Jan. 11, 2023

How to Best Market and Sell a Memoir - BM352

How to Best Market and Sell a Memoir - BM352

Want to know how to market and sell a memoir?

Listen as Natasha Miller, a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, sets out to write a memoir about her life's journey from a relentless homeless teen to achieving the entrepreneurial dream, only to discover a powerful, unexpected truth that will change the future of generations.


Want to know how to sell a memoir?

Listen as Natasha Miller, a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, sets out to write a memoir about her life's journey from a relentless homeless teen to achieving the entrepreneurial dream, only to discover a powerful, unexpected truth that will change the future of generations.

In this powerful episode, you will discover...

  • What secret Natasha Miller discovered while writing her memoir?
  • What surprising demographic is responding to Natasha's bestselling book?
  • How Natasha's memoir has become a legacy piece for her family?

And a whole lot more...

Here's how to connect with Natasha and find out more about her bestselling book, "Relentless."

Schedule your complimentary 20-minute brainstorming session with Susan, go to BrainstormwithSusan.com 

Transcript

Susan Friedmann
 Welcome to Book Marketing Mentors, the weekly podcast where you learn proven strategies, tools, ideas, and tips from the masters. Every week I introduce you to a marketing master who will share their expertise to help you market and sell more books. 

 Today. My special guest is Natasha Miller. Natasha isn't your average CEO. She sits at the helm of Entire Productions, the go-to experienced design event and entertainment production company in San Francisco, and has been on the INC 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America for three years in a row. She's The Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of Relentless Homeless Teen to Achieving the Entrepreneur Dream. Natasha's passion and commitment to giving back drives her invariable contributions and participation with numerous charitable organizations, particularly homeless youth programs. And in her spare time, she performs as a jazz vocalist and trained classical violinist. 

Natasha, it's truly a pleasure to welcome you to the show, and thank you for being this week's guest expert and mentor.
 
 Natasha Miller
 Thank you, Susan. And just a note that I'm going to use your introduction on everything I do.
 
 I love it with your voice, your accent, your diction, and your enunciation. It was beautiful.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Well, thank you. My previous guest said it's mellifluous. I love that word. In any event, let's talk about Natasha because of your recent book “Relentless” which I can't recommend enough. It is such a beautiful story about a very hard and very challenging time. Obviously, in your life, it's a memoir. 

I know that memoir is a topic that we actually haven't talked about at all in the whole seven years that we've been doing podcasts. I've really never had anybody who has written a memoir as beautifully as you've written yours. And the special editions and insertions of your voice and the jazz aspect. I mean, listeners, you've got to listen to Natasha's book. Reading it is one thing, but if you listen to it, it'll just blow you away because she reads it as well. I'm going on and on. But Natasha, let's talk about memoirs and let's talk about, first of all, what is a memoir? Because it's become such a trendy topic at the moment, I think it's important for our listeners to understand what exactly it is and then we'll talk about why you wrote yours.
 
 Natasha Miller
 Sure. My understanding of memoir has definitely been shaped and changed from the time I started to today. And I would say right now, memoir really is moments of your life that are finally highly selected and point to one theme. It's easier to say what a memoir isn't, and the memoir is not your entire life story from the time you were born to now. It is not a journal. It is not an essay about your life. 

For me, as a reader, I would want to read a memoir that is written like a beautiful work of fiction with that kind of pros and language and color and suspense versus, okay, this happens, then and then this is the outcome and next chapter. I think that it needs to be really concise and specific to one outcome. It has to be hand-picked of high and low inflection points that balance out well. It has to include some levity or humor and you have to be willing to be vulnerable and share things with your readers that might be uncomfortable. 

I think that is the number one thing that if you're not ready to do or you will not do to share something that is vulnerable and not just one thing, but maybe at least two things, then perhaps you shouldn't consider writing your memoir.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 I know from having read yours, and it's not a genre that I would normally read, but because I got to know you and I was like, yes, I'll read this, and especially because I know knew that we were going to have this interview. It's very raw. There's a lot of very raw material. You're very vulnerable here. Let's talk about why did you consider doing this? Because your story is quite something and I don't want to give it away to our listeners who are going to rush out and go and listen to this.
 
