Better Than Oprah

torahSeveral years ago I interviewed an author whose book had been turned into a movie. The book had been a selection of Oprah Winfrey’s “Book Club” and he freely admitted that that selection had changed his life. It was like winning the lottery, he said. Her imprimatur made his book a “must read” for many people and turned him into a brand name author.

I do not expect the same will happen to me with my first novel, Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood, and the Bartender’s Guide. For one thing, Oprah doesn’t seem to be doing this anymore. For another, she didn’t seem to have much interest in satiric science fiction stories.

However this morning I got a taste what that must be like. I was at services at my synagogue and got an aliyah. This is when one is called up for part of the Torah reading. Since it was not my birthday and I wasn’t observing a yahrzeit — the anniversary of the death of a loved one — there was no reason for me to receive this honor. The rabbi said it would be a surprise.

Shh! It's a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood, and the Bartender's Guide

Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood, and the Bartender’s Guide

So I got called up, said the blessings before and after the Torah reading and nothing happened. As a rule the person who has just had an aliyah remains for the NEXT reading, and another member of the congregation was called. When she was finished the rabbi came forward and announced that both of us had done something special: we had both just released new books. Her book was published in Israel and is a collection of poetry in Hebrew. Mine is a Hollywood satire about the first space alien to appear in a movie.

The reaction afterwards was quite amazing. I learned that the synagogue library was ordering a few copies and would order them on behalf of congregants as well. There is a proposal that I do a reading and signing at the synagogue. Several people told me they’d be getting the book for themselves or family members.

I was amazed. I didn’t think I’d find an audience among the older members of the congregation and they were quite enthused, especially after the rabbi’s endorsement. He noted that he is an avid reader but has never written a book although his wife has. Of course I enjoyed his plug and the subsequent reaction but there was a lesson here that transcended the morning.

If you like a book — whether mine or someone else’s — you can help the author by recommending it. Write a review here at Goodreads, or at Amazon, or at B&N.com. Hit the “like” button for it. Tell your friends.

As a critic I’m well aware that the best publicity for any work is not a rave review but word of mouth. I’m grateful to my rabbi for telling people he found my novel entertaining and funny. If you read it and like it too, please let people know. Endorsements from readers is the best thing that can happen to an author trying to make his or her book stand out. If you’re able to do so for me, thank you.

(More of Daniel’s works can be found in the Amazing Library)

Better Than Oprah originally appeared in Daniel’s Goodreads Blog.

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