This weekend I attended the Texas Book Festival, along with 40 thousand other
men, women, children and dogs. My meticulously highlighted program led me through the State Capitol maze to an impressive array of author/speakers, including Robert Caro, Scott Simon, Rick Bragg, James Kenneth Galbraith, H. W. Brands, and Michael Barson.
Capturing his audience like a Southern Baptist preacher, homeboy biographer/historian Professor Brands teased us with tidbits about FDR & Eleanor’s sex life from the pulpit of a church adjacent to the Capitol. Rocking back and forth from behind the podium, his tall lanky self gazed out at both the mezzanine and the gallery, and was far and away the most engaging speaker and best book salesman at the Festival.
I went right out and bought his 800-page Traitor to his Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, without any confidence whatsoever that I would get through it. Now that I’m reading it, I don’t want to put it down, but I have to every once in a while because it is so heavy. Brands had endorsed client Paul Schneider’s book and was gracious in signing my copy of his FDR bio.
The white Exhibition tents along Colorado Street were a beehive at all hours both days. One of the first guys I see strolling through is the nicest guy in the business, Michael Merschel,Book Editor for the Dallas Morning News.
I especially enjoyed meeting live and in person with Texas A&M Press Marketer Gayla Christiansen (College Station), who worked with me on Paul Cool’s blog tour promoting his first nonfiction, Salt Warriors.
Travis County Historical Commissioner Jane Manaster, who endorsed new client Jack London’s upcoming historical fiction, surprised me in Texas Tech Press’ booth. Jane introduced me to Texas Tech Press Marketing Manager, Dr. Barbara Brannon (Lubbock). Judith Keeling, Barbara’s Editor-in-Chief, was sitting right behind me in the Capitol Annex when her author won the Writers’ League of Texas Violet Crown Award for nonfiction.
Colleen Devine Ellis (Austin), UT Press’ Marketing Manager, had her whole vibrant team in their large full-of-books booth including Nancy Lavender Bryan.
And I finally got to shake hands with Native American author Tim Tingle’s (Canyon Lake) publisher, Lee Merrill Byrd (El Paso) at the Cinco Puntos Press booth.
Make sure the Texas Book Festival is the first thing on your 2009 calendar.