comment on Other People’s Articles
Another way to establish a familiar name with potential readers is to comment on articles that address your memoir’s theme. Any knowledgeable, informative comment you post will add to the discussion and set you up as a valuable voice on that topic.
On your comments, you may be able to sneak in a plug for your memoir, especially if you say something vague such as: “I’m writing a memoir about my experience with this same type of childhood.” Or you may be able to direct people to your book’s website.
How This is Different from Social Media
It’s helpful to build an online presence through Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook or whatever social media combination appeals to you. Articles are different, though, because they represent acceptance and a little bit of vetting by someone out there in the field. Anyone can tweet, but not everyone can submit an article and get it accepted for publication.
In addition, articles carry URLs that may stay there for years as you continue to send links to anyone interested in your writing. Social media is more about “follow me” and what’s coming next than what’s already out there. You don’t have to keep up with an article the way you do with a social account.
Good luck as you navigate all of this! Let us know if Write My Memoirs can help you with editing or self-publishing.