This is a blog for journalists, authors, and those who enjoy reading and learning. Here you will find a variety of posts about all forms of writing--from fiction and non-fiction to the news media and journalism. It is produced by a former foreign correspondent and journalism school dean.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Book Festivals: A Great Way to Meet Readers and Fellow Authors
I just returned from the Kansas Book Festival, where I was
one of 30 writers from a variety of genres invited to be "presenting
authors" at the day-long event.
The state of Kansas doesn't mess around
when it comes to supporting the festival.
It is held in the venerable
149-year-old State Capitol building in Topeka with authors making 50-minute presentations
followed by Q & A sessions throughout the day in the hallowed Senate and
House Chambers as well as the courtroom of the Kansas Supreme Court.
State Capitol Building: Venue of the Kansas Book Festival
Spectators sit at the original 1885
handmade Kansas wild cherry wood desks in the Senate and House surrounded by
ornate bronze columns plated with copper and silver; and carved white Italian marble
walls inlaid with silver panels.
Not a bad venue for a bunch of
scribblers to perform in.
This was the fourth year of the
festival which was started by Kansas First Lady Mary Brownback in 2011.
The criteria used by the Selection
Committee to choose presenting authors for the festival were these: The author
was either a Kansas writer, a former Kansas author, an author who wrote a book
that dealt with Kansas in some way, or a native Kansan.
However, ultimately the selection
committee made its selections based on the quality of the work--which is the
way it should be.
"We want to have quality books by
quality authors at the Festival," Mary Brownback told me. "We think
we have achieved that."
Here is a link to this year's Kansas
Book Festival Presenting Authors:
The mission of the Kansas Book Festival is to promote
literacy and a life-long love of reading among people of all
ages. In addition to the annual book festival, the festival also sponsors
a children’s writing contest, and awards
more than $10,000 annually in grants to public and school libraries across the
state. More information about the festival is available at www.kansasbookfestival.com.
This was the second book festival I have attended in the
past four months. The first was the L. A. Times Festival of Books held on the
campus of the University of Southern California.
I found both festivals useful and rewarding. At the L.A.
Times event I signed more than 100 of my books (Book #1 in my Finding Billy
Battles Trilogy) for readers. Because it was so large with something like
50,000 people in attendance each of its two days, I didn't get an opportunity
to talk with many fellow authors.
The Kansas Book Festival, which attracts about 4,000 for the
one-day event provided greater opportunities to talk with other authors, but
the book signings were less fruitful. Nevertheless authors should always take
advantage of any opportunity to talk with
readers, no matter how few show up for a book signing.
Without readers authors are nothing. Readers provide
critical feedback, often ask questions we may never have thought to ask
ourselves, and most of all, they provide validation for what we produce.
If you are an author and you have never attended a book
festival to sign your books or to interact with the reading public and other
writers, you are missing a valuable opportunity.
Talking about my book at the Kansas Book Festival
It is one thing to sit in the solitude of one's home or
office and pound away on your computer (or typewriter for those who still do
that). It is quite another to leave that sanctuary and actually meet people who
read books--perhaps even some that you write.
Some may think participating in an online "virtual book
tour" or perhaps writing a blog is
all you need to do.
It is not. There is no substitute for face to face, person
to person communication. And where better to do that than at an event geared to
bring authors and readers together.
There are hundreds of these events throughout the United
States every year. Find one near you and go. It may be the best marketing tool
you will ever use.