It was my great pleasure to attend the 2013 South Carolina Book Festival a couple of weekends ago. My husband Zach and I drove up early Saturday and stayed until the janitorial staff powered through the hallways of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on their riding vacuum cleaners Sunday evening. I was hardly an objective visitor to the SC Book Festival, considering that I’ve attended each and every AJC Decatur Book Festival in my hometown and serve as a member of the programming team for this year’s DBF. However, the SC Book Festival was really well done. Practically each and every author and exhibitor that I spoke to praised this year’s event and attributed the festival’s success to Paula Watkins, director of the South Carolina Book Festival and assistant director of Humanities Council SC. This is Watkins’ last year as festival director because she is moving out of state.
The big news swirling at this year’s SC Book Festival was that bestselling South Carolina author Pat Conroy had accepted a position as editor-at-large of a new fiction imprint at University of South Carolina (USC) Press. They announced before Conroy’s first appearance on a USC panel that the city of Columbia had declared that Saturday “Pat Conroy Day” in honor of his new role at USC Press. Conroy made several appearances on the SC Book Festival schedule and the signing line wrapped around the convention center.
Fellow book publicist and friend, Kathie Bennett of the Magic Time Literary Agency, invited me to speak for a few minutes at the end of her presentation on Sunday. Kathie was leading a 90-minute workshop in the final time slot of the final day of the festival, so I wasn’t optimistic that I’d see more than my spouse in the room. Imagine my surprise when Kathie and I were greeted with a standing room only crowd, with a few people lingering in the doorway. Kathie gave an extremely valuable presentation on the various steps an author must take when planning and executing a book marketing and publicity plan. I addressed some of the ways that social media and online marketing have changed how authors connect with their different audiences. We ran out of handouts and business cards as many people stayed long after the allotted time to ask questions. I really enjoyed it!
Below are some other photos from my great weekend at this year’s SC Book Festival.