A Writer's Experience


Within days of publication, the publisher placed the book into stores specializing in Judaica, catering to the Orthodox Jewish communities in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and other major American cities, as well as in Toronto. The largest bookstore in Borough Park, Brooklyn, one of New York’s major Orthodox neighborhoods, had a large window display, resulting in a phone call to Mia from an OSE child who had not known she survived. I learned that Orthodox Jews were particularly eager to read books about the Holocaust. That was good news, but I also wanted to reach a wider, more mainstream audience. Almost immediately after the book came out I realized that the only way that would happen was through my own efforts. The trick was to get the book known.

This was a difficult task, because there was now so much Holocaust literature that neither major Jewish nor general U.S. publications were prepared to consider a book by an unknown writer. There are other sources of publicity than book reviews. I had some knowledge and experience in publicity and marketing, and I was fortunate in having friends with professional expertise they were ready to share. I divide my time between New York and London. In New York over the two years, I was interviewed on a cable TV program. A documentary about my family and the book was filmed at the Queensborough Community College Holocaust Center. We held several very successful book parties in private homes. I did two U.S. mailings, one to friends, acquaintances, former neighbors and colleagues-in short to everyone I had ever known. The second mailing was to a list of American libraries that housed Judaica collections. Orders came from Wisconsin, Texas and California.

In addition, my efforts led to the book being accepted for sale at the New York Jewish Museum, the New York Museum of Jewish Heritage and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

In London, England, my local newspaper responded quickly and favorably to my press release, and a reporter came to my home to interview me. An article appeared two weeks later and was seen by the producer of "London Jewish Radio, " a program that goes out over the BBC’s London outlet. She was interested in one of my themes: that I had blocked out my Holocaust experiences. It fitted neatly into the discussion planned for the coming Sunday’s program. "Could I come on, on three days notice?" You bet!

I also appeared on London’s other English language Jewish radio program, participated in two Jewish book fairs and secured a brief review in the Jewish Chronicle, a nationally circulated weekly. Several synagogues wrote about the book in their publications. Networking helped in some of these contacts, but in others the book was accepted "cold." A mailing to public libraries throughout Britain resulted in a significant number of orders. In only one case was the book turned down as not being of sufficient interest. The usual reasons were either a shortage of funds or a legal requirement to purchase through library suppliers. I wrote to these, but hit a blank wall.

Periodically, I would report my various successes to the publisher, whose response was usually a simple "good." I am pleased and proud that I received a great deal of positive feedback from people who have read our book. It has come both from people who know me and from strangers. Everyone talked with great admiration about my mother, Mia Kanner, and many complimented my writing. Friends said, "I didn’t know. Why did you never say?" These questions are answered elsewhere on this site.

During all this time, I complained to anyone who would listen about how much I hated marketing and having to push my own book. One day a friend replied that I sounded just like someone she knew who had had several non-fiction books published by a well-known and reputable small publisher. "She’s had to do exactly all the things you’re doing."

As to Barnes & Noble, the firm advised me to send a copy of the book. Within six weeks I received a reply advising that they had decided to place a small order. Such limited orders are handled for them through distributors, and they advised me to contact one from a list they enclosed. I chose two located in New Jersey. Both instructed me, by voice mail, to send a copy of the book along with other information. I complied promptly. I never heard from one, in spite of repeated faxes and phone calls, during which I never spoke to a human being. After months of silence, the second apologized, claiming personnel problems. She promised to place the order within ten days. When it didn’t come, I gave up. You can’t win them all!

[Webmaster's note:  Although B&N agents never contacted us nor ordered any books, the book is now listed in the Barnes and Noble online store, as well as those of Amazon and Borders.  Yet another benefit of cyber-space!]

It’s been a practical education to be with a small publisher. The print run of Shattered Crystals was 4,000 copies. Should there be a second printing, maybe the map that many asked for can be added. [It appears elsewhere on this Web site]. Perhaps typographical errors that I and others found can be corrected. I say perhaps. In the end, the main point is that the book came out. I’m grateful beyond words that my book was published.

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Copyright (c) 1999, Eve Rosenzweig Kugler.  All rights reserved.