by Paula Lozar
Our booth at the Tucson Festival of Books was a success: We sold close to $1,000 worth of books. As usual, some authors did very well, some moderately well, but many sold only one book or none at all. There’s no way to predict which books will sell, but the NMBA representatives in the booth did our best to promote everyone’s books. As always, the authors who were present in the booth tended to have better sales because purchasers enjoy the personal touch.
It’s hard to describe how big the festival is unless you’ve been there, but there were 180 exhibitor booths, 270 authors scheduled to speak (plus 160 self-published authors in the Indie Authors pavilion), dozens of book-signing booths for authors, 15 food vendors, and an extensive Science City with exhibits ranging from solar telescopes to cockroaches. The exhibitors included publishers large and small, libraries, nonprofit organizations of all kinds (history, archeology, mental and physical health, and even a model train museum), and regional writers’ groups. We noted that NMBA seemed to be unique as a state-wide authors’ and publishers’ association, and our selection of books was wider ranging than most.
Left: Rebecca Skeele with a conference attendee. Right: Paula Lozar and Jonathan Miller.
Photos: © Rebecca Skeele. Used by permission.
Attendance at the Book Festival has reached 135,000 in past years. I haven’t seen the totals for this year yet, although the crowds looked substantial. In 2020, the show was canceled (literally at the last minute) because of the pandemic, and there was a smaller virtual event in 2021, so both exhibitors and attendees seemed delighted to get together in person again. We had a good location near the Children’s Area, so there was a lot of foot traffic past our booth. And the weather was perfect – around 70 degrees, clear, and sunny both days.
We are crunching the numbers. Authors who sold books will receive an e-mail to clarify payment methods, and then payment will happen within a week or so. Note that, if your book sold, you’ll get the full price that it sold for. NMBA covers credit card processing fees and AZ sales taxes, although you’re responsible for paying your own state and Federal taxes on your earnings. NMBA doesn’t take a cut of the sales price; the cost of the booth and other expenditures are covered by participant fees.
Many thanks to Martha Egan, Jonathan Miller, and Rebecca Skeele, who helped in the booth for all or most of the weekend. Riyon Harding supplied us with welcome bottled water and diet sodas. A special shout-out to Jared Gann, who helped me drive my 4-Runner full of books to Tucson and back, as well as assisting in the booth all weekend too. It was hard work, but I feel the results were worth it, and we should definitely sign up for the show for next year. (A note to indie authors: There are opportunities for you to give readings and book-signings, but you need to sign up early; if you’re interested in being a part of next year’s Tucson Festival of Books, check out their website at tucsonfestivalofbooks.org.)
Award winning memoirist and NMBA member Shirley Melis h0sted a wonderful workshop detailing the memoir writing process. Shirley discussed the essence of memoir writing – what it is and what it is not. Also, how it’s different from autobiography and fiction; why it can be therapeutic but not therapy; how a wiggly memory can trip you up; and why voice matters. She mentioned the Show-Don't-Tell edict, the importance of scene-setting and how rewriting can make a good memoir great. Lastly, Shirley provided a must-read list of resources and a few of her favorite memoirs.
If you are interested in watching her memoir workshop, you can purchase it here.
In hopes of accommodating as many members as possible, the NMBA board voted to have both an in-person meeting and online meeting for the month of September. Both meetings took place on the second Friday of September at 11:30am. Having both types of meetings allowed for members to participate in the format that they felt most comfortable with. There was great conversation and members were able to share what they have been working on. Below we have a photo of the group that attended the in-person meeting at Tiny's Restaurant.
This year we will be presenting Denise Chávez with both the Richard Harris Award for her novel The Last of the Menu Girls, and the Book-in-Hand Award for her work with Libros para el Viaje (Books for the Journey).
The Richard Harris Award is funded by a grant from the Harris family. Harris was a founding member of the New Mexico Book Association, author of many books, and a mentor to publishers. The Harris Award is presented annually to a book whose outstanding excellence authorship, editorial preparation, design, and influence, is deemed worthy of high honor and recognition.
The Book-in-Hand Award recognizes exemplary service in getting books into readers' hands. We honor Chávez, whose dedication and generosity has helped put Spanish as well as bilingual books in the hands of refugee, asylum, and migrant families on the U.S./Mexico border.
Chávez’s books include The King and Queen of Comezón, A Taco Testimony: Meditations on Family, Food and Culture, Loving Pedro Infante, Face of An Angel, and a short story collection, The Last of the Menu Girls and a children’s book, La Mujer Que Sabía El Idioma de Los Animales/The Woman Who Knew the Language of the Animals. Chávez has performed her one-woman shows, Novena Narrativas: The Novena Narratives and El Muro/The Wall: A Chorus of Immigrant Women's Voices throughout the U.S.
The King and Queen of Comezón (University of Oklahoma Press, 2014) won the 2015 International Latino Book Award in Fiction and the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Fiction Award.
Chávez is working on publication of various novels: City of Crosses, about the homeless and dispossessed in her hometown of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Street of Too Many Stories, about the legacy of familial dysfunction in a small neighborhood on the U.S./México border. Chávez is also working on various children's books including The Two Delfina’s, La Hermana Ying y La Hermana Yang, and Chano’s Dream.
Chávez is the owner and bookseller at Casa Camino Real, a Bookstore and Multicultural Art and Community Center, on the Historic Camino Real. Chávez is a founding member of the American Booksellers Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality Committee
Chávez and her husband and fellow bookseller, Franco/Russian/American photographer Daniel Zolinsky, are working on the creation and development of MUSEO DE LA GENTE, a Borderland Resource Center, which will serve to preserve, document and celebrate the story of the borderland community in the Southwestern U.S. and Northern Mexico.
Chávez was an Assistant Professor of English, Chicano Literature and Playwriting at New Mexico State University and taught Acting, Multi-Cultural Theatre and Playwriting in the Theatre Department at the University of Houston. She was also taught Theatre and Creative Writing at the Northern New Mexico Community College.
Chávez is a deeply committed community-based artist who continues to explore the universal in the regional landscape. She continues to offer interactive workshops for writers, dramatists, and actors throughout the U.S. She is a popular Keynote speaker, panel member, and literary judge.
Since May 2018, Chávez has distributed books in Spanish as well as bilingual English/Spanish books to Refugee, Asylum and Migrant families on the U.S./México border in Las Cruces, New Mexico, El Paso, Texas, and Juárez, México in a program called Libros Para El Viaje/Books for the Journey, in collaboration with the American Booksellers Association and with Border Servant Corps in Las Cruces. Thousands of books have been donated by publishers, bookstores, booksellers, writers, artists, agents, filmmakers and hundreds of readers and sponsors.
Sell your books with NMBA's Virtual Bookstore!
NMBA has created an online bookstore with Bookshop.org for members to list and sell their books!
Bookshop.org is a socially-conscious way to buy books online. They dedicate most of their profits to supporting local, independent bookstores, authors, and publications that cover books.
10% of every purchase made from our online bookstore will go to support NMBA--and a matching 10% will go to support independent bookstores.
How it works:
1. Pay a one-time fee of $5.00 per title to be listed for one calendar year. Can submit as many titles as you would like. (must be an NMBA member)
2. Provide us with the ISBN for your book(s).
3. When you sell a book, you do not have to handle inventory, fulfillment, shipping, or customer service. All book sales are fulfilled by Ingram. Ingram’s extensive inventory and regional warehouse system ensures that books can reach customers in as soon as 2-3 days.
4. You paid just as you would if a regular bookstore purchased your books!
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