On Saturday, March 4 over 80 authors will be in Irving for a free day-long event. This event is called the North Texas Teen Book Festival (NTTBF). While you can find most of this information at nttbf.org and on the NTTBF Twitter feed (@NTTBFest), I might have some more experienced information and tips that can help your day run a lot more smoothly.
So on Valentine’s Day, the NTTBF released its program, which means it’s time to start deciding which sessions you want to go to.
As someone who has been going to the NTTBF since it first started, here is some of my advice:
1) Plan which sessions you want to go to ahead of time and write down all the information.
2) Plan a back up session for each hour because you never know which ones will get full before you get there and you won’t be allowed in.
3) Don’t be upset if the session you wanted to go to is full. Last year, a friend and I couldn’t get into the big “To the Silver Screen” one, so we popped into a very small one about graphic novels. The guy who invented Poptropica was there, and he drew a guy who fell asleep in the first row. He gave the drawing to him, and we all had a good laugh. (Also, some of the authors were kind enough to sign my books beforehand too, but don’t expect that to happen to you.) It was the best session we attended all day!
4) Food isn’t allowed during the sessions, so pick an hour to go eat. There is a great outdoor area on the second floor (I believe), which is shaded and wasn’t all that crowded last year. Also, it was fun to look at the HUGE line of school buses literally stretching into the distance. The food lines are long, expensive, and basic (banana for $3! Stuff like that), so I recommend bringing your own. And bring a lot of good food, because books are heavier then you think, especially when you are carrying them around all day. I guess you could leave for lunch, but good luck finding a parking spot again.
5) Buy every one out of three books there. (In other words, for every two books you bring, buy one there.) The books are sold new by Half Price Books, so it’s not like you are paying $20 a book. Buying books there keeps admission and signings free, which I always appreciate. I tend to buy books for my younger siblings for future birthday presents, mostly because not only am I in a family that reads a lot, but they tend not to cost as much and because lines for those particular authors are pretty short. Also, here is the list of books being sold there.
6) If you are bringing several books, or if you know that one author’s line is going to be long, don’t go to the 3:00 session and instead get in line. There is one big line that goes into where the authors are signing, which is then divided into smaller lines for each author. Last year, the line was so long that it went outside and around the building. And remember, this IS Texas, so outside isn’t always… pleasant. Even in March. Point being, get in line early so you don’t end up in the outside part. Also, if you are outside, don’t plan on having time to get all of your books signed. Pick your favorites, note which authors have shorter lines, and go.
7) Some authors (like Marie Lu and Veronica Ross) require you have a special ticket in order to have a book signed by them, which are handed out during the day. Don’t count on being able to get these tickets, though. They run out fairly quickly, even if you run to get in line from the floor above.
8) This is basically an all day event. If you can go with your friends, great! If you can carpool, even better! But you WILL be both tired and hungry by the end of the day, so going out to eat is a perfect way to wind down and to gloat with your friends.
These are just a few tips I picked up in my travels, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask! I can only help, after all.