The main reason I chose the publicist I hired was that she alerted me to the Jewish Book Council (JBC), an exceptional organization and the service they provide. Every year the JBC solicits applications from authors whose works have Jewish themes and interests. Each participant gives a two-minute pitch to an audience of over one hundred representatives from Jewish groups nationwide. Men and women come to New York to select and hire writers for their special events throughout the year.
It’s an extraordinary service that matches talent with audiences. Aligning authors, groups and travel dates was compared to a Rubik’s Cube, only with more than nine squares per side.
Because I write about the effects of being raised by a Jewish mother*, my publicist thought I could offer talks at Sisterhood Luncheons, Girls’ Nights, and/or Wellness and Mindfulness Events. I loved the idea!
I was in the 5th of 5 cohorts to present to the audience who had gathered in NYC for three days, hearing over 250 authors each give a 2-minute pitch. To help their memory, every attendee received the guidebook pictured listing each author, his/her book cover, photo and a synopsis of the work. Additional information included travel needs and social media handles. At the reception afterwards, I noticed several people with their books marked by dozens of narrow Post-It notes throughout the pages indicating authors they wanted to remember.
When I arrived at our location, I was instructed to find my assigned seat among the 50 chairs surrounding an open space in the center. My book had been opened to my page, as were each of the author’s copies. Although we were forewarned that going over the 2-minute time limit was highly discouraged, the timer was generous in her instructions to us and held up signs letting each speaker know when a minute was left, 10 seconds and a frowny face to please stop.
As each speaker was introduced, the page number of their book was noted and the ‘on-deck’ presenter was called to take a seat near the podium. I’m telling you all this because I was knocked out by the precision, the detail, the caring, and the profound level of professionalism that went into the success of this rich, but complicated offering.
The competition is stiff. I will be in a pool of writers who have, in addition to being great writers, survived the Holocaust, starred on Broadway, excelled on the tennis circuit, served as foreign dignitaries or an array of other fascinating tales that would keep any audience intrigued. It will not be easy for the organizations to narrow their selection. Like the dancers in A Chorus Line, I hope I get picked!
One hilarious (to me) side note was that I was seated next to a lovely woman, also named Pollack (hers with a ‘c’) plus a hyphenate last name who also wrote about growing up with a narcissistic mother. What are the chances?! It reminded me of my craft show days when out of 150 artists, there were TWO who did Ukrainian Easter eggs. Coincidence, for sure, but a little frustrating.
All in all, I’m grateful to the Jewish Book Council for their remarkable work. Those to be particularly singled out and congratulated for their service are: Jane Weitzman – President; Andrea Miller – Associate executive director who kept us beautifully on track, Suzanne Swift – Director of the JBC Network who gave us the rundown of the event in exquisite detail, and Joyce Lit – JBC Network Associate who helped each presenter hone their two minutes to perfection.
There was a generous spread of sushi, fruit, sweets and beverages once we’d all presented. Folks mingled, shook hands and connected after a job well done.
Amazingly, the next day I saw a photo of me presenting my pitch. Someone from JBC had captured each of us and posted it. Nothing was left out, and a new bar of excellence has established itself in my mind.
Thank you, JBC, for the opportunity to participate in this excellent program.
*My friend and colleague Lucy Hedrick reminded me that you don’t have to be Jewish to have a Jewish mother.