 Natasha Miller
 The subtitle gives away a bit, but there are things in the book that the subtitle does not relate to and there's some zingers in there. I mean, they were zingers to me, so they will be for the listener or the reader as well. 

The reason I wrote it was I was at a conference five years ago. It was for entrepreneurs, and I was trying to learn how to scale and grow my business. So I did not pay a lot of money, the money that I spent to go to this, to learn the AHA moment of it's time to write my memoir. But that is actually what happened and I'm so thankful for that. I had not let people know about my past up until that moment. And honestly, I think it's okay that I kept it to myself until then. 

That was the right time for me to start saying out loud some of the things that happened to me. I had distance and reflection in my back pocket instead of it just happened. And now I'm going to write about it. And I think that's also important. I thought, Susan, that my story was so unique and so incredible and wild and that people would be definitely entertained and shocked and awed by. But as I started writing it, I also knew that this would be helpful to people that are seeking success and advancement, but I didn't know a lot of the things that actually were the outcomes after which we can talk about later. I am so glad that I did this. This is definitely something that has changed, rearranged, and transformed my life.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Get it straight, this was not therapy, correct?
 
 Natasha Miller
 No. But I highly suggest that you go into therapy if you haven't yet while you're doing it, because things are going to come up. They're going to come up and erupt within yourself. But let me tell you a secret, Susan. You're going to learn things about yourself and your family while you're writing it that you never knew. And you will probably remember what one of those things was for me, and let's not tell anyone, because that's the teaser. I discovered something within writing my book that I would have never discovered had I not written this book. That blew me away. And then after the skeletons continue to fly out of the closet, you got to be prepared mentally and physically and emotionally to deal with that.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 So it sounds like that you obviously were not expecting this, that things sort of took on a whole life of their own, this whole just writing this, that you went in with one idea, but it sounds as if there was some transformation along the way. It turned into something more than what you had originally gone in to write about. Is that correct?
 
 Natasha Miller
 Absolutely. Full stop. And maybe don't start to write a memoir if you're weary or hesitant to experience all these crazy things that may come out. One of the things I want to clarify is I thought I was special and unique and that I lived such a challenging, traumatic life and that I became a successful entrepreneur. But what I've come to learn is that 75% of successful people have had challenges in their upbringing, from alcoholism, parents not paying attention, abandonment, drug use, and lots of things like that. It was a little bit of a wake-up call to me to say, you're not that special. But I will say that I hope that most people have not experienced what.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 I personally experienced that's obviously made you who you are. I mean, it sounds just from what I've experienced, is that if you want something, you're just going to go out and get it no matter what. There's no stopping you. Yes, exactly. That definitely comes out loud and clear in the book. Writing a memoir is one thing, and as I mentioned earlier, there's a trend out there. You wrote yours. Now the next thing is, who wants to read this and why?
 
 Natasha Miller
 Who I thought wanted to read it and why that's happening. But there's another thing happening is that there's a whole other group of people reading it that if you would have asked me, I would have said, there's no way, and I'll tell you what that is. So I figured women ages 25 to about 65 would be the target demographic, and maybe on the older side of that demographic and probably that same group that are entrepreneurs would be my so female entrepreneurs from 25 to 65. Those people are reading the book and they are enjoying it. And I'm hearing from them, who I'm hearing from more than women. And not to say that more of these people are reading the book. But men, men that are in their like 35 to 65 range, and most of them are entrepreneurs because that's the circle that they discovered my book in. And they are sending me screenshots of their underlined and highlighted passages on a podcast that I did a couple of weeks ago. 

 

A very high-powered male entrepreneur, like hundreds of millions of dollars worth of revenue, was so intense with me in the preamble, you know, to the conversation, and he brought something up to me that really resonated with him. And by the way, these men are resonating with different parts of the book. So it's not like all men are saying, oh, this one thing that really resonated with me. 

