The Birth of a Book Festival

Bel and Scott - Sacramento Book Festival

Yesterday, it finally happened.

For years, I’ve been whispering in the ear of anyone who would listen. Sacramento needs its own book festival.

We got so close in 2020, when my own group QSAC was ready to launch a queer book fest at a local arts center. And then Covid intervened and shut everything down.

But still, the dream lingered, kept alive by a series of conversations with the library folks, readers and authors in our little Sacramento valley. I even spoke with the President of our local writer’s club about the idea, at a book reading at Ruby’s Books Folsom last year.

And then it arrived, like a lightning bolt in the middle of the night. Okay, it was probably more like 7:30, but you have to admit that’s way less dramatic. Anyway, I received an invitation to sell at the inaugural Sacramento Book Festival.

Apparently there was once a book festival in Sacramento. It was run by the public library, but it fell apart a decade or more ago, and no one had attempted one since. But now my friends at the California Writer’s Club – Sacramento Branch have decided to give it a try.

So yesterday morning at 9 AM, eighteen authors showed up at a local farmer’s market in McKinley Park, here in East Sacramento, with tables and canopies and lots and lots of books, and together we launched a dream. And although it wasn’t a bustling affair, we had steady traffic for four hours – from farmer’s market attendees, passersby, and a surprising number of folks who heard about the event on Instagram, Facebook, Nextdoor, local media, and bookstores.

We even had a visit from two friends who like to read books together They dragged their husbands over to visit our nascent festival, and then planned do a local indie bookshop tour. One of the couples drove all the way down from Chico to attend – almost a hundred miles north of here. How cool is that?

Now it’s over, and books are stuffed back in boxes with tablecloths, book stands, clipboards, packing tape, and all the other bric-a-brac you need to run a successful event.

Was it everything I hoped for in a book festival? Not yet. We need more authors, more kinds of books, and a lot more advance publicity.

But I went into it not knowing if I’d sell a single book, and we managed 16 sales in four hours. There’s a hunger for this kind of literary event here in SacTown, and yesterday was just the start.

Now we have a whole year to figure out what the next iteration will look like, where it will be held, how to get the word out. Every attending author wants to do it all again, and the readers who showed up were thrilled that Sacramento’s literary scene is finally showing signs of catching up with its culinary and theatrical ones.

Yesterday was just a dress rehearsal, and I can’t wait to see what we come up with for 2025.

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