By Aaron Viltres and Fred Wu
A Physician turned aspiring author launched his first book fair in Long Island on October 19th in order to help other small local authors as well as himself gain the exposure they need.
Michael Lee held his first book fair at the Holiday Inn in Westbury where more than 40 local authors attended.
“A lot of authors here are either debut authors or newly published and with this fair I’m making it affordable for these authors to gain exposure,” Lee said. It cost thousands of dollars to buy a table at a book fair expo, which is something most newly published authors can’t afford, he said.
A Stony Brook University medical school graduate, Lee released his first book “Not Gonna Write Poems” in February 2019. The inspiration to write it came from his daughter.
“My wife and I used to read my daughter poems before bed every night by her favorite author Shel Silverstein, unfortunately he died, but I thought hey maybe I can write my own poems,” Lee said. The book includes 78 poems as well as illustrations by Lee and his daughter.
Face painter Angela Ochon, who is a high school English teacher, attended the book fair. Not only was she impressed with the fair, but loved the follow up initiative by Lee, who will send half the proceeds from the fair to The Nonforprofit, and organization that spreads awareness of domestic violence and raises funds for local victims. “I absolutely love it,” Ochon said. “I don’t feel people in the area realize the need for this type of help.”
After he published his book, Lee wanted to get as much exposure as possible. But during his local tour he stumbled upon a bigger goal.
“After the book was published and we began touring locally to promote we began meeting interesting people and many of them were victims of domestic violence,” Silvia Goodman Lee, Michael’s wife, said. “[This] sparked the idea to use this platform to help a serious cause.”
While the purpose of the fair was to help up and coming artists gain exposure, another goal is to expose children to a literary environment. More than 50 kids attended the book fair this past Saturday.
“The fair is marvelous and it’s a great way to connect with children and the youth,” Bryan Huele, who’s three children attended the fair, said.
Ochon said these book fairs are important to bridge the disconnect between parents and children born in the digital era. Silvia Lee agrees, but she also said that E-books are a great resource for the digital natives.