Festival of Books

We happily survived (and thrived at) the Los Angeles Times’ Festival of Books and were utterly overwhelmed by the wonderful response to our organization. Local authors Heidi Mastrogiovanni, Patricia Smith and myself (Sandra Ann Miller) had the pleasure of meeting many other authors, aspiring writers and booklovers interested in collaborating with the Society to grow a larger, louder voice for Los Angeles local authors. We are excited for what’s next.

L.A.L.A. is busy planning the Society’s event calendar, anticipating an active year with author meetings, reader events and writer roundtables. If you haven’t already, please sign up for the newsletter so you’ll be informed of what’s coming up. (Please also follow BookSwell, which lists upcoming literary events in L.A. so you don’t miss anything.) If you’re more into social media, we are more active on Twitter at the moment.

We’ll have our next author meeting on May 18th to further discuss our needs as a group so we have a better plan of action to engage with readers and bookstores, and support up-and-coming writers. A password to the Eventbrite page will be provided in the newsletter. Please feel free to reach out via the Contact page if you missed the newsletter (out on the 25th) and want more information.

We are also planning to go back to the Festival of Books next year and encourage all local authors to participate however they can. While we’ll have limited space, we will offer opportunities to show at our booth. There is also the Independent Author Pavillion offered at the Festival that provides a more affordable option. We also hope to collaborate with other groups in Los Angeles so we can direct visitors to other like-minded booths. (We greatly enjoyed being a few “doors” down from the folks at Made in L.A.)

The Festival is a big weekend with a lot of activity and requires a good deal of energy. For those planning on attending in 2020, here’s my best advice:

  • Sign up early to save on the cost and start saving now (this is not an inexpensive event; be ready to request a booth/pay for it this December)
  • Plan out your costs (from tablecloths to additional signage, swag and books, there’s a lot to get…don’t forget bookstands)
  • Get promotional items that are easy for people to pick up as they pass by (bookmarks, business cards, postcards, buttons)
  • Invest in items that will help you get noticed by  and you can use again (like a standing, retractable banner)
  • Announce your attendance when the booth has been secured and regularly up through the Festival dates; you’ll have a lot of competition
  • Get plenty of rest before (they are long, active days) and get there early on Saturday (traffic getting in is nuts, Sunday was a little easier)
  • Wear comfortable shoes, comfortable clothes (layers!), and be camera ready (everybody Instagrams)
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks (you probably won’t be able to leave the booth much)
  • Have a friend/colleague or two to help out/cover the booth when nature calls
  • Invest in a trolley (like this) for easy transport; have all your items in boxes or bags for quick loading and set-up
  • Have a sign-up sheet (or two) and pens ready for people to leave their information (having one at either end of the table helps for when there’s a rush; legal pads work great for that) as well as a container for those who want to leave business cards
  • Powerstrip for phone charging, music playing
  • Square or other credit card option to make for easy purchasing
  • String, tape, scissors, hand wipes, tissues, paper towels, sunscreen, hand lotion, band-aids, etc.
  • And the Starbucks on campus is NOT on the Starbucks app so if you order on that to bypass the line, you’ll have to cross the street to pick up your needed caffeine (and you will need extra caffeine on Sunday)

The vendors we used were:

  • Vistaprint (business cards — for each book, cheaper than bookmarks; postcards, also cheaper than bookmarks; retractable banner — the economy version worked just fine in the sun, save those dollars)
  • Sticker Mule (buttons)
  • Amazon (tablecloth, bookstands, trolley)

How did we do? More than 200 postcards were taken, 180 buttons (sadly, I didn’t do a tally of business cards), and more than 115 authors, writers and booklovers joined our list (with more signing up through the website, thank you!). We’re thrilled that so many people were interested in L.A.L.A. and learning more about the authors here in Los Angeles, whichever side of the book they’re on.

We’re excited to get to know you, too.

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