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 2023. IBPA awards one complimentary ticket to each IBPA affiliate association and a limited number of complimentary tickets to at-large IBPA members (i.e., members not associated with an IBPA affiliate). IBPA has full discretion over the awarding of a scholarship to IBPA Publishing University.
The IBPA Publishing University 2023 scholarship application deadline is December 31, 2022.
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 affiliate 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 affiliate association members.
Each applicant must be:
  • A current member of both the sponsoring affiliate 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 affiliate 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 his/her 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 affiliate 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 2022? 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 2023.
  • Complimentary ticket to the 35th annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award Dinner & Ceremony on Friday, May 5, 2023 at the Coronado Island Resort & Spa in Coronado, California.
  • In-person networking opportunities with peers and mentors.
  • Does not include complimentary access to special programming beyond the 35th annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award Dinner & Ceremony in Coronado, California.
  • Does not include travel or hotel expenses.

IBPA Publishing University 2022 Scholarship Winners



Sword and Silk Books

Laynie Bynum is the marketing director and co-owner of Sword and Silk Books, a small-but-fierce publisher focused on providing engaging stories that empower readers. After receiving her degree in Public Relations, she interned at several different larger publishers before starting her career in book marketing. While working behind the scenes in publishing, she also started writing her own fiction novels. After forming an iron-clad alliance and friendship with fellow author and publishing industry professional M. Dalto, the two dreamed of opening their own publishing house where authors felt safe and cared for while getting their stories out into the world. 


Sword and Silk Books aims to create fiction that everyone can see themselves in. From curvy witches fighting for freedom to teenagers with chronic illnesses falling in love and everything in between, they seek to publish fiction that inspires and empowers. 


Though they opened right as the world shut down, their first years have been full of dreams coming true, friendships being forged, and reader's becoming fans. Their first five books are currently on shelves, with five more coming in 2022. 


When Laynie isn't yelling about other people's books for a living, she is writing her own. With multiple pen names and genres under her belt, there is always another deadline to meet and another world to create. She cannot imagine doing anything else. Except maybe hunting for adventure with her children near their home in the Appalachian foothills or spoiling her beagle named Bagel. She is also a proud IBPA member, serving to help her fellow publishers and authors by being a member of the IBPA Member Benefits committee.  



Ava Bear Books

Helen Fitzgerald loves books. Which seems an appropriate place to start this bio. Happiest in a forest (please note the tree-book connection) or a well-stocked bookstore, she landed on her feet mid-pandemic as Fruitionist for the startup children’s press, Ava Bear Books. Jack of all trades (and she hopes, mistress of a good few), Helen draws on an eclectic background in the Arts and TV production to support her this multi-hatted endeavor.

Founded by Mark Schustrin and based in Los Angeles, Ava Bear Books stands for wisdom sharing, creative expression and mindfulness. We strive to support a child's life journey through compassionate stories that are sprinkled with magic and joy. Our books are illustrated by highly talented artists from around the world who create unique, beautiful and engaging visuals for story time. We champion inclusiveness and diversity, curiosity and generosity.



Rattling Good Yarns Press

Ian Henzel loves challenages. After retiring from a 42-year career in technology marketing, product management, project management, and quality assurance in Asia, Europe, in 2019, Ian co-founded Rattling Good Yarns Press, LLC. The press focuses on bringing overlooked LGBTQ+ voices to light. Ian has been a lifelong LGBTQ+ activist, and giving voice to the community extends that activism.


Ian fills many positions at Rattling Good Yarns Press. He is leveraging the broad array of skills acquired from his previous career and filling multiple roles from marketing and promotion to editing, layout, and cover design.


At first glance, it may seem an odd transition from software publishing to book publishing; in truth, it is a natural fit. Software publishing is intensely collaborative, requiring creative, analytical, and people skills. Ian leverages these skills with every book project. In addition, he encourages open and frequent communications and fosters relationships between Rattling Good Yarns Press authors. The result? An environment where authors feel like they have joined a creative community.


