Basic Social Media Marketing for Memoir Writers by Sue Canfield

Sue Canfield

Sue CanfieldYour goal in using social media to market your book should be to share information of value with others. Book sales will come. However, if your only goal in using social media is to sell books, you’ll be disappointed. These are some basic social media marketing tips to help you share information of value.

Target audience and influencers

Define your target audience and identify some ‘influencers’ in your subject. Be sure to follow these people on all your social networks. In Twitter, create a list of these people and monitor what they tweet and retweet as appropriate.

Keywords for Hashtags

Identify keywords used in your memoir to use as #hashtags in Twitter. Use hashtags as often as possible across all networks (provided there is room at the end of a tweet). These help with discoverability and now also work on Facebook and Google+.


I recommend using Hootsuite to manage all your social media in one place. You can sign up for a free account here:

Ideas for tweets:

  • Create short quotes from your memoir
  • Add quotes to appropriate images to post
  • Post a link weekly to where your memoir can be purchased

Each week on each network post the following as appropriate to help grow your networks

Join me on Facebook! <link to your Facebook page>

Let’s connect on Twitter: <link to your Twitter page>

Are you on Google+? Let’s connect there too: <link to your Google Plus page>

Are we connected on LinkedIn? Send me a connection request! <link to your LinkedIn profile>


Sue Canfield of Chief Virtual Officer has been working with social media since 2005. She blogs regularly about how to use social media and consults on social media best practices. Sue specializes in helping authors create and maintain their online presence.

Tips to Break Through the Inner Critic Voices in Your Writing!

Tips to Break Through the Inner Critic Voices in Your Writing

Tips to Break Through the Inner Critic Voices in Your WritingIf you are writing a memoir, or even a novel, and wonder how you can break through the inner critic that silences you, this is a perfect moment to get new input and learn from the experts.

This is one of my favorite topics—as a memoir writer, I know how tough it is to confront the forbidden stories and write them down. Once voice says, “Go ahead, it’s the truth,” while another says “You can’t say that, it’s rude.” Or “What will people think if they know these things about me?” Or the real stinger, “They might get mad at me. They might accuse me of lying.”

You have your own list of what your inner critic says.

More typical Inner Critic messages:

  • I don’t know how to write.
  • Who cares about my story anyway?
  • I’m too self-involved.
  • What difference does it make if I write my story?
  • Maybe I’m making it all up.
  • I’ll be ejected from the family if I write that.
  • This is boring

I talk about the family and friends as the “Outer Critics.” These are some of their voices that memoir writers struggle with.

  • You’re writing a memoir? For heaven’s sake, must you air the family laundry?
  • Why are you doing this to us?
  • Don’t you dare write any of that while we’re alive!
  • You think you have a right to these stories?
  • You’ll be ejected from the family if your write about what really happened.
  • It didn’t happen that way!
  • All you can do is think about the past!

TIP: The best thing to do with your list is to write it down and get it out of your head. Then argue back with it. Answer each doubt that is raised, work on affirmations like, “This is my story. I have a right to tell it.”

TIP: In your first draft you can spill out the whole story. No one knows what you are writing until you share it. Sharing should be done carefully! You want to keep up your story energy all the way through your first draft.

TIP: Write out as many affirmations as you can think of and put them on your wall. They might be phrases like this:

  • The words that flow are good, just right for that day.
  • I will protect my writing from naysayers, including myself.
  • Each paragraph I write gives me strength and forward motion.
  • Every scene I write helps me to find a new perspective and joy in my life.
  • When I learn new skills, I am energized and excited about my writing.
  • I look forward to my writing time.
  • I honor and preserve my time to write

These practices about the critic voices may need to be repeated throughout your book. They work! I used to have a vile, abusive inner critic that kept me silent for months at a time, but I kept returning to these exercises, I kept working on my story bit by bit as I tried to free myself. That is why I’m so passionate about helping others learn to break through to write their stories.

In our Memoir Telesummit on May 6, you’ll hear from other writers who have walked through the fire of their doubts and strong critical voices—many of them real people—family members or friends. But they wrote their book anyway. I know that you will get a lot from Kelly Kittel and Sara Connell, whose stories are radical and brave. The both had to put aside the inner and outer critics to get their books out into the world. Brooke Warner uses the phrase “walk the radical edge” to talk about the challenges we face as memoir writers. As a publisher and memoir coach, she knows the kinds of stories that challenge writers, and will fire you up to face the challenge in your own writing.

