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The IBPA Publishing University Scholarship Program provides members of the independent book publishing community interested in advancing their publishing program the opportunity to apply for a complimentary ticket to IBPA Publishing University 2024.

IBPA awards fifteen (15) complimentary tickets to applicants from IBPA's regional publisher associations and its at-large membership. IBPA has full discretion over the awarding of a scholarship to IBPA Publishing University.

APPLICATION DEADLINE = December 31, 2023

IBPA Publishing University 2023 Scholarship Winners


The IBPA Publishing University Scholarship is intended for individuals working in the independent publishing industry who need assistance in growing their publishing program. When the conference is held in-person, IBPA encourages regional publisher associations to provide a stipend to help cover their scholarship recipient’s travel and accommodation costs. Please check with your local affiliate association to see if this is being offered.

In evaluating applicants, IBPA considers how the scholarship will assist the individual to become a successful publisher. IBPA also requires that the recipient share what they learned at IBPA Publishing University through an article published on the IBPA website and, if applicable, with their regional publisher association members.
Each applicant must be:
  • A current member of both the sponsoring regional publisher association and IBPA.*
  • Actively participating in the publishing process as a publisher of their own or others work.
  • In a position to benefit immediately from the scholarship.

*A limited number of at-large scholarships are awarded to current members of IBPA who are not associated with any regional publisher association (one scholarship awarded to each winner).
IBPA considers the following questions when reviewing each applicant:
  • How will attendance at IBPA Publishing University assist the individual in their publishing career?
  • How will attendance at IBPA Publishing University be translated into the day-to-day operations of the individual’s business?
  • How will the scholarship winner share the information learned at IBPA Publishing University with their regional publisher association or the IBPA community at-large? This sharing may take various forms, such as a published blog post, presentations at meetings, and mentoring of others throughout the year.
  • Did the applicant win an IBPA Publishing University scholarship in 2023? To serve as many members as possible, a scholarship cannot be awarded to the same member two years in a row. After two years, scholarship winners are welcome to reapply.
The current scholarship includes:
  • Complimentary ticket to IBPA Publishing University 2024.
  • Complimentary ticket to the 36th annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award Dinner & Ceremony on Friday, April 26 at the Denver Hilton City Center.
  • In-person networking opportunities with peers and mentors.
  • Does not include complimentary access to the Thursday pre-conference workshops or the Friday morning small group breakfasts.
  • Does not include travel or hotel expenses.
Scroll down to meet our 2023 winners!


Buckeye Muscle Media

Mark Darden is an author and sports travel blogger from Columbus, Ohio and the Chief Content Creator for Buckeye Muscle Media, LLC. Since 2017, Mark has documented his sports travel adventures on his blog, Originally from Cleveland, Mark Darden is a 2-time self-published author who released his first book, IT’S GAME TIME FOLKS!: Quest for 30 in January 2019. It is a travelogue of his journey visiting all 30 MLB ballparks during the 2017 season. His second book is a children’s book called Elijah Goes to Cleveland which was released in September 2021. It is a about young boy visiting his grandparents and learning about the city of Cleveland. Buckeye Muscle Media's next projected book will be Elijah Goes to Philadelphia which is estimated to be released in late 2023/early 2024.  


Mark is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association, Midwest Independent Publishers Association, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. 



Chesapeake Press

Kitty Felde is an award-winning veteran public radio journalist. She spent nearly a decade covering Capitol Hill for KPCC, Southern California Public Radio and was named Radio Journalist of the Year three times by the LA Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.  


Kitty started Chesapeake Press publishing her own books - the Fina Mendoza Mysteries series about the 10-year-old daughter of a congressman from California who solves mysteries inside the U.S. Capitol, and introduces civics topics along the way. She received bipartisan endorsements from lawmakers on Capitol Hill and a nod from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Because of Kitty’s many years producing radio stories, her team created a companion podcast to publicize the series called The Fina Mendoza Mysteries, with a large cast and top notch production values.

Kitty has taken Chesapeake Press to the ALA convention, presented at the National Council for the Social Studies convention and the Quill historical writers convention, and even given a TEDx talk. She attended my first IBPA conference virtually, during Covid, and learned so much! She is looking forward to the 2023 convention in Coronado! 



