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6 Tips for Making the Best of Author Panels

Festival Staff / January 18, 2017

Have you had a look at the Presenting Authors Schedule yet? It’s a bit hefty and daunting, but there are some really great things happening this year! In my opinion, panels are the best thing about book festivals. Sure, there’s signings and shopping (and eating!) but the panels are really where it all is. You get to dive more deeply into authors you already know, and get to know those you don’t, even possibly finding a new favorite (and then having to go back and read everything they’ve done). You might even find yourself in love with a new genre!

So here are some tips for getting the best out of author panels:

Tip 1: Use the Scheduler

Ahead of time, use the desktop scheduler and see what’s happening and when. Get a feel for how many panels there are and when and where they’re going to be. You can star things you want to go to and see just what your two days could look like. You can also limit by genre or age group, but then you wouldn't see everything else! In the end, you can see everything you've starred in a printable format.

Tip 2: Use the App

After messing around with the desktop scheduler, use the app to add panels you’d actually like to attend. You’ll get realtime updates while you’re at the festival if anything happens, and you have something to rely on for definite information about your plans.

Tip 3: Get Tickets

There are a lot of big names at this year’s festival and the more popular panels are going to be ticketed. (Don't worry; they're free!) The panels that will require tickets will have a little ticket icon in the scheduler. If you’re a Friend of the Festival [link], you’ll have access on March 1. If you’re not, you’ll be able to get them a few days later. They go fast. Just so you know.

Tip 4: Don’t Overplan

I’ve said there are a lot of panels, and you’ll want to go to all of them. But make sure you carve time out for book signings, strolling through the UA Mall, and sustenance. And breaks. I don’t know about you, but I make sure to plan out a bit of time to just hide in a quiet part of campus for a few minutes. As the third-best-attended book festival in the US, there are a lot of people.

Tip 5: Be Open! Be Flexible!

You might not get tickets to the panels you want to go to, or when you show up to an open one, you might not find yourself enjoying it. Wander into a panel down the hall—who knows, you might discover a new favorite or end up at something that didn’t make it to your second draft. Maybe you’re at Science City with the kids and the next thing you’ve planned is down at the Student Union, but they’re still in line to make a rocket. Have a seat and watch whoever’s performing on the Science City Food Court Stage instead, and see if those authors will be speaking later.

Tip 6: Enjoy Yourself!

Nobody goes to the festival to be stressed out or bored. If you find yourself either of those things, stop, take a breath, and change gears. With thousands upon thousands of people attending, there are all kinds of things to do. So if you’re not enjoying that panel, leave. If you want to follow the author you just fell in love with to their next panel instead of going to the one you’d planned on attending, do it. If you want to just grab some food and sit outside people-watching, have at it! The Tucson Festival of Books is your festival, and you can approach it however you’d like to.

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Major Sponsors

Friend of the Festival
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