I know that many of you struggle with having a voice out in the world as you think about or begin your journey to create a blog or get on Facebook or Twitter. Most writers I know don’t want to think about it, but I believe it’s another way the inner critic shuts us down. Sue Canfield is going to help you think about social media in a new way so your voice can reach a larger audience. I know that at first I was reluctant to put myself out there, but then I was told, “People need your message. You are giving them a gift.” That made all the difference—and my resistance melted. You can learn how to make friends with social media and not let it scare you!

Story Circle Conference 2016 Wrap Up

Story Circle Conference 2016

I recently returned from the Story Circle Conference held in Austin, Texas. It was a whirlwind of teaching—Brooke Warner and I taught the pre-conference workshop  “Breaking Ground on Your Story.” My workshop “Building Your Memoir with Scene and Narration” followed up the focus on craft. We both noticed the need to integrate craft with inspiration, which we try to do in our workshops and Write Your Memoir in Six Months course—a new one starts in June! 

Coming to the conference brings back so many memories. My first time was in 2002 when I was a new author, having just written Becoming Whole-Writing Your Healing Story. I was shy and uncertain as a new writer, my head full of the questions that Brooke Warner addressed in her keynote. Is my workshop “good enough?” Will anyone want to read my words?

Story Circle Conference 2016

Story Circle Conference 2016

The most amazing part of this conference is meeting up again with old friends, like Tina Games and Sharon Lippincott, and meeting new ones I know mostly from books or online presence. Social media has offered wonderful ways to get to know people, but we all celebrated with big hugs when we finally met in person. I enjoyed long talks with Lisa Dale Norton, whose books Hawk Flies High and Shimmering Images were already my friends; and Susan Tweit, whose photos and posts I have followed on Facebook for years. Lisa’s workshop offered a new understanding of voice, and Susan showed the importance of place to bring our stories alive. There were other connections too, some quick, some over a glass of wine or coffee that made us wish we could live closer so every week we could have community and conversation.

Brooke’s Keynote

Brooke Warner presented an inspiring keynote, worthy of a standing ovation. I’ll summarize what got us to our feet.

Brooke Warner

Brooke Warner

First, she talked about how lucky she was to have been raised to believe in herself and her ideas. Many of us in the audience had grown up with the messages that we should stay silent, or mute our expression. Particularly, we often feel we have to be careful about saying or writing anything that might offend, hurt, or make someone uncomfortable. Brooke told us about her passion in championing women to publish during her eight years as Executive Editor at Seal Press. She was happy to be exposed to the huge variety of women’s stories, but came to realize that only a small percentage of the stories she loved could be published in the publishing environment that’s developed over the last decade. She began to think about a press that would publish women’s voices based on the merit of their writing and not their brand or platform—and She Writes Press was born in 2012. This year the press is celebrating multiple winners in the IPPY, Ben Franklin, and Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Brooke became aware through her experience and research to the degree to which women writers have been silenced. Messages from society and our upbringing, both subtle and overt, affect our ability to claim our stories and get them out into the world.

Brooke cited statistics about women and publishing, pointing out the huge gender bias in publishing for women, and particular memoir. Women are less likely to be reviewed, less likely to win contests, and less likely to resubmit after receiving a rejection. Women tend to take rejection harder—and these statistics are sobering. Men are 5 times more likely than women to resubmit if their piece has been rejected. We need to change that!

Well-known writers such as Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love, have been subjected to the bias against memoir. Gilbert likely received less accolades for her novel, The Signature of All Things, as a result of writing Eat, Pray, Love. Mary Karr, in her book the Art of Memoir, dedicated one chapter to discuss how Katherine Harrison was attacked for her book The Kiss.

We need to be reminded of our passion and motivation to write and to express ourselves. For some of us, including me, the story has been chasing us and won’t leave us alone. We need to write the book we couldn’t find in the bookstore. If it doesn’t exist, write it! We write to understand ourselves and our families, or to help someone who will benefit from our life lessons. There are many reasons to write, and reasons not to become discouraged.

“We have to keep saying yes, our story matters!” Brooke said.

Brooke offered 5 C’s that can help us stay inspired to write our stories.

  1. Community—we write our stories in community and we need the support of community.
  2. Commitment—we need to keep the commitment to ourselves and our story—and stay committed to getting our story out in the world, to share it with others through publishing.
  3. Championing—we need to champion each other and all writers by supporting, reading, and reviewing each other’s work.
  4. Claiming your work—we have to claim our right to write and publish our stories. No one will do this for us.
  5. Courage—it takes a lot of courage for us to dig deep and reveal our stories, and more courage to publish.

