Now in its fourth year, the Boston Book Festival is best described as a one-day, all-encompassing literary orgy. On Saturday, October 27, the fest will draw hundreds, even thousands, of people to Copley Square to attend seminars, workshops, and lectures presented by the publishing industry’s most coveted players. As a frequent attendee, this writer has discovered the difference between a memorable and a miserable BBF experience. It’s my civic duty to ensure that your own experience will make you want to do amazing things afterward, like write your magnum opus.
Or at least read a fucking book.
No one will discover your Great American Novel:
Because this is not the place to find a literary agent. With the exception of Writer Idol (10:15 am, Old South Church), which requests (in caps) “THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript,” and the Flash Fiction Open Mic (2 pm, Old South Church), which asks for “your very, very short story … no longer than three minutes,” the only kind of bound paper you should have on you is a notebook (or, well, a book).
The BBF is a place to learn:
About reading, writing, and how the publishing industry works. It’s not a place to stalk out an agent (who, if discovered, will politely avoid you like the plague) or convince anyone within earshot that you’re the next E. L. James. Make like Sylvia Plath and put those lofty ideas of returning home with a six-figure book contract to rest. Consider saving them for a writer-agent conference, like Grub Street’s Muse & The Marketplace.
Figure out where you’re going ahead of time:
Seems like common sense, right? But be honest: How many of us can readily cite where the Boston Public Library’s Abbey Room is? These seats fill up fast (some ticketed events are already full) so you’re S.O.L. if you’re late, and you’re an asshole if you decide to traipse in anyway wearing click-y little heels that echo off the linoleum floor.
Did I mention the tourists:
Anytime a large gathering assembles in Copley—be it the BBF, a collective band of Save the Children street pirates, or those cheeky break-dancers—a crowd inevitably draws, marked by couples with matching sweatshirts tied around their waists, a flux of melting Pinkberry cones, and group photos posed near the Marathon finish line. To which, I say: Breathe. Just breathe.
Because, Bostonians (this goes for you too, Cantabrians), these tourists will not only be clogging our sidewalks and subways, they’ll be hogging up the attention of every restaurant’s hostess stand within a mile radius of the Back Bay, asking where they can get quarters for their parking meters and who has a $5 club sandwich. Sure, you can “accidentally” shove them on the Green Line when they refuse to make room for you and your oversized backpack. But remember that tourism helps keep our city abuzz, and being a dick only magnifies the fact that, well, you’re kind of a dick.
Above all, have fun! Make friends!
Feel happy that you live in a culturally rich city with free shit to do. And if you hate crowds or are generally antisocial, consider it your civic duty to avoid Copley Square on October 27.
BOSTON BOOK FESTIVAL
TIMES VARY/ALL AGES/FREE.