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I wanted to start a discussion on book festivals.  What do you think about them?  Do (did) you ever attend one?  Are they really the next best thing to attending a writing seminar like Writer's Digest says?  Have any of you sold some of your own books there?  What are your thoughts?

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I'm not sure how WD is associating book festivals to writing seminars, but here's my thoughts:

I attend the San Luis Obispo book festival with my Central Coast Sisters in Crime group. We sell by the mission, the weather is normally wonderful and no, there aren't big sales. But, a day on the coast is worth it.

The L.A. Times Festival of Books--20,000 people on the UCLA campus. To see that many book lovers in one place is exciting. I don't even try to sell. The big names are there for us to meet.

I put together an annual BookFest with the Kings County Library in Hanford, CA. We're tired of people saying the San Joaquin Valley has no culture. We have some incredible writers and I love showcasing them. This year the BookFest is on August 15 at the Hanford Mall. Free.
WD is comparing them to festivals in that you get to meet a ton of writers, editors, publishers, and the like and they are also held in nice places. The big difference is that most festivals are free-- a bonus for people who can't afford a seminar or retreat.

Thanks for your input on festivals! I think they are pretty neat myself.

Hi Sunny, I was at the San Luis Obispo book festival the last two years selling my children's books.  I'm one of Oak Tree Press authors, "Ants on a Log".  I found that although there were not a lot of sales, I enjoyed talking to children and parents and grandparents about my books and meeting the public.  I was able to see which covers, stories and books were a hit.  So I found my time there was well spent.

Yes, I do events all the time. In fact, I attend 5 to 7 festivals and conventions a year.  I wrote several blogs about them last August, giving advice and tips.

Event planning tips:

Engaging at events:

Do you need to get a vendor's license for every state you sell books in?

No, not every state requires a license, but all do require tax payments on money collected. Ohio is one state that does require a license - even temporary and it's called a transient vendor. Neither Georgia or Tennessee require licenses. These are the states I deal with frequently.

That said, each event organizer should tell the exhibitors/vendors what is required, but it's up to the vendor to obtain any license needed.  A tax form is usually included in the vendor packet for the event.

I agree, Shawn.  For me, book festivals are more about interacting with the public rather than pushing book sales.  Although sales are important, this is an opportunity to get to know your audience and interacting with them.

Thanks, Beryl.  I sell more books at events than online and I strongly believe it is due to the personal interaction.  It is flattering, humbling and exciting when a young teen says she waited all year for the next festival to buy the book from me rather than purchase it online. This is why I don't place much stock in Amazon ratings, rankings and reviews. Such interact trumps impersonal statistics any day!

It is the interaction with my readers that keeps me going, wanting to write more stories.  Working with children and encourage them to read books or even write their own stories, is a reward all it's own.

Indeed! I whole heartily agree, Beryl.  Events can be exhausting, standing on my feet for up to 13 hours, driving for hours, lugging boxes, but every smile and discussion makes the effort worth it. I look forward to the different ones I do, as each has a uniqueness all its own.

I've never been to a book festival but, after reading everyone's comments, I'm intrigued. I don't know of any near Cincinnati but I plan to investigate! If anyone has any information on festivals in my area, I'd very much appreciate it.


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