Writing is a Bow-Wow Blast!

by Animal Gambill
(Louisville, KY)

Riley's Bow-Wow Blast!

Riley's Bow-Wow Blast!

How did I combine my love of animals and my appreciation for the true spirit of children? I self-published a children's book about my dog, Riley.

The decision to self-publish my book, Riley's Bow-Wow Blast, came about due to my desire to have full creative rights with regards to telling Riley's story. I wanted to utilize Riley's history to help children appreciate the human-animal bond, while also facilitating a feeling of empowerment by children to be a positive force in helping and caring for animals.

For years, I have wanted to share my love of animals with children in an entertaining and engaging way.

When I came to the conclusion that writing books would be the best outlet for this, I didn't want to be censored or have to wait for the approval of a publisher. What I did want was the feedback of children and their caregivers/teachers. I figured that if they enjoyed the book, then I would publish more (with the same goal).

Although I enjoy the creative rights of self-publishing, I don't relish the roadblocks that self-publishers face with regards to distribution and marketing.

For example, my local newspaper would not write an official review of my book due to the fact that my book was not nationally published, and national bookstore chains wouldn't list my book in their computer indexes since this was offered only to national book publishers.

On a positive note, I did strike up a great professional relationship with a Borders executive who helped me facilitate book events at a local Borders. I made this happen by showing her my book and my plan to market my book via local media, posters and book events in her stores.

It was important for her to know that I had a plan to market the book once she gave the book space on her shelf.

As a self-publisher, I enjoyed the luxury of choosing and directly collaborating with an illustrator and graphic designer who shared my vision for the book. I edited my book and made every single decision with regards to text, color, images, naming of the characters, etc.

I didn't have anyone telling me that I couldn't rhyme the words, that I couldn't put a purple eyepatch on Hobo Kitty, or that I couldn't allow Riley to narrate the story.

However, I did have to pay for everything - the illustrator, printing, etc. I also had to initiate the placement of my book in bookstores as well as actively market the book via television, radio, newspapers, and schools.

It is a lot of work, but I am glad I did it. The experience of self-publishing has been very fulfilling and creatively liberating! I highly recommend it (and so do Riley and Hobo Kitty)!

I printed my book with the help of a local book-printing liaison. However, a friend of mine just printed a beautiful book via a print on demand website. That is a great option too.

See how Riley gets promoted on the internet.

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Dec 14, 2007
Total control is a good thing!
by: Tina Field Howe

I agree with you, "Animal" - self-publishing gives you total creative freedom. Even if a publisher picks up your book for printing and distribution, there's no guarantee that they will not pull it from the shelf before it has a chance to fly. I also used rhyming poetry in my children's picture book, and prose. Some teachers - because this is very unusual - didn't like it; it didn't compute. But my readers LOVED the option of having two formats to choose from!

Keep up the good work!

Dec 14, 2007
Sharing a love for animals with a book
by: Steve B.

Good work! You had a vision and made it happen. What I'm impressed by is how Riley is just one well-planned part of your whole Critter Crusade.

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