GIBSON CITY – Author Tim Smith credits the success of his 10 Buck Wilder books to one simple thing—his eraser.
“You don’t have to be the best; you just have to be the one that tries the hardest,” said Smith, explaining to parents and students who attended the Title 1 parent meeting at GCMS Elementary School last week that erasers give you the opportunity to try new things and allow you to do something over when it doesn’t work out the first time.
“Anybody can use that end of a pencil,” Smith said pointing to the sharpened end. “This is the tough one,” he said pointing to the eraser.
Smith, who said it takes him a week to do one page of a book since he uses his eraser and does things “over and over,” told the students when he was in school, he always thought his classmates were better at everything.
“But, I’m here today, and I’m up here because of erasers,” he said. “You can’t give up.”
Smith didn’t give up when it came to publishing his books either. Trained as a microbiologist, he worked in the pharmaceutical industry and then started his own furniture business. He had written magazine articles but wanted to publish children’s books about animals and nature.
He went to 12 publishers with his first book, and each rejected "Buck Wilder's Small Fry Fishing Guide." Then, he found success after seeking advice from a small publisher in Traverse City, Mich. He not only ended up getting his book published, he ended up married to his new publisher, Andy Swanson-Smith.
The fishing guide became the No. 1 selling book in the state of Michigan, where the couple lives, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources uses Buck Wilder as their official outdoor emblem for the state.
The couple has even had offers to grow their publishing company, said Andy, a 1969 graduate of Gibson City High School. "We've chosen to keep it small," she said.
The couple travels all over the country together doing presentations. They were in Gibson City last week to visit Smith’s father, Dick Walter, and to speak at area schools.
"We promised my nephews, Will and Paul Baillie, that we would come make a presentation before they got out of elementary school," Andy said.