Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Playing the odds
Today's guest blogger is Rita Lakin (left) shown here at the LA Times Book Fair Book'em booth, with Margaret Grace. Rita is the author of the acclaimed "Getting Old is ... " series, featuring the world's oldest living PI's in Fort Lauderdale.
This last weekend, April 26-27, The L.A.Times and UCLA jointly held its 28th annual Book festival, now a much acclaimed yearly event. The fair promised and delivered 450 plus authors. 100 author panels, 150,000 attendees. The 90 degree weather didn’t stop the eager hordes from buying books galore.
So, as a writer wanting to get into the action, what are your chances? As one author commented, it’s a crap shoot.
If you have a publisher or P.R. person or agent with pull who can get you on a panel, that’s the surefire win-win situation. Like winning the jackpot. Each panel usually draws about 100 or more people happy to listen to your astute words about writing, and immediately following that willing to stand in line to buy your books and have you sign them. You get first class treatment with assistants at your beck and call. You get drivers with carts at the ready to whiz you around the vast UCLA campus. Free meals in the air-conditioned exclusive Faculty Center. Hob-nobbing with the very famous authors from all over the world. However, the down side is, are you famous enough? Do they have room for any more writers? Everyone who is anyone seems to want to do the UCLA fair.
The next category of writers are those who come just to do book signings at the various bookseller booths. This has no privileges, such as carts to get you around. Or free meals. These are deals you make with each individual bookseller. To get on their lists, look up the booksellers who attend. You must contact them by January, no later, for a chance on their list for the next April fair. This is a good way to have new booksellers meet you and your books.
There are hourly signing periods scheduled for the two days. You will see lines that are blocks long for the superstars such as Michael Connelly. You're also competing with celebrity "authors" like Julie Andrews and Valerie Bertinelli. Or you may get lucky, because with the odds of 150, 000 people enthusiastic about buying books, you might sell a lot of books. Or not.
Something else important to know. If you do get invited, then you better book rooms, car rentals and airfare very far in advance. Or you will be out of luck.
The UCLA campus is lovely to look at. Seeing the enthusiasm and excitement of thousands of people who love to read is up-lifting. Running into fans who gush at the chance to meet you - the author of a favorite book - is a plus. Hanging out with other authors is fun. You’ll meet writers you know and make new friends, too.
But if you hate crowds and too much walking and the indecision of the result after the expenditure of hotels, food, etc. this is not for you.
Some of you may not like (green) grass, either.
More, from Mark Coggins, author of the award-nominated August Riordan series.
Mark was kind enough to take a picture of my miniature book scene and post to his blog: