Why The Tucson Festival of Books is Full of Win

So, I’m just going to go nuts and open this post with my conclusion. We’ll tackle the reasons afterward. Here it is:

If you ever have the chance to attend the Tucson Festival of Books or any festival like it, you should absolutely do it. Whether you’re an avid reader, an aspiring author, or a published author, this is an event you don’t want to miss. Want to know why? Keep reading!

1. “Look at the size of that thing!”
This past weekend was the seventh year of the festival (held at the University of Arizona campus), and in that short amount of time it’s grown into one of the top five largest in the country. The expected attendance was well over 100K, and after being there I have no problem believing they hit or exceeded those numbers. Exhibitors ranged from authors to presses to book shops to community and educational organizations. Why do the numbers matter? For a couple of reasons.

First, it guarantees that you’re going to get a lot of authors attending, ranging from those just starting out to big names with huge catalogs of books and a loyal fan-base. Second, it’s incredibly inspiring. If you’re involved in publishing in any capacity, you probably hear a constant stream of media doomsday prophets who interpret every change to the industry as the death knell of books and reading. But spend a weekend surrounded by over a hundred thousand people who came to one place just for the love of books, and you’ll see that the sky isn’t falling. The clouds are just changing shape. People love books as much as they always have, and that love is still being passed down to new generations. I saw swarms of ten-year-old kids who were just as excited to be there as adults. Books aren’t going anywhere, people, and neither are readers.

2. “An elegant weapon for a more civilized age…”
Readers can get up close and personal with some great authors. If you’re a book lover, don’t worry about the festival being just for writers. It’s not at all. In fact, I would guess that I and my fellow authors were in the minority. Most people came to enjoy the event, buy some discounted books, and maybe see a favorite author. This was an awesome opportunity for that, as there’s very little separation between the guests and the attendees. Most author panels were held in small to mid-size classrooms, audience questions were encouraged, and afterward you could walk right up to the authors and shake their hands and have a chat. If you missed your chance right then, the authors spent time signing books after each panel. Believe me, not every event makes it this easy to interact with the creators you love. It’s just plain cool.

3. “If you only knew the power of the dark side!”
The festival is a gold mine for authors, too, both aspiring and published. While some panels were designed to discuss certain issues or just highlight particular authors, other panels were meant to be educational. Authors talked about everything from managing your writing time to navigating the tricky waters of publishing your first novel. For those published or soon-to-be, it’s a priceless opportunity to network with other industry pros – writers, editors, and the people who run various festivals and organizations. Personally, since my debut novel THE YEAR OF LIGHTNING is coming out this December 8th, I saw it as perfect opportunity to get some networking and marketing done while also enjoying a weekend surrounded by fellow book geeks. I came away with some new friends and contacts, plus some great stories and a tank completely full of writing fuel.

In short, book festivals like this are well worth your time. If you can’t make it to Tucson, why not fire up Ye Olde Internet Machine and find one within driving distance? I bet you’ll have blast.

P.S. To answer your question, yes, every sub-heading was a Star Wars quote. To answer your other question, why wouldn’t I do that?

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