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Sunshine State Book Festival January 30, 2021

Bringing Readers and Writers Together – Digitally

Free Author Registration

Florida has an amazing literary history dating back to William Bartram nearly 250 years ago, and today Gainesville is a leading center of literary culture and home to hundreds of writers, novelists, playwrights, and poets.

Last January, the 2020 Sunshine State Book Festival brought 75 authors and 3,000 readers together. To maintain the festival’s momentum, while being mindful of everyone’s safety, the 2021 Sunshine State Book Festival will be an online digital event. The festival will open January 30, 2021, and remain accessible to visitors through June 30, 2021.

What will our online book festival look like?

Popular aspects of our previous festival will continue. Prominent guest speakers intended to draw visitors will give featured talks—all free and open to the public.

Festival visitors will be able to virtually “stroll” aisles of authors’ booths and “meet” the author via a video supplied by the author. Interested readers can browse books in a booth by clicking on a cover image, then using Amazon’s “Look inside” feature, they can see the back cover blurb and read a few pages. Afterwards, visitors will be exactly positioned to click the “Buy Now” button, garnering the author a sale.

Booths for authors of children’s books will be in a separate area of the festival site featuring picture books, chapter books, and middle-grade readers. A menu link will allow visitors to jump straight there.

View a prototype of festival booths on the Preview Page.


Authors of all genres are invited to participate in the 2021 festival. The goal of Writers Alliance of Gainesville (WAG) is to promote, encourage, and support writers. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided not to charge authors a registration fee for 2021. That doesn’t mean participants might not incur some cost. To be accepted for the festival, each participating author must supply a good quality video. Authors who lack the skill to make and edit a video may have to pay someone to have one created for them. Our Video Instructions page has the video specifications and a list of resources that may help.


Letting visitors know about our festival is obviously important. Our marketing and publicity plan includes both print and electronic media. Media outlets have been identified including newspapers, magazines, area television stations, and online community calendars. We also plan to initiate a social media campaign to advertise the event and promote interaction among participants and their followers. Schools, libraries, bookstores, retirement homes, museums, and other organizations are part of our outreach program.

A book festival is a celebration of learning and literacy that should be fun as well as educational, bringing together people of all ages who share a love of reading and who will leave the event inspired by their experiences. One upside of hosting a virtual festival is that distance is not a problem. We can bring people who live too far away to attend otherwise.

   Free Admission

Guest Speakers

The following noted authors have agreed to speak at our festival. Check back January 2021 for program times and details.

Jack Davis

Jack Davis

Pulitzer Prize winner

Kim & Gilly

Kimberly Jones
& Gilly Segal

NAACP Image Award Nominees

Stanley Richardson

E. Stanley Richardson

Alachua County Poet Laureate

Tim Dorsey

Tim Dorsey


Tom Wiggins

Dr. Tom A. Wiggins


Sunshine State Book Festival

is made possible with the assistance of gracious sponsors

The 2020 Sunshine State Book Festival was made possible with the generous assistance of local businesses and grants from Florida Humanities, Santa Fe College, Friends of the Library, and WAG. For 2021, we again look to the business community, non-profit organizations, and government agencies for their gracious support.

Please consider becoming one of our sponsors  Download a Sponsor Information Packet