The Rising Popularity of Memoirs: Could Your Journal Become a Memoir?

by Emma Crosby

msayocac_fcMemoirs are continuing to increase in popularity amongst the book-purchasing public. In fact, Mark Singel’s memoir, a Year of Change and Consequences became the Sunbury Press Bestseller for November 2016. As interest in pop culture and the cult of celebrity continues to fascinate, it stands to reason that the memoirs of the famous and other public figures will attract mainstream attention. But it is not just the memoirs of the famous that have the potential to hold attention: the personal nature of written memoirs appeals to the natural voyeur inside most of us, and if you have an interesting story to tell, and are prepared to share your first person perspective and insights with a plethora of hungry strangers then it is likely that you will find an audience that want to discover that story. America craves confessionals, and the written memoir appeals to this desire, making it a market that is ripe for would-be writers to explore and make their mark.

Why Are Memoirs so Popular?

We live in a society where conspiracy theories abound, where scandals break in the mass media on a daily basis, and where there is a constant undercurrent that the American public is being lied to: the raw honesty of memoir serves to counterbalance this, and it is thought that this is why the market is growing at such a rapid rate. Ironically, the demand for memoir has become so great, that many novelists are now positioning their fiction to appear as memoir in order to capture an already captivated audience (thus infiltrating a market built on honesty with the perception of unintentional dishonesty) making those producing genuine memoirs in even greater demand.

Making a Memoir

tjcl_fcThe key to writing a good memoir is that it must be authentic and that it must be true: true to your story, true to your voice, and to where you have come from. Memoir enthusiasts can generally tell the difference between a story that is being told in truth and one that is being exaggerated, and for that market a simple truth will always be more appealing that a convoluted lie. Many memoirs begin life as journals that were never necessarily intended to be read by others, which is an interesting dimension shift. Memoirs that begin life in this way often have a raw realism that appeals to the audiences desire for true confessionals: to become a part of someone else’s reality. There are many benefits of writing a journal, besides the potential to turn that journal into a memoir and step onto the path towards fame and fortune.

Journal writing can be a cathartic experience and is often chosen by teens and young adults as a way to express themselves and deal with the confusion of growing up. Other groups use the cathartic nature of journaling, and well as its emotional disengagement, to help them process their thoughts and feelings: individuals in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse, for example, as well as those building a new life away from abusive or damaging relationships. Whilst your journal is unlikely to be publishable in its current form, a journal can be a very useful base for a memoir as reading it can help to jog your memory about your thoughts, feelings and experiences, as well as providing a useful timeline of events for you to continue to refer back to. Journal writing is also a useful way to hone your writing skills and to find your own unique voice: it is recommended as best practice for all would-be writers who have visions of creating their own memoir or other non-fiction work.

As publishers of memoir we have a unique insight into both how and why its authors choose to tell their stories, as well as into what the memoir reading public are looking for from their next bestseller. Memoir is about connections: the reader connects with the writer by understanding their story, building empathy for them, feeling that they have entered their world. In a society where are lives are so busy, and these connections are often left unmade in the wider community, these hair thin bonds become stronger and more important than ever.

Barksy's "Hatched" is Sunbury Press bestseller for October

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — Sunbury Press has released the bestsellers list for October. Robert Barsky’s novel Hatched took the top spot. The Journey Called Life by Christina Burns was runner up.

