I enjoyed this Festival of Books more than any in the past. I felt good physically and knew that those of us on the planning committee were as ready as we could be.
On Thursday, Connie Bradley, Kevin Mittge, and I passed out everything that would be needed by the participants on Saturday. And I got my table set up.
But I still had worries. I worried that the panelists or keynote speaker wouldn’t be able to make it for Friday’s events. I also worried that nobody would show up, that there would be skimpy audiences for the Friday events and that the crowds would be minuscule on Saturday.
And I always worry about the weather. It was light rain on Friday, which was not a problem. And on Saturday, it was warmer than usual with minimal wind––one of those rare perfect days. So I need not have worried.
Fantabulous Panel Discussion
We hadn’t heard back from one of our panelists, a poet from the Eugene area, and weren’t sure he would be there. Another one, Duana Welch, Ph.D., with her expertise about the science behind relationships had us all curious. And Janet Wellington is a local but unknown as a romance writer of eBooks. Tom Cherones and Ned Hickson were both known quantities. And Kevin Mittge, the panel moderator, works at the library and is a quiet spoken but extremely capable member of the FFOB committee. He was worried that he wouldn’t be up to the task of moderator.
The panel discussion took place on the stage. Both the panel and the audience were on the stage. We knew we would not have a big crowd, and so it made for a more intimate setting. I asked Duana’s daughter to direct audience members down the long hallway to the backstage area, at the end of which I passed out a handout and directed them to the stage. We had about 40 or 45 attendees. Anything over 30 was fantabulous.
Kevin was self-assured as he introduced each panel member. The one that I thought might not show up, did not. But four were plenty. The topic “The Path: Idea to Book” gave each member the chance to tell their individual stories from the inkling of an idea to the published book.
Then Kevin had marvelous follow-up questions that he directed to the panel and he always indicated who was to begin. There were lively responses from Ned, Duana, and Janet, who almost stole the show with her humor. All three had marvelous connections to the audience, many of whom were taking copious notes. Tom had briefer but often humorous responses. Then there were questions from the audience. The hour and a half simply whizzed by and many stayed to talk individually with panelists. It was a success by any measure.
That evening, Phillip Margolin spoke. He is Oregon’s John Grisham. Like Grisham, he was a criminal defense attorney.He practiced 25 years and even argued a case before the United States Supreme Court. Since 1996, he has been a full-time author, producing 20 books of which 17 have been New York Times bestsellers.
He started speaking before he reached the center of the stage and didn’t stop for 45 minutes. He walked back and forth, using his hands and arms to make points. You could just picture him in the courtroom. He was informative, entertaining, and humorous. And positively riveting! The sizable audience––yes, a a sizable audience––came up with intelligent questions. Prior to his talk was a Meet and Greet where many FFOB authors came to mingle and to meet Margolin. All in all, Friday turned out to be a terrific day in spite of rain and my worries.
The Big Event
On Saturday, approximately 85 authors and 10 publishers participated. They started arriving about 8:30 a.m. to set up before the 10 a.m. start. The LDS Boy Scout troop helped folks bring in their books and promo materials and led them to their tables. Participants loved them.
Promptly at 10 a.m., attendees started wandering through the book display area and filling their totes with books––books for themselves as well as gifts. The crowds continued all day with a lull around lunchtime. They were good crowds that were buying books. I sold 22––more than I’ve ever sold. Not everyone did that well.
About 3 p.m., I wandered around checking out everything and chatted with many participants. In the process, I bought four books. I love the great variety. It truly is a terrific experience to see and talk to so many authors. One gal had not sold a single book, not one of her four novels. I couldn’t let her leave with no sales, so I bought one.
The crowds continued until 4 p.m. when it ended. I guess I wasn’t ready to stop. At 4:15 p.m., most participants were pretty well packed up and on their way out, but I was still chatting with people and sold another book. By the time I got packed up, I was the last one out.
With food and drink available in the lobby and volunteers to sit at the tables, so participants could take breaks, the book fair was enjoyed by all. I heard only good comments. Most authors made numerous sales, publishers made numerous contacts, and attendees chatted with numerous authors and got books signed by the people who wrote them.
Bonnie, who was at the central credit card machine for those who did not have individual means of dealing with credit cards, came dashing by and said there were just under $2,000 in sales. That was more than previous years.
So by whatever means you want to measure it, the 6th Annual Florence Festival of Books was a success. Whew! Now I can get on with the rest of my life.
Note: I will be gone most of the month of October to visit family and friends in California, so no blog posts until after the first week of November. Sir Groucho will have plenty of company while I’m gone. As usual there will be a village taking care of him.