Purple Porcupine Publishing

Vanda Jackson is the Publisher of Purple Porcupine Publishing, an independent Canadian publishing company located in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As a former journalist and business television program producer, Vanda has always been passionate about the written word. She started Purple Porcupine Publishing in January of 2021 while publishing her book, "Malbec - A Tumultuous Wine Journey from Woe to WOW."


In addition to working in the broadcasting industry for 13 years, Vanda owned a communication, media relations, and marketing company. She also spent 17 years of her career leading two non-profit organizations to success. 


Purple Porcupine Publishing is constantly acquiring new knowledge, exploring different tools of the trade, and finding unique ways to reach their valued readers. Its mission is two-fold: to support their authors' success through a fun and rewarding journey and to provide readers with an enjoyable and memorable read that keeps them coming back for more. 


Purple Porcupine Publishing is a proud member of the International Book Publishers Association (IBPA). Vanda credits the company's early success to its membership in the organization. She says IBPA provides incredible value to independent publishers from its strategic partnerships, member benefits, and educational offerings. The staff, board, and members of IBPA are incredibly knowledgeable and supportive.  



Thinking Ink Press

Betsy Miller co-founded Thinking Ink Press with friends who were all in the same writing group. Thinking Ink is a small, independent traditional publishing company that began with crowdfunding a book about a rare childhood disease and continues to publish a mix of fiction and non-fiction books.  

Betsy is a technical writer, author, and editor. She has led several crowdfunding campaigns for Thinking Ink Press. She also designs and formats most of the print edition interiors and manages the publishing process. She is a returning judge for the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards. 

When she’s not writing, editing, or publishing, Betsy enjoys taking nature walks, traveling, and reading. She lives in Northern California with her husband. You can reach Betsy at 



Legacy Book Coaching 

As a book coach and award-winning developmental editor, Eryka Parker aims to simplify the independent publishing process and help authors create business plans to maximize book sales and make a sizable impact on their audience. Her literary agency, Legacy Book Coaching & Consulting also offers publishing consulting and book marketing services. Eryka enjoys helping writers with diverse perspectives tell stories the world needs to hear.  

Eryka has partnered with libraries, writing groups, and independent publishing companies to introduce creative writing and book marketing workshops. She has spoken at universities and conferences about building a trustworthy brand through thoughtful communication. Eryka is an author and a freelance journalist for Indie Author magazine. Eryka is also an emotional intimacy novelist under the pen name at Zariah L Banks and will publish her first novel, Beauty Beheld in the March of 2023.



Scorpius Carta Press

Janie Pritchett-Clark founded Scorpius Carta Press in 2018. With three books in the Cardboard Cottage Mystery series in print and a fourth in progress, Scorpius Carta Press is looking to expand its reach and profitability. 

Scorpius Carta Press aims to support Independent publishing as a viable option for authors dedicated to quality work, with a focus on Southern writers, including the Ozark Mountain regions of Arkansas and Missouri.  

Clark spent more than 40 years in journalism and magazine publishing. As a novelist, she is learning how to turn fiction into profit. "Gaining a foothold in a cluttered marketplace is on every emerging author's mind," Clark says. "Or at least, it should be. There are no shortcuts for professionalism in publishing, but we can help each other reach our goals." 

Now retired, Clark hopes to encourage mature writers to follow dreams put aside so long ago. Writing as Jane Elzey, her game-focused murder mystery series is about four women who play to win while the husband dies trying.  The third book in the Cardboard Cottage Mystery series, "Poison Parcheesi and Wine," was published in the fall of 2022. "Killer Croquet on the Emerald Isle" is slated for a spring 2024 release.  



Feeding Minds Press

Julia Recko is the Senior Director of Publishing at Feeding Minds Press, a small traditional independent children’s book publisher focusing on helping young readers understand where their food comes from.  

After she earned her B.A. in English and her master’s degree in Secondary Education, she took a job in agriculture education development that had a stack of children’s books on a desk. After discovering her love of publishing and the lack of picture books that depicted modern agriculture, Julia helped create Feeding Minds Press.  