Brooke ended by urging us to take the time to get our stories written and to get past the fears and critical voices we carry. We have to champion ourselves and take the risk to be seen and heard. We need to write, and keep writing! We can change the world with our stories.

Discovering the Treasures that Bring your Family Legacy Memoir Alive

Discovering the Treasures that Bring your Family Legacy Memoir Alive
Discovering the Treasures that Bring your Family Legacy Memoir Alive

Discovering the Treasures that Bring your Family Legacy Memoir Alive

Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Writing a memoir is like entering a dream of past memories and at the same time doing an archaeological dig. When you write memoir, you are sifting through layers of time and history. You find buried rooms, shards of lost artifacts, and surprising treasures. Sometimes you find buried skeletons too! The nature of your dig will be unique, of course, as your family and your story is not like any other.

A memoir is a document of discovery in many dimensions. As you write and research your family, it’s likely that you’ll uncover and discover secrets and hidden clues to the past.  Gather your photos, family Bibles, and diaries if you are lucky enough to have them. Sign up for one of the genealogical sites to find more information and get facts about your family. You may be surprised!  

One of the best sources for your research will be the family photo album or photo box—you know,  that cardboard box or plastic tub where the family has been collecting photos for years. If you have photos from other generations in your family, most will probably be tattered and unlabeled, but if you’re lucky, you might be able to figure out who some of the people are. If you have older relatives, take your photos to them and see what stories they can tell you. You will want to record that meeting if they allow it. Remember, people who are older may have been raised with a different sense of open sharing that our culture has now. Allow them to refuse to elaborate if that is their choice.

The family photos you inherit are a treasure. A photo is a moment  captured in time in the middle of lives that were going on before and after the photograph was taken.  A snapshot taken in a split second introduces us to people we will never know and shows us a time and place in history, a valuable legacy.

You can often see hidden clues about family dynamics in photos. Look deep into those moody sepia images and the black and white snapshots to see what you can notice or imagine about the people and situations in the photo. Allow your mind to wander and your imagination to take hold as you gaze into the faces who look back at you from beyond time. Notice body language, clothes style, people’s gestures and attitudes. Try to “read between the lines” to understand what you are seeing about the people in the photo.

Notice the background in the picture, the rooms, furniture, and the  architecture of the houses. Landscapes and weather tell their own stories, as do cars, carriages, airplanes, and trains that might be included in the photo. Every detail tells a story that can help you develop yours.

One of my students told me about special moments she spent talking with her eighty-six-year-old mother and ninety-year-old father.

You could feel the power of their memories as we all gazed and murmured over the photos in the evening lamplight. They lifted one photo, then the other, talking fast as they told us about the bread lines during the Great Depression, and how families put gold stars in the windows when their sons were killed during WWII. They talked about shoveling snow in winter, and the challenges of just doing laundry —it could take days in the winter time. We laughed at the old cars and the outfits they were wearing. We learned so much about the history of the world, not just their lives. I wish we could have taped these conversations.

Some family members look at treasured recipes handed down through the generations. They learn about cooking from scratch as it once had been done by the women in the family and even try some of the recipes—this is true research, and hopefully delicious! Some family members are careful keepers of the family Bible, where their ancestors’ birth and death dates were written in by hand. With such raw material to get you into another time and place, a story may begin to take shape, though you may hunger for more details.

Personal diaries are a treasure, but most contain “just the facts,” written without emotion or reflection—often people didn’t have time for that and might have felt it indulgent or too personal in the age before “sharing everything.” But you might be able to read between the lines in the diary to discover a hint of feeling or a reaction to events. If you can read diaries from different family members, you might uncover even more hidden nuggets of truth about the family and the times they lived in.

To write about your ancestors, you need to trust your imagination and do all the research you can from sources like the Internet, newspaper archives, and books written at the time or near the era when your ancestors lived. You’ll be knitting together what you know from your primary sources with how you imagine life was lived. When you draw from several sources like photos, historical records and online research, you can come close to piecing together the time you’re writing about. We’re all products of our context in time and place. The more you know about your ancestors and grand-parents, the more you might discover about yourself.


Myers makes a compelling case for the power of words as a form of healing and growth.

professor of psychology, The University of Texas at Austin and author, Opening Up and Writing To Heal

...the NAMW memoir classes with Linda Joy Myers are wonderful