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line control process

(Warning: This is a lot of words but we are trying to be as thorough as possible, especially if you haven’t been to an event before.)

Over the years and through a ton of trial and error including up through our most recent Sweetgrass Author Event, we've used a ticketing/wristband method that helps the movement in the room. It ensures that each reader can use their time wisely during the event. We don't want a reader to come and stand in 1 author/vendor line for 4 hours. We do our best to resolve that by ticketing/wristbanding the lines that consistently have more than 10-15 readers. It gives the reader a placeholder to be able to leave the line and visit other authors/vendors while waiting for their number to be announced on the website. 

Not all authors will be ticketed. Most will not; however, we're always ready to ticket additional authors if needed. We are constantly watching all the lines and adjusting as needed.  

It’s important to note that while we use “ticketed/ticketing” as an explanation of this process, there is no additional paid ticket required to enter any line. Once you’ve entered the event with your Eventbrite ticket, there is no other payment required to visit any tables.

So how does it work? Well, let's talk it out.

When entering the event space, the first 10-15 readers that go to a “ticketed” table will be allowed to stay put. Beyond those 15, you'll find a volunteer placed at the end of that specific line with labeled bracelets. Please, please, please be nice to the volunteers. They are just fellow book lovers who are volunteering for hours to make your event enjoyable. They sometimes won't have the answer you're hoping for but they're working very hard, so show kindness. If you do not see a volunteer handing out bracelets for that line, there is no ticketing in place for that author currently and anyone can walk up. As you approach, the volunteer will hand you a bracelet. You don't have to necessarily put it on, though it is suggested, but you do have to show it to the volunteer later in the process. Pretty please don't lose your bracelet since that is your placeholder for that author. If you lose it, you'll have to get another bracelet if there are any left and this will cause you to be farther down the line. That would be a big-time bummer but there are no exceptions. (Pro tip #1: buy a $3 carabiner and hook it to your lanyard.)

At the start of the event, we will have as many bracelets available at each specifically ticketed table as we believe we can get through during the event. We call it book math. The volunteer on the line will have no control over this, so again, please be kind. If we get through all of the previously provided bracelets, we will open it up for more people. If you have a preorder from an author, we will make sure you can get those but please head to those tables first. (Pro tip #2: please have a list of all your preorders with you to check off so authors aren’t trying to track you down.)

Back to how it works: 

Each ticketed line has a different color with the author's last name and a pre-printed number. Once the initial 10-15 readers have reduced to approx. 5 attendees, the volunteer will update accordingly (more on that below) with the next set of numbers based on the pre-printed number on each wristband.
So the first 15 people that line up for the author don’t need tickets and can just get right to meeting the author and having books signed. When those 15 reduce to 5 once again, we'll call up another 15. 

From that point, it's rinse and repeat for the remainder of the event. If you're in another line when your number is called, don't stress! That is exactly how it's supposed to work. Your number is valid to be used (once) from any point after it is updated on the website. Ideally, if the lines are flowing correctly, the numbers called should be pretty close to accurate. For example, though, let's say you've got a bracelet of DARLING 000024. You get busy sorting books or talking to buddies and you don't realize that Giana Darling's line is open for numbers 0-000050. You're 100% okay to get in line, as most numbers will have already been through. When you get to the line, the volunteer will check your number, mark that your bracelet has been used, and voila! Good to go. Please note that each bracelet can only be used once.


Your next question is, "How do I know when it's my turn to be called up?" You’ll find information in the Attendee group before the day of the event, signage down the entry line, signage in the event space, and with the volunteers. On this signage, you'll find a QR code. Scan that code with your phone and boom, the line status updates will appear in your hand. 

This magical QR code will lead you to a page on the event website with the ticketed lines shown and their current range being accepted. The list will look something like the following: 

Glines       0-000270
Perry         0-000350
Ritchie      Line Open

As lines update throughout the day, simply refresh the webpage for the most up-to-date line status. The easily accessible info ensures that if you grab a bite to eat or go rest in the lobby for a few minutes, you're never out of the loop. We recently ran into an issue that caused a severe outage with cell service in the event space which meant the line control page didn't update as smoothly as we had hoped. We're always learning and adjusting, so we'll now offer wifi to attendees in the event space to ensure coverage. In addition to this, we'll also have a large projector/screen setup in the event space that will show the current line updates.

A ticketed author will have an SBBE hard limit of 5 books per attendee. This will allow the line to continue flowing as normally and easily as possible while allowing time to get as many people as possible through the line. Please take into account that some authors have their set limits specific for their table so if the author has a lower limit on the number of books they’ll sign, that limit will supersede our pre-set limit.

The biggest point of all of this wordiness is that we want you guys to enjoy your time while also having plenty of room to visit authors. We want you to walk away with a smile on your face because you met your favorite authors. We want you to meet as many as possible in the timeframe allowed, and we'll do what we need to do to make it flow seamlessly for you.

The list of authors ticketed from the beginning of the event will be announced approx. 2 months before the event.

ticketed authors

The initial list of ticketed authors will be announced approx. 1 month prior to the event. Stay tuned!

If an author you're excited to meet is shown as a ticketed author, we would suggest entering the event space and going directly to their table to get the lowest possible bracelet number you can. Grabbing a bracelet ASAP once the doors open will ensure that you don't have to worry or stress about it for the remainder of the event. Some authors that are ticketed from the beginning may not need line control throughout the entire event. If they catch up with the numbers that have been handed out and stay caught up for several minutes, we'll open their table as a free-for-all like the other authors. Online you will see it marked "LINE OPEN" next to their name. If we find that their line begins to grow again, we may decide to add ticketing back to their line once more. If an author that was not ticketed in the beginning seems to have a consistently long line and we feel it's in the best interest of the readers to start ticketing, we'll decide to do so. 

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