I just attended my first book festival, and it was amazing. It wasn’t just the talk by R. L. Stine or the reading by Roxanne Gay that made Green Bay’s UntitledTown Book and Author Festival this past weekend’s “place to be” for readers and writers.
It was the conversations, the collaboration, and the commiseration shared by the thousands of published authors, want-to-be writers, and book enthusiasts who flooded the streets of Green Bay and chatted excitedly in the lobbies and hallways between sessions.
Having moved to Green Bay less than six months ago and being excited to improve my own writing, I found myself in the optimal position to get caught up in the excitement and opportunity the Festival provided. I was among “my people” in the city that I already love.
For weeks leading up to the Festival, I tracked the printed and digital promotion of the event. I reserved tickets to hear the headlining authors speak, and I planned a schedule that allowed me to glean industry information from poets and literary agents, published authors and screenwriters, essayists and novelists. And none of it cost me (or anyone) a single dime. Yet, each presenter held this or that little secret to achieving my dream, and they gave them over warmly and generously.
That information, that opportunity for growth, was the real jewel of the Festival for me. Like many of you, I’m a writer with a lot to learn and with many things I want to accomplish. But, in a lot of practical ways, I’m not exactly sure how to go about that.
This book and author festival was the exact remedy for that. I attended a panel discussion on how to get published, and then one on how to effectively freelance. On the second morning, I had coffee with a literary agent who graciously answered specific questions about the type of work that he accepts and the type on which he passes. Most of the time it’s hard for writers to even get form letter rejections from literary agents, and yet I found myself openly picking one’s brain while chomping on my scone.