I’ve had a lot of clients who worry that writing a memoir will seem like what they call a “vanity project.” I think this is a term that has come into common use lately, what with all the self publishing that’s available. It’s not all done at a quality level. Some memoirs seem rather self indulgent, while others are Angela’s Ashes or Wild or This Boy’s Life. So, what’s the difference? The difference is marketing or the lack thereof. I made this video, which goes into the issue nicely.
Literature isn’t Advertising, Especially for Memoirs
When you’re sneaking little messages into your memoir about how you’re business is the best or your family members are the best … that’s branding and marketing, which doesn’t belong in a memoir. Well, not if you want that memoir to be considered literature. Sure, if what you want to write is a marketing document, go for it. I don’t write those, but a lot of ghostwriters do.
Memoirs Can Promote Business, but not Directly
Some memoirists start out writing a very legitimate memoir about the fascinating struggles of their lives, then lapse into throwing in a few marketing messages here and there. Don’t! You need to decide if you want to write literature or promote a business. A lot of my books do promote the businesses of their authors, but not overtly like that.
You know how they say that sales is mostly education? If you educate people about the products available, then they’ll pick what’s right for them. Think of writing a business-positive memoir like this. Sure, those who read it will admire your business, but not because you told them to. Rather, because you’ve educated them on what they need to know, and, inevitably your business will benefit.