Thursday, April 25, 2013

LA Times Festival of Books: The bad, the worse, and the butt-ugly

By Gayle Carline
-Author of Mysteries and Humor (often the humor is a mystery)

I'm composing this post semi-blind, as I'm piggybacking off Jenny's post about the lovely time she had at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books last weekend. It is a book lover's Nirvana, set on the very prestigious USC (although old and can I just say a little shabby?) campus over two days. I'm imagining Jenny discussing the weather and the people and how spanking fine it all was, and if you could actually hear her talk about it, you'd hear a darling English accent that would melt your heart, even if she does write about cold-blooded killers.

Writing humor as I do, the natural thing for me to do is to write about the dark side. So here's my list of what not to do at a book festival:

1. If you are a writer and are sharing a booth with other writers, do not hog the potential buyers. Share the love. Our booth did not have that problem. I did, however, hear of one fairly well-known author who likes to stand in front of the other authors at signing areas to hawk her wares. The other authors do not appreciate this.

2. If you are a reader/buyer, do not stand at a booth and tell us your life story, then walk away without purchasing anything, or even picking up a bookmark. We care, really we do, but we're here to sell books. If you stand there for 5 minutes, you need to pick up a bookmark. Forty-five minutes, you need to buy something, Mister.

3. If you are a writer and do not write erotica, do not engage people in conversations about Fifty Shades of Grey (this is something I learned at the Duarte Festival of Authors). They will tell you personal stories that will make your hair stand on end and dance around. Of course, if you are a male writer, they may make something else stand on end. Either way, don't suggest other erotica they might enjoy. Just smile and nod and ask if they'd like a bookmark.

4. If you are a reader/buyer, do not try to sell YOUR book to the writers. That's not the way this works. We bought space at the venue to specifically sell our books. Wandering around willy-nilly with a backpack of self-pubbed books of dubious quality is improper. If you force us to take your card, we'll file it away in our "Classless" pile and we won't invite you to our tea parties, or introduce you to our agents.

5. If you are a writer, be warm and engaging and gracious. Talk to everyone, even if some of them are loony as toons. We met plenty of crazies this weekend. One of them in particular I remembered from the last time. I'm guessing some of them are on the autism spectrum and are doing the best they can. You don't have to invite them home, but be kind.

6. If you are a reader/buyer OR a writer, check your outfit before you leave the restroom. Open flies and skirts tucked into panties are NOT what anyone wants to see. I'm pretty sure I saw some tattoos that were meant for private viewing.

7. Always be yourself. Unless you can be the Queen of Humor Mysteries. Then be the Queen. Of anything.


  1. Another fun post from you! One of these days I will take part in a book festival. Maybe several. I'll try and be kind and classy and unhoggy.

    No guarantees about the outfit arrangement or the erotica. Could be they go hand-in-hand (so to speak).

  2. Thank you, Miss Manners. These rules should be posted at the entrance to book fairs.

  3. Love it! Another highly entertaining read from Gayle Carline, with lots of excellent pointers thrown in. Thanks for picking up my day right from the start!

  4. You crack me up, Gayle. I'm wondering, did you happen to get any of the, "Hey, I've got a book in my head I've been wanting to write for a long time. Wanna hear it? Maybe you can even write it." comments? And before you can squeeze in a word, they proceed to tell you. For a long time. And don't take a bookmark.

  5. Thanks for the morning chuckle, Gayle. Events like this do provide an interesting glimpse of humanity, don't they?

  6. Diane Vallere and I rolled our eyes at each other when one reader gushed at us (with tears in her eyes) about how wonderful it was to meet REAL writers. We recalled later how we had both gushed at meeting a REAL writer we admired, in my case T.Jefferson Parker. I cringe remembering how I embarrassed myself.

  7. We really did get the 45 minute dude, who didn't even look at the bookmarks, let alone pick one up, and we did see a little more than we wanted to of one particular visitor who forgot to check if her skirt was caught up in her undies (which it was). You're right, Marlyn - people are interesting

  8. Darn! I missed the skirt check? Maybe I saw it and just thought it was the new guys pants that hang down around their knees. Wouldn't that be an interesting pair? Her up, him down. So to speak...


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