By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
We all know Brooklyn is a literary hub, rich in bookish history and home to a plethora of emerging writers. Jennifer Miller is one such author, whose debut novel “The Year of the Gadfly” gained critical acclaim when it was released last year. While Miller lives in what is arguably the best city for book promotion – Brooklyn bookstores and literary events abound –she has set her sights far and wide in her effort to gain publicity for her book’s May paperback release.
Miller explained to the Brookyln Daily Eagle, “It's difficult to get press for a paperback release, because most magazines and newspapers don't cover paperbacks, so I was looking for a creative way to generate new interest in the novel.” Collaborating with a Brooklyn-based organization called Togather, which links authors to their readers through a variety of digital and in-person events, Miller plans to set the record for the most book club visits in a single month this July. Naming her project “The Month of the Gadfly,” Miller is aiming to visit 100 different book clubs across the country in just 30 days. The team at Togather told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that the effort is well under way with a slew of libraries, bookstores, and book clubs already slated to participate.
“Book clubs are obviously an ideal way to reach multiple readers at once, but to grab their interest, I needed to think of a fresh approach – hence setting the world record for most clubs visited in a month,” said Miller. Any group of five or more will constitute a book club, and Miller will speak to groups for half an hour during evenings and lunch hours. While she will save time by meeting with the majority of groups over Skype, Miller does plan to do some traveling. “Right now, I plan to visit Fountain Books in Richmond, VA; One More Page, in Arlington, VA; River Run Books in Portsmouth, NH; and a private home in Rhode Island. I'll also be visiting Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene,” said the author.
With the shift toward all things digital, Miller’s project is especially important. As more and more bookstores are going out of business, it is becoming increasingly difficult for authors to bond with their readers and to promote their books through interactions more intimate than those confined to a computer screen. And organizations like Togather – which hope to eliminate the chance that an author shows up to a reading to find no one in the audience – are also becoming increasingly relevant.
Miller feels fortunate to be living in a city that continues to value literature and its traditions. “I think it's really special to live in a neighborhood with such an old and prestigious literary history,” she told the Eagle. “When my husband and I were looking at apartments, we visited one of the places where Auden used to live. It was out of our price range, but not by much, and it kind of blew my mind that we had access to a place one inhabited by him. Of course, any time you go into a coffee shop around here, you're surrounded by people working their own creative projects. It's very motivating.”