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Winning Through the Years

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by Alexa Schlosser, Managing Editor, IBPA Independent magazine —

Alexa Schlosser

Author publisher/photographer Mark Kelley has been entering the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards™ since the 1990s—and taking home wins.

Mark Kelley is a self-described “photojournalist first and publisher second,” but really, he does both well, and has been doing so since the early ’80s. His first book, Juneau Portrait, was first published in 1982 while he was working at the daily newspaper in Juneau. Four years later, he tried self-publishing for the first time. Seven years after that, he decided to quit the newspaper and dive head first into full-time publishing. In total, he has self-published 11 titles, and he also produces calendars, notecards, postcards, photo magnets, and bookmarks with the images he captures. Today, his Juneau-based publishing company, Mark Kelley Photography, has two employees.

“I started this business because I am passionate about photography, publishing, and Alaska. I wanted to share Alaska with the world at large—one book, one image at a time,” he says.

Although he lives in relative isolation, Kelley isn’t self-publishing in a vacuum. “I use IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards™ program as a yardstick to see how my work holds up in the larger publishing world,” he says.

And hold up it has. In the past 32 years, he’s entered IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards™ 10 times and has been awarded four gold and two silver awards for six different titles.

Success in this business can be challenging, and Kelley attributes his achievements to his obsessiveness, which comes from passion for the medium.

“Nothing gets published without me being involved at every level. I have traveled to the printing plants to press check all my jobs. I used to print in Korea and have made 22 week-long trips to Seoul for press checks,” he says.

He also credits his lasting success to his willingness to update his titles. “I try to print only enough for one year,” he says. “I am always continually shooting, and with every new reprint, I take the time to re-edit the books and replace images with newer, better images or remove dated images. I often redesign sections and change covers. The books become living, evolving projects that are continually renewed.”

Title History
  • 1982 – Juneau Portrait
  • 1986 – Heartbeat: World Eskimo Indian Olympics
  • 1995 – Alaska’s Ocean Highway (Benjamin Franklin Award – Silver)
  • 1997 – Juneau Portrait II
  • 2000 – Southeast Alaska: The Panhandle
  • 2000 – Glacier Bay National Park: Alaska (Benjamin Franklin Award – Gold)
  • 2004 – Alaska’s Watchable Whales (Benjamin Franklin Award – Silver)
  • 2006 – Alaska’s Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness (Benjamin Franklin Award – Gold)
  • 2007 – Alaska: A Photographic Excursion (Benjamin Franklin Award – Gold)
  • 2008 – Black Bears of Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier
  • 2014 – Once Upon Alaska
  • 2015 – Fjords of Blue Ice
  • 2017 – Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier (Benjamin Franklin Award – Gold)

A Taste of the 2018 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award Winners

Now in its 30th year, the 2018 Benjamin Franklin Awards had 100 more entries than last year at 1,500. From that pack, one gold winner was named in each of 54 categories. Silver winners were also named in each category. Click here to see the full list of winners.

Tyree: Artist of the South Pacific
Author: CJ Cook
Publisher: South Pacific Dreams Publishing
ISBN: 978-099842224-0-4
Ralph Burke Tyree was the premier artist of the Tiki era. He captured the exoticism of island people in oils on board and black velvet.

“Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette”

Cover Design: Fiction
Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette
Author: Killian B. Brewer
Publisher: Interlude Press
ISBN:: 978-1-945053-13-9
When Marcus Sumter, a short order cook with dreams of being a chef, inherits a house in small town Marathon, Georgia, he leaves his big city life behind. Marcus intends to sell the house to finance his dreams, but a group of lovable busybodies called the Do Nothings, a new job at the local diner, the Tammy Dinette, and a handsome mechanic named Hank cause Marcus to rethink his plans. Will he return to the life he knew, or will he finally put down roots?

Perfectly Aged: 40 Years of Recipes and Stories from the Taste of Texas
Authors: Nine J. Hendee and Edd C. Hendee
Publisher: Taste of Texas Restaurant
ISBN: 978-0-9991759-0-3
Perfectly Aged features more than 100 of the restaurant’s most requested recipes, gorgeous photography, and the rare Texas artifacts from our museum.

“Why Not?”

Children’s Picture Book (0-3 years)
Why Not?
Author: Amanda Huneke; Claudia Tenoria Pearl (Illustrator)
Publisher: Warren Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-943258-48-2
Peyton Pep is a little girl with a spirit to match her name. Always on the lookout for new adventures, her favorite expression is “Why Not?” Full of whimsy, Why Not? invites young readers to use their imaginations and explore their creative side.

Fiction: Science Fiction & Fantasy
The 53rd Card: A Dark Tale About Finding Light
Author: Virginia Weiss
Publisher: Beaver’s Pond Press
ISBN: 978-1-59298-815-0
Inadvertently summoning the devil and relinquishing a cherished stone carving of Kaun Yin, agoraphobic Emma Addison discovers she possesses an unusual—and unwanted—power.

Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight
Author: Loren A. Olson, MD
Publisher: Oak Lane Press
ISBN: 978-0-9979614-3-0
Psychiatrist Loren Olson’s book includes the inspiring story of his evolving sexuality interwoven with a powerful exploration of human sexuality, psychological concepts, and gay history.

“Uncle John’s OLD FAITHFUL Bathroom Reader: 30th Anniversary”

Uncle John’s OLD FAITHFUL Bathroom Reader: 30th Anniversary
Author: The Bathroom Readers’ Institute
Publisher: Portable Press
ISBN: 978-1-68412-086-4
This extra-special 30th anniversary edition Bathroom Reader has the latest “scientific” studies, weird world news, surprising history, obscure facts, and more!

Gift Book
Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier
Author: Nick Jans; Mark Kelley (Photography)
Publisher: Mark Kelley Photography
ISBN:: 978-1-8808656-06
This book celebrates Mark Kelley’s 38-year quest to document the Mendenhall Glacier, America’s backyard glacier, found in Alaska’s capital, Juneau.

Constant Fires
Author: Rebecca Hatcher Travis
Publisher: White Dog Press
ISBN: 978-1935684572
This second collection of poetry from award-winning Chickasaw poet Rebecca Hatcher Travis offers a deeper understanding of the Chickasaw people and Native perspective.

Boathouses of Lake Minnetonka
Author: Karen Melvin and Melinda Nelson
Publisher: Big Picture Press
ISBN: 978-0-9892627-5-0
Boathouses of Lake Minnetonka is a beautiful 246-page coffee-table book by award-winning author and photographer Karen Melvin and writer Melinda Nelson. If you’ve ever sailed, boated, or paddled past a vintage boathouse on Lake Minnetonka and wished its rustic wooden walls could talk, you’ll love this beautifully illustrated and meticulously researched volume about Minnesota’s famed lake.

“How to Turn Your Mom into a Monster”

Cover Design: Children’s/Young Adult
How to Turn Your Mom into a Monster
Author: Aurora Whittet

Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-63489-087-8
Do you like smearing your lunch all over yourself? Do you fight with your sister just because she’s there? Do you find yourself unable to go to bed because mysterious ninjas keep stealing your pajamas? Then you’re a little monster! Guess what: Mom can be a monster, too! It’s up to you to make your mom’s monster come out to play.

Alexa Schlosser is the managing editor of IBPA Independent. Do you have an interesting self-publishing story? Contact her at alexa@ibpa-online.org.

Click here to enter your books into the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards!

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