SUNBURY PRESS – Bestsellers for October, 2016 (by Revenue)
Rank Last Month Title Author Category
1 2 Hatched Robert Barksy Literary Fiction
2 NEW The Journey Called Life Christina Burns Memoir
3 3 Wonder Boy: The Story of Carl Scheib Lawrence Knorr Sports Biography
4 50 The Sign of the Eagle Jess Steven Hughes Historical Fiction
5 The Savage Apostle John Kachuba Historical Fiction
6 The Devil’s Grasp Brian Koscienski and Chris Pisano Fantasy
7 NEW Solomon Screech Owl’s Kangaroo Caper Beth Lancione & Kathy Haney Childrens
8 Mary Sachs: Merchant Princess Barbara Trainin Blank Biography
9 11 Where Elephants Fought Bridget Smith Historical Fiction
10 Dead of Autumn Sherry Knowlton Thriller Fiction
11 6 Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, 2nd Ed. Mike Campbell History
12 Pink Crucifix Johnny Strife Thriller Fiction
13 28 The Wolf of Britannia Part I Jess Steven Hughes Historical Fiction
14 7 Living in the Afterlife Michele Livingston Spirituality
15 4 Keystone Corruption Continues Brad Bumsted History
16 10 Freemasons at Gettysburg Sheldon Munn History
17 16 Pit Bulls Anthony Julian History
18 Silver Moon Joanne Risso Childrens
19 In the Field Joanne Risso Childrens
20 My Mom Is an Alien Joanne Risso Childrens
21 Over the Sea Joanne Risso Childrens
22 Prohibition’s Prince Guy Graybill Biography
23 Seeking Samiel Catherine Jordan Thriller Fiction
24 5 Cast Iron Signs of Pennsylvania Towns and Other Landmarks N Clair Clawser History
25 A Moment in the Sun Tory Gates YA Fiction
26 Bravo! Guy Graybill History
27 Death by Internet Joe Carvalko Thriller Fiction
28 38 Hidden Dangers Bob Stout Geopolitics
29 Choice of Enemies Michael Richards Thriller Fiction
30 The Ten Second Shift Bill Foley Self-Help
31 The Ripper’s Haunts Michael Hawley History
32 47 Hour 30 Brandon Musgrave Memoir
33 48 Messages from Beyond Michele Livingston Spirituality
34 8 Call Sign Dracula Joe Fair Vietnam Memoir
35 30 Maybe Tomorrow Mela Suśe Vigil Duran Carvalko Memoir
36 13 Raising Monarchs Sue Fox McGovern Nature
37 Darkness at First Light J M West Thriller Fiction
38 Frost! Guy Graybill Short Stories
39 12 Emeralds of the Alhambra John Cressler Historical Fiction
40 The Devil Tree Keith Rommel Thriller Fiction
41 14 The Silver Coin Marie Sontag YA Fiction
42 41 That Night at Surigao Ernie Marshall History
43 Beagle Tales Bob Ford Humor
44 26 Behind Barbed Wire and High Fences Phyllis Hochstetler History
45 The Relations of Dwight D Eisenhower Lawrence Knorr History
46 27 Bows, Bullets, and Bears John L Moore History
47 49 The Wolf of Britannia Part II Jess Steven Hughes Historical Fiction
48 There Is Something about Rough & Ready Lawrence Knorr, et al History
49 The Best of Keystone Tombstones Joe Farrell and Joe Farley History
50 The Relations of Milton Snavely Hershey Lawrence Knorr History

Hatched_fcRobert Barksy’s “Hatched” was #1 due to author events and advertising in The New Yorker magazine. Christina Burns’ “The Journey Called Life” debuted at #2 thanks to author events. Lawrence Knorr’s “Wonder Boy: The Story of Carl Scheib – The Youngest Player in American League History” continued to sell briskly due to seasonal interest, taking #3. Jess Steven Hughes’ “The Sign of the Eagle” rebouned to #4 thanks to author events in the Pacific Northwest. John Kachuba took the 5th spot with “The Savage Apostle,” boosted by author events in Ohio.

The company released four new titles in October:

SUNBURY PRESS – New Releases for October, 2016
The Journey Called Life Christina Burns Memoir
Solomon Screech Owl’s Kangaroo Caper Beth Lancione & Kathy Haney Childrens
Return to the Valley Terry Ray Metaphysical Fiction

For more info: http://www.sunburypressstore.com/BESTSELLERS_c3.htm