Tending a Garden of Books

Picture by Carole P. Roman

I hated gardening when I was a kid. My grandmother lived with us (or maybe it was the other way around), either way, she had both an indoor and outdoor garden.

She would spend a good portion of her day, tending to her assorted plants and flowers. She had exotics like orchids, a terrarium of cacti, miniature palm trees, and a variety of African violets in a rainbow of colors.

I thought them bothersome, as well as a waste of time. When she passed, my mother took over the care of them. My mom wasn’t much of a gardener either, and I was stunned when the plants became an important part of her life. 
When my mother died, I was faced with either throwing the lot out or taking them to my home.

I couldn’t toss away something that meant so much to both of them. The women in my life nurtured and respected these plants, devoting huge amounts of time and emotion to their upkeep.

They took over my kitchen in a tangle of vines and vibrant leaves. Between my husband and myself, we managed not to kill any of them. I didn’t know that nurturing these plants would prepare me for my future ventures when I started marketing my son’s and my books.

Lesson One
It may be a weed to you, but to someone else, it’s a beautiful flower.

Picture by Carole P. Roman

Some of these plants were plain ugly. Still, they were important to my grandmother, and I continued to care for them. They might have prickly leaves or be a noxious shade of green, but she saw something in them to keep them lovingly watered and safe from the elements.

So, the connection to books. I like some of my stories better than others. Each was written during a different point in my life and brings back memories like old photographs. Sometimes when I reread them, I’ll wince or have a cringe-worthy moment. I know I can do better than that. In fact, I think I have, but if the goal of writing was to be commercially successful, we have to write about what will actually sell.

Experience has taught me many things. However, the surprise is, that the ones that I may not have enjoyed creating are sometimes more successful financially.

While I do have a regular job, most of the purpose of being an author for both my son and me was to create another income stream. The point is, you have to push forward and market the books that earn if your goal is to make money. It may not be what you want to write about, or your passion, but the ones that support your other interests need the most time in the sun to help your endeavor.

Lesson Two
Oh, the Constant Care

Picture by Carole P. Roman

I learned to water those plants. Sounds stupid? Once I put them in that corner of my kitchen, I forgot about them. It wasn’t until I saw their roots showing with water deprivation and the soil had shrunk to half the pot that I realized they had to be looked after daily. Some plant varieties needed more water than others- I learned that valuable lesson when I flooded the pots, nearly drowning the poor things.

Marketing books have to be tended daily. The watering comes in the form of talking about them on Facebook, or blogs. You can run specials on the various reading sites like Bargain Booksy, or Instafreebee, or even give them away directly from Amazon in the giveaways located at the bottom of the page. You can flood the market by giving them away too often or for too little; it may cheapen the product. However, you have to expose your books just the right amount of time by letting people know about them.

Lesson Three
Knowing When to Prune

Picture by Carole P. Roman

Sometimes the plants got too big for the pots, and they had to be replanted. In the same way, sites can become stale. You have to search for fresh places to post about your book, “replanting” it in front of new eyes. Check out other authors in your genre, see if they will do Facebook Takeovers or Facebook/Blog Exchanges with you.

Get a group of writers together and see if you can make up a Spring or Fall catalog of your books to send out on all your mailing lists. By sharing your spotlight and resources with others, you expose readers to more books, and the other authors will be doing the same for you.

By offering a variety of books to the readers on your mailing list, you show it’s not just about you. It may spur them to purchase multiple books. If you continuously bombard your followers with the SOS they will likely get bored. You may find your mailing list taking off and growing like a field of bluebonnets in Texas; once exposed to new potential followers gathered from your colleagues collections.

Lesson Four
Rome wasn’t Grown in a Day, Either

Picture by Carole P. Roman

Most of all, taking ownership of those plants and caring for them taught me patience. When one finally bloomed for me the first time, it was a delicate and surprisingly little bud for all my efforts, but I beamed, nonetheless. I had a huge victory.

My efforts yielded something, and you know what? The next batch of flowers filled that kitchen with color. Fat, juicy flowers that made my grandchildren want to share the activity of creating a herbal garden that spring.

I learned patience. I learned small victories are windows to substantial benefits. I learned that if you want results with anything, you have to put in the work and the work is constant.

It may not be backbreaking, it may not be hard, but it has to be watched, and when the time is right you can’t sit on your keister waiting for life to happen. Sometimes you have to help it along.

Picture by Carole P. Roman