All the World’s a Book Fair (or Writer’s Conference) Calendar

Did October sneak up on you the way it did to me? That makes sense. Summer lowers our defenses, and autumn doesn’t announce itself the way it used to do. No, it’s always Halloween that lets you know the end of the year is coming—it’s usually a chilly night. Then the Christmas music starts. No, the Christmas hype doesn’t come earlier every year, it’s started right after Halloween for decades now. We really need to come up with some Thanksgiving songs.

Before all that craziness comes into play, we do have a full month of book fairs. Let the leaves pile up!

The Cavalcade of Authors (September 30–October 2)

Chicago, IL

There’s a 1920s theme! It starts with a Cotton Club formal dinner, followed by midnight chats for VIP ticket holders. The dozen and a half authors in attendance include bestselling romance novelist Farrah Rochon; J.L. Woodson, whose debut novel was published when he was sixteen; G.P.A. (Greatest Poet Alive), poet (natch) and actor (his guest spots include appearances on Empire, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Med); and Pat Simmons, author of thirty Christian titles and a two-time recipient of the Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance. For the main event on Saturday night, come dressed as your favorite character from the movie Harlem Nights for the Harlem Nights Soiree. Now, that should be fun!

The Allentown Paper Show (October 1–2)

Allentown, PA

Like vintage books and old posters and postcards? Neither do I, but some people are going to love this! Features more than 70 vendors of such miscellanea as sports memorabilia, antique toys, rare books, political buttons, Civil War items, travel art, luggage tags, and old magazines. A pack rat’s dream!

New York Comic Con (October 6–9)

New York, NY

If you only have time for one book fair this fall, this is the one to choose. Doctor Who’s Jenna Coleman and Matt Smith will be there. Adam Freaking Batman West will be there. (Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if that guy was there every time.) Celebs galore (CARRIE FISHER! KEEGAN MICHAEL-KEY! STAN LEE!! NEIL DeGRASSE TYSON!) With at least 336 events to choose from, you’ll be hard-pressed to decide what to attend. Author panels with the likes of Ethan Hawke. Or if celebs aren’t your thing, how about workshops like “Comics and STEM Education,” “Villain Squad: Villains and Anti-Heroes in Literature,” or “Teaching History Through Comics”? And how on earth will you choose between the utterly frivolous Karaoke Party or “Blast-a-Trooper,” a fund-raising event for the Make-a-Wish foundation that gives you the chance to blast live Star Wars characters with Nerf blasters? Why choose? So much to do, so little time….

Los Gatos—Listowel Writers’ Festival (October 6–9)

Los Gatos, CA

A tribute to the weeklong Irish festival, this conference covers a wide-ranging list of topics, some with Irish themes, some not. Author readers include Erica Goss, poet laureate of Los Gatos, and Ethan Rohan, author of The Weight of Him. Don’t miss “Poems Silly and Serious,” readings from the work of Gabriel Fitzmaurice, one of Ireland’s favorite children’s poets. Eight workshops, including Memoir Writing with Hugo Hamilton and A to Z of the First Two Pages with Caroline Bracken. Speaker events, panel discussions (“Women in Irish Crime Fiction,” “Science and Poetry: Predation or Symbiosis?”) and in-conversation events with some of today’s top writers. For fans of the obscure, don’t miss “Flanneurs’ Dramatic Readings: A Bay Area Tribute to Flann O’Brien” on Sunday.

Alternative Press Expo (October 8–9)

San Jose, CA

Author appearances by Gene Luen Yang, currently serving as the Library of Congress’ fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature; big-deal animator Bob Scott, veteran of many a Pixar and Dreamworks enterprise, and creator of the Molly and the Bear comic strip; and comic book writer, artist, and inker Jimmie Robinson, who will talk about Power Lines, a series about racially aware superheroes. My racial sense is tingling! Visit the Exhibit Hall, with about 275 booths, 350 exhibitors, and “the coolest stuff you will ever see anywhere”!

Liber International Book Fair (October 12–14)

Barcelona, Spain

This biannual event, which showcases Spanish-language literature, alternates between Barcelona and Madrid. I haven’t given these cities extensive thought, but now I need to know which is the cooler city. I’m betting on Barcelona, and we’re going to have to wait two years to find out if I was wrong. The fair is exclusively reserved for professionals of the publishing industry, so if you’re a civilian you’re out of luck, though this seems largely esoteric anyway. Features around one hundred speakers and more than 50 conferences on a wide variety of topics, including “Crowd-Funded Publishing as an Alternative to Self-Publishing,” as well as round tables devoted to “promoting the publishing industry, analyzing trends, and discussing changes in business models, digital books, and new opportunities.”

New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association Fall Conference (October 15–17)

Baltimore, Maryland

The theme is “Expanding Frontiers,” and events that fit the bill include “Graphic Novels,” with panelists who will show you how turn and generate great sales if you know how to stock and sell this “sweet spot,” and “Special in Every Way,” a discussion of the special needs market focusing on children and how to improve their experience in your store. Learn marketing tips, network with publishers and authors, and eat breakfast with the likes of Laurie Halse Anderson (Ashes), Hannah Tinti (The Twelve Bullets of Samuel Hawley), and Susan Perabo (The Fall of Lisa Bellow). There is a “Moveable Feast” lunch event as well, which is either a Hemingway reference or a hint that it’s take-out.

Vancouver Writers Fest (October 18–23)

Vancouver, Canada

Colson Whitehead will be talking about his super-hot book The Underground Railroad, which imagines the historic system devised to free slaves from the South as an actual train system. Workshops and discussions galore, including “Setting the Hook for Suspense,” “Tomboy Survival Guide,” and “Odes,” a conversation with poet Sharon Olds, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. The Room’s Emma Donahue will attend. Also, Yann Martel. Hey those are some good gets!

Frankfurt Book Fair (October 19–23)

Frankfurt, Germany

There’s a fair within this fair, on the business of Art: Art+. David Hockney is part of that. There’s also the main fair, with conferences focused on the business of writing. All it would need is a fair within a fair about cookbooks and it would have everything!

Gourmand International World Cookbook Fair (October 19–23)

Frankfurt, Germany

A subset of the Frankfurt Book Fair, celebrating the best food and wine books and television shows. A must for foodies. Maybe this year they’ll answer why the study of food doesn’t have a better word than “gastronomy,” which just sounds like farting in space.

Helsinki Book Fair (October 27–30)

Helsinki, Finland

Finland is the place where everything ends. They also have a lot of fish. I found their web presence to be less than spectacular. They do promise that “Nordic countries offer more than crime novels” and offer 800 presentations by approximately 1,000 authors (the majority come from Nordic countries, but also appearing are Andrus Kivirähk and Rein Raud from Estonia; and Don Rosa, Kelly A. Turner, and Tim Walker from the USA), as well as translators, directors, actors, artists, and politicians. Speaking of Nordic people, and by extension their ancient gods, did you hear that Thor and Daft Punk have teamed up a song called “Up All Night to Get Loki”?

International Belgrade Book Fair (October 27–30)

Belgrade, Serbia

Billed as the “61th” such fair. (The website is in Serbian!) This is reportedly the most visited annual cultural event in the country. That’s either a wonderful fact for Serbia or it’s horribly depressing.

Are you ready for autumn? Were the heat waves of summer enough to urge you on? Or are you getting depressed at the prospect of getting seasonally depressed? Whether you’re thrilled or sad, use it for your writing, and get out and meet the other people who are using their thrills and sadness. Up and autumn!