Getting to Know IBPA Affiliate Florida Authors & Publishers Association (FAPA)
Thursday, September 19, 2019
Posted by: Christopher Locke
|Pictured are most of the current FAPA Board of Directors, taken at the 2019 FAPA President’s Book Awards. Center in the long black dress is Jane R. Wood and on the far left in the white dress is Patti Brassard Jefferson, the current FAPA President.
IBPA is proud to be affiliated with 20 regional and specialty independent publishing associations across the United States. IBPA members find that networking within these groups benefits their success in the independent publishing industry, and helps them build connections on a more local level. As a nice bonus, when you’re a member of an IBPA Affiliate, you receive $30 off your IBPA annual membership.
This week, IBPA is pleased to shine a light on the Florida Authors & Publishers Association (FAPA). We spoke to FAPA Board Member Jane R. Wood for a closer look:
IBPA: Can you tell us the history of how Florida Authors & Publishers Association came to be?
Jane R. Wood (JW): The Florida Authors & Publishers Association was originally organized in 1983 and was then known as the Florida Publishers Group (FPG) to provide Florida’s growing group of publishers an opportunity for education and networking, and to provide its members with a clearinghouse for publishing information. In 1992, FPG became the Florida Publishers Association (FPA). In 2012, FPA expanded the name to Florida Authors & Publishers Association (FAPA). In 2014, FAPA was given nonprofit status as a 501(c)3 organization by the State of Florida.
IBPA: How long have you been involved with FAPA?
JW: I became a member in 2013 and have served on the Board of Directors since 2014. I served as the VP of Marketing, President-Elect, President, and Past-President. I was just reelected to the Board in 2019 for a 2-year term.
IBPA: What is the cost of membership? Is there an additional cost to attend meetings?
JW: FAPA has three levels of membership: Student, $29; Member, $69; Partner, $139. We offer workshops throughout the state (at the most around twice a year, normally in partnership with a local organization) and an Annual Conference, and we do charge a registration fee for those.
|Attendees at FAPA's 2019 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.
We have monthly Board of Directors conference calls, but do not have regular meetings because our state is so spread out. We hold an Annual Member Meeting each year at our Annual Conference. We bring in speakers from around the country and within Florida that can address current issues related to book publishing.
IBPA: How is it beneficial for an independent publisher/author publisher to be a member of FAPA?
JW: We focus on providing information, resources, networking opportunities, and professional development to our members and others interested in the writing and publishing profession. Through our workshops and the speakers we invite to our Annual Conference, we cover topics including editing, book design, printing, print-on-demand, e-publishing, distribution, marketing and promotion, legal, and financial issues. We also include the steps necessary to become a self-published author and/or small independent publisher.
IBPA: How is it beneficial for an independent publisher/author publisher to be a member of both FAPA and IBPA?
JW: Many authors and indie publishers have found it beneficial to be members of both associations. FAPA is especially good for networking in our local area. FAPA’s monthly e-newsletter, our Annual Conference, and the FAPA Member Forum on Facebook give our members a chance to connect with others on a regular basis. IBPA’s magazine (IBPA Independent), weekly eNewsletter, website, IBPA Publishing University, and low-cost marketing programs give its members access to a broader array of resources at the national and international level. Both organizations help indies stay connected to what’s going on in the publishing world today.
IBPA: Are there any new initiatives/events/programs in 2019 that you’re particularly proud of that went really well?
JW: In 2019, FAPA was asked to conduct the Publishing track for the Writers’ Workshop at the Amelia Island Book Festival. The half-day event offered two tracks for authors—one on Writing and one on Publishing. We received very positive reviews from the attendees and the organizers of the festival. We have found that working as a partner with another group has been very beneficial. We get good exposure for our organization often leading to new members, and we don’t have to be responsible for many of the issues related to organizing such an event, like securing a facility, handling the registration, and doing the local marketing. The festival offers FAPA a free information table at their Author Expo the next day which gives us more exposure to the many authors who have purchased tables at the event.
IBPA: You just had your FAPA Annual Conference in early August. Can you tell us a few things that went really well?
