18 October 2017
Dear Intrepid Reader,
I had a whole post about politics written up, but I can’t bring myself to post it. I keep paging through my Facebook feed and becoming discouraged by the fact that every other post is angry or outraged or derisive. There’s no good news, no such thing as a nuanced point of view, and I don’t feel I have anything valuable to add to that conversation, because one more voice screaming won’t change anything.
Instead, I want to talk to you about something Litquake. October 7-15 was Litquake, the largest literary festival on the west coast. Litquake hosts 5-8 literary events each day, culminating in Litcrawl, where 40 venues hosted nearly 100 events in just 3 hours—nearly 200 events in total, many of which involve more than one author. Most of those authors are also local, which means that YOU could be part of either this festival or one like it. How? Read on!
Before I became part of it, I’d heard of Litquake. For spectators, I heard about panels with current authors, most of which were free to anyone who wanted to attend. For authors, though, I’d heard it was hard to get into—that you had to know someone or have a powerful publicist.
But from the point of view of someone trying to put together a festival, let me tell you about my dream application, or, more accurately, my FOUR dream applications.
1. A single writer with a large following and a very recent book who would like to come out and do a reading. Writers who are either great at doing readings or who really like to talk make great guests. Single writers who are shy, don’t have a large social following, or whose books have been out for more than 6 months are a harder sell, since it’s tough to get people excited about coming to see them.
2. A pair of writers with either a single book or two related books who want to have a conversation. This could also be a one well-known author with a new book and one quasi-famous person (a local author, radio personality, etc.). People like intimate conversations, and the conversational format gives the audience a chance to put themselves in the place of one of the people onstage.
3. A group of writers with a unifying theme. Are you all horror writers? Are you all left-handed Peruvian chefs? Members of the Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union who specialize in cinquains about fruit? Did you all write books about Slim Pickens or growing eggplants or knitting telephone pole cozies? Everyone who loves that one thing will want to come out and hear about it!
4. This one is less about a writer with a specific book, and more about celebrating literature in general. If you’re a person who regularly puts on events, and you have a great idea for a literary-themed event—Poetry Darts, or Literary Pub Quiz, or Jeopardy for English Majors—something that people will have fun at and want to participate in!
These are just the ones that are predictably big hits. There are always surprises—lesser-known authors who bring in unexpectedly huge crowds because nobody realized how many people were interested in a book about peas, things like that.
Submissions for the next Litquake open in February, so you have three and a half months to plan. Wherever you see yourself fitting in, I look forward to seeing you at next year’s Litquake!
Meantime, you can conspire with us and your fellow authors everywhere via social media!
And enjoy A.J. Huffman’s Alice Choked, our most recent Alphanumeric.
Publisher, Zoetic Press