For an estimated 40,000 attendees, the Capitol and the surrounding downtown area became a literary wonderland over the weekend during the 19th annual Texas Book Festival.
More than 80 exhibitor and vendor booths were present at the festival, representing publishing companies and book stores. Some of the exhibitors were mainstream names, such as Barnes & Noble, while others were more obscure, such as Cinco Puntos Press.
Cinco Puntos Press, a publishing company from El Paso, belonged to a growing group of independent publishers that ran booths at the Texas Book Festival. Bobby Byrd, co-founder of Cinco Puntos Press, said he hopes his booth made an impression on at least a few of the festival’s attendees. Byrd attends several state book festivals and national conferences every year in hopes of promoting his company.
“It is very hard to compete with large publishers and to get recognition on a national scale,” Byrd said. “Festivals like this give us the opportunity to reach a much larger audience than we usually could.”
April Terrazas, a UT biology pre-med alumna and founder of independent press Crazy Brainz Publishing, ran her first exhibition booth at the festival this weekend. Terrazas said the biggest challenge of running her own independent press is marketing it.
“Huge publishing companies have all of these connections, and I have to do all of the marketing myself,” Terrazas said. “Once people see the books, they love them, but actually getting people to see them can be tough.”
Bryce Milligan is the publisher and co-founder of Wings Press, a small publishing house that represents multicultural authors. Milligan said Wings Press stayed afloat this year primarily because of the sale of a single e-book, “Black Like Me.” Milligan said, as long as he continues selling successful titles, he can keep the company running and continue his mission.
“The mission of Wings Press — of all indie publishers really — is to represent voices that are rejected by or can’t find success with the mainstream publishers,” Milligan said. “We take the chances others won’t.”
According to Terrazas, competing with large companies as an independent publisher is difficult, but it does offer financial benefits.
“All of my profits go to me,” Terrazas said. “I get to keep a much larger percentage of my returns than authors working with large publishing companies.”
Terrazas said despite difficulties along the way, being an independent publisher is rewarding.
“Showing off my books and getting so much positive feedback from so many people here at the festival is really, really encouraging and rewarding, and I am so glad I could be here at the festival,” Terrazas said.