Author Story: Eleanor Gilvarry

Eleanor Gilvarry’s author story has so many unique aspects, it’s hard to know where to start.

Her children’s book, Why Do I Love You? was crowdfunded.

A decision to produce the book using offset printing rather than print-on-demand meant a new, larger trim size for her book, presenting a challenge to resize the beautiful illustrations that had already been completed.

And, while Eleanor’s original goal for writing her book was to create an additional source of income in an area that gave her passion and joy, she realized a joy in writing and publishing that exceeded her wildest imagination.

Why Do I Love You? helps children verbalize unconditional love. It is the story of a typical day in a child’s life, showing them how perfect they are in every moment; that regardless of what happens, they are loved simply for being themselves.

Eleanor decided to crowdfund her book on Kickstarter. Her campaign was a success, and authors who are considering a similar campaign can visit her Kickstarter page to see how she did it. She is now selling her book from that page, using it as her author website. (We wrote a blog about crowdfunding that featured Eleanor’s book in the fall of 2016.)

Funding was not the only benefit of Kickstarter. She also found the Kickstarter community—others running similar campaigns—to be an incredible resource. Says Eleanor, “I actually ended up choosing my printer ( based on the fact that a similar campaign had used them with such positive feedback. I felt I could trust the advice I got from the Kickstarter community because there were no hidden agendas.”

While Eleanor feels strongly that one cannot beat the joy of turning a page and the interaction that creates with a child, she decided to produce an eBook just because she could. She used the eBook as a reward option for her crowdfunding campaign.

Eleanor also recognized that for her book to be a success, it needed to be beautifully illustrated and printed.

The story was illustrated by the tremendously talented Pilar Lama ( “As you can see from the book’s illustrations, she is amazing!” smiles Eleanor. Eleanor says that the entire process of writing and self-publishing stretched her in ways that were simultaneously fun and scary. However, watching Pilar’s wonderful illustrations come to life definitely brought Eleanor a lot of pleasure. Pilar’s agent Janice Onken of Wendy Lynn & Co. was also invaluable as a resource. Says Eleanor, “Aside from Michele of 1106 Design, Janice was my only other access to solid professional advice within the publishing world and the suggestions she gave me had such a positive impact on Why Do I Love You?

With regards to printing, Eleanor gave both print-on-demand and offset printing a considerable amount of thought. “Initially I chose a trim size that would be compatible with print-on-demand to keep my options open in the future,” recalls Eleanor. However nearly half way into the illustration process, she began to get cold feet, thinking that the trim size was too small. At that point, she changed her trim size to 9.5 x 9.5 inches. While upon first reflection, one might be forgiven for thinking that changing trim size is no big deal, Eleanor’s experience shows otherwise. She says, “This was no mean feat as every article I had read stressed that once the illustrations have commenced, it is not possible to change the trim size. Thank goodness for the magic of Michele and her team at 1106 Design. Michele managed to enlarge the illustrations that were already completed without compromising on the quality. Looking back I feel this was the best decision I made in the whole process.”

What caused Eleanor’s change of heart? She comments, “I can see how print-on-demand works for the standard black and white paperback book, but the fact is that a children’s illustration book is so expensive to produce, it would be very difficult to recover the production costs of the book if relying solely on print-on-demand. Plus, I didn’t like any of the limited trim sizes that print-on-demand caters for.”

Finally, the passion and joy that Eleanor has found in every step of the process.

Eleanor found out quickly how difficult it can be to get a book accepted via the traditional publishing route, leaving self-publishing as the only option. But, once she discovered crowd funding, she says that the idea of going the self-publishing route seemed exciting and she loved the idea of being hands-on. So, while her original goal for writing and publishing her book was to create an additional source of income in an area that gave her passion and joy, the “passion and joy” ended up being the greatest gift. “The passion and joy I have gotten from every step of the process has exceeded my wildest imagination. It has created such a fire and energy within me that it has made the whole process worth it,” Eleanor acknowledges.

Eleanor’s inspiration for the book is also pretty special. “My two gorgeous children, Fionn and Elise, were my inspiration,” she smiles before recounting her story. Eleanor was on maternity leave in January 2016 with her two children, who were 18 months and 3 months at the time. While life with two young babies was busy, she was unprepared for how lonely and isolating the experience could be, especially during winter. Eleanor decided to take advantage of the time when the children were having their naps to focus on something she was passionate about. She recalls, “I got out a pen and paper and wrote a list of the things that brought me joy. Once I decided it would be a book, there really was only one area I was interested in writing about, and that is ‘Unconditional Love’.”

Her advice for new authors? “Follow your heart and believe in yourself,” she says, without missing a beat. Eleanor says she was a good eight months into the process before she began to tell her family and friends about what she was doing. “I wanted to be so far into the process that there was no way other people’s opinions would create any self-doubt within me. In fairness I got such amazing encouragement from my family and friends, but I did it as a protective mechanism.” She says that putting herself “out there” was one of the most challenging aspects of self-publishing. “On reflection, it wasn’t as daunting as I expected it to be and it was absolutely worth stepping out of my comfort zone.”

Eleanor gives words of encouragement to authors who are considering self-publishing as a route to publication. She acknowledges that self-publishing can seem hugely daunting and even overwhelming, but advises, “…if taken one step at a time, it’s not only achievable but it’s possible, with the right support, to create a book that looks so professional you would never think it was self-published. Between amazing illustrations, a wonderful book designer and a high quality printing company, Why Do I Love You? has the ‘wow factor’ of a traditionally published book.”

Would Eleanor do it again? “Absolutely!” she exclaims.

Book title: Why Do I Love You?

Author: Eleanor Gilvarry

Synopsis: Why Do I Love You? is a heart-melting children’s illustration book that helps verbalise unconditional love. It is the story of a typical day in a child’s life, showing them how perfect they are in every moment. The beautifully illustrated story recognises some of the challenges a little one can face and reassures them that regardless of what happens, they are loved simply for being themselves.

Genre: Children’s Illustration Book

Author website:

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