Bitten by the Shark

Carla Allen
Published on August 10, 2012
Shark On Line is Vanguard reporter Carla Allen’s new book. Tina Comeau photo

Although I’ve typed close to a million words over the past 25 years on the topic of gardening, that’s not what my first book is about. Nope. It’s about sharks.

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. In my case it launched Shark On Line.

In 2004 a gigantic mako shark was caught by Jamie Doucette aboard the Pembroke Princess during the annual Yarmouth Shark Scramble. One of the photos I snapped of this fish that was published by the Vanguard began circulating on the Internet.

Over the next eight years it swam in and out of thousands of mailboxes, with recipients changing the location of its landing: Australia, South Africa, British Columbia, Washington and elsewhere.

G.J. LeBlanc’s website, Yarmouth Magazine, provides a good record of the silliness, including posts as recent as last year. (Grab a cup of coffee, it's a long read).

The story became an urban legend on Snopes. The picture placed second in a national spot news photo competition and several businesses contacted me for reprint rights, including Prank Patrol, Maxim (U.S. and China), and Dreamworks, for use as part of the background in a set design.

Shark On Line includes Jamie Doucette's account of catching that mako, a history of the Yarmouth Shark Scramble and an interview with Art Gaetan, the owner of Blue Shark Charters. He teaches his clients to respect these predators and their role in ocean ecology.

The book also features an interview with the head scientist of the Canadian Shark Research Laboratory, in which he shares some of the findings from the dissections and tagging of hundreds of sharks caught during provincial shark derbies.

Gripping accounts of notable worldwide shark attacks are covered, as well the movement to end the practice of finning.

A large collection of black and white photos from nearly a decade of covering the shark tournament illustrates the book.

I decided to go the route of self-publishing after reading about garden writer Doug Green’s success with CreateSpace, a division of Amazon.

They provided a free ISBN number, access to a large community of online authors, and free technical assistance.

It’s actually not necessary for the author to spend a dime, unless they want to purchase copies of their book (at a discounted rate). The book is published on Amazon’s site and they print it on demand for consumers. You receive roughly 50 per cent of the income. That all sounds well and good, but the hard part is the marketing. In order to let the world know about your book you have to promote it. Local distributors have to be secured and press releases should be sent out. A website with its own domain name is a good idea.

So far writing my first book has been a great experience. I’m already looking forward to my second.

For more information about Shark On Line and where you can buy it locally, email Carla Allen at