Gary Mullen, William Woods University equestrian studies division chair and associate professor of equestrian science, has always enjoyed writing. But he never intended to write the book about horse trivia.
According to Mullen, he had only been at WWU for a few months when he was contacted by Quarto Publishing in London. They were looking for a “university equine expert” to write a proposal for a book about amazing horse facts. A bird book with the same format had been successful, and they were looking to expand the concept to horses.
“I had no intention of writing this particular book,” said Mullen, who was paid a flat fee to write a proposed table of contents and eight pages of actual text. “I never really thought it would sell, so I just dismissed the idea of writing the book.”
However, a year later Mullen was contacted again by Quarto—they had quite a few potential buyers and wanted to pay him another flat fee for authoring the book with an international audience in mind.
“I was very busy with my job, and I was leery about taking on the responsibility, especially since they wanted it done in four months. I contacted my children and they said they would be very upset if I did not do this for them and my grandchildren,” said Mullen, who decided to tackle what turned into a 200-page endeavor.
“I planned out the 200 pages and did a few pages a night. I spent three weeks at Christmas break doing the bulk of the work,” said Mullen.
Not only did he do the writing, but Mullen looked through thousands of photographs to depict the ideas that he had in his head. Once he found the pictures he wanted, the editor had to attempt to contact the photographers for permission to use the photographs. It was a long process, and they were trying to do it all in a short span of time.
“I am a deadline freak, so I met every deadline,” said Mullen. “My editor in London was incredible. We exchanged ideas rapidly via internet, and the whole process was extremely smooth.”
The book has been marketed internationally, as the publisher originally planned. The book has been sold to additional publishers in China, Italy, Australia, Holland, Finland, Denmark, Hungary, Estonia and Lithuania, and there are plans to sell it to publishers in other countries.
Mullen was pleased with the final product.
“I wanted it to be unique,” said Mullen. “I think the book addresses almost any question one might have about horses, no matter how bizarre it might seem. I call the book a ‘bathroom read’ because it has snippets of light-hearted information. It is too small for a coffee table book, but perfect for the restroom!”
While this project is over, Mullen’s writing is not. Over the years he has written articles for numerous horse magazines and newspapers, and he has plans for future books that he thinks will be distinctive and worthy of writing.
“Amazing Horse Facts and Trivia” is available through bookstores like Barnes & Noble, or online at Amazon.com and other suppliers.
CUTLINE: Gary Mullen with his recently released book, “Amazing Horse Facts and Trivia.”