Today I’d like to introduce a self-published children’s author/illustrator whose first book, The Smellyphant, achieved Amazon’s distinguished Top 25 Most-Read Ebook status. (Wow!) Please welcome British author Gavin Buckley to the Reading Room.
Q. Hello Gavin. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your books.
I grew up in the small seaside town of Skegness, England, before moving to Scotland to attend university in 2001. After finishing both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, my wife and I abandoned the busy city-life and moved to Fife, settling in the quiet coastal village of Dalgety Bay.
I worked in the computer games industry as a senior artist for a number of years until my son was born in 2013. All of a sudden, a punishing 4-hour daily commute became unmanageable if I was to have any semblance of a family life so I made the decision to leave my job in 2014 and set up my own art and illustration business. It was only when I started to focus on my illustration for children’s books that I began putting pen to paper as an author.
After six months of hard graft, I finally had my first fully illustrated picture book, The Smellyphant, that I self-published in 2015.
At the top of the hill, standing all on his own
Is a curious creature a long way from home…
Carefully crafted in such a way as to encourage little ones to join in with its bouncing rhyme, ‘The Smellyphant’ is an endearing tale about Samson, a whiffy wee chap, whose only wish is to find some friends.
There’s just one thing standing in his way…
… and unfortunately, a bath is out of the question!
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Smellyphant-Gavin-Buckley/dp/0993277004
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlVuHDTX2Ec
(don’t miss the video! Sound effects and movement-your children will love it!)
Q. Could you tell us something about your greatest success and your latest success?
A. My greatest writing success (so far) has undoubtedly been self-publishing my first children’s book. The amount of determination it took to get my debut title on bookshelves was an effort I’m extremely proud of. I think it’s very easy to overlook the massive amount of work that goes into something that you can read to your little ones in just five minutes but having experienced the creative process first-hand, it gave me a whole new appreciation of the time and effort involved.
My latest success as a writer would probably be achieving ‘Top-25 Most-Read’ status in children’s ebooks on Amazon. The Smellyphant has proven to be very popular since its release but it took a while for the news from Amazon to sink in when they contacted me to let me know it had achieved such popularity.
My only regret is that, without the financial clout of a traditional publishing house to promote the book, that level of interest tailed off, but it’s certainly an achievement of which I’m very proud, regardless.
Q. What has been your biggest challenge?
A. That’s a tough one – there have been (and still are) many challenges.
Again, being self-published, I find that motivation is key. Some days it can be extremely difficult to push on with a project as writing is an inherently lonely occupation. You find doubt gnaws at you constantly.
Is the story strong enough? Could it be written better? Could the story line be improved? Is the illustration style working well?
It can really start to mess with your head if you become overly self-critical. Self-criticism is hugely important… but only up to a point, and then it becomes a burden.
I think the toughest challenge for me though, has been trying to get interest from a traditional publishing house or literary agent. I would love to see my work go through a traditional publishing route, and hope that one day I might achieve this but certainly, for the moment at least, that opportunity has proven frustratingly elusive.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
A. As an artist first and foremost, I’m looking to develop my career as a children’s book illustrator. I’d love to illustrate books for other children’s authors and get a taste of working in a traditional publishing environment.
From a writing perspective, I’ll always be creating new stories as I enjoy it too much to focus solely on my illustration. If that’s only possible via self-publishing routes for the time being, then so be it. I’m not one to be easily discouraged and maybe, with a bit more experience under my belt (as well as a little bit of luck), I’ll get there eventually.
Follow Gavin Buckley to keep up with his latest work!
Personal Website: www.gavin-buckley.com
Also available: Do Donkeys Dream of Ice Cream? December 2015
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Do-Donkeys-Dream-Ice-Cream/dp/0993277020
Thanks for reading!