JW: We did things differently this year by offering six 90-minute workshops that dealt with very specific topics, in addition to our normal all-day Saturday conference. We charged separately for these workshops, keeping the conference registration fee more affordable. We also eliminated our Friday night dinner that was included in the registration before, and identified a restaurant where attendees could join others for a Networking Dinner. Each person could determine how much they wanted to spend on their meal, meaning we did not have to increase the registration fee. It was very popular… and very noisy. Great networking took place!
Also, each year we sponsor the FAPA President’s Book Awards. It’s a tremendous effort to coordinate the submissions and judging of the hundreds of books that are submitted. Each year we celebrate the finalists at our Book Awards Banquet held during our Annual Conference. This year’s banquet was a very festive celebration, as it always is.
IBPA: What were some challenges you ran into that you’d like to adjust for next year?
JW: We had reduced the number of categories (genres) that books could be submitted in for the book awards. We found that some categories received large numbers of submissions, but that reduced the number of finalists. That left many authors disappointed. We plan to expand some of those categories next year.
IBPA: Can you share three tips for other associations about how to manage a successful conference?
- Plan ahead. Have monthly conference committee calls or meetings.
- Delegate responsibilities so all the work is not done by just a few.
- Open registration early—6 to 9 months before the event. Potential attendees like to plan ahead, both financially and time-wise.
IBPA: Can you list three key lessons you’ve learned about how one can succeed as an independent publisher?
- Use an expert or professional for anything you don’t do well. That includes graphic designers for your marketing materials, a website designer, someone who’s savvy with social media, and possibly a financial advisor. The single most important thing is to hire a professional book editor!
- Network with others who have more experience than you. Try to find a local writers/publishers group. Attend workshops and conferences.
- Join publishing-related organizations like IBPA and FAPA.
IBPA: Can you share a few tips for other associations about how to retain and grow membership?
We strive to schedule good speakers for our Annual Conference that cover a wide variety of publishing issues. Survey your members to determine what it is they want to learn. We also try to cover those same topics in our monthly newsletter.
We use our own members for the workshops we offer. Again, we try to determine what that specific audience wants to learn and then we find someone within our organization who has experience on those topics. They also need to be good presenters! We have found this is a good way to grow membership.
It’s also good to remember to have fun. We get a lot of return attendees to our Annual Conference because we create lots of networking opportunities… and we tend to laugh a lot! People like that! They feel a sense of camaraderie.
IBPA: If someone visits Florida, what are some fun things to do?
JW: It’s big state. I always encourage people to visit some of our other exciting places besides the theme parks. St. Augustine is delightful. Our beaches are beautiful. The Kennedy Space Center is awe-inspiring. Key West is a hoot! The west coast of Florida and the Panhandle offer a variety of resorts, historic venues, and natural habitats.
IBPA: Do you have any upcoming events?
JW: Each year our Board of Directors has a 2-3 day Board retreat. Because our Board Members live so far apart in different parts of the state, we think it’s important that we get together, face-to-face, to plan for the next year. We evaluate what was good in the previous year and what needs improving. We will meet in Central Florida so everyone can attend. We’ve rented a large house in Orlando for October 4-6, 2019. We accomplish a lot by having some serious discussions; we plan for the coming year; and we have fun together. It’s a great bonding experience where we all get to know each other better… and that’s important!
We’ve also been invited to participate again in the Writers’ Workshop at the Amelia Island Book Festival on February 14, 2020. We’ll again have a table at their Author Expo on February 15, and several of us will attend their Gala on Friday night.
And of course, we’ll have our FAPA Annual Conference in Orlando at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace on July 31 - August 2. (We’ve locked into a 3-year contract so we’ll be there for the next 3 years)
IBPA: Now that everyone knows more about FAPA, how can they sign up to be a member? Do they have to be a Florida resident to be a member?
JW: Someone can sign up to become a member on the FAPA website here. We have many members who reside in other states.
IBPA: Thank you, Jane, for giving us insight into IBPA Affiliate Florida Authors & Publishers Association.
Click here to learn more about Florida Authors & Publishers Association!
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