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A Rockin’ Journey for Two Former School Teachers

Since this article was published, Rhonda Paglia’s entry, Grammy’s Rockin’ Color Rap-a-licious Rap won the #9 spot on The Gittle List 2015!

“Marketing is not my strength. Actually, I feel like a marketing disaster!”

– Rhonda Paglia, Indie Author

Rhonda Paglia and Rosie Russell each turned their passion for teaching children how to read into a career in children’s book writing and publishing. This year, they both entered The Gittle List, a contest exclusively for writers just like them — independent authors who publish their own children’s picture books.

“I love being the creator of my books – from start to finish, from writing to publishing, from cover to cover. I especially love the layout and design process – it’s fun for me,” says Rhonda, a former elementary school teacher.

This is Rhonda’s second attempt at earning a spot on the coveted “Gittle List.” Each year Aviva Gittle, owner of Aviva Gittle Publishing, selects 10 great self-published children’s picture books to promote at the holiday season. Rhonda is hoping that her book Grammy’s Rockin’ Color Rap-a-licious Rap: Teaching Kids Colors will earn a spot on this year’s Top 10 list.

Even though Rhonda didn’t win last year with Three Little Gnomes and a Boy Named Orion, she says, “I learned so much from [last year’s] contest winners’ books. I feel the same way about this year’s contest. I can enter, look at the winners, and then try to ‘kick up my game.’ I’m just happy to participate, have fun, and learn. So – I’m back! “

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 10.27.43 PMRhonda told her fellow indie children’s book author and friend Rosie Russell about The Gittle List contest. Rosie taught children in elementary and middle schools for 15 years before becoming an author full-time. “It sounded like a fun contest and I was especially pleased that it was [exclusively] for indie authors,” she says.

“Helping students learn how to read; introducing them to the love of reading, was rewarding,” says Rosie. She has already published several books, but this is her first contest. She decided to enter Beasley’s Journey, about the adventures of a dog trying to find his way back home.

Both authors find marketing the hardest part of self-publishing. Winning The Gittle List contest will give them free book promotion. Rhonda admits, “Marketing is not my strength. Actually, I feel like a marketing disaster!  I tweet, I blog, I have a website, I have a little newsletter, and I’m on LinkedIn and Facebook, yet I feel so clumsy at all of these.”

Aviva is rooting for both authors to make it on The Gittle List Top 10 for 2015. She says, “I know there are many authors who have put their heart and soul into creating wonderful children’s books. My mission is to find them and present them to readers around the world.”

Despite the challenges of marketing, Rhonda and Rosie agree that their decision to independently publish their own books was the right choice. Rhonda says, “I love the freedom I have to be unfettered and to present a book in whatever way I want.”

It’s been a rockin’ journey for Rhonda Paglia and Rosie Russell. Rosie sums it up best, “I enjoy it and I’m learning new things everyday.” Just like their former students.

Update: Rhonda did win a spot in the Top 10! The Gittle List 2015 winners are posted here. Winners are still being revealed (one per day starting 11/21/15); check back to see if Rosie also wins a spot on The Gittle List!

The Gittle List contest accepts print books and eBooks. The competition is open to self-published authors around the world. The 2016 submission guidelines are here.

Originally published on

AvivaWithGym4WEBAviva Gittle Publishing offers great stories for children in English and Spanish, including the Kitten and Friends / Gatito y amigos series. Aviva’s website, shares the stories of authors, illustrators and others who create books and creative media for children.
Published inAuthorBook MarketingGittle ListIndie AuthorsLinkedIn ArticlesWriting & Publishing

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