Lit up

Indie book fair unites Front Range literary scene


Independent authors on small presses often lack marketing dollars to promote their books, and many aren’t natural promoters. To help these local writers and presses find readers and get the word out, Denver author Hillary Leftwich has organized an all-day literary reading and book fair right here on the Front Range.

More than 30 indie authors and at least eight small presses from Colorado will be reading and tabling books during the Sept. 30 event at Counterpath in Denver. Featuring a keynote presentation from Aurora Poet Laureate Ahja Fox and local presses like Fonograf, Dzanc and Trident, the Indie Author and Press Book Fair is free, all ages, and open to the public.

According to Leftwich, the book fair was born out of a desire to bring the literary community together. 

“It’s not an innovative idea by any means,” she says. “We’ve had book fairs and zine markets before. But I really want to support the local authors who are not on big presses, or don’t have agents.”

Leftwich recognizes that getting a book noticed in today’s attention economy is no easy task. Writers are a notoriously introverted set. “I wanted to bring an event where this is an opportunity to talk about your book,” she says. “This is your opportunity to brag.”

Writers are encouraged to show up with their books and zines to sell or swap during the book fair, designed to bring authors from a number of disparate genres together under one roof with a common purpose. In addition to networking and audience-building opportunities, writers are encouraged to approach press representatives with questions about what they publish and what they’re looking for at the moment.

“It’s a great way to meet other authors who maybe you’ve only seen on social media,” Leftwich says. “And also meet the independent presses here in our communities.”

Sharing the spotlight

Author Jay Halsey is one of the dozens of writers who will be reading at the event. Halsey found his first writing community in Boulder after moving here from Ohio about two decades ago. He says events like these can be just as valuable to those getting started in writing and to those who have been in the game for a long time.

“Indie presses and authors are traditionally overlooked and under-represented in the writing world at large,” Halsey says. “Connecting with other authors and presses and exploring what works and doesn’t work … is going to be a huge help for many of us.”

To that point, Halsey says the Colorado literary scene can feel intimidating for the younger writer on the outside looking in.

“That said, I’m fortunate enough to have seen, read with, and interacted with writers from all pockets of the lit scene,” he says. “Some of these writers have become my very best friends through readings and other literary events that involve a broad scope of talent from all over the Front Range.”

Michelle Dotter, publisher and editor in chief of Boulder-based Dzanc Books, says attending events like these is a way to support authors in your own community. According to her, it’s an opportunity to re-frame the cultural conversation away from the traditional coastal hubs. 

“So much of the publishing industry has always been centered in New York, and it’s easy for people to overlook how many terrific writers and presses are right here, in their local communities,” she says. “Events like this one help shine a spotlight on authors and presses who might get overlooked in the mad, money-forward scramble that is book publicity.”

Dotter says whenever she goes to a local conference or event, she’s “astonished” by the authors in Colorado. “People whose books I’ve admired from afar, never knowing they’re close enough to grab a coffee together,” she says. “I’ve made a lot of great friends that way, and I’m looking forward to making more.” 

ON THE PAGE: Indie Author and Press Book Fair. 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Counterpath, 7935 East 14th Ave., Denver. Free

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