Determining the Programming Format and Festival Schedule

Once you have the majority of your presenters set, then your planning committee can decide upon the format for the day including the opening and closing times. Your event can run for one day or more depending on the number of presenters and the logistics of the site. If you have a keynote, that person’s schedule may dictate when he or she speaks at the festival. However, if possible, try to open the event with a keynote address, which should ideally set the tone for the day and prepare attendees for the rest of the book festival. You might decide to have an opening keynote speaker and a closing performance or speaker as well. If you have a large number of presenters, you should set up concurrent sessions (the number determined by the space limitations at the site.) Having a floor plan of the space available to you, including the maximum capacities in each breakout room, is essential. The sessions can be panels of speakers covering a common topic or individual presenters who prefer to do a solo presentation. Each session should run the same amount of time, 45-60 minute slots with 15 minutes in between each one to allow attendees to move to the next session, get books autographed, visit the festival bookstore and the vendors. These concurrent sessions can include topics covering, but not limited to, the following:

You may find that some topics lend themselves to more than one session depending on your presenters in that area. You might have a session on writing poetry and one on organizing a poetry slam. You could decide to dedicate a space for children’s authors to read aloud from their books to young attendees on a rotating basis and then have those same people be on a panel discussing writing or illustrating for young readers. An example of a one-day book festival schedule with six program slots in four breakout rooms plus a keynote is:


Book Festival – 9:30 am – 5:30 pm

**Topic/Theme and Room Name or Number with Its Maximum Capacity – make sure you create a chart with those headings across the top

10:00 - 10:30 am


10:45 - 11:30 am - Program Slot #1

Historical Fiction Panel

Memoir Writing

Journalist to Author

Designing a Book Jacket

11:45 am - 12:30 pm - Program Slot #2

Graphic Novel Panel

Secrets of Publicity

Going from Blog to Book

Women's Fiction

12:45 - 1:30 pm - Program Slot #3


Favorite Illustrators


Individual Presenter

1:45 – 2:30 pm - Program Slot #4

Writing for Young Readers

Future of Publishing

How to Write & Sell Your First Mystery

Adult Sports Panel

2:45 - 3:30 pm - Program Slot #5

Creative Writing Panel

Young Adult/Adult Fantasy Writers Panel

Romance Panel

Individual Presenter

3:45 - 4:30 pm - Program Slot #6

Individual Presenter

Poetry Slams


Cooking Panel

*A template of a blank book festival table can be found in the Sample Forms/Templates section of this toolkit.

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