September 26th is approaching--faster than I thought it would--and I'm both anxious and excited about the first-ever Alpena Book Festival.
Anxious questions: Will there be a good turnout? Will they have a good time? Will we have enough of everything? Does everyone know what to do?
These are questions I have every time I'm part of organizing things, and I've learned there's no use trying to turn it off. Of course I know things can go wrong. It might rain buckets (or snow, after all, this is Michigan). We might run out of tote bags or tickets or whatever. And since it's a new thing, people will no doubt be following the organizers around saying, "What should I do?" "Where should I go?"
I can take the chaos once the day arrives, but beforehand, there are no answers, which is what makes me a little crazy.
As to the excited part: I know that people who attend the Festival will be happy they did. We have great giveaways, so just showing up is an advantage. My publisher, Thorndike/Five Star (well, it's Peg's publisher actually) donated over a hundred hardcover books to give away, and another author's publisher, Thomas Nelson, send even more paperbacks. Add that to the books the attending authors and the bookstores are providing, and there will lots of free books.
In addition, there are prize baskets from the authors and the Alpena downtown businesses. There are also prizes for those who attend in costume or make some sort of display relating to books. (Here are some crazy ones:
Also, there's a chance to explore Alpena's downtown, which has more in it than I ever imagined. I tend to go to the bookstore and that's all, but the array of cute shops and interesting merchandise I've seen as I talked with business owners is amazing. They've all been very accommodating, joining into the fun of the Festival by participating in book games and making special displays.
Then there are the panel discussions, where readers can hear authors tell how they do what they do and interact with them on topics like character development and what it takes to develop a series. Some are formal discussions, but the Thunder Bay Winery is hosting a less formal one where people can drift in and out.
For aspiring writers there are several events. If you're thinking of pitching your book to an agent or editor, we'll have people on hand to help you craft your pitch so it's "in tune" with what they want to hear.
Peg's doing a workshop on Friday night (7:30pm) at Blue Phoenix Books for those who write and are thinking about self-publishing. It's both easy and difficult, and it helps to hear from someone who's been through both self-publishing and traditional publishing explain both processes. In addition, Mark Thompson, who publishes non-fiction, is going to speak on what it takes to get memoirs and family histories into publication (6:30pm). Sign up by calling/emailing Blue Phoenix.
So yes, I'm anxious about what might go wrong on Saturday, September 26, but I'm also excited to meet other authors, lots of readers, and have a full day of fun centered around books.