Books, Authors and Difficult Decisions

"You cannot open a book without learning something.” Confucius

Books surround me. I have one on the go at all times and 10 or so in wait. I read one book at a time, letting it consume me before I go on to the next one.

To say I love them would be an understatement. Books are my friends, my teachers, my entertainment, and my escape. But, at this time of the year, the pile doubles and sometimes triples. Publishers and authors alike send me their books hoping for an invitation to the festival I organize. I’m inundated. Exhausted. Worried.

 I try to read all the books sent. How else can I decide which author to invite?

They are all good books, worthy of attention. I’ve loved the images so eloquently described in books of poetry, felt the joy, grief, and all the catastrophes life can dish out in works of memoir, cheered for the heroes of young adult novels and learned a great deal about myself, and the world, in novels and novellas. These books deserve to be read, profiled, and loved.

I like to think my three-day festival offers them this opportunity.

My struggle comes from wanting to include them all.

I’ve come up with various schemes to do just that. First I added another day to the festival, then tacked on more events, then doubled up on events so we’d have workshops and readings running concurrently. And to the credit of our audience, they have continued to embrace our authors and their books. Our numbers have steadily increased, despite economic woes and the plethora of distractions.

Still reality does rear its head and bites me.

On average, I get about 100 or so pitches a year. Money and budget become the issue. I do the math. I try to ignore it. Right down to the wire.

In the end, there is no snubbing dollars and cents.

So I pick the 30 or so authors who will attend the festival by matching well-known, high profile authors with up and comers. This raises the profile of all the authors. With some luck, new discoveries are made.

Sometimes I match similar topics. And I include as many divergent points of views as possible in order to stimulate discussion and thought.

Then I keep my fingers crossed and hope it will all work out. I never really know what will happen until show time, which is very stressful for a compulsive planner and worrier like me.

What happens to those not included? I think about them all the time, wonder if I might do something for them next year. I scheme some more. 

I don’t like saying no to any author, but I’ve learned to say it as compassionately as possible. If there’s something else I can do (an Amazon or Goodreads review) for a book not selected, I do it.

We all have to help each other in this business. But given what books have done for me, it never feels as though I’m doing enough.

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