Spontaneity is a word I can’t even spell without using spell check. (Seriously, I just used spell check for that.) It’s literally not a part of my vocabulary!
But I just had to make the drive up to Huntsville for the first ever Rocket City Literary Festival, less than a day after I realized it existed. One of my favorite blogger/authors, Jenny Lawson, was there. I’d never attended a book festival before, and I couldn’t miss a “first ever” event.
It was worth the exhausting drive to attend. Here are a few reasons why this festival was awesome, and a few suggestions for next year.
Huge venue, but spread out crowds – I have a feeling the coming years will see more and more people attending, especially with big authors as guests. The sheer number of vendors/authors was awesome. I got so much swag.
But it still felt intimate. I never felt rushed or smushed, and I was able to stop and talk to everyone for a few minutes about their book or organization. And I even got to spend a few minutes chatting with Jenny on how she manages her anxiety during book tours and raving about the dress I had on. She had one just like it.
When it was time for food, I only had to wait in line a few minutes, and there were plenty of chairs available at the Reading Corner, where authors shared excerpts of their work.
I made it my mission to visit every single table. I think I managed to get 95% of them. (The sore feet and throat the next day was a reminder of my endeavor.) I also attended a fantastic panel on diversity in writing.
So kudos to the organizers for managing to run a huge event without feeling too crowded and keeping both your volunteers, guests and attendees happy.
Of course, the only major issue was that I had just heard about it the day before. Even avid book lover friends hadn’t heard about it until I mentioned it.
My husband said he may have seen a billboard in Birmingham, but I missed any press that it had garnered. It seemed to be an event catered towards locals, because every time I mentioned I drove two hours to get there, people seemed shocked.
So they could definitely work on spreading the word more. Perhaps with bloggers (ahem? 🙂 ) I’d also recommend maybe a hotel discount, since the venue was next to the Embassy Suites. That would also be a draw for out-of-towners, and possibly post-convention events inbetween days.
I think there also could have been more outdoor signage. For a newbie like me, it was a bit difficult to figure out exactly where to go. Plus, I think there should be an hourly parking area for folks who only stay a little while. (Although $7 isn’t bad.)
As a writer, it was the perfect opportunity to connect with fellow authors and publishers. Plus, it gave me the encouragement and strength to read and write more. On the way home, I listened to an audiobook. That was the first audiobook I’ve purchased in about a decade.
Plus, I told Jenny I want to write a book about anxiety that she’d want to read. She mentioned there isn’t a lot out there, especially written by people of color, and that I should send it to her when I’m done (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!). So of course, I’m going gangbusters trying to flesh out the idea more.
Next year, I’m bringing family and maybe staying both days.