Crazy Guinea Pig Lady Writes a Book About Her Critters
And guinea pig fans are loving it!
Have you ever felt your guinea pigs were trying to tell you something? I felt this regularly. So in partnership with Charlie Guinea Pig, I decided to put together a book on how guinea pigs can train their humans.
I’ve kept guinea pigs for 20 years, so I’m well aware of their little musings — their likes, dislikes and funny habits. They’ll try all sorts of techniques to get food and treats. They like to keep me busy, firing poops in all directions and turning their accommodation upside down.
Inspired by the huge success of ‘100 Ways for a Dog to Train its Human’ by Simon Whaley, and similar titles for chickens, horses and cats, I decided to write my own version for guinea pig lovers. I’d hoped to get the backing of Hodder and Stoughton, who published the original series, but literary agents didn’t seem to understand the concept, and big publishers won’t deal directly with authors these days. So I tinkered with my draft manuscript, on and off, for five years and then asked a guinea pig owner to tell me if she liked it.
“Be brutal. Tell me if it’s crap,” I said, but she loved it! She suggested a few improvements, and within weeks, I’d produced the final manuscript and was designing a cover!
In May 2021, I published the book in paperback and ebook through Kindle Direct Publishing. It’s been extremely well received. Some buyers have sent me photographs of their guinea pigs with the book!
Early feedback came from a lady in India — she asked me to do an online interview about my writing for her YouTube show. Then she surprised me by saying she’d read the guinea pig book, and she loved it! You can see the interview here — the introduction is all about the book!
The biggest challenge for me was the illustrations. One of the perks of working with a big publisher is that they’ll commission an artist to draw illustrations. They’ll also get books into gift shops, which helps drive sales.
Without that kind of backing, and unsure whether there was a market for my book, I wanted to keep my costs down. I tried creating my own illustrations but they weren’t very good. So I eventually settled on using photographs run through computer software that turns them into drawings. It’s worked well.
I’ve received some very pleasing reviews since the launch. Haypigs wrote: “A Masterpiece! It’s about time those humans listened up! This book tells them everything they need to know about caring for (and spoiling) their piggies. Written with charm, wit and clear and deep understanding of everything guinea pig. Love it! Would make a great present for any piggy mad friend!”
Another fan said: “This book was so cute. As a lifelong guinea pig servant (my husband jokes all ours have to do is squeak and I drop whatever I’m doing to run to the fridge and get them tomatoes), I loved the funny guinea pig stories from guinea pig perspectives complete with guinea pig illustrations.”
The Caravanning Guinea Pig and other stories
In addition to extensive instructions for guinea pigs on how to train their humans, I decided to add a second part — a selection of articles I’ve written about my guinea pigs, including ‘Charlie the caravanning guinea pig’, ‘Diary of a Wimpy Guinea Pig’, ‘Small Furry Pets as Therapy’, and an interview with a lady who paints pictures of guinea pigs for a living. It’s been a lot of fun, took years to perfect, and I’m so pleased that it’s been well received.
Essential reading for all guinea pigs…