Book Fairs and Festivals Are Great for Writers and Readers

Literary Festivals Celebrate and Promote the Written Word

Book Store Display
Get Your Book Noticed. Chris Payle / Getty Images

Book fairs and festivals are community-centered events that bring books and authors and the publishing world to the reading public. Whether local, regional or niche-based, these literary events celebrate and showcase books from every perspective and offer authors critical opportunities to promote their books to a circle of readers most likely to engage with them. 

For authors and publishing professionals, book fairs and festivals are great opportunities to bring new books to a variety of readers, to help grow writers’ fan bases, and to increase book promotion and sales.

Here's a list of major book fairs and festivals in the U.S. Learn about book fairs and festivals and how to leverage them. 

Book Festival Programs

Book festivals feature author readings, book signings, cooking demonstrations by cookbook authors and celebrity chefs or both, book publishing and author panel discussions, and publishing and book- or reading-related exhibits.

Because book festivals focus on serving the reading community, they usually also include a focus on children’s book publishing with readings, storytelling, performances and author appearances geared to kids and young adults.

Book Festival Programming

Book festival programmers (and, sometimes, programming partners) are responsible for selecting the list of authors who appear at the festival and developing the other events. When programming the book festival, they take into consideration what books are newly-published and what local talent they can support.

Of course, respected, established writers and other celebrities with newly-published books usually draw large audiences and celebrities are popular with programmers.

This interview with festival programmer Paola Fernandez-Rana illuminates the process by which book festival programmers choose which authors and books to feature.

If you're lucky enough to be an author chosen for a book festival, here's some critical advice:

Book Festival Management

Major, multi-day events with many participants and moving parts to coordinate, book festivals are managed by a small year-round festival staff as well as many volunteers. Volunteering at your local book festival in some capacity is a great way to get acquainted with the literary community in your area. 

Types of Book Fairs and Festivals

Many book festivals and fairs are regionally based; some (like Jewish Book Fairs) are also based around a specific theme or subject matter. While by no means exhaustive, here's a list of some of the popular book festivals in regions around the United States. 

"Festivals" can also encompass events like Independent Bookstore Day (and its Northern counterpart, Canadian Authors for Indies Day). These celebrations are "fests" that take place in the bookstores themselves - here are a few indie bookseller etiquette tips and other advice:

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