As a reader, book festivals are a ton of fun. As an author, they can be a ton of fun and a ton of work, but they can also give you and your book great exposure! Here are some tips about how to excel when you attend your next book festival.
Learning About Book Festivals
- Brandylane: Brandylane Publicity sends regular emails listing book festivals across the country with upcoming submission deadlines. We try to maintain a comprehensive list of festivals, so if there’s one in your area we missed, let us know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- An internet search: Run a quick Google search for book festivals in a specific location.
- Social media: Follow book festivals on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to get updates directly from festival organizers.
- Email newsletters: Sign up for the email newsletter of one or several festivals you would like to participate in to receive updates directly to your inbox. Most of their websites should include this sign-up option.
Ways to Participate in Book Festivals
- Seller: Many book festivals have opportunities for authors to be vendors. As a vendor, you can set up a table to sell and sign copies of your book. This is a great place to find people who love to read and are ready to take books home.
- Speaker: There may be an opportunity for you to speak at a book festival, either as part of a panel or independently. This is a great way to get attendees engaged in your book and familiar with you and your title(s). Often, you will be permitted to sell and sign books after the panel or presentation, and this is a great time to meet fans.
- Volunteer: If you’re not interested in speaking or selling, or if your book doesn’t meet the festival’s requirements, you can volunteer. This will provide you with inside knowledge about festival happenings and allow you to contribute. You may even get the chance to meet some VIPs or festival organizers—get your name out there!
- Attend: If you’re not interested in being a vendor, speaker, or volunteer, but you still want to be a part of a festival, simply go! Attend the workshops and presentations, meet other authors, take notes, and be a part of the excitement.
Signing Up for Book Festivals
- Do research. Visit the festival website to ensure it’s the right kind of festival for you. For example, approaching a children’s book festival with a memoir is a waste of time for you and the organizers who will ultimately reject your application. If they only accept books released in the last year, your 2014 book is not appropriate.
- Note deadlines. Some festivals will accept applications until spots are filled. In this case, act quickly, as you have no way of knowing when will be too late. Most festivals have an application deadline. Some festivals offer discounts to earlybird applicants or penalties to late applicants.
- Find out how to apply. You may be able to simply sign up. More likely, however, you will be required to fill out an application and await approval. There may even be a small application fee. You may have to email an organizer or complete a form on the website.
- Complete your application. Make sure you have all your materials ready and fill out everything meticulously.
- Wait to hear back! If several weeks pass without any updates, be sure to follow up.
Preparing for a Book Festival
- Announce your upcoming book festival attendance on social media, email, and more.
- Plan your presentation. We could—and might—write a whole ‘nother marketing tip about how to prepare to speak at a festival. Suffice it to say: Be prepared. Know what is expected and practice ahead of time. Don’t forget to mention your book!
- Gather your materials. This may include a table and setting, cases of your book for sale, or other items. Whether you’re selling books or just an attendee, business cards are a great idea to help you connect with people you meet.
- Be prepared with information about how to get there, where to park, and where you will set up or speak.
- Schedule. Whether you are vending, speaking, volunteering, or simply attending, view the schedule of events ahead of time so you know which you would like to attend!
Attending a Book Festival
- Attend as many events, sessions, workshops, etc. as you can. Try to make decisions about what to attend based on your genre and weak spots. Sessions with literary agents and publishers can provide invaluable inside knowledge on the industry.
- Introduce yourself to as many people as possible. Exchange cards, connect on social media, and don’t forget to follow up when you get home!
- Whether you are presenting or selling, be prepared, do it well, and have fun!
After a Book Festival
- Post about it on social media and/or recap in an email newsletter. Use any photos you took and tag the appropriate parties!
- Thank those who helped you. If you were in touch with someone who worked for the festival, thank them. If a friend or family member helped you prepare or came with you, thank them.
- Connect online with people you met. Use social media to make a lasting connection with other authors, agents or publishers, and fans who you met or whose sessions you attended.
Then it’s time to start thinking about the next festival, or thinking about what you can do differently at the same festival next year!