Part Three – Finding An Audience
Writing your story is the easy part, but to interest someone enough to take the time to read it is an entirely different matter. Over the years I’ve written a lot of memory-stories that I thought others might want to read and then realized that only a few select persons found them even remotely interesting. Most of the stories were either too personal or too generic. Finding a happy medium was a challenge. To find where I fit in, I joined several online websites that catered to writers who needed feedback on their material. The other writers offered critiques about what was right with my material and what needed tweaking, as well as what didn’t cut it. Actively participating on those websites was an invaluable lesson for me. Those sites made me open my eyes as to what might be keeping me from being published as well as giving me pats on the back when a piece hit the mark perfectly.
I began submitting my material to magazines and newspapers that only offered a by-line and no monetary compensation. I never questioned the fact that I wasn’t getting paid, my writing needed to be fine-tuned and these were the ideal places for me to fine tune it. I targeted slice-of-life publications because that was what I felt comfortable writing about (my niche, so to speak) and I began receiving acceptance letters and emails rather than rejection letters. I also began submitting to online websites that were looking for writers willing to write about their experiences with only miniscule monetary payments. But I was gaining experience and I knew I needed that in order to command higher paying venues.
I landed my first real paying job with a travel website. They were looking for travel articles about Maine and New England. Having lived my entire life in that area, I felt qualified to write about that subject. I submitted my Maine travel adventures and using my neighbor next door voice, my stories were accepted and I began earning a substantial paycheck for my work.
In order to find an audience, it’s vital that you find your “voice”. Your voice is the tone that you write in. I write in the tone that I speak in. I write my stories as if I’m in the same room with a person and we’re passing the afternoon with coffee and some friendly conversation. Other writers may fall in different categories. There are those who are able to write suspense and keep people on the edge of their seats, so their audience may fall into a thrill seeker category. Others write heart-wrenching tales of loss and betrayal and that audience might relate through their own tales of loss. Then there are those who can write steamy stories of romance and intrigue that’ll keep their audience turning the pages in order to find that first forbidden kiss.
You need to feel comfortable in your style and voice or your words will come across as forced and unrealistic.
A memory story is a about memories, make your memories come alive by putting yourself in the story.