A few weeks ago I reported on an article by Midge Raymond that I had read in Poets and Writers. The essay inspired me to get back onto a campaign to position my new book for greater visibility. Resolved to send the book, as Raymond had suggested, to book contests, online review sites, and link it with events that address the book’s content or form, or might otherwise be an occasion for some serendipitous connection, I made a list and started sending my remaining copies to folks I knew, or thought, might be interested. The list included Red City Review, which describes itself as “a place where authors can receive a professional literary book review for their work at an affordable price.” I entered their contest easily and relatively inexpensively (deadline: Sept 15th; fee is $40 and even if your book isn’t an award winner you will still get a review you can post on several other online sites.) Submitted online and mailed them a copy of my book, although you have the option of sending an electronic copy. Finalists will be announced on October 10th, so not even too long to wait.
Since I had gone to the Jewish Book Council (JBC) event in New York in May to pitch Diving for Pearls,. I had hoped to get picked up by some Jewish Community Centers for Jewish Book Fairs, but that hasn’t happened so far. Surprisingly, not even in San Diego. I knew about JBC's book prizes and plan to enter this national awards event (Deadline: Oct 8th for books to be received), but it is more costly ($125 per title, with an additional $50 if you enter your book in more than one category) and, I imagine, more competitive than Red City Review. Francine Prose, Thomas Beller, and Gail Sheehy are among those also in the list of JBC authors this year, although the only one among them with a book in my main category (biography/memoir) is Sheehy. That’s one reason why I intend to submit in more than one category.
For the JBC contest, you also have to send 6 copies of your book per category. Still, I think it’s worth the effort and expense to get my book into the hands of folks who might be interested in it, even if I don’t win an award.
Besides contests, I have been approaching folks I know who are writers and bloggers to see if sending them a copy of my book might prompt interest and perhaps a review. I’ve garnered support from, Leora Skolkin-Smith, a wonderful award-winning writer I originally connected to because of our mutual interest in Grace Paley. Her first novel, Edges, O Israel, O Palestine, was recently reissued in anticipation of the book’s being turned into a feature film. Here’s what Leora generously wrote on her Facebook page about her experience reading my book:
Immersed in this brilliant, warm book. What's great is that as you read it there is a way to make a personal connection because Kathleen adds her own experiences and her struggles with Arendt to the text. So very impressed. Just ordered The Human Condition so might also become an Arendt reader again. I remember Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism from my elementary days, reading it during the Eichmann trials. Also exciting, Arendt was a proud Jewish woman at the same time she was sharply critical of the Zionism that allowed nationalism to dominant, so I guess for me, as a Jewish woman, I need her in my life again. (Also a pretty sexy woman had affairs with Heidegger and others).
Doesn’t get much better than that!
Besides Leora, another good friend, and wonderful poet and writer, Elayne Clift, offered to read and think about where else to get the book reviewed. Elayne's new novel, Hester's Daughters, is a "contemporary, feminist retelling of an American classic from a writer who gives us a stronger, more resilient 20th century Hester."
Also sent books to Susan McBeth of Adventures by the Book, whom I hope to see on September 22, when I will be talking at the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild on my writing. And to Thomas Beller, whose web site, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood was one of the earliest places I published an excerpt from my new book, years ago, in a different form. Beller's new book The Escape Artist, about J.D. Salinger is a wonderful read, taking you into stories behind Salinger's writing, another glimpse at the ever elusive writer and why Beller's still fascinated with him. Beller acknowledged receiving the book; we'll see if anything comes of it.
Finally, a Rabbi friend is going to read and post about it on his web site, Religion-Outside-the-Box.
And so, we continue....Keep writing!