IBPA’s Publishing University was in San Diego this year, so I didn’t have to hop on a plane, plus, it was in a fancy hotel on Coronado Island, and it was my first real vacation since the years that shall not be mentioned.

The best part of it was that I got to see so many of my publishing friends, some of whom I’ve only seen on Zoom. Ever. One of my favorite bands of publishers was born at the 2019 PubU in Chicago… the good old days. That was when a handful of hybrid publishers all met at one session or another and we decided to follow up our conversations with a Zoom call the following month because we had so much more to talk about.

Three years later, many of us still meet every third Thursday of the month on a computer screen and discuss publishing things. This has evolved into experimenting with ways we can support one another through collaborations and group ads for a selection of books that all had a similar theme. We used a company called LitNuts, and we all agree it was a success.

There were sessions on some hot topics like AI and its uses (and misuses), DEI, marketing, and so much more. I have to say that every session I attended gave me new ideas and tools to implement in ways to improve my business. IBPA put on a stellar conference.

The Benjamin Franklin Awards ceremony is always a highlight for me. I didn’t have any finalists this year, but I am a judge for one category, and I love seeing the joy of being a winner brings to deserving authors. And I must compliment the level of professional quality books by independent publishers that are entered! It has improved noticeably over the years, which I credit to IBPA’s dedication to providing such excellent education on best practices for the industry.

My biggest takeaway from this year’s conference is the appreciation for the collaborative nature of independent publishers. It is rare to see an industry where the sheer pleasure of helping one another succeed far outweighs the desire to compete. There are plenty of books to go around. And as Brooke Warner of SheWrites Press said a few years ago when she was board chair, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

Good things are ahead for Top Reads Publishing, so stay tuned!