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Indie authors flourish at Tucson Festival of Books

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Christopher Patterson | The Daily Wildcat Christopher Patterson smiles during a book signing of "Shadow's Fire: A Chance Beginning."

Between the chance for indie authors to display their work at the Indie Author Pavilion and the numerous workshops aimed at improving an author’s craft, the Tucson Festival of Books is a place where indie authors are not pushed aside.

Indie Author Pavilion gives indie authors a platform

Over 180 authors will take part in the 2019 Tucson Festival of Books’ Indie Author Pavilion, which gives authors the opportunity to set up booths to meet-and-greet with fans and sell their work.

Fantasy author and Tucsonan Christopher Patterson will be one of those authors, and he stressed how important the pavilion is. 

“The pavilion gives self-published and indie authors a platform,” Patterson said. “And it’s very unique. There’s not a lot of opportunities for indie authors that are as inexpensive. A booth at a Comic-Con or another book festival could be hundreds of dollars.” 

Registering for a space at the Indie Author Pavilion costs authors $40, according to the festival’s Indie Author Handbook.

The Indie Author Pavilion is not only a chance for Tucson authors to get their work out there, as authors from across the nation visit Tucson to be part of it. 

“The booths that I’ve had at the festival have been next to people from Virginia, California, Illinois,” Patterson said. “People come from all over to participate.”

Patterson will be at the pavilion on Sunday, March 3, from 12:15-2:15 p.m. For a list of authors attending the Indie Author Pavilion and when and where their booths will be set up, visit 2019 Indie Pavilion Authors

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Workshops hosted by indie authors, for indie authors

Among the hundreds of events hosted by authors at the Festival of Books, several workshops are held to help writers become successful authors. 

Pennsylvania-based sci-fi author Melissa Koberlein will be co-hosting a workshop on cover design so indie authors can draw in readers, even if they judge a book by its cover.

“I’m presenting with Geoffrey Notkin," Koberlein said. “He’s got a degree in design, and I’m a professor of publishing at my college, so we thought it would make a good partnership to talk about cover design and how self-published authors can make their covers successful.” 

Koberlein is no stranger to assisting self-published authors. As well as running the Indie Chicks podcast dedicated to publishing writer advice, she also developed a specialized diploma in publishing at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania. 

Koberlein said the key to being a successful self-published author is to educate yourself. 

“If you educate yourself, you know how to start off on the right foot and you know what is going to be expected of you,” Koberlein said. “You don’t want to just toss your material out there, you want to put your best work out there.” 

Koberlein’s cover design workshop will be on Saturday, March 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with book signings following the workshop. 

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A place for indie authors to connect

Sci-fi author and Tucsonan Kristyn Merbeth attended the Festival of Books for many years as a reader before first attending as an author in 2018. 

“It’s cool to have conversations with all these different authors and kind of be behind the scenes,” Merbeth said about the difference between attending the festival as an author instead of a reader. 

This year at the festival ,Merbeth will be participating in two discussions with fellow sci-fi authors to speak about the genre. Merbeth said she read many of the books by the authors she will be speaking with and that she is excited to have a conversation with them. 

“The festival is a great opportunity to connect with authors all over the place as well as other local authors,” Merbeth said. “Tucson is working on building a writers' community, and I think the Festival of Books is fantastic for that.”

Merbeth’s advice to new writers was to find other writers to work with. 

“One of the best things you can do is connect with other writers,” Merbeth said. “Find people who you can exchange writing with and share critique and feedback.” 

With over 200 indie authors involved in both the Indie Author Pavilion and other events, indie authors have plenty of opportunities to connect with each other. 


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