Platform-Building and Marketing a Travel Memoir: A Guest Post by Sonia Marsh

Traveling is like falling in love;the world is made new.” Jan Myrdal

I am pleased to feature Memoirist/Motivational Speaker, Sonia Marsh in this guest post. Sonia will share her expertise and experience developing her author platform and marketing her upcoming travel memoir,Freeway to Flipflops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island. I think you’ll agree, she has a very ambitious and engaging author platform and marketing plan.

Welcome, Sonia!

Author/Motivational Speaker, Sonia Marsh

I started blogging in 2008 because I hoped to become successful like Catherine Sanderson, an English expat living in Paris, who wrote a “gossipy” blog which landed her a book deal.


I soon discovered that blogging can play havoc with your emotions; it’s a bit like a love/hate relationship. I loved receiving comments and praise from my readers, but hated not knowing what to write about when it was time to post something.


It wasn’t until I discovered my brand: “Gutsy Living,” and how I could link it to the message of my travel memoir, that I finally found my focus.  My next step was to build a community, but how?


I came up with the idea of starting a contest, which I called the “My Gutsy Story” contest. I then created a video which I promoted on Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn groups asking writers to share their own stories about something “Gutsy” they have done that either changed them, the way they think about things, or made their life take a different direction.


My blogger friend, Shirley Showalter, who writes a blog “100 memoirs,” offered to promote the contest on her site. Writers started submitting their own stories, and since I offered to promote them, and link back to their website, the “My Gutsy Story” contest took off. Here are a few suggestions on how you can build your own community.


Tips on how you can build your own community


  • Ask others to participate in something you’ve created.
  • Make writers feel safe to “open” up and tell their story.
  • Help writers promote their work on other sites.
  • Get readers involved in your project.


As you know, Dan Blank wrote an excellent guest post, “The first steps to building your author platform.” Dan is an expert on building your author platform and talks about the importance of focusing on your goals, defining your brand, and targeting your audience.


Here are some ideas that I keep in mind when I’m blogging or interacting with my audience on social media.



  • Always try to help others.
  • Entertain, inform or educate your readers.
  • Try something new.
  • Keep learning.
  • Add video to your website.
  • Add podcasts. Dave The Podcast guy is more than willing to help you. He helped me.
  • Show enthusiasm, it’s contagious.
  • Start a FaceBook Group. I started the “Gutsy Indie Publishers Group.”
  • Hire experts when needed. I hired a website designer to get a professional website.


Blogging taught me about branding and marketing, and how important it is for readers to know who you are, and what your blog is about within the first few seconds of landing on your website. Your brand and tag-line must be easy for the reader to discover right away, hence I developed my own, “Gutsy Living: Life is too short to play it safe.”


“Any writer who wants a readership must work to cultivate one.” Christina Katz, the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal.


Another helpful link: “42 timeless ideas to attract more visitors to your website.”



Sonia’s Marketing Plan



I am in the process of setting up my own publishing company which is why I started the Gutsy Indie Publishers FB group.


Here is a list of marketing tips I’ve gathered from various sources and plan on using them for my book launch.


  • Pre-sell your book at a discounted rate prior to publication.


  • Offer free chapters, essays, blogs, articles or any other format that provides a glimpse into your style and storytelling ability. I plan on reading a couple of chapters and turning them into podcasts.


  • Create your own event. You can create your own event and submit it in Chase’s Directory. Just set a date, send your payment prior to April 15th, 2012, and you might be contacted by the media.


  • Speak to audiences at universities, churches, public libraries, nonprofit organizations and other groups that have an indirect affiliation and interest with the content. If the audience is willing to book an author the list of potential book tour locations are limitless.


  • Contact your local indie book stores ahead of time and form relationships with the store managers. Ask about doing a book signing and invite guests, bring food, and try to get other local businesses involved so you can alert your local press about the event.


  • Blog Tours, ask your blogger friends to host a Q &A session about you and your book on specific dates.


  • Book tours are terrific and meeting an audience face to face is often the best way to sell books.  Stay with family and friends in different parts of the U.S. to cut costs.


