Monday, July 10, 2017

The Book Festival Perfected

There are tons of book festivals. For a number of reasons, some just don't work . My experience at the perfect book festival was attending the Chesapeake Children's Book Festival. 

The event took place on June 17th, at the Talbot County Free Library in Easton, Maryland, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. This is what they did right:

1.  Authors were nicely spaced in a large room. One 6' table for 2 authors. Since authors didn't have to handle the sales, only displays and swag were on the table, freeing up room to actually sign books. Author readings were held in an adjacent room, doors closed, so the noise level was always low.

2. Since the library handled sales, it left authors free to engage attendees. When authors ate lunch or used the restrooms, they didn't have to worry about losing a sale or asking someone to tell people they'd be back in a few minutes.

3. The library bought 10 copies of recent books outright. (For me it was books 1 and 2 in the Evolution Series). That is a guaranteed sale. Any books that weren't sold were donated to area schools or clubs. Authors were allowed to bring additional copies and the library handled the sales for them too. After the event, authors invoiced the library organizers for the surplus books sold. And they paid promptly! No waiting months! 

4.  When an author applied to be included, the library responded in a timely manner so the author knew if they were accepted and could make other plans if not. A number of festivals don't bother- not even with a follow up from the author with a simple request to let them know.

5.  Plenty of volunteers brought water, asked if authors needed anything, etc. And then they shopped!

6. Enough parking for all! This is a problem at many events, but the library staff had it all figured out.

7.  A relatively new festival ( second or third year?), but there was almost a steady flow of shoppers because the library, staff, and others promoted the event through schools, communities, etc. A lot of people came from outlying towns- and told me they wait all year for it. That's effective PR.

8.  They welcomed Indie authors. A lot of festivals are a bit snobbish about having Indie/hybrid authors. We need love too! (Why not read the book before you say no? There are many successful Indie authors, so traditional publishers aren't always right about what makes a good book.)

9.  They lined up corporate sponsors which defrayed the cost of the festival, allowing the library to buy books, advertise, and give a book coupon to many kids. Plus, there was an author dinner the preceding night free for authors and 1 guest.

10. The staff, volunteers, and attendees were gracious, helpful, and excited to have us there. I wanted to hug them all.

Thanks to Tim Young, co-organizer, who invited me. I hope to go back every year! Enjoy some pics of my Kidlit Authors Club colleagues- (next time I have to remember to do a selfie!)

Tara! And of course, Norman!

Mt tablemate, Laurie, with Grace Hopper and Ada Byron Lovelace!

"Bee-utiful" Alison and our newest Kidlit member, Robin Newman.

Colleen Kosinski, looking as fresh as a sunflower!

That hand would be me... with Book 2 of Jack's story.


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