Excluding major holidays, the annual Texas Book Festival is my favorite time of year and, happily for me, it is this weekend (Nov. 4 &5)! Each November dozens of writers of every genre flock to Austin to participate in panels, book signings, and more. And the festival does a fabulous job as host. With everything centered around the capitol grounds, you can walk to any event, stop by the BookPeople tent to buy a book, and grab lunch at one of the many delicious food trailers brought in just for the fest.
While there is also a nighttime Lit Crawl featuring different authors in more casual and cocktail-friendly literary events, my favorite part of the fest is during the day. The panels have introduced me to some amazing authors I otherwise wouldn’t have known and the moderators always keep the conversation moving and fun. There is so much to enjoy and explore that I’ve complied a short list of tips to help you maximize your time.
- Make a Plan – While I’ve had a great time ambling aimlessly around the fest, there are so many authors and so many different panels that some of them are bound to not be your cup of tea. For instance, you could walk in on a panel about brunch cookbooks when you’re the type of person who uses Favor for every meal. So I like the check out the schedule page on the fest’s website beforehand and cobble together my own plan. I literally cut and paste the events I want to attend then print out a copy and take it with me the day of. Some events I’m looking forward to this year include a Saturday panel entitled Writing Through the Noise: Writing, Publishing, and Politics in 2017 and a Sunday panel called Freeman’s: Funny Serious, a conversation about writing humorous pieces on serious topics.
- Dress Comfy – One thing about the book fest is that you end up walking. A lot. So comfortable shoes is a must. Also, Texas weather, as we Texans know, can be pretty finicky. It may be prudent to bring an umbrella or raincoat depending on the forecast. And finally, those capitol rooms can get cold! If you’re like me, you’ll want to bring a sweater to fend against the AC just as much as this cold front.
- Don’t be Shy – For years I treated authors like grumpy royalty. I smiled, but gave them their space. But I finally realized they are at the fest because they want to talk to readers! They want to hear how much you loved their book or how interesting you found their panel. So feel free to approach them. Regular rules, of course, apply. If they’re obviously busy, in a hurry, or in a conversation with someone else, don’t accost them. But if they are at a book signing or lingering around an event, go get that John Hancock!
Have fun and I hope to see you there!