  • Use video to meet your audience via book clubs, Skype.


  • Contact your local media and local radio stations.


  • Make a Book trailer.


  • Hire a publicist if you can afford it, 3-6 months ahead of your launch date.


I recommend following Joel Friedlander and Jerry Simmons, for more information on book design, self-publishing, marketing tips and more. They have been extremely helpful to me.

Thank you Sonia for sharing your travel and publishing adventures with us! There are some fabulous conversations and links over at Sonia’s new Facebook page: Gutsy Indie Publishers Group so hope to see you there.

Sonia Marsh Bio

Sonia Marsh is a “Gutsy” woman who can pack her carry-on and move to another country in one day. She’s a motivational speaker who inspires her audiences to get out of their comfort zone and take a risk. She says everyone has a “My Gutsy Story”; some just need a little help to uncover theirs. Her story, told in her travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island, is about chucking it all and uprooting her family to reconnect on an island in Belize. Download the first chapter for free. Sign up to be notified when her upcoming travel memoir is available. Sonia welcomes new friends, bloggers, writers and readers at ( You can contact her at:

We’d love to hear from you. Please join in the discussion by leaving your comments below~



Next Week: My new website design will be launched with “Sacred Transitions in the Season of Hope.”

Attention Women Writers:

The International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG) offers a nurturing and supportive community of writing women that has helped thousands of women find their voices, tell their stories and get published. The Guild is holding it’s 63rd Big Apple Conference in NYC April 14-15,”ReNEW the Magic” taught by the Masters, June Gould, Judy Huge,Ann Walradt. I have had the privilege of being molded by these remarkable women. Being in their presence is truly magical and learning from them leaves you a changed person. Experience the magic for yourself by signing up here:


  1. says

    Kathy, Thank you for the opportunity to share my journey on author platform building and marketing. There are so many opportunities for all of us out there, we just need to stay focused and energized. I wish everyone success and look forward to hearing from you. Thanks. Sonia.

    • says

      It is such a pleasure to feature you in this guest post this week! You have so many creative and engaging tips to share. Your GutsyIndiePublisher Facebook group is the place to be for any writer who wishes to publish. It has really taken off and I hope everyone will check it out for themselves.

      Let’s talk, everyone!

      • says

        Kathy, I am so glad you found me, and that you joined the “Gutsy Indie Publishers” Facebook Group. I never realized how popular, and accepted, indie-publishing is becoming, and I believe we should help one another as much as possible.

        • says

          Sonia, your “Gutsy Indie Publishers” Facebook Group has really taken off. It just reinforces the notion that self-publishing is a viable option in our current changing publishing environment. I do believe you are on to something given the enthusiastic response to your group!

  2. says

    Thanks, Kathy and Sonia, for this helpful post. I think it pays to be creative in our marketing plans! Gone are the days when writers can complete their work, then sit back and expect their publisher to sell it for them. After all, it’s our baby’s future on the line!

    • says

      Debbie, Love your tag line: “Life’s too short not to be Irish!” almost the same as mine, “Life’s too short to play it safe.”
      I couldn’t see if you are in the process of writing a memoir. Wishing you all the best with your publishing plans.

  3. says

    I agree with Sonia that we have to start building our author platform long before the book comes out. I wrote a review about one Kristen Lamb’s books “We Are Not Alone” on my blog here:

    It’s all about how to build an author platform. The trick is to find your readers not other authors for the platform. I haven’t found out how to do this yet though. Thanks for such a link rich post. :) I will have to follow some of them when I have more time. :)

    • says

      That’s a good point,Clar about focusing on finding readers vs other authors. I’m glad you enjoyed Sonia’s guest post and all her rich links. Hope you check out her Gutsy Indie Publisher Facebook group. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the discussion. I enjoyed your review of Kristin Lamb’s book,”We Are not Alone” on your blog.