Ian is skilled in ‘Agile,’ a software development methodology. He uses this methodology within book editing, layout, and design. The result is a process that reduces project time and errors while increasing quality, a win-win for a small independent publisher with limited resources.


Ian lives in Cathedral City, California, with his husband of 34 years. At 66, he enjoys the challenges of his "second life" with Rattling Good Yarns Press and its mission statement: produce quality work and treat people right.



Sunday Dinner Publishing

Angela Shanté Johnson is the co-founder of Sunday DInner Publishing, a company she founded with friends over a Sunday Dinner discussion about diversity in the publishing industry. SDP aims to highlight inclusive authentic writing which brings everyone to the table. As the start-up grows, they  are on a continued commitment to infuse diversity in all aspects of publishing; from the top down.

Angela is also the award-winning author of The Noisy Classroom, a picture book that she wrote about her third grade classroom to help soothe childhood anxiety associated with school and change. In the classroom she taught emergent learners through college; specializing in literacy and curriculum development. After leaving the classroom Angela worked in publishing for traditional and educational publishers as an Editor, Children’s Book Acquisition Editor and Consultant.

With one leg in education and the other in the creative world, Angela divides her time around her passion (1) advocating for more diversity in publishing, (2) working as an educational consultant, (3) hosting the podcast First Generation Problems, and running Sunday Dinner Publishing. she currently lives in CA with her partner and dog (Blue).



Dudley Court Press

Winsome Lewis is Dudley Court Press’s Publishing Assistant. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music, a Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality, and a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado. Her experience in administrative work and publishing began with The CEA Critic, a Scholarly Journal published through Johns Hopkins University, where Winsome served as the Editorial Assistant, communicating with authors, proofreading manuscripts, and maintaining publishing schedules and deadlines. She joined the Dudley Court Press team in 2020.

Winsome currently resides in Breckenridge, Colorado with her dog, Bernie. She enjoys partaking in all of the activities a resort mountain town offers, including snowboarding, hiking, whitewater rafting, and soaking in the sun!



Firewater Media Group

Sabbithry Persad is the founder and owner of Firewater Media Group, an independent publishing company. Firewater Media Group illuminates the issues by developing media that elevates the awareness of topics or issues that affect lives. Our mission is to reach as many people as possible through media that would enrich lives. Our goal is to develop media geared toward fundamentally building an informed, just, and sustainable world through fun, entertainment, education, and action.  


Firewater Media Group books has earned praise for the award-winning Earth Day creations in the Garbology Kids® waste management series, which includes Mom’s Choice Children’s Picture Books Silver Award – Operation: Reuse It! (2015), Mom’s Choice Children’s Picture Books Silver Award – Where Do Recyclable Materials Go? (2015), Mom’s Choice Children’s Picture Books Silver Award – We Can Reduce: Precycle It! (2015), and Best Book Award Finalist USA Book News for Where Do Recyclable Materials Go? (2011). The Garbology Kids® waste management books have been mentioned in many publications such as Time for Kids, Recycling Today, Green Teacher Magazine, Green Living Magazine, and Mother Nature Network.


A publisher and USARNG veteran, Sabbithry holds an MBA from the University of Central Florida, and a BA in Sociology from New York University, a post graduate diploma in Books, Magazine, and Electronic Publishing, a post graduate diploma in Audio Engineering & Post Production, and a Certificate in Information Design from the University of Toronto. She is the founder of Green Solutions Magazine (2007-2012 online magazine tackling environmental issues through environmental solutions). She has been awarded FSBDC at UCF Consulting SBI® National Project of the Year Winner (2019) and Centennial Dean’s Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (2011). Visit her at



Kind World Publishing

Kind World Publishing founder and CEO Patricia Stockland is a seasoned executive in children’s publishing. Prior to starting Kind World Publishing, she led change and growth initiatives as publisher for Capstone, VP and editor in chief for Lerner Publishing Group, and editorial director for Red Line Editorial, among other roles. She’s authored more than 80 books and edited and concepted numerous others. Her expertise spans creative work and continual improvement across operations. She has a secret love of metadata and a not-so-secret love of baked goods, which she shares with her family in Minnesota. Connect with her on Twitter (@pstockland) and LinkedIn.



