Hey Kids — Let’s Do A Book Festival!

I consider my job to be something like an event planner, as I organize family and teen programs and author events for the busiest library system in the country. I generate ideas, pull together the details, try to consider all the various angles and plan, plan, plan.

I like to think I’m pretty good at my job. And that my organizational skills are well-honed. So when I had an inspiration that one of the small cities with a library might serve as the perfect location for a book festival, it didn’t really occur to me that I was taking on a herculean task.

I managed to convince some other people that the book festival could work, including the art council in Kirkland, WA where I wanted to hold the festival. I convinced Sheryn Hara, the owner of Book Publisher’s Northwest, and someone who had previously worked on organizing a festival in Seattle to join the fun.

Like a delusional fit, the idea spread. More community partners signed on, and we sent off a press release outlining our idea. Then even more people contacted us to become part of this now ever expanding idea.

We contacted authors to be on panels, created a website, began collecting ideas for writing and publishing workshops and signing up exhibiters. The workload increased as ever more details became necessary. There were insurance issues, permitting, arranging for the use of space, publicity, author bios and photos to assemble, panel organization (and reorganization), sponsor requests, signage — the list could fill this page.

Needless to say, inspiration quickly turned to perspiration. Schedules were created, then modified and changed and then changed again. But it was coming together. There were going to be all kinds of panels featuring authors of all kinds of genres. Writing and publishing workshops were offered by industry professionals, poets would read, musicians would sing about books that inspired them. Rocks stars would serenade little kids about reading.

On October 1 and 2, all this inspiration, planning and work came together. There were frustrations, as our tenting company left on Friday evening with the job unfinished… and never returned until it was time to pick up the mess they’d left. The main highway to the small city was closed. It rained.

And yet, thousands of people made the effort, took a different route and discovered the pure joy of sitting in a room with other people who love books, stories and literature and listening to the people who weave magical kingdoms from words. It didn’t matter if you read your words on paper or a digital screen.

What mattered is that the love of books is alive and well in Kirkland, WA. My “moment of zen” was standing in the Kirkland Teen Center and watching hundreds of teens lined up to see Young Adult authors and get their books signed.

Northwest Bookfest has returned.



8 responses to “Hey Kids — Let’s Do A Book Festival!

  1. Deb, what do you mean by “like a delusional fit”? It was a delusional fit. 😀 I should know. I’ve produced half a dozen concerts, a three day, fortieth year class reunion and my own wedding, and none of them were anywhere near as easy as they seemed to the attendees, let alone as easy as when the inspiration—nasty word!—first danced through my brain.

    Good for you, though! Congratulations on pulling it off, warts and wrinkles and all. The tenting company’s failure aside—that can be dealt with at the time final payment is tendered, and I hope modified appropriately—the fact remains: you did it. You pulled it off and it was a success. I’m proud of you, girl.

  2. Wow, Deb! What a great accomplishment. Sounds like a fantastic event. Now put your feet up, have a glass of wine and toast yourself for a job well done. 🙂


  3. Huge accomplishment, Deborah. Congratulations! The journey was the difficult part, and the fact that it went off is fantastic — all the stuff that didn’t work out will be forgotten in time, and sounds like those who attended enjoyed it.

    All signs of success.


  4. Bravo! That’s a major accomplishment (and a hell of a lot of work!) for you. Sounds like it was well worth the effort though.


  5. I am here as an eye witness and participant of Deborah’s brain-child and it was a success as far as i could see. I was the moderator for a panel of screenwriters that took place at ten o’clock on Sunday morning. i was expecting anywhere fro 2 or 3 maybe ten attendees, we had 30 or 40. I didn’t know screenwriters got up that early! Our girl Deborah, did a terrific job–she was everywhere. If we ever put on an event, I vote for Deborah to be commander and chief, along with Kate of course. 🙂


  6. As somebody who has helped put together several Pagan festivals and a small Ren Faire, my hat is off to you. No matter how much stress and aggravation come with the planning, when the event kicks off and goes well, it’s wonderful.


  7. Deb is the Supreme Organizer – in fact, I think that’s what we should call her. She’s a genius at keeping all those balls in the air, so I’m not surprised that this was a success – it couldn’t be otherwise.


  8. Thanks everyone. It was exhausting, (as you can see – I haven’t even been on the blog since it was posted!) In the end, the main question was: Did the people who took the time to be on panels and attend enjoy the event?

    At the event and since, I’ve only had positive comments. I’ve had emails from authors and participants, and not ONE complaint. Our Tweets went to “trending” and there was only 1 negative comment there, and it was about the weather.

    Wally, just having you there to put your arms around me say, “It’s great!” was so wonderful. You are my big huggy bear.

    Ana and Raymond — what possesses some of us to do this kind of thing? Insanity? Ego?

    Kate and Wally, I like those titles, but Library Goddess is still my favorite.

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