For an author, book festivals serve a multitude of purposes.
Booths and tables are available, usually for a set fee, for the purpose of selling and marketing your books. With an attractive display and a good supply of promotional items to hand out, you’ll benefit from both sales and exposure.
Your display might also draw interest from booksellers and librarians. Even if you don’t make a lot of sales that day, you’ll generate future sales from the exposure. At large festivals, you may even catch the eye of a publisher or agent.
One of the greatest benefits is the networking. You’ll meet potential readers, authors, editors, illustrators, publishers, agents, and other key people in the industry. You might even generate speaking engagements and other appearances. The right contact can lead to an even greater opportunity.
Ask your publisher if they are attending any upcoming book festivals. Booths can be quite expensive, so weigh the cost before purchasing a booth on your own.
Check for festivals in your area and the dates for these events:
- Book Festivals – http://2008.myvote.org/www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook/bookfair.html
- ALA – http://www.alaannual.org/
- Trade Shows Nation Network – http://www.tsnn.com/
- Insecure Writer’s Support Group festival list –
Writers conferences offer some of the same benefits, although they are not the ideal place to sell a book unless the topic is tied to the publishing industry. You will have an opportunity to learn through workshops, talks, panel discussions, and networking. Most charge a fee to attend, so check in advance. Unless you are part of the writers’ conference and involved in a talk or panel, it is best if you’re free to roam the venue. Many writers’ conferences are even available online.
Lists of conferences to consider:
- Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_writers’_conferences
- IWSG list of conferences –
- Association of Writers and Writing Programs –
- Poets and Writers – https://www.pw.org/conferences_and_residencies
Occasionally festivals and conferences offer pitch sessions with editors and agents. Sign up early, as slots fill quickly.
Go armed and prepared, especially if you don’t have a booth. Take business cards, bookmarks, and a copy of your book. Editors and agents are busy at festivals, so don’t take your manuscript with the intention of attacking a publisher in the hallway. Most will not accept a manuscript at a conference. If you do run into one of your target editors or agents, a quick introduction, brief pitch, and exchange of business cards will suffice. Meeting these people in person gives you an advantage, especially if you can get a query request. That will put you ahead of other queries in the slush pile.
There are other options for networking and sales beyond book festivals. Depending on your book’s subject matter, you might benefit from attending a tradeshow or business conference. Look for specially festivals—those that appeal to your target audience. Check the Internet for listings in your area. Again, weigh the cost and benefit of purchasing a booth versus roaming the venue.
At every opportunity, network in person and online.
Owner of Dancing Lemur Press LLC, Speaker, & Author
Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association. She conducts seminars on book publishing, promoting, leadership, and goal-setting, and she offers book formatting and author consultation. Wolfe is the senior editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
http://www.dancinglemurpressllc.com/ – Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C
http://www.spunkonastick.net/ – Spunk On A Stick
http://www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com – Spunk On A Stick’s Tips
http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/ – Insecure Writer’s Support Group