Have you ever gone somewhere and felt like you belonged? Like you were with people who got you and you got them? Well, that’s exactly how I felt at this year’s Baltimore Bookfest. This reader nerd (I say it with pride) festival was three days of any book lover’s dream. Not only were there tons of books for sale (which I brought a very nice amount of) but there were so many panels on both writing and reading.
Needless to say, I was in a sort of reader bliss. But what really trumped it all was the feeling of community. Perhaps I’m gushing over nothing. I mean, there are tons of ways to connect with readers and fellow writers both online and offline. Yet, how often do you get to bond with this many literary lovers for a whole weekend? I mean there were hundreds of bookworms gathered at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor this past weekend and though we have some disagreements (met a few fans of “Twilight” which I am not), we still share that common love of a cozy book.
Two organizations present at the Baltimore Bookfest were the Science Fiction&Fantasy Writers of America and Maryland Romance Writers. I spent most of the three days going between these two groups to attend various panels. The panelists were (of course) members of their respective organizations but they were also experienced authors, some self-published, others traditionally published, all offering great insight into the world of professional writing.
Two of my favorite panels were “Cracking the New York Times Best Seller List” and “How to Self-Publish Your Novel.” What was so enjoyable about these panels was the sheer honesty. The authors were very candid in their own statements and in their responses to questions. Nothing was sugar coated and, let me tell you, if you thought the panel on the New York Times was going to be some setp-by-step, boy are you wrong. Instead of getting some crappy how-to guide, we attendees got a nice dose of the truth aka there’s no key to cracking the New York Times list. The list itself isn’t even based on who has the highest sales. You can imagine my face when I heard that. Jaw dropping doesn’t even begin to do it justice.
Oh, and let’s touch on the self-publishing panel a bit. The biggest lesson I learned from the authors here is that there are other publishing platforms besides Amazon. Sounds like common sense, right? Because it is but Amazon has become a sort of monopoly when it comes to the world of self-publishing. In my young writer brain, Amazon’s so big there’s no other option but to self-publish via the book giant. Additionally, with the genre I’m going into (fantasy if you’re new to this site) solely publishing on Amazon may not be the best choice.
Self-publishing is hard enough but in young adult fantasy it’s much harder than if I were working in romance. So, what I learned is I’m going to have to spread out my options a bit. In my situation, I really can’t put all my eggs in one basket and if you’re looking to be a writer, too, I’d recommend attending some sort of book festival near you. The Baltimore Bookfest is out of commission until next year but there are plenty of options out there. My next stop? HallowRead.
Maybe I’ll see you there, lovely.