Blue skies, the smell of caramel popcorn in the air, and books as far as I could see. It was a good day at the Collingswood Book Festival this Saturday. The Collingswood, NJ Book Festival is an annual event that takes place every October.
As I strolled down Haddon Avenue, I took note of the various booths and which ones caught my eye. Every author, I would think, wants to stand out to promote his or her book. So who, in my opinion, was successful?
Just like a wonderful book cover draws my hand toward a book, smartly designed booths caught my eye. Booths featuring large posters, fun themes, and yes—giveaways. What writer or reader can resist a shiny new pencil or a cool, glossy bookmark? Of course, I gravitated toward those tables. (tip: double-check for spelling errors on promotional material)
Now, once they had me, who was able to captivate my attention?
I admit I am not one who enjoys the strong pitch. It makes me immediately want to run in the other direction. One author actually stood in front of his table, and as I passed by, shoved a pamphlet in my hand and proceeded to relay a detailed summary of his book. Maybe that approach works for some, but I wasn’t even listening to him as I searched for an escape.
Others sat back mute as I read their book’s jacket-flaps—not even introducing themselves as the author. I moved on.
My favorite authors were those who smiled, introduced themselves, and gave me a brief description of their book. Even better were those who attempted to engage me with questions like: Are you into vampires? Ghost stories? What did you think of Twilight? Do you like adventure books?
A few years back, I participated in this book festival as an illustrator. The book I’d designed the cover for was titled Forward to Camelot and was a fictional tale about what would have happened if President Kennedy had survived his assassination attempt. Our booth drew crowds all day. The author, Kevin Finn, and I asked passers by a simple question. Where were you the day Kennedy was shot? People enjoyed telling us their stories and others stopped to listen and contribute. It created a buzz about our booth. We sold quite a few books that day.
Over the next couple of weeks I’m planning to interview some of the wonderful authors I met on Saturday. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about their writing journeys.