I am not quite sure what's going on, but I'm starting to ask them, why did you even read the book in the first place, and what is so meaningful to you? So the one thing this particular man did was he was very touched with the little note that my daughter had written to me during the pandemic for Mother's Day. Then he read that note aloud on the podcast. So for him, that was a major important takeaway. And I am here for it. I love it. I love that it's affecting both men and women, and I'm very surprised that it's affecting men.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 And also the demographic is so large. I mean, when authors come to me and I say, well, who's your audience? And let's say you had come to me with that, I would have loved to have published this book, but I know we didn't. And next time, however, if you had said the demographic was 25 to 65 female entrepreneurs, professionals, or men with that same, you know, 35 to 65, I'm like, Natasha, you've got to narrow that down. That's too huge a market to even think about going after. It sounds as if those people, what they have in common is the element of being an entrepreneur.
 
 Natasha Miller
 Yes, absolutely.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 So that sounds as if it's the market that you have spent time marketing. And help me with that. Tell us more about how you've gone about actually marketing the book.
 
 Natasha Miller
 I had a 25 point monster marketing plan. I put all eggs in the baskets. This was very important to me. I had produced seven CDs of my life's work as a musician. And this book seemed even bigger, much bigger than any one of those releases, which they all feel like my babies. So I created this checklist of initiatives and strategies that I wanted to do. I knew that I would market to like, I'm an entrepreneur’s organization. So, to that group, that's 15,000 people all over the world. 

Also, YPO, I'm the leader of the author's group in the Forbes Business Council. My world really is entrepreneurs. That is 90% of who I spend time with, that's outside of my family and neighborhood. I have access to these people I did an incredible, very detailed influencer box campaign where not only did I create this beautiful, printed 3D box that shipped with my book, but I had a 14-carat gold necklace created that says relentless in my handwriting, engraved. I put things in the box that had to do with the book, like scratch and sniff, popcorn stickers, and malted milk balls. 

There were also two postcards that were stamped, and it says, you've got to read this book for the person receiving it to send out to whoever they wanted to in return. These people did social media campaigns. They had me on their podcast. They had me speak on their stage. They wrote a blog post. They wrote an article. They could choose how they wanted to support me. And I reached out to a little bit over 100 people, and 75 people said yes, and we're in that program. That was one of 25 things that I did.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Oh, my goodness.
 
 Natasha Miller
 I don't I'm going to be honest right now. It was a little manic. It was a lot of excitement, and I knew that I wanted this book. This was not a business card book. This wasn't I'm trying to get more business for entire productions or any of my other things. Yes, it may lead to more business in everything that I do, but you read the book. It's not a sales book by any means. In fact, some people might read it and go, oh, boy, I'm not sure about this one.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Well, it just makes you realize that, again, as I said before, that whole idea of being relentless, I mean, that's a perfect title for it. You are relentless. And really, the message for me was that if you want to get something you have to be relentless about it to get what you want is like, yeah, go out and get it and just keep getting it, even though you get knocked down.
 
 Natasha Miller
 Oh, yeah. Being knocked down is sometimes a help because it just fuels the fire. I'm now giving an experiential keynote. That's called. It's not enough to be resilient. And in that title, I don't give you have to be relentless, but that is within the speech. Resilience just bounces you back to where you were before. You have this challenge, and you have to be relentless to get past where you're at today and tell your dreams and what you want to be successful in and quite possibly past that. Mark I can tell you for sure, Susan, that I have exceeded any expectations anyone else had of me and definitely the expectations I had for myself. 

And yes, I have imposter syndrome. And yes, I think, oh, that's not for me. And you know what I do with that? I push it away and I just charge forward. And with the imposter syndrome part, instead of feeling that I'm not worthy, I hunker down and learn what it is that I have a deficit in so that I become confident. Pretty easy.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Oh, so easy. Just like that? Yes. We could do a whole program just on that one subject alone.
 
