by Julie Caudle
While it might still feel like summer outside, it is officially fall season, which for me, is also book festival season! There are so many book festivals either in Tennessee or in a nearby state that are for readers of all ages. I love attending as many book festivals as my schedule will allow.
Attending book festivals is a great way to meet authors and interact with them on a deeper level than when you go to a book release or other signing event. Oftentimes, authors will be on a panel with other authors who write similar subject matter and will answer questions and speak on topics brought up by a moderator, which allows for better insights. You are able to really see how an author interacts with fans. It’s also a really good way to be introduced to a new author. I’ve scheduled some of my most successful author visits to my school after meeting an author at a book festival. I highly recommend attending book festivals if you are interested in hosting an author visit at your school.
This month, I attended a new book festival. YA-Hoo Fest debuted in 2018 and is in partnership with Chattanooga State’s Writers@Work and the Southern Lit Alliance. This year’s event kicked off on Friday, September 20, with a live taping of an episode of the popular podcast, First Draft, which is hosted by YA-Hoo Fest author, Sarah Enni. Sarah talked with other YA-Hoo Fest authors, Rick Yancey, Cindy Pon, and Justin Reynolds in a fun-filled episode where the authors not only talked about books and writing, but also played games, share non-writing stories, and answered audience questions. It was a great way to start the festival and interact with fans.
Saturday, September 21, was the main event. There were all kinds of different topics of panels to choose, including ones which the authors gave advice and tips on writing and publishing your own book. I really enjoyed the panels that focused on a genre, particularly the romance panel, “Love is in the Air: Shaping Believable Romances” with Sorboni Banerjee, Justin A. Reynolds, Amber Smith, and Jeff Zetner. It was also fun talking about female empowerment in YA literature with the panel, “Girl Power: Nuanced and Realistic Female Protagonists” with authors Kayla Cagan, Olivia Cole, Emily Henry, and Destiny Soria, about how female characters are perceived differently from male characters by not just readers, but also publishers.
I really enjoyed my time at YA-Hoo Fest. I reconnected with some favorite authors that I’ve met before and was introduced to some new favorites that I can’t wait to introduce to my students. If you’re not sure where there is a book festival near you, contact your local humanities organization or do a Google search. Want to get some one-on-one time with an author? Contact a nearby book festival about volunteering. Book festivals love to have librarians volunteer, and it’s an excellent opportunity to get to know an author.
Julie Caudle is the librarian at Page Middle School in Franklin, TN and the co-editor of TASL Talks. You can follow her on Twitter @JulieCaudle.