Book Festival Tips

Looking to go to a book festival? Here are some helpful tips to make your bookish day extraordinary!

Have you ever been to a book festival? I hadn’t until this September, when dozens of authors were in attendance at the 2016 National Book Festival in Washington DC.

Washington, DC


Before leaving I was energized and ready to meet and greet as many authors as humanly possible. My love for books began at an early age. From memorizing The Cat in the Hat, to reading Harry Potter until midnight on a school night, having a book in my hands is my comfort zone, imagine the comfort of a book festival!

Presenting authors included Kwame Alexander, Doreen Cronin, Aaron Becker, Jerry Pinkney, Jacqueline Woodson, Raina Telgemeier, Lois Lowry, Herve Tullet, Jason Reynolds, the list goes on, and on, and on!


Upon arrival I knew that I might have a slight problem. The convention center in which the festival was held was massive, and the crowd was just as impressive. When I arrived at 10am I waded through the crowds, three hours later just walking through the loads of people was a huge undertaking. Never-the-less, I had fun, met authors and was left inspired.

If you’re planning on attending a book festival, whether one as large as the National Book Festival hosted by the Library of Congress, or a smaller event, here are some helpful tips.



The National Book Festival has an app that you can download months before the actual event. You can select the presentations and signings you would like to attend, then you can even set reminders. If your festival doesn’t have an app, look on their website for a schedule and jot down which authors you would like to see.  Planning your day is helpful, it keeps you from standing in the middle of a crowd trying to figure out what to do next. Also, this app included a map. Try looking at a map of the event before you actually arrive. 



If you’re looking to save money, I would suggest purchasing the books that you would like to have signed before the event. Going to Amazon to buy used books could save you major dollars. At the National Book Festival books were being sold at full price. Easily, on seven books I spent over $100. Plan! Look for bookstores and websites that are offering discounts. Saving 10% can have a major impact when you're scrapped for money. 




A crowd at a book festival can get larger by the minute. While there may have only been a handful of people upon entering, an hour later it can be tough to even move through the space. The same goes for a line. Whether it’s for a signing or a presentation, make sure that you get in line early.



On that note, prepare to wait! 

With a line, waiting ensures. Whether waiting for a signing or to get a seat in an author’s presentation, prepare for this wait. Bring snacks and liquids. I even saw someone with a portable seat and at that moment I wished that I had one!




As much as I hate to say this, prepare to be disappointed.

While waiting to get a seat for the Colson Whitehead presentation (author of The Underground Railroad) I was 10 people away from getting into the door. At that moment someone came out and told us that they weren’t letting anyone else in. :( 


For a moment I was disappointed, then I looked at my National Book Festival App and realized that there were other presentations that I could attend at that moment. Turn your disappointment upside down by finding another event to become part of.




Please, have fun. That’s what these events are all about.

Yes, you will do a lot of walking.

Yes, you will face disappointments.

But for the book signings and presentations you are able to attend, it will all be worth it!