Nancy: Book Festivals


The writer, when allowed out of her cave for short periods of time, will tend to congregate with other writers.

As summer approaches, even I–hardcore, sun-avoidant introvert that I am–will venture out on occasional weekend forays. On Sunday, I attended a fabulous gathering of a small group of Women’s Fiction writers. A few of the ladies had attended the Gaithersburg Book Festival on Saturday, which was on my to-do wishlist. Alas, I had scheduling conflicts so had to give up on attending this year, but I hope to plan better next year.

So what did I miss? Turns out, quite a bit. Book signing. Author panels. Writing workshops. Chances to meet readers, other writers, and book lovers of all stripes. A chance to wander around in the sunshine and soak up all things literary. And it’s all free, even the workshops. Really, the only experience I can think of that’s nearly as good as sitting in the stacks of a gorgeous library on a rainy day is wandering around in a park full of books on a sunny afternoon.

The book festival/fair is not the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about finding new-to-me books to read, meeting other authors, and networking in publishing. But after hearing friends talk about the opportunities it offers to interact with other publishing professionals and to meet with and take questions from readers, I’m adding “being on an author panel at a book festival” to my author bucket list. (It’s a very long list with very few items crossed off, but this writing journey is a process!)

It’s too late (and I don’t yet have the credentials) to attend a 2019 event as a presenting author, but there are two more Maryland book festivals the first weekend of June, the Library of Congress National Book Festival on August 31, and the Baltimore Book Festival November 1-3, complete with an arts and music party at the Inner Harbor on the 1st. This year, I’m going to attend at least a couple of these and enjoy them as a lifelong reader and book lover. And who knows–maybe in 2020, I can attend a festival as an author as well!

What about you? Have you attended a book festival, presented at one, or penciled one in on your calendar?

4 thoughts on “Nancy: Book Festivals

  1. I haven’t been to a book festival, but I love the idea of one! (And you’ve drawn such a pretty picture, here (-:.) I follow a couple of agents on Twitter, and they rush off to the big book festival in Germany . . . I daydream about attending that one, even though I have no idea what it is.

    Book festival-goers are/were kind of like the influencers on Instagram . . . they find the new, best stuff, and then tell people about it (before social media, what did they use? Letters? Newsletters? I know SFF had thriving fanzines).

    • I attended the Baltimore festival a few times several years ago, but I haven’t been there in a while. I’ll be interested to see if/how indie publishing has affected them, if indies are represented, etc. I hope you get to visit one someday!

  2. The Bay Area has a book festival, which is fairly new, I think—maybe five years old, or so? I worked it for our RWA chapter for the first two years, and then we decided not to do it again. A year ago I attended as a participant with fellow Lady Elizabeth; we went primarily to see Catherine Coulter. But the weather was bad, and the festival had upped its prices and complicated its signups, so I didn’t stay. This year, I didn’t go and felt like I’d made a good choice when it rained again. We’ll see about next year.

    They can be fun, though, and it’s always inspiring to meet other authors or people involved in the arts.

    • Yes, rain would be a total downer. My understanding is that the gorgeous weather we had Saturday was a big reason for the success and enjoyment of the event. In November, the weather will probably be a little less reliable for the BBF (which is actually 10 days long!), but as it’s a 10-minute walk from my daughter’s new home in the city, I really have no excuse for not getting there.

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