“So how’s it going with your book?” is the question I’m most often asked these days when I meet someone I haven’t seen in a while. The truth is I’m never quite sure how to answer because it depends on the latest developments. The author’s life is a roller coaster ride, or a ride on the ferris wheel, up and down, up and down.
Case in point: Today I followed up on the only invitation I’ve received so far as a member of the Jewish Book Council’s Authors Network–I was to speak for Kristallnacht at a synagogue in the Los Angeles area. However, I had not heard from them, and my daughter was asking whether I could come to Boston for one of her concerts the day after this event would have happened. Turns out they had rescinded the invitation a few days after extending it because one of their committee members insisted on a fiction writer, not a nonfiction writer. Not sure why I never got that email; it was addressed correctly. Oh well, you could say, now I can go to Boston and see my daughter instead. Not a bad trade off, but I was still miffed that all my efforts to be part of the JBC Authors Network have yielded nothing, so far anyway. (This involved shipping them 110 copies of the book, a hefty application fee and a trip to New York to deliver a two-minute pitch at their conference–a costly investment but also an interesting experience.)
I tried not to get too upset, reminded myself of all the other good stuff that’s happening with my book (I have two events next week!) and got back to working on other things. Next thing I know, an email arrives from the Story Circle Network, telling me they just posted a review of my book. It’s a good and thoughtful review to boot! And they also posted reviews to amazon and goodreads! What more could an author ask for? Isn’t that super nice? Mind you, this only cost me the postage to send them a copy of the book a few months ago.
Oh, but I’m not done: A few hours later another email trundles in (as with many other things in life, either nothing is going on book-wise, or several things happen in one day) from the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, requesting a bunch of materials from me so they can publicize my event with them in March! Wooha! And getting that event, by the way, didn’t even cost me postage. I simply contacted them earlier this summer, after my article in Rivka’s Yiddish “Filling in the Blanks on my Jewish Family History” came out, asking whether they’d be interested in a talk about how I did the family research for my book. A few weeks ago, they wrote back asking me to speak and suggested a few dates.
So, the moral of all this? First, you have to have faith. Some things don’t work out, but others do. Whenever you’re disappointed or frustrated, you have to trust that good things will happen again. Maybe not what you had your heart set on (at the moment anyway) but maybe something way more fruitful and rewarding will come your way that you couldn’t have even imagined.
Secondly, at least for me, the best book publicity has been the one that didn’t cost me any money. It’s all about connections. And of course you can never predict which connections will help you out, and which won’t.