Report from the Jewish Book Network: ya gotta have friends

Last month, I attended the Jewish Book Network conference for the first time.

It’s an event  run by the Jewish Book Council each year.


Basically,  authors and  book festival reps from around the country attend.  Then,  each author gets 2 minutes to pitch/present their book in front of an audience made up of book fair people. It’s very America Idol-esque.


This year, there were a bunch of very entertaining  2 minute presentations. One author ‘neighed’ loudly. Another held up vegetables,  while a third played his guitar. One just held up his new magnificent pop up book to oohs and ahhs from the audience. (I later learned that another author almost brought her dog, and another considered jumping in on a pogo stick. But they decided that both of those were slightly risky, as you can imagine…).


Since I was there to pitch “Noah’s Swim-A-Thon,” I just wore my lifeguard t-shirt. It’s a pretty vivid  red,  so I think they could see me in the back rows well enough.


But the best part of the conference,  for me, was the 20 minutes at the beginning and the 20 at the end of the day. That’s when I got to hang out with the other authors,  and make friends.


Making books is a very solitary profession—we sit in our little rooms with a laptop pounding away.  Plus, there aren’t so many of us.  My husband is an attorney. When he goes to shul, he sees a whole bunch of other attorneys. But I am the only kids author/ illustrator in town.  It can be slightly lonely.


I thought I was going to this conference to pitch my book. But I think I acquired something far more valuable—new friends. It was so nice to meet other folks who do what I do.

As the Rabbis of Pirkei Avoth  advised  hundreds of years ago “K’nah lecha chaver”,  “Acquire for yourself a friend”. (And of course the Rabbis ended with “and form an e-mail chat list with them”).


Thanks to facebook and e-mail, I will be lonely no more!

And I am getting their books ASAP.  Those 2 minutes convinced me that some great reads are coming and I want my kids to be the first to read the about the Jewish Harry Potter,  or the Shabbat Princess.


So ya gotta have friends. I wish them (and all their books) a happy and vibrant Summer!



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