Monday, May 3, 2010

How Do You Get a “Home Town Bounce” Marketing Your Book?

This is another question I've been asked, and it is not an easy one to answer. Even though I spent my childhood and early adult life in Pittsburgh, and still have friends and relatives who live there, I’ve spent more years in Toronto. So what is my "home town?"

I got my inspiration for the characters of The Unveiling from my family, with the result that much of the book is set in Pittsburgh. The story reflects the history of Pittsburgh’s immigrants. (Picture on left shows my grandmother, Anna Rubin, becoming a U.S. citizen. Standing with her is H.J. Heinz.) So I have been hoping for significant interest and a reasonable number of readers in Pittsburgh.

To date this expectation has been partly realized. Family members who live in Pittsburgh have been my best customers and PR people. So have close friends and colleagues, who have not only read the book, but ordered extra copies to pass along to other friends and associates. A few old high school friends heard about The Unveiling, read it, reconnected with me and encouraged others to read it. Other acquaintances have promised to speak with people they know in various organizations, encouraging them to invite me to speak about the impact of mental illness on families.

The biggest “home town bounce” has been the positive review in Pittsburgh’s Jewish Chronicle in late March 2010. I am aware that some people I know provided The Chronicle with review copies, so my carefully worded pitch email probably was not the reason for the review. And another “bounce” came during the past week when the owner of Bradley’s Books in Pittsburgh, after speaking with my cousin, Mel Solomon, decided to carry copies in two of his stores and to invite me to do signings.

I’ve had a few disappointments, probably because I am not presently a Pittsburgh resident. Other than the Chronicle, the Pittsburgh news media has shown minimal interest in The Unveiling. And the Carnegie Library of Squirrel Hill resorted to rigid national library policy as an excuse to rule out my making a personal appearance, despite welcoming “local” authors in the past.

More than getting a “home town bounce” in marketing The Unveiling, I’ve had a “family and friend bounce”. Relatives and friends give copies to associates, and this leads to invitations for me to speak to groups…in Toronto, Florida, Georgia and Maryland so far.

As an author who is responsible for my own book marketing, I’ve been following advice from other authors and public relations experts offered on the social media. Going after that “home town bounce” has been one piece of advice, and it is worth following, but it is only one part of a much more complex challenge.

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