For most people, retirement means relaxing, traveling, visiting family and friends, and other not-so-busy activities. That is not the case for Barbara Gay and Libby Nickel, two retired teachers in their 80’s now living in the San Diego, California area. Both are now enjoying success as the writer and illustrator of several books for young children.
They met at a senior center where both were involved in needlecrafts and other activities. One day, Barbara mentioned to the group that she had extra time on her hands and was thinking of writing a book for young children about the activities of her two dogs. She said she was not able to do it because she knew a book of that kind would require many pictures, and she wasn’t an illustrator. One woman in the group immediately said that her good friend, Libby – sitting right next to her – was a very good illustrator!
That was the beginning of their first book – Meet Travis & Mollie, the Goldendoodle Pedigree and the Beagle Shelter Dog. At first, they decided just to write the book for their own enjoyment and satisfaction. After getting encouragement from others, they decided to try to offer it for sale through their own self-publishing and then on Amazon.com. That proved to be a daunting task. First, they needed to know if others thought it was a good book that they would buy. So they asked for reviews and evaluations from 14 people and were astounded when they received all positive responses! After that, Barbara struggled with meeting requirements for copyrights, ISBN numbers, barcodes, and numbers for the Library of Congress. Libby struggled redoing and refining some of her illustrations to meet requirements for background coloring.
During all of this, they had offers from many printers and publishers, who were unable, unwilling or too expensive to work with them. They were finally referred to Matt Kerlin, the graphics and print manager at Total Document Solutions in Pacific Beach, CA. “We couldn’t have done this without him,” they both say.
They are proud to say they survived all of the obstacles they had to deal with, and are continuing to produce new books. In addition, several preschool teachers have requested that they make these books available on removable drives for displaying on TV screens to read together with their students. They are exploring this option and will do so if there is enough demand.
About the Writer
Barbara Gay is a retired teacher, a mother of two, and a grandmother of three. She and her husband live in San Diego, CA and are the loving pet parents of both Travis and Mollie.
About the Illustrator
Libby Nickel is a retired teacher, a mother of three, and a grandmother of three. She lives in San Diego, CA and enjoys playing the flute, sketching, and needlecrafts.