By ANDREW ARENAS
In a wonderful culmination of reading and literature, the city of Fredericksburg held its very first Independent Book Festival at Riverfront Park this past Saturday from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Writers from a broad range of genres were there to discuss their works with others, including editors, friends and readers. The goal of the event was to bring together the community of Fredericksburg and authors of the written word.
“This festival is a great opportunity to really learn and understand what the business of writing is all about,” said magazine editor and business of writing coach Chris Jones. “The overall goal of the festival is to create a space where writers can interact with readers and help spread the word on their books to the public.”
Jones started planning the event early this year and wants to have it annually moving forward. For a long time, Fredericksburg has had several music, art and restaurant festivals, but writing did not seem to get its own spotlight from the community at all. Jones and his team of organizers wanted to change that by holding an event that is easily accessible for writers to display their own works.
One of the challenges that came with planning the event was making sure the word was getting out to authors. Once they got connected with the Fredericksburg library, interest from authors started growing exponentially.
There were more than 25 tables and exhibits that displayed works from writers, editors and comic book artists. From horror to children’s books, there were genres to suit everyone’s tastes. At the center of the festival, there was an author’s roundtable. This was for established authors to share their experiences in the industry as well as give advice to aspiring writers.
One of the exhibitors, Meredith R. Stoddard, a historical fiction author of “The River Maiden” expressed praise on how the event turned out.
“Writing can sometimes be such an isolating profession and it is nice that a community like Fredericksburg lets us interact with readers in a way that cannot be done anywhere else,” Stoddard said.
Stoddard writes a variety of stories ranging from historical fiction to nonfiction and romance. She, along with many of the authors present, want their works to stand out from what is a crowded space of books. Many of the authors expressed concern that the marketplace is oversaturated with works that are not good or a waste of the reader’s time.
“Events like this help direct the reader to works that are of good quality and encourages them to spread good word of mouth about an author,” Stoddard said.
Every exhibitor spoke very highly about the self-publishing model, as it is more accessible and keeps the profession of writing as a sustainable carrier. The wider distribution and exposure, as well as editing, gives writers more incentive to get their names out there to the world.