Have You Written a Memoir?

Memoirs are a growing genre in publishing. This category has grown steadily over the past few years for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the year award (now the Christian Indie Awards). About 10% of the books nominated fall into the Memoir category.

In fact, one magazine stated that “ours is the era of Everybody’s Autobiography”. Many independently published authors write memoirs. These authors feel that they have something to share with others from their own life experiences. Additionally, writing a memoir often helps authors gain a new perspective on their life, while writing about difficult times can provide healing for life’s pain.

BookNet Canada, a non-profit organization that develops technology, standards, and education to serve the Canadian book industry recently released four “Dive Deep” studies. Each of these studies looks at the demographics for book buyers of different genres. So far, the four studies that have been released look at biographies/autobiographies, detective fiction, science fiction, and cookbooks.

In 2016, the Biography category accounted for 3.84 percent of book sales in Canada, which is just about 12 percent of all nonfiction book sales. The “Dive Deep” study for biographies/autobiographies, which tracked 272 biography book purchases in Canada, found that the average buyer for these books was a 49-year-old married female with a university degree.

While this study was conducted in Canada, I think that memoir sales in the United States are probably very similar to those in Canada. After all, our cultures are not that different and Canada’s book market often mirrors the United States’ market.

What do the findings in this study mean for marketing a memoir? I think we can draw two conclusions.

1. Market your memoir more heavily to females.
If you have written a memoir, your primary audience is going to be the female reader. This should not come as a surprise. After all, women read more than men and buy more books than men. Men read memoirs too, but women are more likely to purchase a memoir. Some of these women may be purchasing the book for a man in their life to read. Even if that is the case, you must market to the person who will buy the book.

2. Market your memoir to the GenX crowd.
We don’t hear much about selling to GenXers. We hear a lot about Baby Boomers buying habits and the buying habits of Millennials. The GenX generation often falls through the cracks. (I must add, that as a GenXer, this hurts my feelings). One important thing to keep in mind when marketing to the GenX generation is that they know the value of a dollar and appreciate a good deal. If you are offering a good deal, they will spread the word to all their friends and family readily.

Memoirs only command a small percentage of book sales. These books are not as popular as other categories. As a result, marketing a memoir or biography takes persistence and perseverance. You can use the information from the BookNet study to focus your marketing efforts for your memoir for greater success.

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