  4. says

    Hi Clara, or Clarike in Dutch, as I read on your “About Me” page. I was born in Denmark and lived in Europe and Africa for the first 25 years of my life. That is also part of my “Gutsy Living” brand. Anyway, I read your informative article about branding, and admit, it took me several years to mold my brand into something that felt right to me. It connected my memoir to who I am, and the kind of people I like to mix with, and who might like to get to know me.

  5. says

    Wow, Sonia, I can see you’re going to go far with whatever books you write! Most new authors know very little about marketing, but you have your path charted out already. I think everybody needs to tweak their way to building community – I know I keep working on it. Excellent tips here, and I’m enjoying being a part of your FB group. Thanks to Kathy, too, for hosting another great guest.

    • says

      Great to see you back,Linda and thanks for all you are doing to keep the conversation on platform-building/ marketing alive. Love your phrase about how we all need to “tweak our way to building community.” So true. So glad you enjoyed Sonia’s post and are a part of her FB group. Love the sharing here as we all learn so much from each other’s stories.

    • says

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed reading your tips regarding leaving book reviews on Amazon with links back to you. That’s one thing I haven’t spent enough time doing. Good luck with your publishing and thanks for joining “Gutsy Indie Publishers” on Facebook. See you there. Sonia.

  6. says

    Great info and interview. Takes guts! Looking forward to reading the book, Sonia. See you all on FB. Will look up all the new names mentioned in the post here. Here’s to gutsy living!

  7. says

    Hi Sue,

    Love your idea of journaling with artwork attached. I used to paint with acrylics when I lived on an island in Belize and had all the time in the world to journal and paint. now social media is zapping my time away from my art. Need to rethink that. Look forward to seeing you on Facebook. Thanks, Sonia.

  8. Linda Hoye says

    Excellent post, Sonia. Thanks so much for sharing your marketing plan with us!

    And Kathy, thank you as always for bringing another wonderful writer to our attention.

    • says

      Linda, I loved your article, “Publishing My Choice” and left a comment there. I noticed you didn’t mention LSI, despite having your own publishing business. I’d love it if you joined the “Gutsy Indie Publishers” FB group as you have a lot to share. Thanks,

  9. says

    Kathy and Sonia, thanks for bringing such an important topic to the blog today. I’ve been working on building a platform and found this very helpful. Currently, I don’t have a book in publication but continue to hope. Continuing to write my blog as I find it good practice and also a link to the writing community. The best to both of you in your endeavors.

    • says

      Hi Sherrey,

      Thanks for your comment. Your website is beautiful. nice soothing colors and fresh and clean looking. Love your WOW group. What a wonderful idea. Thanks and good luck to you with your writing.

    • says

      Sherrey, I agree with Sonia,your blog is beautiful and you are building a strong platform. Yes, we all continue to hope “Pray to God but keep rowing to shore.” I’m so glad you stopped by and enjoyed Sonia’s post. Your comments are appreciated, as always.

  10. Rebecca Bricker says

    Sonia, so glad you’ve started the FB group. We can learn so much from each other. Thanks for sharing your marketing tips here. I know you’ll have great success with your book. Looking forward to reading it!

    • says


      Thanks for joining GIP (Gutsy Indie Publishers). Also read your posts on this blog and wanted to know more about your group chats. How did you set these up? I was thinking of doing the “salon” thing, which I believe is similar.

  11. says

    Wow Kath where do you keep meeting these fascinating people. Would love to sit down with Sonia for coffee and hear her stories and pick her brain about publishing. I am a bit stuck with all my writing projects including my memoir and finding a brand for my blog … as always your posts inspire me to keep at it! Good luck on the book Sonia…look forward to reading more of you!

  12. Laurie Lindemeier says

    Wonderful information. I am overwhelmed, but I’m still writing and painting and singing and….no longer dodging tornados in central Texas. Thank goodness.
    Very influenced by a reader’s comment to take care not to let social media drain time from my art. It’s a fine line, bu it can be drawn and balanced.

  13. says

    Kathy and Sonia, a grateful blogger here for your kind words and encouragement. I keep working at both the writing and building the platform. One day you’ll see my name on the spine of a book!


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