 Natasha Miller
 Yeah.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 What did you want, the book or what do you want the book to do for you?
 
 Natasha Miller
 I think I didn't have this in Words before, but I knew it would be a significant legacy piece for what I had accomplished and really what I had accomplished for myself. It was more of the emotional and mental and historical and family things that I changed. Right. I changed the generation of potential future abuse. Having that legacy out there, knowing that I could help people by a nudge or a push or maybe transformation, was very important to me also. I was the only one in my family that wasn't considered a writer, and I wasn't really trying to prove that I was a writer. I'd been a songwriter. I'd do okay with copy. 

But, like, my grandmother, as you read in the book, was a professionally published author of family communication books. I wanted to prove my value in my family above and beyond the other things that I was doing to prove that, and this was one of them. So it's cathartic. Yes. It had to do with some therapy because it's therapeutic, but I had worked on so many things in therapy before. You can't really write a great memoir if you haven't reconciled a lot of what you went through.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Yeah. And it's like giving a keynote speech and you're sharing a very raw subject, material story. You just can't break down in the middle of it. This isn't a therapy session. So yeah. In the same way, the book yes, there's Catholicism and there is an element of therapy, but that's not why you're doing it.
 
 Natasha Miller
 And the reasons kept changing. Susan and building. And I would say the outcomes are changing and building and growing. And I think they will for quite some time and appreciating that journey and allowing it to be many different things instead of just the one thing you thought it would be is something to.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Embrace, making a difference and, as you said, looking to change behavior for the next generation and future generations. I know that homelessness, homeless youth programs are something that you're very involved in. How do you feel you're impacting those people because they've gone through so much in their life and they're still young? How do you feel that perhaps you're making an impact with them?
 
 Natasha Miller
 Well, I've spoken in Los Angeles to the Covenant House, and it was interesting because when I went there this was a few years ago here I am, a white woman talking to them about, like, the potential career in events. Nobody wanted to hear about that from me. They're taking one look at me and they're like, we don't identify with this woman. Like, whatever. But when I stood up, this is what I said. I own a multimillion-dollar business that's profitable. And I used to live in a place just like this one here. 

 They got up and were hooting and hollering and clapping, and I had their attention the entire time because what they saw was their potential. And we don't wear that on our sleeves. Right. I don't have a badge when I go outside to the grocery store that says, this is what I experienced. And people do judge each other by the way we look and hold ourselves. And that day, I was able to meet them where they were, and I try to do that everywhere I go because no one was paying attention to me. No one was coming to save me. And I so desperately wanted someone to. And if I can give someone that's similar to me back in those days some sort of comfort and hope, so honored to do that. I wasn't the beneficiary of that growing up.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Yes. But the impact that you have and I know for me, it would make so much more difference to who I'm being that I'm having an impact, even if it just changes one child and the future of one child.
 
 Natasha Miller
 Susan, that's so funny you bring that up, because I set out when I was marketing this book and I said this I don't want to just affect one person. Why on earth would I go through all of this? Didn't write a book and publish it, market it to affect one person. I want to affect every single person that reads or listens to this book in some manner. That's how I look at it. But I think that's my all in personality also.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Yeah, because you want to do things big. I mean, you're not happy with doing things small. It's like the big. Yes, I totally get that. And I bet with these kids, if you started singing to them, I bet they just love that. Your voice is so incredible. Your marketing, as you said, was like, over the top. Let's say we're talking to authors who don't necessarily have the kind of marketing budget that perhaps you put into marketing your book. What are some simple, shoestring, budget-type things that they could think about doing? And especially marketing a memoir, let's say, because I think a memoir is very different from a regular nonfiction book that's on a certain topic, for a specific audience, yours is much broader.
 
 Natasha Miller
 Yes. So I think it starts with, honestly, the book cover. That is such a number one of the marketing situation that you have to have in mind. I believe my book has done as well as it has in great part because of the COVID art. I believe that even Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, who reviewed the book very, very highly recommended it. 

