Rocanville author releases first book online

May 2, 2024, 4:14 pm
Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ellie Reid Rookes with her book at McKenzie Elementary.

Ellie Reid Rookes spends a good chunk of her day surrounded by books, so it seems natural that the Library Tech at Rocanville School would be inspired to pen her own literary work. Back in early February, Reid Rookes published Coy Loves Cows, which has been proven to be a hit with its young target audience.

“My nephew, Coy, has been obsessed with cows since he could even speak,” Reid Rookes explained. “They’re being raised on a cattle farm and so he’s always been part of checking cows, feeding cows and everything involved with them. It’s just that he likes cows. There’s all the other animals on the farm, but it doesn’t matter, because he just loves cows.”

The impetus for releasing the book began after others had become interested in what initially had been gifted as a present for young Coy.

“I actually wrote the book for Coy for Christmas a couple of years ago, and gave it to him for Christmas,” Reid Rookes said. “Then a few people asked if they could have copies and I wasn’t sure the most economical way to do that, because when I made his, it’s hardcover, and I ordered it from a book printing company, so it was pricier and I knew I wouldn’t make anything off books if they were that price.”

The solution she found was to self-publish the work through Amazon, which allowed for both e-reader and physical copies available for purchase.

“Amazon just made it too easy,” remarked Reid Rookes. “So I thought I’ll just make this one on Amazon and then see how that goes, then from there, maybe get more serious.”

Reid Rookes has published a few journals on the medium as well, marketed for kids and adults alike. Publishing online is an interesting concept for aspiring authors, promising a much more involved approach to the industry. Self-publishing demands the author publishing their work online decide all factors of the book—including cover design, any artwork involved, etc. For those who favour having that level of control, plus the time and effort involved in every aspect of publishing a book, this can be very appealing. Another huge factor is the higher amount of royalties paid to an author through self-publishing, which can be quite enticing.

Since publishing Coy Loves Cows, Reid Rookes estimates around 140 sales through the online platform.

“Most of them are people I know, as far as I’m aware,” she said, adding that there have been a few copies sold in the US. “Everyone’s been super supportive!”

The reaction from audiences during readings has also been positive, as Reid Rookes recounts.

“It’s been really good for little kids—preschoolers especially really like it,” she said. “It’s nice and short, they can follow along and it’s easily memorizable. I just did a reading at a school in Victoria and it was really fun to have all the kids on every page say, ‘Coy loves cows!’ It got them involved and it was really cute.”

The school reading in B.C. was a real highlight for Reid Rookes, fulfilling a huge personal goal.

“I’ve read it to all the kids here, and then we had planned a trip out to Victoria and my cousin’s a principal, so she invited me to come and read to some of her students,” she explained. “So I was able to do that and it was kind of a bucket list thing. We did a lot of really great things on our trip, but that was probably number one for me. It’s just really cool to see pictures of my little book in a different school library!”

Reid Rookes has been an author from an early age, honing her craft since childhood, and she gets a thrill seeing students with aspirations of writing.

“I encourage them to write because I started when I was in probably fourth grade, when I really got into writing,” she said. “I’ve always had positive feedback and lots of encouragement and so it’s really helped to move me forward.”

As many creative people can attest, a small dose of comparison will crop up occasionally, but it is important to ensure many voices are represented in the writing community, that all are valid and have a right to be heard.

“It’s hard to get over the imposter syndrome, like who am I to think I can publish a book? Comparison and stuff like that—that’s tough,” admitted Reid Rookes. “So I’m very proud of myself for putting it out into the world. Karen Berglund in Moosomin—she published a book, and she went with a real publisher, and she has an illustrator that she works with. So I was like, ah, you know, I’m not doing the same thing as Karen, and is what I’m doing good enough? But yeah, it is. We’re different journeys, different plans, and there’s enough room out there for everyone!”

There is a second book in the works for Reid Rookes, which she plans to release through the traditional route of using a publisher and illustrator this time around. The success of Coy Loves Cows has given her the confidence to bring another interesting tale to the wider realm, and she gave a sneak peek at the general theme.

“It’s about a little ghost that lives in a library and he wants to read the books, but he doesn’t have any hands to hold them, so he has to ask his little buddies for help,” said Reid Rookes in a quick synopsis.

Coy Loves Cows is currently available to order on Amazon, and don’t forget to leave a review when ordering your copy as they do help support sales—and writing dreams!