Monday, February 16, 2009

Vivian Gilbert Zabel's Virtual Tour

Read all about Vivian and her new Young-Adult novel, PRAIRIE DOG COWBOY in the following interview.

And get this: She's giving away four canvas bags. All you have to do to be entered in the drawing is leave a comment and a way to reach you. So comment away.

Thanks for stopping by.

I have the pleasure of interviewing Vivian Gilbert Zabel, author, editor, publisher, and extraordinary woman, on her Virtual Book Tour.

Bev: First of all, Vivian, when and why did you decide to start your own publishing house?

Vivian: In 2002, I realized that authors didn’t have much choice between major publishing houses (very difficult to have manuscripts read), vanity presses, and self-publishing. I began to think about a publishing company then, one to fill that gap. Finally, a few friends and I pushed me into starting 4RV Publishing. The LLC papers were filed in 2007, changing a partnership to a limited liability corporation.

Bev: What challenges do you face as a small publisher, trying to get your books into bookstores and other recognition for them among the thousands of books published each year?

Vivian: The challenges become greater, much greater, with the CPSIA looming over us, but hopefully by the time this interview is posted, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act will be a thing of the past.

If the CPSIA is in effect, all publishers will face the challenge of being able to afford to do children’s books.

Getting our books into bookstores is possible if people request them. We work through a distributor, have a return policy, and give a standard discount. Therefore, our books are available to every bookstore just as books from the “big boys.” We work to get reviews on and Barnes and, as well as in print newspapers and magazines.

Our books are entered into contests, too. A few of our books are entered for major awards, such as for the Newbury and Caldecott. We participate in as many book festivals as possible, and authors are encouraged to participate in those close to them.

Bev: Now let’s hear about Vivian the author. Tell us about your latest book for children, Prairie Dog Cowboy. What sparked the idea for this story?

Vivian: For years I’ve wanted to find a way to use my husband’s stories of being a cowboy and of breaking horses. When I discovered the Western Heritage Awards, I thought, “Ah-ha.”

Bev: I love the cover of Prairie Dog Cowboy. How did you decide on an illustrator for your book?
Vivian: From the time I started Prairie Dog Cowboy, I wanted pen and ink illustrations and Jordan Vinyard. She is one of the best artists and illustrators I’ve ever seen.

Bev: How do you manage your time between being a writer, editor, and publisher?

Vivian: I add ten hours to each day. Of course by the end of the week, I’ve run out of days about Thursday night, but …

Seriously, at times editing takes the majority of my time, at other times I act as publisher, and then I have times that I do nothing but write – usually late at night.

Bev: What advice do you have for aspiring writers or for those considering starting their own publishing business?

Vivian: For aspiring writers, never give up learning and improving and trying. For those considering starting a publishing business, visit your therapist. Burning money is a less stressful way of going broke.

Bev: Do you have anything you’d like to add about your writing or the book industry?

Vivian: Too many people don’t realize the importance of books and reading. We need to find a way to reach our children and our teens and adults – fostering an interest in reading and a need to write well.

I write because I have no option: I MUST write.

Bev: Where may your fans and writers find out more about you and 4RV Publishing? Website, blogs?

Vivian: The 4RV Publishing website is;
my most used and visited blog is Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap,; my mystery blog is Vivian’s Mysteries,; the blog for Prairie Dog Cowboy is; the one for Midnight Hours, my mystery/suspense/thriller is

Bev: Thank you, Vivian, for taking time out of your busy day to give us a glimpse of the publishing world from both sides: the publisher’s and the writer’s.

Thanks, Bev, for having me.


  1. Vivian,

    Thanks for starting 4RV and providing this pubplishing option to writers. I love all the 4RV books I've read and am looking forward to more. And the artwork in your books - fantasic!


  2. Great interview, Vivian! Even though I'm a 4RV author, I learned something new about our esteemed leader!

  3. Great interview, Vivian! I learned through you how stressful a publishing company can be. I'm sure glad that you started it giving us another outlet for our work. I hope to be a 4RV author one of these days!
    Deb :-)

  4. Sorry I'm just now getting here.

    Charlotte, I'm glad to see you here and glad you've enjoyed the books so far. We do have some excellent writers and illustrators.

    Katie is one of those authors.

  5. Great interview! I was particularly interested in why/how Vivian started 4RV. The publishing industry seems to be in even more disarray today. I hope small publishers like 4RV can survive.


  6. Hi,

    I've enjoyed reading "Prairie Dog Cowboy."

    As a reviewer, I'm beginning to think that the illustrators of our children's books need more exposure, too. Funny that I've never given these talents as much thought as they deserve; however, that will change.

  7. Nancy, I hope we can survive, too. I'm hanging on, though. The government doesn't make it easy on any small business, no matter what they say.

    However, I believe that good books MUST be published.

  8. I even learned something new about Vivian that I didn't know. And I've been working with her almost a year now. Wow time flies when you are having fun.

    Nice interview, Bev. Thanks for hosting Vivian on this tour. Looking forward to seeing what else pops up about Prairie Dog Cowboy and Vivian - see you all in the postings - E :)

  9. The correct link for the Prairie Dog Cowboy site is

    Sorry for the confusion.

    Elysabeth, there are many things that you probably don't know. *laugh*

  10. Great interview, Beverly & Vivian. I also enjoyed reading about 4RV and how it came to be.

    I'm looking forward to reading Prairie Dog Cowboy for myself, as well as featuring it on my blog this Wednesday.

  11. Rena, your books will be in the mail tomorrow -- no mail today.

  12. I must write also, otherwise I'd spend more time reading or watching TV. It's a horrible, yet wonderful addiction!

    Morgan Mandel - email

  13. Really enjoyed reading your interview, Vivian. It was neat to read why you started 4RV and I'm so grateful that you did! Looking forward to reading Prairie Dog Cowboy.

    Thanks for hosting, Beverly. :o)

  14. Thank you for hosting Prairie Dog Cowboy today, Bev.

    I appreciate all the comments that were left. Thanks, everyone, for coming by.

    Happy reading.

  15. It was my pleasure to host you, Vivian. Thanks to all who visited and left a comment.

    Best wishes to everyone.


  16. Good interview, Vivian. I can appreciate your publishing start-up comments, since I am the first author to be published by a start-up press. Krill Publishing is less than 6 months old, so I really got in on the ground floor.

    Interesting time to be a fiction writer! Good luck on the rest of your tour.

    Pat Browning

  17. What a great interview. Thanks Bev and Vivian. It was so interesting hearing about 4RV. Goodluck with Prairie Dog Cowboy.

    Kai Strand

  18. Great interview Bev and Vivian. I applaud Vivian for her courage and dedication to writers everywhere. Sleep must not be an option.


  19. What's sleep, Carma? Is that one of those four letter words spelled with five letters? *laugh*

    Thanks, everyone. I'm glad you stopped by.