Saturday, October 12, 2013

Book Festival 101

Organizing a book festival is an interesting experience, somewhat akin to herding fireflies. Every time you try to gather the group into one spot, a few stragglers wander into the dark. Then when you go after those, the rest flitter off in all directions.

artwork copyright 2013 by Jude Johnson
Writers need places to meet the public. It's difficult to get a following if no one knows you're there. To that end, the small (five member) group I belong to--Gecko Gals Ink-- is staging the All-Zona Book Fest on November 17th in Tucson, Arizona. Authors from all over the state will have a chance to meet and greet potential readers.

Every writer has to run the gauntlet of marketing their work. Finding what works best for you is truly a trial and error process. Some authors honestly hate book signings and for them, a book festival with hordes (oh I hope we get at least one horde!) of people milling around is terrifying. So perhaps a book festival isn't their cuppa tea. But you'll never know until you participate in one, so I highly recommend every writer give it a go at some point.

Me? I'll do anything to avoid housework. So sitting at a six-foot by three-foot table with an array of my published books displayed before me is a far better prospect than facing the dreaded vacuum cleaner.

Setting up a book festival is a challenge. Getting "Draw Names" to commit in a timely fashion has been a pain. What to do? Publicity postcards and flyers will have names with "Availability Subject to Change" beneath them. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. The other participating authors are all good writers with intriguing stories, and that's what we are hoping to showcase to the public. A number of Champagne's authors will be there from Phoenix and Tucson. We hope to fill the ballroom with tables of authors covering all genres of writing.

I read an article in the New York Times once that said that the average number of books sold at any signing is seven. That takes in all the super big folks like Grisham and Meyer as well as the indy published authors getting started, therefore including thousands of book events in that average. It's a good marker to go by: selling seven is good, anything over seven is awesome. In my mind, any book I sell at an event is one I wouldn't have sold if I'd stayed home with the feather duster.

If you are in Southern Arizona (and particularly in Tucson) on Sunday, November 17th, please consider dropping by the All-Zona Book Fest. We'll be in the Sabino Ballroom of the Tucson Sheraton Hotel and Suites , 5151 East Grant Road (use the light at Rosemont), from 10 am till 4 pm. I'll be the one yapping away, happily avoiding anything to do with cleaning.



Anonymous said...


Kind of like organizing an anthology (g).

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Jude Johnson said...

Ha ha ha ha, Mike! True enough!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I'll mention this to my Phoenix dtr. I'm sure she will write one day. She currently works for a huge company and writes their copy, training manuals,
periodicles and newsletters.

Jude Johnson said...

Thanks, Julie!

Liz Fountain said...

"Herding fireflies" vs vacuuming, dusting, and dishes?

No contest. Bring on the fireflies.

Hope the festival is terrific!


Jude Johnson said...

Thanks, Liz!