Jewish Publishing Company

I’m Helping to Launch a Jewish Publishing Company

As I write a book about other people who are fighting antisemitism, it’s time for me to step up, too.

My old journalism professor would be horrified to see how I’m burying the lede here, so I’ll begin with the “news” first and then the backstory. I’m part of a team of authors launching a Jewish publishing company to fight antisemitism in the literary world. I’m joined by the always-energetic Elissa Wald and the practical visionary Sarah Einstein in this exciting project.

Now the backstory.

I first noticed something strange a couple of years ago when a fellow book editor called me a “ZiOnIsT” (yes, the mix of upper and lower cases indicates that it’s a really wacky thing to be) and wrote “Free Palestine” on my X timeline before blocking me.

Okay. Whatever.

Then, a literary agent asked me for the full manuscript of my novel. Those of you who have gone through the querying process know that this is a first, yet significant, hurdle in finding an agent or publisher. It means they liked your initial pitch or book excerpts enough to want to read the whole thing. Yay.

Then something happened. Or, I should say, nothing happened.

Radio silence.

Silence is normal when you query, but when a full manuscript is asked for, it’s customary to get some kind of reaction even months later, either accepting or rejecting it. While it’s hard to prove a negative, here’s what I think happened. The agent Googled me and—oh my—discovered that I’m a Zionist.

I’m still waiting for a reaction from this agent.

It all ended well, though. I found a publisher for my novel, Found and Lost: The Jake and Cait Story, without an agent, and my book is scheduled for release in April 2025 from the fabulous folks at Vine Leaves Press.

Then came the October 7 pogrom in Israel, and what began as a “feeling” morphed into something more overt. My attempts to engage with some writers I once admired were met with “Free Palestine” slogans. Even a well-known writer with whom I’d had a cordial relationship over the years “unfollowed” me and posted about some kind of “genocide” happening to Palestinians—as if they had forgotten the actual meanings of words. I was going to ask this author to blurb my novel, but I guess that idea’s out now.

By November 2023, I had organized my thoughts into this Substack piece about antisemitism in the literary community, and it got some attention.

By then, I was working on my book, “From Outrage to Action: A Practical Guide to Fighting Antisemitism,” and I was devoting a chapter to this issue. I interviewed many authors, some on the record, some who wanted to remain anonymous, who told me horrific stories of opportunities lost, doors slammed in their faces, books and appearances canceled, and worse. The literary world decided that it just did not want to hear from Jews anymore.

I wrote about it some more in this piece, where I address the silencing of Jewish authors who do not align with anti-Zionist views.

I wrote a similar piece for The Algemeiner. I discuss how Jewish authors who support Zionism are being systematically excluded from literary spaces. I highlight the irony and frustration of how anti-Zionist Jewish authors are more readily accepted within the literary community while Zionist perspectives are marginalized or dismissed.

Then I got a call from Elissa Wald and decided that I had to not only report on the story but also be a part of it myself. My book focuses on other people who use their own talents to fight antisemitism. The only thing I know how to do reasonably well is write, edit, and put it all together into a book, so that’s what I’ll do.

I put out a call on social media and, to my delight, I was inundated with messages from people who want to help in any way they can. But that was nothing compared to the reaction Elissa received on her FB-based Never Alone Book Club filled with a who’s who of Jewish authors, agents, marketing people, and even lawyers and accountants (two skills we will definitely need).

What can you do now? First, join the book club and subscribe to Elissa’s (and my) Substack. We will let you know what we need from you as soon as we have an idea. I won’t say anything more yet, but we are working on plans that allow everybody to contribute in some way.

This week, I’m incorporating us as an LLC (name to be revealed soon), and we’re moving forward. The literary world has decided to try to silence Jewish voices, but, of course, we won’t be quiet.

About Post Author