Juanita ordered 25 books because, like most of my clients, she envisioned a project that would be of personal interest to her closest circle: her grown daughter and son, her grandchildren, some nieces and nephews, a lifelong friend or two.
And like most of my clients, she underestimated. Delighted with their mother’s accomplishment, Juanita’s daughter and son quickly announced their mother’s memoir on Facebook. Soon their cousins and childhood playmates and former neighbors all wanted copies of their own.
Fortunately, the printing technology I use makes this easy. The state of the art of “print on demand” means that anyone can purchase a copy at any time, just as easily as purchasing any best-seller or other commercial publication on Amazon.
After about three years of working with seniors to write and self-publish their memoirs, one rule of thumb I’ve discovered is that every client underestimates how may people will want to read their book. “But who will read my memoir?” new clients sometimes ask me. “You’ll be surprised,” I tell them. My books are designed for easy reading. They’re light in weight and appealing in design. It’s easy to page through them, start here or there, pick them up, put them down, resume later.
But most readers don’t dabble in and out. Most readers consume these books from beginning to end, which attests not to my skill as a ghost writer of memoirs but to the innate curiosity nearly all of us possess about each others’ lives. Humans are curious beings. We want to know what happened, and when and how and why. That’s why we study history and biology and anthropology and psychology. And it’s why we read about one another.
Have you thought about writing a memoir or other personal narrative? Have you held back out of uncertainty about whether anyone would want to read it? Take heart from Juanita’s experience: 49 unanticipated readers beyond her immediate family in the first month after publication. Another client ordered twenty books for his initial print run. The printer made a trivial error in the estimated delivery date and recompensed for it by printing and shipping an extra twenty books. “I’m not sure we need an extra twenty,” I confessed, thinking that it would be more useful to me to have a credit with the printing company. But I was wrong; my client had already promised twenty more copies away as word spread of his project.
Not everyone wants their project to reach a general audience, of course, and that’s fine too. A small number of my clients have asked for “hidden” access, an order link available only to them and not publicly searchable. That option is easy for me to put in place from a technical standpoint, but hardly anyone takes advantage of it. Writing your memoir takes a lot of thought and contemplation, even if you work with a ghost writer. Even those clients who were on the fence about privacy when we began usually soon decide that they want their words to be read, their story to be known. That is, after all, why they chose to tell it.
Who would wish to read your memoir? Children and grandchildren? Siblings and spouses? Long-time friends? Colleagues? Sometimes picturing your audience is the first step toward starting your project. If you can picture just one reader, it might be time to start writing. Contact me any time to discuss a memoir project – your audience is waiting!