Report from Tucson 2023
NMBA’s trip to the Tucson Festival of Books, March 4-5, 2023,
was a success: We sold more books for more of our authors
this year than last year. As before, authors who volunteered
in the booth tended to sell more books, probably because
readers like the personal touch. (Also, although we ask
participants to submit five copies apiece of each title,
volunteers are free to bring extra copies with them to the show,
so some volunteers sold more than five copies of their titles.)
We had clear, mild weather, although it had actually snowed
in Tucson a few days before!
The festival included nearly 200 booths spread out along
the grassy mall in the center of the University of Arizona
campus. Besides booksellers, there were literary nonprofits
(such as writers’ organizations), businesses that offer editing
and promotional services, small specialty publishers (fantasy, science fiction, and Westerns seemed to be popular), and academic publishers. There was an extensive children’s book
area, plus science displays and demonstrations, a National Parks gift shop, and representatives from nonprofit historical and archeological associations, museums, and educational programs. NMBA was unique as a professional authors’ and publishers’ association with state-wide membership. The festival also features a wide variety of speakers, panel discussions, and readings – this year the speakers included Linda Ronstadt (a local hero!) and Bernie Sanders. So the festival is very well attended: I haven’t seen this year’s totals, but estimated attendance averages around 135,000 visitors.
It's impossible to predict which books will sell, and this year’s best-sellers at the NMBA booth ranged
from children’s books to memoir and fiction. We had inquiries for Young Adult books, Native American
topics, and travel books, but we didn’t have any of those this year – so if you write in those categories,
consider participating next year. We gave out business cards directing interested readers to our online
catalog; even if your book didn’t sell at the show, it had lots of exposure and, possibly, follow-up orders.
(Let us know about those; we’d like to hear about the effectiveness of our catalog.)
This year the “Indie Authors” area had a different format: Authors were asked to apply in advance for a
time slot in the reading area and go through a selection process. If you are considering participating in
this aspect of the festival in the future, instructions will be on their website, tucsonfestivalofbooks.org.
(This section of their website may not be functional yet. We’ll let everyone know when the dates for next
year’s festival are announced, and you’ll need to check back after that.)
Thanks to this year’s volunteers: Dominique Mazeaud, Shirley Melis, Connie Nelson, and Sandi Wright.
Frank Hirsch helped with booth set-up and take-down. Jordan Jones was indispensable in assembling our
online catalog, setting up our online Square store, and trouble-shooting our card reader from a distance,
and Anna Sochocky collected books from show participants and transported them to my house. Special
thanks to Jared Gann, who carpooled with me to Tucson through blizzards and epic traffic jams (no
exaggeration), and unloaded and reloaded many cartons of books and booth supplies as well as helping in
the booth. We’re grateful to all of you for your help in making this year’s festival a success for NMBA,
and we hope to see you again next year in Tucson.
-- Paula Lozar
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