I never expected fame or fortune from a book about German Jews reclaiming their German citizenship. In fact, the positive reviews and publicity for A Place They Called Home quite exceeded my expectations. My eleven co-authors and I, most of us novices in the publishing world, were elated that our stories reached, and even touched, an audience of readers interested in our journey towards citizenship and reconciliation. The criticism I feared did not materialize (though it still could!!) and I allowed myself to indulge in a transient sense of pride in our collective accomplishment.
Gratitude and fulfillment notwithstanding, I’ve now learned firsthand that it can be even harder to market a book than to write and edit one. With no agent and a niche publisher of limited resources, I’ve hardly been deluged with speaking invitations. Readers regularly tell me they are unable to get their reviews approved for posting on Amazon.com, a likely factor contributing to sluggish sales. Plans for a soft cover edition and translation into German remain on the back burner. But there’s some good news too.
When the book was released at the Center for Jewish History in New York last December, I made a commitment that any royalties would be used “to foster a robust civil society in which non-native Germans — whatever their religious, ethnic, or cultural background – can make Germany their Heimat.” Our first royalty payment has just been donated to the International Rescue Committee – Deutschland. I plan to do some more targeted marketing towards libraries and academics this fall and hope that the book will generate additional proceeds to contribute to a worthy organization.
In a news climate filled with reports of anti-Semitism, it’s important that we continue to share positive stories and experiences about Jewish life in Germany. Co-author Yermi Brenner has just published a moving personal essay for the Huff Post, I Migrated To The Country That Ethnically Cleansed My Ancestors. If you have ideas for articles, interviews, or speaking engagements to promote the book, please contact me!