HULBERT – At 14 years old, Cherokee Nation citizen Brian Conway can call himself a published author with his new book, “Fishkeeping for Kids,” which helps children 8 years and older understand all of the aspects of how to keep pet fish.
In sixth grade, Conway wrote a draft of the book as an English assignment, not knowing what it would turn into. After his teacher told him he should publish it, he went to work on turning the assignment into a full-fledged book.
The initial assignment stemmed from Conway wanting to keep fish due to his love of aquatic creatures from formerly living in Florida. His parents told him he had to do his own research first.
“He wanted to have an aquarium and we said you’ve got to do the research first. That was the seed of it,” CN citizen Eli Camp, Conway’s mother, said.
Conway said he started with a 10-gallon tank and quickly realized it would not be as easy as he initially thought.
“It was more complicated than I thought,” he said. “All the books I was reading, they were all too advanced. They were adult books and I didn’t understand all the words. So I decided to write this book for my project so it could be a resource for people.”
In the book, children will learn the best types of fish for different sized tanks, how to care for the tanks and what to buy for them. The book includes easy-to-read charts, graphs and diagrams. Conway added that the easiest types of fish to care for are betta, tetra and dwarf shrimp.
Conway describes the book as “an easy to comprehend resource for (children) starting their own aquarium and learning the responsibilities of learning how to take care of a pet.”
Once Conway had the concept down, working on getting his book edited and published was a whole other learning process.
“I found an editor that was willing to give me half off since I was younger and publishing it on my own,” Conway said. “I did a crowdsourcing campaign and raised over $3,500 for publishing the book and she (Camp) owns a publishing company that I partnered with.”
His mother said there was not anything like it on the market for children.
“So we had to pitch it to the team, but they loved it and there wasn’t anything on the market like it for kids. He’s done lots and lots and lots of the work,” Camp said.
Camp added that Conway learned how to write press releases, create videos, edit and proofread.
“He did all of that work because that was the deal,” Camp said. “The publishing company didn’t pay for that. He had to pay for it to be published because he’s not a big name author. He didn’t have guaranteed sales. So he’s done all of that work and now he’s moved on to setting up book signings. There’s a number of grown ups who are buying this book, as well, because it’s got enough information in it.”
Conway said it is exciting to see his book come to fruition and is working on the marketing end now. He is setting up book signings and also volunteers at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks.
“It’s given me a new appreciation for all the books I’ve read,” he said. “It took me longer to publish it than to write it. I’ve actually learned a lot about fishkeeping just from writing this book.”
The book and more information are available at fishkeepingforkids.com.