Over the past few years, I have become a book festival junkie! If I were not in school and could travel all the time without money being an obstacle, I would be going to ALL the book festivals. Unfortunately, I'm only able to make it to two in the fall season, but they're a couple of great festivals--The Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN and YALLFEST in Charleston, SC.
If you're unfamiliar with these festivals, they are a little bit different. SFOB is a broad-reaching festival that covers everything from Kidlit to biographies. This three day festival is filled with panels and activities for kids. The street leading up to the capitol building is lined with book vendors and independent authors that culminates to Parnassus Book's HUGE book tent selling all the authors' books. I love this festival. It's well organized, has great street vendors for food (because a lunch break is necessary), and the authors are always wonderful.
YALLFEST is a purely young adult/middle grade book festival. And I swear, it's like a rockstar convention. The first day, Friday, has what they call Yallcrawl, where they have different authors positioned in stores and restaurants around King Street, and they just sign books. The lines can become equivalent to amusement park lines. So if you really like that author, get there early! Saturday is a FULL day! You have jam packed panels, signings, giveaways, and so much more! The keynote and closing speakers are always awesome. But be sure to check their website because a few of the panels are ticketed or limited to the number of people they let in. This is something you plan in advance. Okay...this is something that I plan in advance. But I highly suggest it, or else you'll be all stressed out, and that's no fun.
Book festivals aren't just fun events for readers (because believe me I fan girl. I was basically speechless when I met Richelle Mead--pretty sure I said something embarrassing, but I don't know...I might've blacked out a little bit). They're important networking events for aspiring/self/indie published authors. You can meet readers who may be interested in your work. Go up and talk to authors and make connections. If their agents are there, snag them for quick chat. This is your chance to advertise yourself freely. You don't need to pay hundreds of dollars for a booth that not that many people will visit. Just go up and talk to people. That's the important part.
Plus, I can't tell you how cool it is to meet your favorite authors and have them sign your books. You get your pictures taken...it's literally so cool! But keep it together. Remember, authors are people too. We love meeting readers, but we also like personal space!
Here is a link to a definitive list of book festivals around the world. Check it out to find one near you!
Time for some more writing,