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Your hometown, that is, if you are an author.

Last week, I attended a Farmer’s Market in Irvington, New York, the hometown of Toni Lydecker, whose new cookbook is SEAFOOD ALLA SICILIANA: Recipes & Stories From a Living Tradition.

Toni was selling her beautiful cookbook at the Irvington Farmer’s Market, giving out scrumptious samples of poached mackerel in olive oil served on crostini, prepared from a recipe in her book. She had purchased the mackerel from the fishmonger whose was selling his selection of the freshest fish at the booth next to hers.

People are always drawn to free food, and in this case, the food samples were so delicious that Toni sold two cartons of her $30.00 cookbook. There was a bitter, blustery wind blowing off the Hudson, which resulted in a smaller crowd than usual at this farmer’s market which is usually packed in the summer and early fall. Even so, Toni sold more than most authors do at similar out-of-town events.

I have set up many out-of-town author events only to hear an author complain that only one person showed up. This even happened to a bestselling cookbook author whose publisher had spent a lot of time and money preparing for a cooking demonstration in a highly visible well-trafficked kitchen store for that author. Other authors have told me that while there was a continual flow of traffic from people who wanted to sample free food, not one person bought their book.

The lesson, according to Toni Lydecker, is that one should focus publicity events in one’s hometown.

I not only encourage authors to do hometown events, but also to focus on their hometown media. Last winter, I promoted a haunting debut novel, THE TRICKING OF FREYA by Christina Sunley (St. Martin’s Press), about an immigrant family from Iceland who settles in North America. More Magazine hailed THE TRICKING OF FREYA as “an instant classic” and The Seattle Times compared Ms. Sunley’s work with that of Jhumpa Lahiri and Junot Diaz, two novelists who also write about the immigrant experience.

But it was her hometown newspaper that catapulted her book to the bestseller list. The San Francisco Chronicle ran a rave review of THE TRICKING OF FREYA and, a week later, it hit The Chronicle’s Bestseller List, where it remained for three weeks.

Newspapers often love to shine the spotlight on their local authors. The first question I am asked by a book or feature editor is if the author is local. The Chicago Tribune featured a profile story on Father’s Day about the father-son co-authors of TRUST ME: Helping Our Young Adults Financially, a self-published book. It is usually very difficult, if not impossible, to get print coverage from a top newspaper such as The Chicago Tribune for a self-published book, but the local angle trumped the self-published stigma that many self-published books have to bear.

In today’s media climate where it is more difficult than ever to get TV and print coverage, hometown media is an author’s best friend.


Too true! A few years ago, while I was working at the bookstore, we had a local author whose debut was hitting shelves. Our store manager wasn't happy about the event because it was a mass market and he didn't feel that it would do well. Our CRM proved him wrong! The line for purchases was out the door and we had to drive to the next town over to get more copies. Her next release events became big store bashes complete with a band and food!

October 8, 2009 at 8:43 AM  

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