Friday, March 11, 2011

FOR THE LOVE OF BOOK (do something)!

Darrell James

On almost any week of the year there is a book event going on somewhere. A writer’s conference. A book festival. Readers and writers come together for two, three, four days, to share in a mutual appreciation of the written word. Book festival grounds are lined with booths, the aisles teem with book lovers. There are festivities and receptions surrounding the event. In adjacent halls, book panels are conducted and speakers discuss latest works. At conferences there are luncheon speakers, dinner receptions, panels, workshops, author venues, agent venues…

In the next few weeks alone, there will be more than two dozen book events across the country. It’s a glorious thing. And attending one can be inspiring for readers and writers alike.

But how do these events come about? What does it take to pull one off?


Juliet Blackwell, Sophie Littlefield, Naomi Hirahara

L.A. Times Festival of Books

My wife, Diana, and I have been part of the organizational planning for a number of book events over the past five to six years. I can tell you it is nothing short of phenomenal, the amount of work that goes on.

Scores of volunteers come together. Committees are assigned. Hotel locations are arranged. Book sellers are identified. Agents and editors are queried. Programming is outlined. Faculty authors and speakers are confirmed. Meals are planned. Someone is in charge of merchandising. Someone else handles registration. One or more prepare raffle baskets and collect giveaways. Sponsors are sought. Programs are designed. Advertising is sold. There are printers involved, attendee badges to be created. Monies to be collected and checks to be written. Caterers need coordinating. Crowds need to be controlled. There’s security personnel, emergency personnel, traffic cops, and venue guides. A team collects trash…

If your head is spinning, consider the chaos that reigns in the months leading up to a single event. Then multiply it my the dozens and dozens of book events that go on throughout the year.

Jeri Westerson, Darrell James, Diana James, James Lincoln Warren; Left Coast Crmime Writers Conference, Los Angeles 2010

In the upcoming weeks alone, we will see The Tucson Festival of Books unfold on the University of Arizona Campus, March 12-13; Left Coast Crime Writers Conference in Santa Fe, March 24-27; the Los Angeles Time Festival of Books will draw more than a hundred-thousand attendees, April 30-May 1; Book Expo will see publishers from around the world in New York, May 23-26; California Crime Writers Conference, June 11-12, in Pasadena, CA.

And that’s but a few.

If you are an avid reader and have never attended a book conference or festival, pick one in your area and attend. I’m sure you’ll come away inspired to read more. Perhaps, even, to write a book or two.

But while you’re there, stop and take a moment a look around at the beehive of activity. Consider the hundreds of organizers, volunteers, workers, and servers, speakers and authors who put their time into making it an entertaining, educational, and motivational experience. And all for the love of the book.

Care to throw your own book festival? Or join us at one of the above?


Vicki Doudera said...

Interesting post, Darrell! what a labor of love these events are.

Keith Raffel said...

Darrell, of course the best part of all these festivals and conferences is seeing old friends and making new ones. Hats off to all those whose hard work makes them possible.

Terri Bischoff said...

I love going to all to those events, whether they are fan conventions, writers conferences or book festivals. I feel like I am surrounded by "my people". It's a great time to catch up with old friends and every time I go to an event, I leave with a bunch more new friends. Gotta love book people. :)

Darrell James said...

Vicki- You gotta love it!

Keith and Terri- so right! The pay-off for the hard work is being among friends and people who love to read. They're the best!

Beth Groundwater said...

Many thanks to your and your wife, Darrell, for your hard work as volunteers! And many thanks to all the other hard-working book event volunteers out there. I try to do my share of small volunteer tasks for the events I attend, but I know my efforts are teeny-tiny compared to those who take on major leadership roles and committee assignments.

Darrell James said...

Thaks, Beth. I've felt like I've just paying my dues now, while I can. When my books is released (September) I'll want to be at the front of the class. Best wishes on your latest book.

G.M. Malliet said...

Darrell - The work that goes into these conferences is monumental, so thanks to you and Diana.

What goes wrong at these events, despite hours of work, is immediately apparent. What is done well, is not even noticed. (Sort of like housework.)

Kathleen Ernst said...

Good for you! I know a *ton* of work goes into these things. They are great events! Many thanks.

Alice Loweecey said...

Thanks for the inside look, Darrell!

Darrell James said...

Thanks, Gin, Kathleen, and Alice. This weekend Diana and I will be manning the SoCal MWA booth at the Tucson Festival of Books. It's predicted to be 80 degres and sunny. It reminds me of the Dire Straits song... "Ahhh, that ain't workin'!"