Saturday, March 1, 2014

Get Thee to the Book Festival

March is always a wild month. Weather is unpredictable, with the whole "in like a lion" thing going. Here in the desert Southwest, March is the beginning of the end of Snowbird Season, when our winter tourists begin migration back to their frozen tundra homes. Which also means it is major festival season, including the fourth largest book festival in the United States, the Tucson Festival of Books (aka TFOB).
This is A Major Event. More than 400 authors are "officially" involved, with panel discussions and presentations scheduled throughout the day. This year's list includes Scott Turow, Cornelia Funke, and the executive producer of "Masterpiece Theater" (who is doing a panel with my friend Rhys Bowen on the effects of WWI on society).  Add to that more than 600 booths and exhibits and you'll get an idea of the enormity of this thing.

I say authors who are "officially" involved because TFOB does not permit those who are published with small houses, e-book authors, or independently published authors to participate on panels, discussions, or endorsed signings. Personally, I think this is rather snobbish and elitist, but it isn't going to stop me from being there and selling my books. My co-writer friends in Gecko Gals Ink and I have had a booth at this event every year for the past three years, and we'll be there this year as well.

There are other opportunities to participate in an event like TFOB "unofficially." Local bookstores offer signing shifts at their booths. Writing associations or groups also offer slots of time for you to meet the public and talk about your work. The point is, don't let "official" restrictions stop you. Find another route to get your books there. Projected attendance for this year is 175,000 people over the course of two days; how often do you get a chance to have those kinds of numbers of people who love books possibly see your stuff? 

I hear authors say they don't like to do signings, they don't want to talk, they are too shy. The days of the writing recluse, of Harper Lee and J.D. Salinger are long gone, kids. You wrote your book to be read; it's up to you to find a way to get it in front of readers. Book festivals are a great way to do just that. I highly recommend you attend at least one this year in your area.

Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, bring tons of bookmarks or cards, and (at least around here) plenty of sunscreen.

Happy writing,


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Familiar times here, too, in Central Florida. We just had race week, now bike week and by the 15th our first big writing festival preceeds Yankees-Go-Home and Canadian spring break, where Floridians watch brave young lovelies dash into the cold surf on the "World's Most Famous Beach". Their retreat will be followed by the refugees from Chicago and New England on Spring Break, and then a wild ride with Black College Reunion Weekend.

Daytona returns to its arty crowd with juried art shows, theater production,etc. The Book crowd starts up in late summer and October-November.

Climate matters.

Jude Johnson said...

Absolutely, Julie. Never have to shovel sunshine.

Gabriella Austen said...

Sounds like a great book fair, too bad I've blown my travel budget. I went to one in Miami last January, it was great and, of course, heavily attended.