Author realises dream

By Hannah Norton

When Whangarei author Donna Blaber decided to start writing children's books, she set herself two conditions - that they would cost less than $5 and be made in New Zealand.

"We believe books should be affordable. We aren't going to be rich in a hurry, but there will be more books in homes."

Her Kiwi Critters series - illustrated by her husband Rupert Shaw and printed in New Zealand - achieved both goals.

A magazine journalist, Ms Blaber used her knowledge about New Zealand tourism and motoring to write her first book, just after she gave birth to twin girls Ayla and Ruby.

"Three months after the girls were born I got my first book offer [writing 40,000 words about driving around New Zealand].

"It was my dream since I was six years old."

Then in 2006, while working on a 'Discover NZ' tourism book, she decided she wanted to write a series of children's books.

The first two books she wrote were Keri's Party and Piri's Picnic, with characters that are New Zealand animals. "I wanted to start introducing young children to New Zealand wildlife," she said.

She got her husband Rupert, a naval architect and structural engineer by trade, to do the graphics, which she says she wanted to keep simple.

Ms Blaber says everything is done digitally, with printing completed by a Northland company, as well as e-books available on her website, which are selling well in the United States.

"Self-publishing is a funny thing and I needed to be taken seriously so I set up a company - The Lighthouse Media Group," she said.

Her marketing strategy includes attending local events, voluntary reading to children, social media and visiting book fairs and trade shows.

- Northern Advocate

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