Modern Vaudeville Press

Thom Wall is the founder of Modern Vaudeville Press (MVP), an independent publishing company which produces original writings about the circus. After completing a five-year tour, juggling for Cirque du Soleil's Totem, Wall now resides in Philadelphia where he researches circus history, consults for area nonprofits, and coaches at Circadium: School of Contemporary Circus. He holds a Masters' of Science in Nonprofit Arts Administration from Drexel University (2015), and was awarded La Medalla Crotalus Scholaris by the Mesoamerican University in Puebla, Mexico for his work revitalizing forgotten juggling disciplines. In 2021, the International Jugglers' Association honored Thom with the "Excellence in Education" award -- a lifetime achievement award for his work as an educator and author.


Modern Vaudeville Press is frequently called "the university press of the circus and variety arts world," and its books have been used as course materials in colleges and universities around the world. MVP takes community and play seriously, and has donated over 4,000 "learn to juggle" kits to organizations across the United States and Europe since the pandemic began. Though the company is just three years old, it has eight titles in circulation with twelve more in the works, including original translations of classic texts never before in English, explorations of Sideshow history, and book-length editions of "circademic" graduate dissertations.

Photo credit: Avi Pryntz-Nadworny



Nymeria Publishing

Sarah Caro, co-founder of Nymeria Publishing, grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. During her freshman year of high school, Sarah discovered her passion for writing and it has always stuck with her as something she wanted to pursue. She would later graduate from the College of Charleston in 2017 with a BA in Communication. While in college, she stumbled upon her need for travel through study abroad programs. She has been all over Central Europe: exploring the Alps and local breweries in Salzburg, Austria; running from the ticket checkers on the trains in Italy; and staying up all night just to watch the sunrise over the city of Prague. After graduating Sarah worked in film and television in LA and Atlanta as a humble production assistant, protecting pedestrians from exploding cars and wayward stars, but she still felt like something was missing.  Upon leaving the entertainment industry, she decided that it was finally time for her to take the first steps in a career in writing, her first love. 

During unprecedented times, Sarah's long time best friend, Kennedy Champitto, approached her with the idea of starting a publishing company. Both having pursued different avenues of getting published, they weren't seeing many people and stories like theirs being represented and out in the world. And so, Nymeria Publishing was born. Committed to creating a platform for the voices of survivors, warriors, and fierce souls, Nymeria Publishing is the place for new authors and poets alike to have their stories heard. Nymeria is comprised of and represents authors from all different backgrounds. Shining a light on otherwise marginalized voices.

While Nymeria publishes books in the genres of YA/NA, Fiction/Fantasy, Children's Books, and Poetry, Sarah particularly loves getting lost in the worlds of YA/NA and Fiction/Fantasy. This means that she focuses on helping bring novels in those genres to life while at Nymeria. 

Sarah is currently finalizing her debut novel, Aperture (book 1 in The Lights Trilogy), that will launch in April 2022.

To find out more about more about Nymeria Publishing and their current and upcoming books, check them out on Instagram @nymeriapublishing.



Midwest Creations Publishing & Media,LLC

Chantay Hadley, is an acclaimed faith-based novelist writing under the pseudonyms Chantay James (Christian Sci-Fi and suspense), C. Marie Evans (African American FaithBased Romance) and C. M. James (nonfiction, Christian Living).

Recently #1 on Romance I.O’s Ultimate list for Faith-based Fiction (Curvy Herione, Alpha Male) and #5 (Christian African American Romance, Alpha Male), Chantay published her very first novel in 2005 and has been writing ever since. The owner and founder of Midwest Creations Publishing & Media LLC since 2018, Chantay considers herself a jack of many trades centered around ministry, educating, publishing and mental toughness training.