Feeding Minds Press hopes to create stories like Ms. MacDonald Flies a Drone – tackling stereotypes of antiquated farming, helping understand where food comes from, and focusing on inspiring young people to consider careers in STEM and agriculture so that we can continue to improve and create sustainable food systems. 

When Julia isn’t reading Feeding Minds Press’ query manager inbox, she is writing her own picture books and poems. She has been published in Highlights High Five and enjoys reading to her own children in their library in northern Virginia. Julia is a proud member of IBPA and SCBWI as well as the Children’s Book Council.  

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 Markman Editorial Services

Marla Markman is an award-winning editor with 35 years of experience creating and managing books. Marla is the owner of Markman Editorial Services, which provides publishing project management, ghostwriting, book design, and consulting services for authors and publishers. Although there is a plethora of information for independent publishers, it can be overwhelming, and Marla enjoys guiding authors through the self-publishing process.  

She developed and honed her expertise as managing editor of Entrepreneur magazine, one of the nation’s leading small-business publications. She was instrumental in launching its book division, where she acquired, developed, and edited numerous top-selling book series, including Start Your Own Business, which continues to be Entrepreneur’s No. 1 bestseller. 

When Marla is not working in her office, which she shares with her Fox Terrier (the company pep squad), she can be found seeking nature therapy in the great outdoors with her favorite hiking buddy, who just also happens to be her college-age son. 



Sacred Dragon Publishing

Andi (Angela) Rosenau is a certified copyeditor, writer, and trained intuitive energy reader. Born in Alberta, Canada, and based in Los Angeles, California, Andi has over 20 years of public service experience as a criminal prosecutor and military officer. They also have an extensive background in a broad range of spiritual teachings and experiences. Andi's enduring commitment to the highest ideals of service and integrity continues as a personal core value. 

In 2019, a profound awakening experience in Sedona, Arizona, drew Andi toward a new path of quantum evolution through love, creative joy, sovereignty, and multidimensional wholeness. After retiring from public service, they pursued their long-time passion for inspirational writing by publishing books that inspire the evolution of higher consciousness for our shared humanity.  

Andi created Sacred Dragon Publishing as an inventive hybrid solution for a publishing partnership highly tailored to intuitively support writers in creating and publishing their books and their personal journeys of becoming published authors. Andi is deeply passionate about giving writers a publication platform that empowers and elevates creative expression without fully divesting creative license, foreign rights, or book sales.  

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Positive Push Press

Michelle Easley is the founder and CEO of Positive Push Press. Positive Push Press is more than an independent publisher, it is an empowerment engine based in Atlanta, Georgia. The company is on a mission to empower people through words. The company’s goal is to educate, inform, inspire, and encourage. Michelle is committed to making a positive difference in the world. She is the daughter of a father who marched during the Atlanta Student Movement. Her commitment to equity runs deep. 

In addition to publishing books, Positive Push Press has developed and facilitated webinars, professional learning for corporations, school systems on topics such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, effective school library programming, and success in virtual educational environments.


Positive Push Press seeks to publish authors who might otherwise not get published. The goal of the company is to give these authors the opportunity to share their lived experiences with others knowing that this will ultimately inspire everyone around them. There are many unique stories that need to be told, uplifting messages that must be shared and courageous calls of action to make. Positive Push Press exists to do just that. Visit at



Bunny Books

Bethany Gano loves art, story, and design, and gets actual goosebumps when weaving those things together into picture books. When first sketching her debut book, "Lulu the Beaver," she had no idea she’d find herself wrangling a crowdfunding campaign, 20 years of commercial art expertise, and new, learned-on-the-fly skills to create the start-up children’s press, Bunny Books, that brought Lulu’s story to life. 
Bethany enjoys encouraging others along their publishing path, never tires of pouring over stacks of kid’s titles, and is always up for brainstorming how to make the most of school visits. As a small business owner for eight years, Bethany also values starting small and working locally. 

Off the clock, you can find Bethany covered in paint, playing board games, swimming, daydreaming at the beach, and attempting to walk her dogs. She, her husband, and three kids (and other furry and scaly family members) call Central Florida home. 




