Author self publishes aromatherapy-scented children’s books

June 27, 2011

The idea for a children’s aromatherapy-scented book about a rescue dog came to Margaret Hyde in a dream.

“I woke up with the idea for it in the middle of the night, four years ago,” said Hyde, author of the Mo’s Nose book series. “I got up, wrote the idea and wrote the first version of the first story. I even saw it illustrated in Japanese ink brush in my dream.”

The dog in Hyde’s dream belonged to her best friend Amanda Giacomini, whom she asked to illustrate the first book, “Mo Smells Red”. Giacomini didn’t know how to use Japanese ink brush, but learned the skill for the books.

Most of the six books focus on the special dog using his nose to see a color. In the latest installment, “Mo Smells Pink”, Mo smells things such as pink grapefruit bubble bath and pink peppermint ice cream.

Hyde, 37,  grew up loving scratch-and-sniff stickers and scented markers, so she always wanted the Mo’s Nose books to be scented. She also wanted to use scents that were safe and hypoallergenic for kids, so she decided on aromatherapy essential oils.

“Aromatherapy has benefits that have been known many, many years,” said Hyde. “We tried to choose scents that are soothing.”

She developed the “Press-2-Smell” technology for the books, which hold the scent until the reader presses and releases it. Hyde said it lasts for 150,000 presses.

“We also found that we had a huge response from learning disabled and autistic kids,” said Hyde. “In that community they’ve known for a long time that the more senses they use, the better they respond to learning.”

At least 25,000 copies of the books have been sold and have won multiple Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards.

To publish the book, Hyde used $100,000 of her own money (the proceeds from the sale of a house)  to create her own publishing company. Hyde had previously created a small press in 1995 and published other children’s book including, the “Great Art for Kids” series.

“With the state of publishing I don’t think anyone would have taken a chance on an unproven concept and spent the time and money developing the technology,” Hyde said.

Self-publishing is now very popular and has become three times the size of the traditional book publishing industry said Allen Weiner, research vice-president at Gartner. He predicts the number of self-published books will continue to explode.

“It is much more difficult than ever to find a traditional publisher to publish your book,” said Weiner.

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