If there is one characteristic of almost all the memoir teachers, editors, coaches and ghostwriters I have met, it is a self-defeating sense that they are not good at business. In their case, it’s the memoir-writing business.
Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.
Memoir Professionals have a hard to time thinking of themselves as business owners, but as you will read below, they most definitely are in business—the business of memory preservation.
If you would like proof of this belief, tell five people you own a memoir-writing business. Note how this makes you feel—sometimes you don’t even have to tell anyone to have a clear sense of your response.
You will probably feel uncomfortable declaring yourself in the memoir business—and perhaps a bit of a fake. But let’s look a minute at what defines a business.
A definition of a business
The fact is, if you are earning income from memoir work and especially if you are depending on that income, what you have—or certainly ought to realize you have—is a business. A business provides a product or service at a price that supports the provider and allows that person to continue in operations and is provided at a price that the buyer feels is advantageous to him or her. Without this profit and great value relationship a company soon folds.
If you don’t earn enough to support yourself in some comfort you will not continue in this endeavor—or at least you shouldn’t. You will only do so it the product or service you provide is perceived by the potential buyer as being a value for the price.
In this section and other categories, I offer ideas to not only think of yourself as a business owner but to make that thinking into a profit motive for yourself.
If your work is not regularly producing a profit for you at a price point that clients feel is attractive you will end up closing shop and going into some other field. You will have proven what I hear so many times, “You can’t earn much doing memoir work—certainly not a living!”
Why the problem?
Most memoir professionals come from the liberal arts part of college education. There are very few business or accounting majors in the lot. As such, liberal arts graduates tend to think of the art part of their work and not of the business part. There need not be any dichotomy as you will read in the articles below.
This section is here to tell you you can earn money doing memoir work. It takes attention and focus, and it can be done.
Editor: This post on how I Iearned to support myself in the creative life by deciding to publish a book first appeared in February 2014 at a time when covid as not part of our lives. It advocates marketing that I undertook in pre-covid days but which I believe will soon be available and viable again.
I believe that implicit in every publication is access to an audience. Whether you hope to support yourself or to merely attract a more substantial audience, this post—written about a time half a life ago—has something for you.
“Is it possible to find readers who will support me in the creative life?” I wanted to know.
One day on 1988, I stood in front of a door, on the other side of which was a group of Foster Grandparents. I had in hand a copy of my book of autobiographical short stories, What Became of Them and Other Stories from Franco-America, which my wife Martha Blowen and I had published through my brand-new imprint, Soleil Press. Soleil means sun in French and Martha who was a paper maker called her studio Moon Papers. So Soleil Press and Moon Papers seemed to us a great combo for a couple (hovering on both sides of 40) who were seeking to live a creative life. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
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The Memoir Network evolved with thought. Its services—which are necessary for the success of writers and of the Memoir Network—grew regularly over a decade.
I have identified the kind of person who does well as a Memoir Network Affiliate. Are you one of these sorts of people? If so you are probably a person who could do well as a Memoir Network Affiliate.