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IBPA Publishing University: A Great Conference Experience

The 2017 IBPA Publishing University (PubU) just concluded and I’m already looking forward to next year! For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll do my best to explain. (A couple of months ago I didn’t know anything about it, either.)

IBPA stands for the Independent Book Publishers Association. Although I’ve been a member of ALLi  (The Alliance of Independent Authors) for a couple of years, somehow I missed IBPA! I was fortunate to discover IBPA just before their national PubU event in Portland, Oregon, only 40 miles north of where I live.

PubU is billed as “The Premier Educational Event for Indie Publishers and Self-Published Authors.” That’s me! I joined the organization and signed up for the Publishing University (conference) in one fell swoop.

I went to PubU with two main goals. Initially, the sessions promising to teach new ways to sell my books intrigued me. But as the conference date grew nearer, I was becoming more and more convinced that I needed to change my book covers. Since Treasure is middle grade, I had always wanted the cover to be an illustration but never thought I could afford it. And now that I will soon have five books in the series, I will need five new covers. As I researched online about covers and artists and book designers, I became increasingly confused as to how to bring it all together.

As it turns out, PubU has sessions called “Ask the Experts” where you can sign up for 15 minute segments to talk to industry professionals about whatever questions you have. I signed up for two of these sessions and went loaded with questions. There were also sponsor tables set up, mostly printers, some small publishers, etc., and we were encouraged to visit each of these. Soon I was learning things I didn’t even know I hadn’t known!

Then there were the sessions. For each hour block there were four sessions from which to choose, each with a particular theme or focus such as Editorial & Design, the Business of Publishing, Marketing & Social Media, Production & Distribution, Sales, etc. For example, I went to a session on how to market and sell to schools since my  Seed Savers series is great for schools. I also went to one titled “Who You Gonna Call–A Publisher, Designer, or Printer” to help answer my growing question about how to go about getting new covers.

But really, I can’t sum up in one little post two very full days. So let me just say this: the atmosphere was warm and encouraging. Everyone was kind, helpful, and friendly. We wore name tags with our names in GIANT letters. You literally could not sit down at a table without someone greeting you by name and introducing themselves.

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The snack and drink tables overflowed with root beer and m & m’s. The Benjamin Franklin Book Awards/Dinner was superb and inspiring.

Everyone at Pub/U was there to help each other no matter where you were on the journey of publishing or authoring. There was humor, songs, poetry, and plenty of chocolate.

The IBPA Publishing University will be in Austin next year. I’m already making plans… Hope to see you there!!!

S. Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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