Combining her passions of serving Christ, writing/publishing, and coaching middle school basketball, she strives to help others fulfill their potential. A devoted mother of one, she lives in St. Louis, Missouri where she loves God, a good romance, comedy, and cartoons.



Mahogany Pen Publishing

Brandi Hester-Harrell is the founder of Mahogany Pen Publishing. Mahogany Pen Publishing is a part of a literary revolution that refutes the norms of racial inequities that inform lived experiences. Our goal is to empower black and brown voices in literature while ensuring our stories are heard and seen.

Brandi is a lifelong learner and educator of 15 years committed to community change in and outside the classroom. Throughout her career, she has been able to work throughout the spectrum of K-12 and higher education as pathways to support students of color.

Primarily serving in communities of color, the resounding feedback from all stakeholders -- including teachers, parents, and students -- is that the curriculum and supporting materials never create an authentic space for black and brown experiences. Supporting over 2,000 students throughout her career has become her north star of active community change in Publishing. 

Her community describes her as a woman of many gifts: educator, policy junkie, author, advocate, and social change disruptor.

“I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”  - Toni Morrison



Van Velzer Press

Patricia Lewis is the director and senior editor at Van Velzer Press, an independent, traditional publishing company.  Trisha grew up with a father in the Air Force, therefore she has long ago learned to grow strong with no roots. This allowed Trisha to develop a way of looking deep into anything to see the many sides of every issue.  Trisha has been a mentor (Big Sister) to two different local kiddos; seriously living out the philosophy that we have to Act in order to make the world a better place. Currently living in Vermont, she has horses and dogs and practices permaculture in any spare time away from manuscripts (11 years as an editor and her eyes are still holding up to the strain).


Van Velzer Press (V V P) focuses on works of fiction for adult readers, more specifically ones that in some way celebrate a soaring human spirit, diversity of voices and ideas and/or Americana. Highlighting the rich history of our country whether in a fantasy setting or a historical setting.  V V P is always thrilled to work with talented new authors and celebrates diversity, fun and net positives in our books, even though many contain some gritty, heavy topics. Artistic and creative layouts are a keystone of our print books.  We excel at working with new authors who often have great ideas but questionable execution of the craft of writing. From V V P they don’t get a brief dismissal, they get a hand held out help them and their book shine.


Good fiction books are a rehearsal for life; we want to help readers’ spirits & brains create a curious, helpful, interesting, vibrant world for all of us. Trisha’s mantra: Speak kindly, think deeply/forward and scratch a dog’s ear each day.



Independent Author

LaVonne Misner holds a bachelors degree in both Adult Education and Home Economics and a Master’s degree in Adult education. Her research focused on studying how children learn differently from adults.


She was a professor at the University of Minnesota for fifteen years, where she provided leadership to an educational program called The Expanded Food and Nutrition Program in a large inner-city multi-racial county. She supervised a diverse staff of 28 women—each hired and trained by her, to teach nutrition to low income women of their similar ethnic background. The staff consisted of American Indian (Chippewa), Black, Cambodian, Caucasian, Hmong, Lao and Vietnamese—all working together under her leadership with the common goal of teaching young mothers how to budget their limited food dollar and feed their children—children who were referred to her because they were deemed as failure to thrive. “We looked like a mini United Nations,” she says, “and despite our different backgrounds, we worked together like a well oiled machine—each supporting and guiding each other while working toward a common goal.”


LaVonne’s current writing endeavourer is a novel called The Pig Farmer’s Wife, set in rural Minnesota during the late 1900’s. It focuses on the second wave of feminism, highly influenced by Betty Friedan when she published The Feminine Mystique. Out of necessity, the protagonist in The Pig Farmer’s Wife enters a marriage of convenience so she could collect an insurance policy rightly due to her after the death of her parent’s. Her husband immediately uses her money to purchase a pig farm, thus fulfilling his lifelong dream, with no regard to the fact that our protagonist was uncomfortable around animals and never saw a live walking around pig prior to her marriage.


