“Yes. Two minutes.”
“But it took four years to write my book.”
“Yes. Two minutes. Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.”
The smiling coordinators of the Jewish Book Council Network Author Event spent months communicating the dreadful news to the author participants of the annual June conference. Dreadful news? Yes indeed. The People of the Book are also the People of the Need to Talk. Holding a Jewish comedian to a two minute audition is enough to cause an anxiety attack. What if the punchline doesn’t get delivered in time?
I feel very fortunate to be counted as a Jewish Book Council Network Author. It was very exciting to have been among close to two hundred authors who were in New York this month to present, or truthfully, audition, before the organizers and coordinators of the major Jewish Book Festivals and events throughout North America. It is a brilliant idea, nerve-wracking though it might be. Highly organized, efficient, welcoming and inspiring.
I worried for weeks about what to wear and even longer about what to say, then what to leave out for lack of time. The prize? Authors are supported with an expenses paid book tour to visit with communities that invite them to speak. There could be 30 invitations. There could be none. We were told not to worry and have fun, that the Jewish Book Council exists to help support authors who write books of interest to a Jewish audience.
“What if there is a lot of laughter?” one worried presenter asked in the round of questions prior to the audience being allowed into the room. “Do I get extra time, if I have to wait for the crowd to settle?”
It took a little more than two hours for our group of authors to give their presentations on the first of three nights of author rounds. Almost all were within the time limit. One woman was ten seconds under, which prompted the promise of an auction for extra seconds for willing spenders. Several were brilliant performers, others thoughtful and interesting, revealing painful stories of difficult life moments and situations. Still others were very funny leaving the less comic in the audience thinking how wonderful it would be to be able to make people laugh like that. It was fascinating.
After the presentations we moved to a “mingling” opportunity and I was delighted that there was interest in Ravenscraig and in historical fiction in general. It was, by all accounts, a warm and engaging session.
Over the next few days a heavy workload is facing the leaders and committee members of book festivals across the US and Canada as they finalize their lists of books in order to place their author requests with the Jewish Book Council. Many of the review books are traditional ink on paper, some, like Ravenscraig, which is available in print and digital, were sent electronically for easy access to committees of 20 or more.
(Reviewers will find instructions here for getting emailed files onto your e-reader.)
So what do you say in two minutes?
It’s easiest for me to show you with the book trailer.
A warm thank you for all of the staff at the Jewish Book Council for supporting authors and creating such an exciting opportunity.
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