For one thing, he said, authors shouldn’t have to pay to be there.
His first experience with the festivals was in Houston, Texas. He wanted to get exposure to his first book, Plain Talk, which was released in 2009.
“They charged so much money for an author just to get a table,” he said. “Then you have to factor in travel, hotel stay and all of that. By the time you finish paying for everything, you would have to sell a ridiculous amount of books to break even.”
Guests paid admission to attend, which Washington said was money they could have spent on books.
Then he wondered why Augusta authors should have to travel to sell their books when there was enough talent here to support a local festival.
So with the help of Sherryl James, the outreach librarian for the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library, he created one.
Last year’s inaugural Augusta Literary Festival drew 50 authors and about 4,000 guests, Washington said. This year, 100 authors have signed up to participate.
He said more probably could have been added, but space limitations required a cap to be set at 100.
On March 2, authors will set up displays throughout the first floor of the main library on Telfair Street. It will coincide with the beginning of National Reading Month.
Seventeen authors are scheduled to speak about their books and answer questions.
An award was created this year in honor of the late Frank Yerby, the native Augustan and an award-winning novelist.
Dr. Eugene Stovall, who has written a book about Yerby, will speak about the author’s works. The Yerby Award will be presented at an author’s reception on March 1.
Washington said authors from at least 12 other states will also attend the festival, some of whom are published by major publishing houses such as Simon & Schuster. Authors will not have to pay a registration fee to set up a booth.
“That’s kind of what we wanted for the authors – they didn’t have to pay overhead for the tables or anything. All profits went to them. Whatever they sold, nobody asked for a cut of it,” he said.
Washington will have copies of his newest book, Nobody Cages Me, for sale.
In it, he examines the music of Jimi Hendrix and the disconnect between the black guitarist and the black community.
The Augusta Literary Festival will open at 10 a.m. and is free to attend. For more information, visit www.augustaliteraryfestival.com.