I think COVID subconsciously or consciously or both really has to do with that. And then I think being able to define and refine your pitch to know exactly what to say how much and how little to various people, to various media outlets is so important. So what I say to you Susan, to ignite your potential interest in my book will be different than what I say to one of my male EO friends or to one of the people at the homeless shelter. My pitch will be short, and concise to the point we'll want them going, oh my God, I have to read this. And I know this works because I can see it like we're in a group together. When I talked to people about my book, I could see people literally typing on their keyboards and then I could see in the chat, I just got your book, I just got your book, I just downloaded your book. 

 So, I know the pitch works. Learning how to pitch, there's a lot of information online about that. You can also take courses that can be inexpensive to incredibly expensive, but I think that is one thing that any author shedload had to do. But for memoir, it's the story. It's the story, it's the color, it's the entertainment, it's the potential suspense, and it's also, of course, what that end reader sees in themselves, right? So as you're reading my book, you have to be able to find yourself not in the entire thing, but in a few things, right? You have to find yourself. So in order to market a really great memoir, you have to write a really great memoir so that you can pull from it.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 And yes, I believe you've achieved that. I mean, as I said, I'm not a memoir specialist by any stretch of the imagination. But I know when I like a book and I know it was one of those page-turners, I could not put it down. I had to keep listening. And I'm remembering that I'm standing there waiting at the gate for a southwest flight, and I'm listening to your book. I can just see myself now, listening. I was like, oh my goodness, this wasn't what I was expecting. Not that I really knew exactly what I was expecting, but it was more than, and yeah, I think in writing.
 
 Natasha Miller
 A memoir now, I didn't fictionalize anything, I didn't overdramatize anything. And in fact, while I was writing the book, I went through all my journals that I kept since age ten to make sure that I wasn't inflating the traumatic experience because I thought that I might have done that. What I found, Susan was that in fact, I had made less of it. And that was a really hard, I would say, few weeks of reading those journals. It was pretty dark but knowing for sure that I didn't make something up. Now of course it's my vantage point, right? It's my own lens. 

 My dad, my mother, and my brothers, all have their own experiences, but it's pretty close to what I'm writing about. If they are being honest with themselves and I think that you have to make sure that you keep your reader in mind and that you write something that they don't want to put down. You don't want someone reading a book going, I feel like I have to get through this. And I'm on the fourth chapter, and right. That's not what I wanted for my readers. And so I did end chapters with the intent of suspense or with the intent of I'm not letting you go.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Very much so. And the beauty and craftsmanship of a good writer. And also, that idea of a cliffhanger. You're just leaving someone suspended, and you just got to go to the next chapter because you're like, well, what happened? Now, the other thing that when people tell their stories when they're so dramatic like yours, I'm like, oh, my goodness, I didn't even know anything like this could happen. I grew up in a very middle-class background. Yes. And as I mentioned to you, I thought that perhaps in today's parlance, I had a dad who was he had a temper. In today's parlance, we would have talked about it as perhaps being verbally abusive, but I didn't experience the kind of abuse that you did. So I'm thinking, do you need us to relate that? Do we have to feel as if, oh, my goodness, I just don't know what this really feels like or is like, help me with that?
 
 Natasha Miller
 Well, I didn't want to take people into the darkest steps. My book was related to another book called "A Child Called It" and when I read that book, I was, like, consumed with sobbing, like I was ugly crying on my bed as I read this book. And I didn't want to do that to my reader.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Yes.
 
 Natasha Miller
 I wanted to show you and share with you what it was like for me, what it felt like. And I wanted you to see the fuel of the fire that was creating some of these choices that I was making in the future. Now, you may not have resonated or related to that, but there are other things that happen in the book that might be more subtle or less confrontational, and you probably felt some kinship to me somewhere in there, and I don't know where that is. It's different for everyone, but I had gone through a lot of things. There's got to be, at some point, something that I went through that you went through. Right.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 And I can tell you what it is. It was literally that perseverance and that relentless approach that I've had in many of the things that I've done. It's like, yeah, I'm not just given up. I mean, when somebody says, no, I'm going to say, I'll prove you that that's not the case. It can be done.
 
