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Volunteering at Bloody Scotland (2014)

October 3rd, 2014 | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Volunteering at Bloody Scotland (2014)
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Bloody Scotland Info Desk

Working the Info Desk

I volunteered for the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival (which took place September 19th-21st) and got to experience the behind-the-scenes work of a major literary event. The amount of effort it requires to keep everything moving smoothly — from helping guests to setting up tech equipment to carting around boxes of books — is astonishing; and that’s just what the volunteers were doing! Staff and festival managers were running around directing author panels and coordinating volunteer efforts while still managing to keep big smiles on their faces.

One of the things I noticed quickly about the festival was how close-knit this crime-fiction community was. The guests that I spoke with were all avid readers of crime fiction and were familiar with many, if not all, of the authors’ works. Unlike many other genres, there didn’t seem to be a gender imbalance in the crime community; just as many men attended as women. It was very obvious from the types of books being presented that this genre has a lot of room for diversity as well as a very well-defined market niche.

From my experience attending book festivals in Texas, I was surprised that most of the author panels cost money to attend. It is common for American book festivals to be open and free for audience members and to cover costs by relying solely on corporate sponsorship and souvenir sales. In many ways, I think Bloody Scotland missed out on reaching a wider audience by charging guests to see author panels; I think people who might be interested in learning more about crime fiction, but aren’t familiar with certain authors, might be dissuaded from attending because of high prices.

Overall, Bloody Scotland succeeded in connecting authors with their readers and promoting new works to those who are always looking for the next crime to solve. For me, getting to meet the wonderful staff and volunteers as well as listen in on a few author panels was an amazing opportunity. I would highly recommend that anyone interested in learning more about book promotion and marketing strategies volunteer at a book festival; the experience is well worth it.