Every year the Chicago Tribune along with a few other sponsors puts on the Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago. This year (2014) I was one of many authors that participated. It was a marvelous experience and I hope every writer gets this chance in their career.
Apologies upfront because I didn’t remember my camera to take a picture of the setup but I’ll describe it here. Half of my table was devoted to How to Knock a Bravebird from Her Perch and the other half was about Bravebird Publishing. Of the many fascinating characters, the people who stopped by my table can be summed up as follows:
- The budding teenager who saw my book cover and thought…Hunger Games…that must be for me!
- The slightly awkward but bright-eyed young adult with dreams of becoming a writer but doesn’t feel it’s a realistic endeavor.
- The stylish independent minded twenty-something who knows she has something to say but just hasn’t gotten it down on paper yet.
- The woman who lived through the women’s lib movement and is still as passionate now about asserting her voice as she was back then.
- And last but not least the people intrigued by the pretty graphics or who thought to themselves, “She looks like a nice person. I don’t wanna be rude.” And I say this with laughter in my heart. They’d stroll by eyeballing everything at a leisurely pace until they stumbled upon a term that shocked them and sent them running in the other direction. What term? You ask. If I had to guess I’d say either FEMINIST or DOMESTIC ABUSE.
Now for the men. Yes, that’s right there were men. Standing at a safe distance they studied, frowning either from befuddlement or disapproval, then silently walked away. Some stopped to chat and either bought a book, joined the Morrow Girls Fan Club, or signed up for our author services or our newsletter.
One guy was clearly not attending the Lit Fest but trying to get from point A to point B and speed walking past the tents and tables happened to be the shortest route. DOMESTIC ABUSE must’ve hit him because he stopped in his tracks to read my sign. A tall, lanky black guy about 40. He told me he’d never hit a woman, that when he gets into a disagreement with his wife/girlfriend he doesn’t even engage, he just walks away. Then he doubled back to ask me if the story was autobiographical, “The story, it isn’t yours, is it?” I assured him it wasn’t about me and he seemed relieved then went on about his business.
And I can’t forget the fabulous writer whose table was next to mine. Lauren Jankowski. She’s writing a series about a society of guardians and shape shifters that exists in secret among humans. We became fast friends. At one point, someone stopped to visit our tables and I was so caught up in admiring her books that I started selling them!
For writers considering attending book fairs and festivals, don’t do it thinking you’re going to sell tons of books. I was a little guilty of this myself but after meeting so many great and interesting people I realize I wouldn’t have met them otherwise and that’s priceless.
P.S. Here’s a photo that one of the men I mentioned earlier took of me, my mom and daughter.