Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Adventure on Dolphin Island by Ellen Prager

So you think magical creatures exist only in the imagination of J.K. Rowling at Harry Potter’s Hogwarts? Don’t tell that to Dr. Ellen Prager. For Prager, a noted oceanographer, and the heroine of her book, Kelly Wickmer, dolphins are at least as magical and mysterious as any old hippogryph.

In Adventure on Dolphin Island, Prager tells of Kelly’s courage as she tries to navigate her way back home after being separated from her parents and brother. Kelly learns about many of the real world magical creatures from the residents of Dolphin Island and she’ll rely on some of them in her quest to return home. Prager seeks to both entertain and educate with Adventure on Dolphin Island.

What inspired you to write Adventure on Dolphin Island?
I'm passionately committed to finding new ways to engage the public (young and old alike) in learning about the oceans, appreciating their beauty, importance and the problems we now face. While I've enjoyed writing non-fiction books, I thought that combining a fun, fiction adventure story with ocean science and conservation could be a powerful new way to reach the public. And it is a way for me to share some of my own adventures and wonder for the sea.

Who is the primary target audience for the book?
The primary target audience is children, principally middle school age, and their parents. I'm finding that it is also appropriate for older kids, young adults, and as a book for parents and teachers to read to younger children as well.

What led you to publish the book with iUniverse? Did you shop it to traditional publishers first?
I shopped a very early version with a few traditional publishers. However, it doesn't fit into a simple fiction or non-fiction genre - as it is a mix. Also fiction for kids is notoriously difficult to break into and this was my first fiction book. After getting some terrific feedback from parents, educators and kids on an early version, I decided it was worth the risk and investment to self publish through iUniverse. iUniverse was recommended to me by someone that had previously used it and had a good experience.

What was your experience with iUniverse like?
Excellent! iUniverse was wonderful to work with. Very professional, timely, pleasant and the final product came out great. I've already recommended it to other authors.

What are your goals for Adventure on Dolphin Island? What are your marketing plans for the book?
I hope that Adventure on Dolphin Island will become a popular read for children of all ages, in school and at home. And that it will inspire people of all ages to learn about the oceans and appreciate the wonder of the seas. I also hope after reading the book, kids and their parents will become more actively involved in activities that help to protect and conserve our oceans and marine life. The book could also make a great movie!

In terms of marketing I am hoping to reach the public through specific niche groups like marine educators, the diving industry and community, and my own network within the media and ocean-interests. I am also applying for grants that will combine a traveling promotional tour of the book with education about the oceans.

You've been published traditionally before. Tell us about those projects.
I have published two popular science books, The Oceans and Furious Earth: The Science and Nature of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tsunamis, with McGraw-Hill. Both are easy to read books that bring what we know and don't know to the public.

In addition, I published three children's books (SAND, Volcano, and Earthquakes) with the National Geographic Society. These are illustrated books for kids 3-8 years of age and are a fun, simple look at a few fascinating earth science topics.

But of all the books so far, I enjoyed writing Adventure on Dolphin Island the most!

How was your traditional publishing experience different than the iUniverse experience?
The experience of working with iUniverse on the whole was much more pleasant than with traditional publishers. They were more professional, courteous, timely, and available. I also felt like I had more control on the overall product. The one drawback is in marketing and distribution. The fact that copies are not returnable and the discount is not as much for retailers is problematic. And the word doesn't get out through traditional sources such as publishers weekly or booklist.

What is your next publishing project?
Hopefully, a sequel!

Learn more about Dr. Prager and her work at