This past weekend, I had the opportunity to hawk my book at a local book festival. The Thousand Islands Book Festival is organized by a committee of mostly school librarians and educators and was geared toward books for elementary and middle school kids. I was one of five local authors included in the book signing/selling portion of the event, and then there were 10 other authors (these were more well-known) that gave presentations throughout the day.
Since this was a brand new experience for me, I thought I’d do a little write up about it.
First of all, there was a party held on Friday night for the Authors and the committee members. There was food, wine, and a lot of nice people. Because I’m an introvert (and I like hanging out with my wife), I took Liz with me. The thought of going to a party where I know no one, and would have to mingle by myself, is unnecessarily stressful. This was good, because Liz and I were able to count this as a sort of real date, which, as you can imagine with the four girls, is a rare affair. We wore nice clothes, ate food without worrying about children, and had conversations with adults.
The next morning loomed bright and early. I wanted Liz to go with me, which meant that we would have to find a babysitter for at least the two youngest. Thankfully, my parents agreed to do this (as well as babysit the night before), but so that they wouldn’t be away from us all day, we decided to take everyone in the morning. This festival was geared toward kids (K-8), and we figured we would see how long the little ones would last and then my parents could come pick them up.
There was some mayhem in the morning. We had to wake up and leave early, and doing that on a Saturday always seems to make everyone feel excited and nervous. I set up my stuff on my half of the table in the gym and then we all took a tour of the elementary school where the festival was held and checked out the different rooms where the Author presentations would be.
Then, it all started. Liz got the girls a snack during the opening remarks since they were starting to go a little wild, and then she took them to a storytelling presentation by authors Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss. Katie ended up asking to buy one of their books Scared Witless. All of the girls really liked them, and then afterward, my parents came and whisked the little ones away. Katie and Annabelle ended up eating a lot of junk food, going to the playground, and attending two more presentations by authors Kate Messner and Joseph Bruchac.
What was I doing all this time? Well, mostly this:
Sitting at my little table, talking with people, answering questions, and selling a few books. Being a basically unknown author, it was amazing to see people’s interest in Scar of the Downers. It seemed that the large poster of my book cover attracted most of them my way. I even posed for photos with a few kids. The best moment for me was when a boy who was about 11 years old went to beg his mom to let him borrow some money to buy my book. He only had enough money for one book, and he had to come to the festival to see a specific author and buy his book. Well, when he discovered Scar of the Downers, he actually couldn’t decide which one to get. I took it as a great compliment that he felt that way. His mom loaned him the money so that he could get both, and I hope that he enjoys it and it was worth being in debt.
Overall, it was a great experience. I was grateful to be included in the group of local and established authors that were at the festival, and I was glad to meet and talk to the various people in the community who love books and want to support authors.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.