How to Rock a Book Festival



1) Work As A Team

Person #1 needs to get in line for the panel/workshop. Person #2 needs to leave the workshop early to get in line for the signing. If you’ve got more people–great more division of work.

2) Divide and Conquer

If there are multiple panels/workshops at the same time, split up and swap notes. That way you get the most out of the day.

3) Arrive Earlier Than Early

Some panels have limited seating and are super popular. If there is a panel you are dying to see, plan to line up at least an hour early. And the first morning of the event, get there at least an hour early to get the lay of the land.

4) Pace Yourself

The days are jam-packed with more events than anyone could get to. You are going to want to do so much, but make sure you find a break for lunch and to walk around and see all the tents and activities.

5) Plan Ahead

Download the schedule and figure out what your top picks are for the event. Sometimes you want to hear an author talk more than you want a signed book and vice versa. And check out the bookstore tents–sometimes they have signed copies available too.

6) Change Your Mind

Sometimes a panel isn’t what you were expecting. Maybe the moderator refuses to stay on topic. Or the panelists get into a verbal sparing match. Or the discussion isn’t touching on what you are interested in.

Whatever it might be, feel free to leave if you don’t feel you are getting something out of the discussion.

If you planned ahead you probably have a second option for that time slot, go check it out. And if not, take a break and stroll around.

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25 Responses to How to Rock a Book Festival

  1. Spent Saturday at the Newburyport Literary Festival and heard authors Andre Dubus III, Ann Hood and Will Schwalbe. All were wonderful. Hope to see you there someday, LMA

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Sounds wonderful. Where was this book festival at again?

  3. It sounds hectic, Kourtney. It looks as though you couldn’t have ordered up better weather, that’s always a plus.
    Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • LOL. It might also be my Type A approach to things. I researched all the panels and signings ahead of time and worked up a really tight schedule. And I still missed out on stuff. There was so much going on! The weather was gorgeous–70s and breezy in March. This was my first book festival and I had no idea how it worked with the lines and stuff. 🙂

  4. Aquileana says:

    Hi Kourt,

    Happy week ahead!…

    I really like to know details and tips as regard to book festivals.
    They are so important as you have also highlighted in your pervious posts for they are the way to promote yourself while selling your books.

    The tips you have pointed out above seem to be ordered somehow. i mean like being led for a sort of inner force which also might be related to a subtle progression.

    “To pace ourselves”, “to plan ahead”, “to divide an conquer”, and finally “to change our minds” (an by that I assume you mean “when things don’t go as well as expected”)…
    All these points could apply to life in so many different ways.
    I found them inspirational and helpful!.

    Thanks for sharing this great post.
    Best wishes, Aquileana >D

    • Hi Aquileana,

      I love how you read beneath the surface and find so much more meaning. 🙂 I think as you are doing anything for the first time, you have lots of a-ha moments about how you could have done better. 😉

      I guess you could read them as life lesson too. How cool! I didn’t see that at the time but now that you pointed it out–I totally do!


  5. And you do them for the first time so that we can learn from you!

  6. TBM says:

    Ah, a plan. that’s very useful!

  7. 4amWriter says:

    I have never been to a book festival, but it’s on my list of things to do when I’m not bogged down with kid stuff. Good tips here!

    • I was really excited about it. It was only two days but there was so much going on. Even when I got to most of what I wanted to get to, I knew I missed out on some great stuff. 🙂

  8. You’re always on the go, girlfriend. The woman with a plan! Love it.

  9. Mayumi-H says:

    These are good guidelines for any sort of convention/conference/festival, Kourtney. Not everyone is an organization nut with spreadsheets and floorplan layouts, so it’s always a smart idea to have a backup plan, no matter what the occasion. 🙂

    • Very true Mayumi. 🙂 My friend says this is very similar to conventions. In my experience, writing conferences usually have you register ahead of time for workshops so you’re guaranteed a seat. Or if it’s a smaller conference, lining up 15 minutes early definitely gets you into a panel/workshop. I’m the kind of person who has a backup for my backup.That’s just how I roll. 😉

  10. jmmcdowell says:

    One of these years, I’ll have to check out the National Book Festival on the Mall. I’ve visited museums on those days, and I know that’s one popular event! 🙂

  11. You are always so busy Kourtney and its so good to know you love what you are doing.. Hectic but rewarding.. 🙂 Good luck in all you do dear friend 🙂 Hugs Sue xox

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