By R.S. Mellete
In 2015, when we first decided to have a booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, I had no idea where we should request our booth. When I looked at the map of the festival, I saw Childs Way and figured that’s where the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators should be, right?
I’m not from Los Angeles. I didn’t go to USC or UCLA. The most time I’ve ever spent on either campus has been working on movie locations, so I had no idea that Child’s Way was the name of a street, not a section of the festival — which ended up being in the “Hero Complex.”
Okay, no big deal. Something near the Children’s or YA stage might have been more appropriate, but it was year one. Live and learn.
Year two I had that fear we all have about writing a sequel. It went so smoothly the first year, I didn’t want to jinx anything, so we stayed on Childs Way. It rained that year, so the crowd sizes were down — though the people who showed up definitely wanted to buy books, so I think we all did well.
Last year, I finally moved the booth over by the Children’s Stage. Going into the festival, I felt good about it. Children’s authors, Children’s stage, we should do great, right?
I learned a good lesson that year. Sometimes your first choice is the right one. The Hero Complex is a main thoroughfare. Foot traffic was ten times more than by the stage. Kids, parents, young adults, grandparents, dogs, USC students all passed by our booth on Childs Way. Sure, near the stage, customers had time to talk to authors and artists, take their time, consider what they wanted to do. It was like a quaint little country store.
The Hero Complex was crowded, hectic, and wonderful. Sellers still got to talk to their customers, they just had to speak up. Customers still got to make up their minds, but they had less time to reconsider. They bought more.
So, when you’re looking for the booth for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, skip the Children’s Stage. Don’t even bother with the Young Adults. Instead, look for the heroes, in booth 831 on Childs Way, April 21-22.
See ya there!
Exhibitor space for the SCBWI-LA booth at the festival is full, but if you’d like to volunteer in some capacity, please email LosAngeles@scbwi.org.
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Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand, is R.S. Mellette’s debut novel from Elephant Bookshelf’s Press, followed by Billy Bobble And the Witch Hunt. Prior to Billy Bobble, Mellette published Sci-Fi short stories in the anthologies: The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse, Spring Fevers and Summer’s Edge. Mellette is associate director of the Dances With Films Festival and a regional board member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Photos provided by R.S. Mellete.