Bridgett McGowen-Hawkins is an award-winning author,  publisher, and international professional speaker who is known to be both comical and memorable, and who absolutely adores books!  

Bridgett founded BMcHAWK TALKS LLC, the parent company of BMcTALKS Press, in 2016 when she was inspired, after getting laid-off, to make it her focus to help go-getter professionals to stop making awful presentations.  


In 2019, Bridgett wrote and self-published two books in the course of six months, one of which, "Real Talk: What Other Experts Won’t Tell You About How to Make Presentations That Sizzle," won a Best Indie Book Award in 2020. She launched BMcTALKS Press on December 13, 2019, working with publishing partners all over the globe to provide services that turn the expertise of business owners, entrepreneurs, business coaches, consultants, and professional speakers into published books and eBooks.  


BMcTALKS Press has amassed a roster of more than 150 authors who hail from all over the United States, India, and the United Kingdom. Her authors have earned best-seller status and have won awards, and the BMcTALKS Press team won a Stevie Award in the Startup of the Year - Business Services Industries category in 2021.  Bridgett is proud to have made the shift from getting on stages where the lights are usually trained and shining on her to where she can publish the works of others and shine the light on them.



Phoenix Media & Books

Katie Otey is the founder of Phoenix Media & Books, an independent publishing company formed from her desire to provide more opportunities to a diverse array of content creators. Katie's vision for Phoenix Media & Books is to offer an energizing experience, a collaborative environment, and a company that transforms how publishers work with their creative teams. At Phoenix Media & Books, your stories, art, and vision matters.  


Katie has spent over a decade working within the publishing industry as both a writer and Network Representative for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She is an author and poet with an affinity for humorist writing. Katie has won multiple contests for her work and published her debut picture book, Every Other Christmas, with Sky Pony Press in the fall of 2022.  


Katie has been working hard since Phoenix Media & Books launched in the midst of the pandemic. The company's first list of books will debut this year with the first title, Sister, a foster to adoption story told from the point of view of the couple's young child, due out this spring.  



Pierce Press

Charlotte is the publisher at Pierce Press, a small press comprising Gigglequick Books (children's) Peeragogy Books (alt. education), and DayTripper Books (travel). She produces the podcasts Ready, Row! USA, Face The Book TV, and Peeragogy In Action, and consults on podcasting and publishing. In her livestreams and podcasts, Charlotte regularly features authors and publishers she meets along the way at IBPA and IPNE events, as well as the authors for her own Pierce Press books. 


Charlotte has served on the board of IBPA regional affiliate, Independent Publishers of New England, in several capacities, including president, and has been a member of IPNE since 2008. With her collaborators, she has produced more than 150 Peeragogy livestreams and podcasts, and upwards of 100 Ready, Row! USA podcasts, and more than 20 Face The Book TV podcasts focusing on the publishing process for independent authors & publishers.  



Quiet Storm

Danielle Ramirez has fifteen years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She has led projects related to substance use, prevention, food insecurity, behavioral health, advocacy, youth empowerment and more. She values equity and believes cultural humility is vital for individual, organizational, and community progress.  


In June of 2022, “Being Wichita Women'' was released; it’s a powerful collection of stories from 30 local women exploring trauma, adversity, resilience, and healing. The work received a Wichita Business Journal ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ award.

Last year, she formed Quiet Storm LLC, an independent hybrid publishing company that partners with underrepresented individuals and groups to create authentic books that empower the writer and impact the community. The purpose of Quiet Storm is to explore themes that contribute to a more inclusive, equitable and compassionate world, while producing books that connect to a larger community purpose. 


Quiet Storm specializes in creative nonfiction, anthologies, short stories, and books with an underpinning of wellness, community improvement, and social justice. They offer consulting, story development and fundraising support services and will be launching hybrid publishing, online courses, and in-person writing retreats in the summer of 2023!  Check out @quietstormservices and @beingwichitawomen on Facebook to learn more.  



Swift & Sparrow Press

Bethel Swift-Muñoz (pen name Bethel Swift) is a San Diego based author/publisher, artist, poet, workshop instructor and professional home organizer. Bethel founded her publishing company and published her first book, Conversations with Good Men, (Swift & Sparrow Press, 2020) in print, ebook, and audiobook, after attending IBPA Pub U in 2018 and 2019. Bethel’s poetry has been published in Armenian Poetry Project, Haiku Journal, San Diego Poetry Annual, and Expressions from Englewood as well as exhibited at Columbia College Chicago.  


