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Literary Jenga

I’ve been organizing a book fair and I realize it’s a lot like writing a book.


RESEARCH Both writing and fundraising have research in common. In the case of the book fair I really had to look at the rules and regulations imposed on fundraisers. It was wild and covered way too many factors to list here.  Let it suffice to say, the Special Events Department of our city knows my name now.

I did have the bonus of gleaning ideas from our publisher and editor, who have participated in many book fairs, and were free with their experiences and what they thought worked well as opposed to things they thought were not so great. I also picked the brain of fellow writer, Rick Shaw, who has done a lot of tractor shows and other fundraising events.  The one thing they all brought up is having it outside to attract more foot traffic.

Apparently different towns have different rules about what needs permits, or licensing, what one can do, or even if you can have it on the premises.  Yes, your locality within the local area is a factor.  Case in point; the previous location we were at did not allow us to do anything outside of the building. But we moved not five miles, and we can utilize the parking lot.

Under most circumstances, you can look at past events to determine things like possible turnout, interested parties, etc. and base numbers off it (i.e. last time we had x many and ran out’ or ‘we had x many folks come through.’)  Since this is our first ever public event, I didn’t have that benefit. Being an optimist, I’m basing everything on the magical number 100.


EDITING and PROMOTING In the game of Jenga, you remove blocks from a tower and try not to collapse it. The same is true of editing, whether it’s with your manuscript or organizing an event. It can be emotional, and frustrating.  

Just like you should edit your own manuscript three or more times, revising and polishing it to the best of your ability before ever submitting it, you need to go over the elements of your event, which, I swear can be like herding cats. Everyone wants to wait until the last minute. Your tower can develop a wobble.

With either one, you have deadlines to meet.  Play too long with the revisions or edits requested by your editor, you risk losing your contract.  Mess about with the timeline for an event and you can have a catastrophe.

Once your book is published you need to promote it, or it simply won’t sell.  With events you have two avenues of promotion; the first is getting participants, second is advertising the event.  These are extremely time sensitive. Too soon, folks lose interest. Too often, they ignore it. And too late – well that’s self-explanatory.


Our book fair is still a week out but seems to be coming together.  My tower isn’t too wobbly.  Of course, it hasn’t helped that during all this, I’m also prepping to be a participant.  But that’s another story for another time.


Judy Snyder.

Judy is the author of Twisted Tales and Widows Dance.



 

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