The Alabama Book Festival promotes literacy and celebrates books and reading. Each year we invite writers who have published books within a year to 18 months before the festival to talk about their work, either individually or on a panel, and we ask that presenting authors also be available after their presentations to sign books.
Like all aspects of the Alabama Book Festival, book selection is handled by a committee of volunteers. Criteria are not rigid, but a few common attributes of selected books have emerged over the years the festival has been held.
- Typically, the committee looks for an Alabama connection, through the author, the subject of the book or the location of the publisher, although a connection is not a requirement.
- The genres of books we consider include poetry, fiction, narrative nonfiction (essays, history, memoirs and biographies, travel, the arts), cook books and food-related narrative, and children's and young adult fiction and nonfiction. Because we're promoting literature and reading, we do not consider self-help, medical, how-to, or books whose primary focus is academic or religious.
- We do consider self-published books in most of the same genres as for traditionally published authors. Self-published books are published by the author or through joint-venture, vanity, or subsidy publishers or print-on-demand services. However, we do not consider self-published poetry collections. Authors of self-published books must agree to make their books available to the festival bookseller under terms comparable with those of commercially published books.
- The publication date is often considered. A book released within the past year usually contributes to excitement about the author's appearance, ensuring a larger audience for the author, and the publisher is more likely to help support the author's travel to the festival. However, date of publication within the past year is not a hard-and-fast requirement.
- Finally, the committee looks at the festival as a whole and selects some books that represent the theme of the festival that year and others that represent a wide variety of genres, subjects, and styles to appeal to readers interested in many different kinds of topics and types of writing.
One of the most exciting indicators of the festival's growth is that authors now ask to participate rather than wait to be invited, and attendees suggest authors they would love to see. The book selection committee takes all of these requests and suggestions into careful consideration. Of course, this growth also means that the committee receives many, many more requests and suggestions than the festival program can possibly accommodate. Therefore, unavoidably, not all well-qualified books can be selected in any given year.