 Natasha Miller
 Thank you for that. No, because you just gave me a shot of adrenaline.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Yeah, just a reminder of that. And by the way, I know this book a child called it. And the gentleman and I knew his first name is David, and I can't remember his last name, but okay, yes, he actually came and spoke to the National Speakers Association many years ago, and I remember him talking about his experience, and it's horrible. Again, that was so far-fetched, I really could not relate to that at all. So I'm pleased you didn't do that.
 
 Natasha Miller
 No need to do that.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 No need to do that. No need to do that. Natasha, we could go on. I know. And there's so much we could talk about with this, and I'd be interested to hear from our listeners what they might want to know more about. And so we could potentially do a part two of this because there's so much that you could get into with the whole idea of memoir. How can our listeners find out more about you? Get the book, and tell us.
 
 Natasha Miller
 Well, I am happy to report that I finally, after over 30 years, got the domain of my actual name back. So it's Natashamiller.com. You can find out about the book and about everything that I'm doing there. Of course, the book is available on all digital platforms. I would love for you to listen to it, if listening to books is something that you do, and if not, of course, reading the book or the Kindle would be great.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 And as I say, I would recommend listening to it just because there's music and it's Natasha singing. Am I allowed to say that?
 
 Natasha Miller
 Yes. In fact, any music that you hear is from one of my seven CDs or a live performance, and call me. And I really did map it out to where it's relevant to what is being read or narrated by me. So it's relevant to the text?
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Yes, it certainly is. I was like, oh, who would write a song that was so relevant? She must have done incredible research. It took me a while to realize, oh, my goodness, this is Natasha is actually singing. I'm slow sometimes. What can I tell you?
 
 Natasha Miller
 They were written long before the book.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 But the next question is, what's the follow-up to this? I mean, how do you top this?
 
 Natasha Miller
 I'll tell you how. It's being optioned to be a film, a feature film, so that's a whole new experience for me, and who knows what will really come of it? But that is the next thing. And I am helping entrepreneurs, thought leaders and industry titans write the story of their life through my program, Memoir Sherpa. And I am so passionate about it, and I think if you have an extraordinary story, I want to hear about it, and I want to be part of getting that out into the world.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Beautiful. Yes. I would highly agree that there are stories, I think that people could be telling that we could all learn from, as long as they're not too far-fetched. But that's. Me. That's my preference. What can I say? Natasha, if you were to leave our listeners with a golden nugget, what would that be?
 
 Natasha Miller
 I would say this. If you're listening to this and you're thinking to yourself, my story is not that interesting or we've heard these from rags or richest stories forever, nobody's going to want to hear my story. I would challenge you on that, know that for sure, your voice and your own personal experiences and the intricacies of that story are necessary to be heard and to stop doing that to yourself. And you could really look at that as you owe it to yourself to put your legacy down on paper and digital for not only you and your family and everyone to learn from now but for ever, otherwise, it gets lost in translation and forgotten.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Yeah. Your legacy to the world, I mean, as I mentioned earlier, is the idea of just affecting one person. If you can save one person, you can save the world. It's like, you know, it's one person at a time that you can change lives. Yes. You're doing an incredible job. So thank you. Thank you so much for sharing this wisdom with us. 

And listeners, yes, do listen to this again, this is so touching. And as I say, listen to the book "Relentless." Go check it out.

 By the way, if your book isn't selling the way you wanted or expected it to, let's jump on a quick call together to brainstorm ways to ramp up those sales because you've invested a whole lot of time, money and energy and it's time you got the return you were hoping for. Go to brainstorm with Susan.com to schedule a free 20-minute call with me. In the meantime, I hope this powerful interview sparks some ideas you can use to sell more books. So, until next week, here's wishing you much book and author marketing success.

Here's how to connect with Natasha and find out more about her bestselling book, "Relentless."

Schedule your complimentary 20-minute brainstorming session with Susan, go to BrainstormwithSusan.com