Keith Ross’ “The Rescue of Eddie & Elliott — A Bald Eaglet Adventure” recently won best “Gift” book and was a finalist in the “Children’s/Juvenile (non-fiction)” categories through the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group’s 2024 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. (Keith Ross/Keith’s Frame of Mind)

Keith Ross’ “The Rescue of Eddie & Elliott — A Bald Eaglet Adventure” recently won best “Gift” book and was a finalist in the “Children’s/Juvenile (non-fiction)” categories through the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group’s 2024 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. (Keith Ross/Keith’s Frame of Mind)

Eagle rescue book wins indie publishing award

Sequim author-photographer looks to wider distribution

SEQUIM — Eddie and Elliott, the eaglets from Dungeness, continue to find the spotlight five years after they fell from their nest.

Their journey, photographed and chronicled by photographer Keith Ross in his book, “The Rescue of Eddie & Elliott — A Bald Eaglet Adventure,” won two awards through the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group’s 2024 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Ross won best “Gift” book and was a finalist for “Children’s/Juvenile (non-fiction).”

“I’m really happy with it all,” Ross said of the awards and how his book turned out.

He and dozens of other finalists and winners will be honored on June 28 in San Diego for the award’s 17th year. The award show is scheduled to be livestreamed at 5 p.m. at facebook.com/NextGenerationIndieBookAwards.

Ross self-published “The Rescue of Eddie & Elliott” last summer and sells it only as a package with a physical copy of the book and two plush eaglets through his website keithsframeofmind.com and several local businesses.

Ross nicknamed the baby eagles after he snapped their photos in May 2019 and wrote the book to follow Elliott’s perspective after falling out of a tree, going to a veterinarian’s office and being placed back in the tree.

He also included bald eagle facts written by Shelly Ament, a wildlife biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

It’s presumed the eagles grew up and left the nest, but they were not tracked, he said in a previous interview.

Ross’ book was judged by leaders of the indie book publishing industry, according to a press release, and all 80-plus books will be reviewed by New York literary agent Marilyn Allen of Allen Literary Agency, or one of her co-agents, for possible representation in areas, such as distribution, foreign rights, film rights and other rights.

He also won a cash prize for his “Gift” book award.

Ross said he hopes the awards will help him continue to find footing across the nation and internationally.

“It’s a real challenge to market,” he said.

“I’ve been told by a lot of people that if you buy this book and put the eaglets on coffee table, everyone will pick them up … It’s a matter of getting it in front of more people.”

Self-publishing

More than half of the 4 million new books published in 2022 were self-published, according to the book awards’ press release.

Book publishers like Ross are independent of major conglomerates and also include small presses, larger independent publishers, university presses, e-book publishers and other self-published authors.

Ross was recommended by his book’s project manager Melissa Coffman with Book House Publishing in Bellingham to submit “The Rescue of Eddie & Elliott” to the book awards. He also entered in the Animals/Pets category.

His photos were first picked up by Scholastic for its school newspaper, “Scholastic News,” distributed across the U.S., and then his photos were picked up by websites like The Dodo and Bored Panda.

Ross said he considered publishing with major distributors, but his vision was clear to keep the book and plush birds together as an experience.

“I’m sticking to my guns with that,” he said. “I’ve had a vision of someone reading a story with their kids holding the plush toys, or they have them on a shelf.”

He said he knows selling only the book or even digitizing it could mean more sales, but “my vision is more important to me.”

“It’s a very feel-good, positive story with good educational content in it,” Ross said.

Sales

Ross has shipped the book across the country, particularly after Seattle Refined ran a story last December, he said.

Locally, the book and plush eaglets can be found at Dungeness Kids Co., Dungeness River Nature Center and Mountainside Mail in Sequim; Wild Birds Unlimited in Gardiner; Olympic Stationers in Port Angeles; and Village Books in Bellingham.

One new avenue for Ross to share the story is speaking to groups and classrooms, with the most recent event in Nancy LeBlanc’s classroom at Franklin Elementary in Port Angeles. He shared slideshows, and students guessed the name of birds.

In the fall, Ross will speak at a school in Republic in Northeast Washington, and he’s planning events with the Sequim Library and Dungeness River Nature Center this year.

Since he moved to part-time for commercial fuel sales in 2021, Ross and his wife Kryz, also a photographer, offer a slew of services, including printing and framing, portraits and senior photos, event and product photography, custom furniture, photography lessons and tours, photo editing instruction, photo restoration and more.

They also serve as the Sequim Irrigation Festival’s photographers, and they do other volunteer special events.

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at matthew.nash@sequimgazette.com.

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