Best-selling Random House author Monty Roberts isn't the only man who listens to horses. So d s Native American horse trainer GaWaNi Pony Boy, and his first book, Horse, Follow Closely: Native American Horsemanship, published March 1998, has become a galloping success -- as well as a spin-off book inspiration -- for BowTie Press, based in Irvine, Calif.
Headed by editor-in-chief Ruth Berman, formerly of Lerner Publications, and guided by consultant Nick Clemente, a former Pickwick Bookshop/B. Dalton and Price/Stern/Sloan exec, BowTie is the new book-publishing arm of pet and animal magazine publisher Fancy Publications (whose president, Norman Ridker, fancies bow-tie neckwear). Fancy Publications editors tipped off BowTie to Pony Boy's publishing potential and the house issued a 15,000-copy first printing of coffee-table book Horse, Follow Closely as its first general trade hardcover (its first general trade mass market titles were Why Do Cats Do That? and Why Do Dogs Do That?). BowTie quickly cantered through that printing and a same-sized second printing, and just cleared the hurdle for a comparable third printing.
Spurring the success of this book is the photogenic young author's charisma and promotional flair. He travels the circuit of equine seminars and performances and lectures at schools, discussing both his trademarked Relationship Training horse handling and Native American ways and traditions. But he d sn't skimp on signings at bookstores either; during one event at Joseph-Beth Booksellers he sold more than 80 copies of the $39.95 book.
The book got a particular boost during the holidays, thanks to a feature on Pony Boy on UPN TV's America's Greatest Pets during Thanksgiving and, more importantly, an endcap holiday promotion in 75 Barnes &Noble stores. "They approached us because the book had already sold more than 1000 copies for them," said BowTie v-p Debbie Phillips-Donaldson.
Horse, Follow Closely isn't Pony Boy's only time around the track. Knowing it was on to a good thing, and prompted by suggestions at all those school-based lectures, BowTie followed Horse, Follow Closely in November with Out of the Saddle, Pony Boy's horse primer geared to 8-11-year-olds. And released this month is Time Well Spent, a fill-in journal that accompanies a section of Horse, Follow Closely that explains how to begin building a relationship with your horse. Like the first book and Out of the Saddle, the journal features photos by internationally known horse photographer Gabrielle Boiselle.
BowTie is planning an extensive media campaign for its hot new author; Pony Boy will appear at the Los Angeles Festival of Books and will show up -- perhaps with a horse -- at BowTie's BEA booth.