In 2017, Bethel was the recipient of an AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) Writer to Writer Mentorship with poet Sandy Coomer (Available Light) and was a panelist at their annual Conference & Bookfair in 2020. Prior to that, she studied poetry under Kristina Marie Darling (Dark Horse) and Larry Sawyer (Vertigo Diary) at the Chicago School of Poetics and with Martha Vertreace-Doody (Glacier Fire) at Kennedy-King College. Bethel earned her degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago (in 2007) and her journalistic features, interviews, reviews, and opinion pieces have appeared in multiple print and web publications.  


 Swift and Sparrow Press maintains an active presence in the local author scene including book fairs, and author festivals. Bethel’s next two books are a memoir in verse (about growing up in a cult-like homeschooling Christian family living in inner city Chicago) and a non-fiction book of professional organizing tips. 


For more information on Bethel, please visit her website

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Natchez Trail Press

J. Kevin Smith began his writing career in 2010 after retiring from Federal civil service. Writing under the pseudonym Sean Kevin Gabhann, he published the first volume of the Shiloh Trilogy: Harper’s Donelson in 2015 with Sundown Press, followed by Harper’s Rescue in 2017. In 2019, he made the decision to publish the third book: Harper’s Shiloh as an independent and thus, Natchez Trail Press (NTP) was born.

As an indie publisher, NTP has developed processes to create quality novels largely through on-the-job-training and by relying on expertise shared from specialists—particularly other IBPA members. Having achieved an acceptable level of proficiency in production, the time has come to establish processes which NTP will use for presenting these novels to the niche market of readers of epic-length historical war fiction while seeking ways to increase author visibility through improved public relations.


Currently, Natchez Trail Press specializes in novels set during the American Civil War. Our goal is to provide an accurate portrayal not only of historical events in a non-intrusive way but of the lives of the people of the era, while avoiding the revisionism of later periods. These war stories follow in the footsteps of authors such as Leon Uris, James Mitchener, C.S. Forester, Patrick Duffy, Michael and Jeffery Shaara, and Bernard Cornwell. Once we have established sound processes for post-publication activities, we intend to open up our company to other authors using a hybrid-publication model.

Kevin is a member of the Publishers and Writers of San Diego chapter of IBPA and resides in the city of San Diego, CA.

Visit the website of our author at

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Kathleen Kaiser & Associates

Beginning as a music journalist turned publicist, Kathleen Kaiser has forged a career spanning 40+ years of involvement in the most exciting industries of her generation. From rock and roll in the late 60s and 70s to the digital/internet revolution of the late 80s, 90s, and 00s, she has been a marketing professional for Fortune 100 companies, small startups, and produced conferences/tradeshows worldwide. 
In 1993, she opened Kathleen Kaiser & Associates, an emerging technology-marketing firm, which now focuses on working with the nonprofit arts and literary communities. She produced the 805 Writers Conference from 2011-2022 and is an advisor for the Women in Leadership Executive Program at the UC Santa Barbara PaCE. In addition, she sits on the IWOSC, Ojai Women’s Fund, and the Ojai Performing Arts Theater boards of directors. Over her career, Kathleen published articles throughout the United States, Japan, the UK, and Italy. In addition, she has five published books, four on the music industry, one novel and several plays.
Named Publicist of the Year in 2016 by the Book Publicists of Southern California for her contributions to the literary community, Kathleen maintains a small list of authors/clients that allow her to continue her volunteerism. She is president of the national literary nonprofit Writers & Publishers Network (WPN) and organizes quarterly literary meetings with speakers on Zoom, co-sponsored by IWOSC. In addition, she produces webinars for WPN and launched a podcast –Talking Book Publishing with Kathleen Kaiser – in March 2021, which she now co-hosts with poet Adanna Moriarty.
In her free time, she works on another historical novel and writes articles for regional publications. Kathleen is a proud fourth-generation small businesswoman.

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