Book ‘Em North Carolina Writer’s Conference and Book Fair

I’ve been asked many times how I’ve managed to organize the annual Book ‘Em North Carolina Writer’s Conference and Book Fair. The event takes place on the last Saturday of each February in sunny Lumberton, North Carolina. The last event brought in more than 2,000 attendees and more than 75 featured authors and publishers. The success of the event isn’t by accident. It’s the result of hundreds of hours of work by dozens of volunteers.

Laying the Groundwork: I began lining up community support several years ago for Book ‘Em North Carolina, an event to raise funds for literacy programs in Robeson County. We gathered support from the City of Lumberton (always important to get local leaders involved), the Lumberton Area Visitors Bureau (instrumental for publicity efforts), area businesses (sponsorships), civic groups (volunteers), schools (school-age attendance and volunteers with boundless energy), non-profits (to whom the literacy funds will go), among others. When we were offered Robeson Community College for the location, we were ready to get started.

Lining Up the Authors: We begin accepting author registrations in March—a full year before the big event. Press releases are sent to major author groups over the summer and a team concentrates on getting the headliners—authors at the top of their game whose participation helps us attract high quality authors as well as more attendees. Our last event headlined two New York Times best-selling authors: Carla Neggers and Michael Palmer. Our upcoming event will headline New York Times best-selling author Mary Alice Monroe as well as acclaimed Hollywood producer Chuck Williams, who will speak about turning books into movies. I developed our website, posting every author’s picture, bio and links as they registered. Over time, I added dozens of informational pages.

Sponsorships: We solicit businesses for sponsorships of $250 to $2,000 apiece, instrumental for promoting and marketing the event.

Publicity: We begin periodic press releases each spring, which are picked up by mainstream and Internet media. We obtain media sponsors and worked steadily with newspapers, television and radio stations. The big promotional push begins each January 2.

Logistics: The conference and book fair features more than 75 authors selling and signing their books, which means we must have tables and adequate space not only for the authors but for traffic flow. We’ve divided two buildings into fiction, non-fiction, young adult and a special Children’s Corner, meticulously measuring hallways and classrooms. Five sets of talks go on simultaneously – panel discussions and solo talks for every genre – plus readings for small children. Each talk requires a moderator; each hallway and conference room requires a Team Captain and host of volunteers. There’s an Author’s Lounge, volunteer greeters, music in the cafeteria, events in the Children’s Corner and centralized cash registers, each requiring a team of volunteers.

Afterward: When the event is over, our work is not: we clean up the space used, reconcile all the funds received, pay authors and publishers their portion of the book sales, award the non-profits funding for literacy efforts, and donate remaining books to literacy groups.
Then we start the whole process over.

Book ‘Em North Carolina is held on the last Saturday of each February in Lumberton, NC. The event is FREE and open to the public. A portion of every book sale is donated to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Robeson County, Communities In Schools, and Friends of the Robeson County Public Library for literacy campaigns for all ages. The Book ‘Em Foundation was founded by author p.m.terrell, who wrote this blog, and Police Officer Mark Kearney, to raise awareness of the link between high crime rates and high illiteracy rates. p.m.terrell remains the co-chair of the annual Book ‘Em North Carolina event.

Guest post by p.m.terrell, the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 16 books, including Vicki's Key, a 2012 International Book Awards finalist, and River Passage, 2010 Best Fiction & Drama winner. She is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation whose slogan is "Buy a Book and Stop a Crook" and the co-chair of Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference & Book Fair. For more information, visit
Twitter: @pmterrell
Facebook: Patricia M. Terrell

p.m. will be giving a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly drawn commenter and so I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:


  1. A massive undertaking. It must feel amazing when it all comes together.


  2. That sounds like a lot of work.

  3. Being so active in the community must be difficult, though rewarding. It must be hard juggling exhaustive community work and writing.

  4. Thank you, everyone, for dropping by and leaving a comment!
    Yes, you are all correct when you mentioned the amount of work involved. It IS a tremendous undertaking. I've estimated my own time as well into the hundreds each year - and that doesn't take into account the 250+ volunteers who help in so many ways. But it is immensely gratifying to hear from authors who have been published as a result of attending the conference; people who are now reading more; and hearing so many positive comments from so many throughout the community. It does get very difficult, Chrysrawr, to juggle my own work and responsibilities. But in the end, it's well worth it!

  5. Thanks for sharing

  6. p.m....I can't believe that I have lived in the Wilmington area for 7 years now and have not been to a Book 'Em North Carolina Conference. I will definitely plan on going in February. If there are flyers, I can post them in my Library as the event gets closer.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

    1. Hi, Catherine!
      Thanks for dropping by. And I appreciate your offer to post flyers! We do have them online - Go to and click on the "Downloads" link. There is a PDF file that can be printed in any size you'd like.
      I hope to meet you in person when you attend BENC next February!
      Thanks for helping us spread the word.


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