The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which bills itself as the largest book festival in the country, will draw 150,000 people to the University of Southern California campus this weekend.
Speakers will include literary superstars Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Lethem, but there will be plenty more including Lemony Snicket, Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Olympic Gold Medalist Brian Boitano, Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, and Hollywood celebrities Molly Ringwald, Carol Burnett and John Cusack. There will be screenings by the USC Film School and Southern California’s food trucks.
On another level the festival is a lot like another event less than a week away the National Football League Draft.
The draft is an event at which every NFL team is trying to put together a roster of players that will take it one step closer to the Super Bowl Championship.
Most of the folks at the LA Times Festival will be like the millions of football fans who will be entertained by the unfolding action. But there will be a significant number of authors who are just finished with a book or who will be finished soon. They are a lot like the NFL coaches and general managers who are trying to put together a winning team.
The difference is that the authors will be trying to put together a team that will help make their book a success. Some will be looking for literary agents to place their book with a traditional publisher. Others plan to self-publish and need editors and book designers to help them create a professional looking product. Most of them will be looking for help with publicity and marketing for their book.
As they search for talent for their team, there are some things these authors could learn from the denizens of the NFL draft rooms.
- Scouting is important. You want to get the best talent available, not just the talent that has gotten the most publicity. If a self-publishing author has been on the internet at all she has been bombarded by ads for Author Solutions and Outskirts Press. That doesn’t mean they are the best options. There will be plenty of small and mid-size companies at the festival who offer the same kinds of services, but will provide much more personal attention to the author and may be willing to work with her to make sure that she doesn’t buy services she doesn’t need. Take the time to scout all of your potential choices carefully.
- Don’t get caught up in the hype. Not every All-American turns out to be a good draft choice. People will tell you they will do a lot of things. Find out what they have done for others. Make sure the person joining your team has a solid track record.
- It’s important to consider what kind of teammate a person will be before you bring him onto your team. If you are going to be working with an editor, book designer, publicist or marketer decide whether you will enjoy that relationship. The results of any partnership are better when the partners have a degree of chemistry. Make sure you feel good about anyone you consider working with as a person as well as a professional.
- Don’t overpay. The highest price tag doesn’t necessarily mean the best editor or designer. By the same token, the lowest price isn’t necessarily a bargain. Get a feel for the market to know what services should cost. Be concerned when someone tells you you’ll have to buy their package of services rather than choosing from an a la carte menu. If someone is evasive about their prices, that should be a red flag. Every team has a limited budget. Don’t bust yours on overpriced services you don’t need.
NFL general managers and coaches are running a business. So are you as an author. Any business benefits from gathering the best information available information about of all of the options then make the best choice about who to hire. One size does not fit all. Every team’s needs are different. Make sure the people you choose to help you make your book a success are the best people for you.
And if you’ll be at the festival stop by Booth 146 and talk to us about your book project