LaVonne’s greatest hope is to have American women of all ages read and discuss the progress of the women’s movement after reading The Pig Farmer’s Wife, as most have forgotten it’s been a mere thirty seven years since Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg introduced legislation allowing women to have credit in their own name—something our protagonist in The Pig Farmer’s Wife didn’t have. Women, not so very long ago, needed a male overseer for all financial transactions. The expectation was that a husband would support his wife financially for the rest of her life. If a woman worked or had a career back then, it was commonly accepted that she would earn less than her male counterpart. It was also a common practice to dismiss women from their jobs as soon as a pregnancy showed. Baby bumps were not something to show off. Instead a pregnancy was hidden under copious yards of fabric for as long as was possible. It was better to look fat than to look pregnant.

Barry new.jpg


Great Texas Line Press

Journalist Barry Shlachter started his mid-life publishing venture two decades ago as he saw the newspaper industry begin to contract. Profitable from the start due to zero overhead, Great Texas Line Press grew enough to cover his children’s college education, pay off his house and make it possible for his late wife to fly home to India as often as she liked, which would have been impossible on a journalist’s salary.

Before moving to Texas, he had spent 13 years in Asia and Africa as a correspondent for The Associated Press, returning on a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. For The AP, he covered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, several African coups and the 1984 Ethiopian famine In 2002, he was named Star Reporter of Texas by the Texas Headliner’s Foundation and won the Dallas Press Club’s Katie Award for Best Reporter’s Year-Long Portfolio, both for his 2001 reporting on Texas business, New York after Sept. 11, the Middle East and Afghanistan, including the battle of Tora Bora.

Starting with one book, Cordon Bubba: Texas Down Home Cooking, the boutique press now has 42 titles with five in the pipeline. More than 300 retailer outlets – ranging from museums and book stores, to beef jerky makers, supermarkets and tack suppliers – sell his books. Stories from Texas: Some of Them Are True is in its 13th printing; Speak Texan in 30 Minutes or Less, a Berlitz parody with far more press runs, went a long way to cover his kids’ college tuition.

Barry's line has sold through national and regional distributors, sales reps and directly to retail outlets. About a sixth of sales are through Amazon, which also markets e-book versions.  For both large and small large retailers, sales are “guaranteed,” meaning everything is returnable for any reason and there are no minimums.  Rarely has a brick-and-mortar returned a book.



Shadesilk Press and Design

Candace J. Thomas is an author and founder of Shadesilk Press and Design. Shadesilk Press, as a publisher, is designed to help independent book art thrive in a mass market world. Shadesilk believes in the integrity of the indie spirit and seeks unique storytelling opportunities.


Candace was originally traditionally published. When the opportunity came to obtain the rights to her fantasy series, fate presented her a unique opportunity: either stay with a press that no longer loved nor promoted her stories, or take a leap into the self-publishing world. A few days later and without much rational thought, Candace booked a flight to attend the IBPA University conference in Austin, Texas. The knowledge and expertise she discovered took her by surprise. There, within a breeding ground of independence and spontaneity, the inklings of Shadesilk Press first formed.


Through publishing her own series, Candace has found success, personally and professionally, and in turn has helped publish other authors seeking independence. In her words, "Being self-published doesn’t mean less quality or less creativity. In fact, I think that it means more creativity and more unique stories get a chance to be shared. An author’s name is their brand and there always should be quality behind that brand.”


Candace is a graduate from the Creative Writing program at UC San Diego Extension and teaches craft and publishing within her writing community. She has been a special guest at various writing and entertainment conferences, including LTUE Writers Symposium, Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX Comic Convention. Candace volunteers her time and expertise as the Marketing Board Chair for the League of Utah Writers, a non-profit organization 85 years strong. 

Candace lives in the heart of the Salt Lake Valley with her husband and family surrounded by gorgeous mountains she greets every morning. She is an advocate for imagination, loves spontaneity, and can easily justify eating a whole carton of Half-baked Ben and Jerry’s in one sitting.