I go to a LOT of book festivals, usually two or three a year at the very least. Obviously, it’s become a bit of a routine for me now, but that never diminishes my excitement in the very least. I’ve decided to put my biannual experiences to use and write about making the most of your experience.
1. Determine your reason for going
Are you going to the book festival for ARCs? Meeting your faves? Getting all your books signed? (I ask this because it relates to the next question.)
2. Look through the book festival’s website
The festivals I go to have free admission, but most still ask you to register, whether it be at the door or online. Printing your ticket online will save you time on the day of, because everyone will be scrambling to write their information down to get into the building while you just hand them your ticket and walk in.
The website is also extremely helpful because it will have a full list of authors. Write down everyone you want to meet, and look through the schedule of events and panels throughout the day. I usually print out the schedule and highlight every author I want to see at panels throughout the day. If there’s any overlap, you may just have to choose between your options.
A lot of people tend to forget that book festivals are full day events for most. Several panels tend to run through lunches, so if you absolutely have to see a certain panel during lunch, make sure to pack some food! I say with absolute certainty that you will pass out if you don’t pack food.
If you decide to take a lunch break and buy food at the place of the festival, I still recommend bringing some food with you. Book festivals are large and there will be a lot of people. I guarantee that lines will be long, especially if there’s catering or food trucks. Concessions lines tend to move faster and be shorter.
Another option is to leave the venue for food. This is ideal in some cases, if there’s restaurants within walking distance. I would not recommend this option if you’re paying a good amount of money for a one-time parking spot.
If you’re going to a book festival for merch and ARCs, the most important thing to do is visit all the booths as soon as you enter the festival venue. A lot of booths have giveaways and such, but they start in the morning and close within an hour. If you want to enter giveaways, you need to check out the booths first thing.
At some book festivals I’ve been to, a couple booths will have a schedule of short events and activities they host throughout the day. These are important because it’s usually when they give out merch and ARCs.
5. Signing Lines
Popular authors will sometimes have signing lines that require wristbands. At the festivals I go to, they are handed out in the morning, first come first serve. If not, find out how to get into these signing lines before festival day.
That’s all the advice I have for book festivals as of now, but if y’all have a lot of questions or if I remember anything else, I might make a part two!