I recently had the pleasure of attending the L.A. Times Festival of Books, both as a supervisor of the event and a book-signing author. Having seen the event from both perspectives, I’d like to share some of my impressions.
I’m happy to say that it is a first-class affair for authors and readers, all around. Held at the scenic campus of the University of Southern California (USC), the Festival features bookstores and galleries, informal talks with prominent authors, and best of all, thousands upon thousands of people who flock to the campus to celebrate their love of reading and to collect new books to read.
To start with my book-signing: My publisher, iUniverse, equipped me with a booth for my signing as well as 75 books to give to readers, along with bookmarks, flyers, and a placard — all of which featured a picture of my book and a short write-up. So at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday the 22nd, I sat ready for potential readers to approach my booth and get a free signed copy of Make the Right Decisions Early, my self-help book for teens.
I was a bit nervous at first. How was I going to give away 75 books? What if no one came to my booth? I was soon reassured when I heard employees of Author Solutions, iU’s parent company, hawking my book in a friendly manner to passers-by.
Within minutes, a line of people had formed to get my book, and I was reminding myself to keep my inscriptions short! The hawking really made a big difference, as authors who were doing book-signings without organized support sat lonely in their booths all day.
Readers are extremely friendly people, and each person who approached me had something interesting and positive to say, and was really thankful for a copy. It quite bolstered my confidence as a writer, and made me feel a part of the author community. This was true book marketing, pure and simple, and something that I was seeing in a hands-on manner.
Whereas I had worried about getting through the pile of 75 books, after just over 40 minutes they were all gone, though I had some nice bookmarks remaining to give to people who had missed the signing. They gratefully said they’d look up the book on Amazon. I thanked them while I gently massaged my wrist — I’d never done 75 signatures in a row before!
After my signing, I switched into supervisor mode, as an employee of Author Solutions, and managed the book-signings of other authors at the booth. It had been a joy to sign books, but it was just as much a joy to see authors sign their own copies, see lines develop, and see readers walk away with smiles, carrying a new book in their hands. Authors also got to speak to other authors, exchange business cards (and books), and discuss their work. Quite a few friendships were made over the Festival weekend, both author-to-author and author-to-reader.
I can’t think of a better way to get the feeling of being an author than to sign copies of your book, meet readers, and talk to fellow authors. I myself have already been in touch with some new author friends, and we are mutually promoting our books and giving each other confidence in our work, as well as tips and information.
So, thanks to iUniverse and Author Solutions for this great opportunity, and I can’t wait till my next book-signing with them!