My friend Tracy belongs to her local Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee, and is active in the Jewish Book Network. Have you heard of this? I don't know why every writing community doesn't adopt this model, as it is a brilliant way to introduce writers to their readership. I'm thinking about converting.
What happens is, hundreds of authors, from the famous to the obscure, "audition" in NY in front of representatives from the Jewish Book Network. My friend Tracy is such a representative. Let's say I'm one of those authors (even though I'm not Jewish, nor is my book of particular interest to Jewish readers.) I get two minutes to introduce my book and wow them with my presentation skills. Later, I wine, I dine, I tell Tracy she looks good in black.
If I "make the cut," I'm sent on a Jewish Book Tour where I go from community center to community center, and talk about the book. Writers are treated like Oscar winners on a Jewish Book Tour. They fly you, feed you, lodge you and give you a goodie bag. Then you meet the people who will become your fan base. Here's how Charles London described the experience:
"After the grueling task of sitting down and writing a book, it is an amazing feeling to stand in front of a room and have people who aren't your mother give a damn about what you wrote. I hadn't felt much connection to any sort of community, let along a Jewish community, before writing this book...there they were--a community that didn't know me at all, but welcomed me with open arms, wanted to hear my message, to argue about it, to disagree, and to set me up with their granddaughters."
When is the last time someone tried to hook you up on a Book Tour? (Never mind; forget I asked.)
When I typed the last word of Ashes to Water, I knew the hard part was just beginning. Even big publishers depend on their writers to manage and fund their own promotion efforts these days. I have found some sense of community among mystery readers, but nothing nearly as organized or appreciative as among readers of books of Jewish interest.
So how about it, mystery readers and writers? Can we pool our dues and create The Magical Mystery Tour, in which authors have two minutes to hook representatives of a yet-to-be-created mystery book network? I'd love to audition. I might even sing, break out into a little soft shoe. Tell a few jokes: "A mystery writer and a Rabbi walked into a bar..." On second thought, I should probably talk about my book, instead. After all, as of right now? I'm the only one who is.