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Tucson Festival of Books (3/3): Connecting with readers

Published March 25, 2017 by Melissa Koberlein

Hello, again! There are two stories that I would like to share or rather, two customers that stood out in my mind when I was at the festival.

The first person was a local junior high teacher. She was sitting near my tent observing my banner that hung on the front of my table of books and swag. She walked over and complimented me on the banner, and, in turn, the covers of my books. I thanked her and talked with her about her students. She mentioned that her students were not big readers, and she had difficulty getting them engaged. I said that I specifically wrote the Fireflies trilogy with her students in mind. I even beta tested my first book with a high school English class. I explained that her students are a part of Gen Z, and, as such, they often have difficulty keeping attention. They are a ‘now’ generation. She said that she would give the first book in the trilogy a try. I signed the book, and she was on her way.

Fifteen minutes later…

She was back.

I was surprised. My first thought was that there was something wrong with the copy I gave her. Instead, she said that after she had left, she read the start to my book. She commented that I had a great hook and she wanted the complete trilogy! Talk about making an author’s day! She also asked if I would be willing to speak to her classes next year in conjunction with my Tucson Festival of Books trip, which, of course, I agreed to do. She was a lovely woman.

The second customer that stood out to me was a younger girl, about 14 or 15. She came up to my table and said, “I would like your first book and the second one.” First of all, I was impressed with her forthright nature. She apparently knew what she wanted, and didn’t even ask what my books were about. But, she didn’t indicate that she wanted the third book, which I thought was odd. I mentioned this to her since she would be disappointed not to have the third book when she finished the second. Her response was that she didn’t have enough money for all three books.

I swallowed the lump forming at the back of my throat as my heart thrummed achingly. I smiled at her while inwardly I reprimanded myself–Stop being such a sap! You CANNOT cry over this! I explained that I simply couldn’t have her walking around without that third book. Book one and two wouldn’t stand for it either. So, I gifted the book to her. She was so gracious, and after talking with her, I learned that she was an avid reader. She thanked me, and I handed her three signed books and a free canvas bag for her to carry them away.

So, in the end, the Tucson Festival of Books was a success! I left feeling supportive that a junior high teacher finally found some books that her students could sink their teeth into. I also felt rewarded that one of my books that otherwise wouldn’t have, landed in just the right reader’s hands. Sometimes in life, it is better to give than to get.

As for me, I boarded a plane and headed back to the East Coast just in time for snow, once again. Ugh!

If you are an author and haven’t attended a book festival for your book(s), I highly recommend you give it a try. I don’t think you will regret it! Here is a link for some festivals across the country. https://www.everfest.com/book-festivals There are most likely numerous smaller festivals in your community as well.

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