Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary How Does Your Garden Grow?

Back when I was a little girl in knee socks and Mary Jane shoes, my dad had a garden - a large garden where he grew everything from tomatoes to potatoes.  We grew lettuce, cauliflower, green peppers, banana peppers, green beans, wax beans, and a few other things.   By the time I was a teenager, I fully understood that the garden meant good food for the table and a lot of hard work.  Once moved into the Ozark region, I learned that there is a never ending supply of rocks to pick out of the soil.   There is also the contant weeding, the picking, the removal of bugs that otherwise might devour your crop, hoeing, and sundry other garden duties.   It's hard work but the yield can be worth the effort.

After writing for decades, being a published author for more than eight months now, I have had a revelation - this writing business is much like planting a garden.  Just as we prepared the ground to plant, writers must prepare with ideas to write.   Success in the writing game comes slow, with effort, and there's a need for the right conditions - just like the right weather can make or break a garden's bounty.

I've noticed that some new authors think that getting the book out there is all that's needed.  I wish it were so simple but it's not.  When you ponder just how many books are on alone or toss in the total number of books, print and ebooks, published through a traditional or indie publisher or self-pubbed, the number becomes mind boggling very fast.   Your novel or novels must stand out to be noticed, to be read, to be bought.

If I were taking my tomatoes to a farmer's market, I'd hope that I could bring tomatoes that were the best I could grow, round, plump, at the peak of ripeness.  I'd want mine to be blemish free so that when the average tomato shopper strolled by, mine might look just a little better than the vendor next door.  The differences might be subtle and all in the marketing.  Maybe I could put a red and white checked cloth on my table to get noticed, to evoke memories of picnic and Grandma's kitchen.  Or display my tomatoes clean and washed in a cut glass bowl instead of dirt-caked in a discount store bag.

Promotion, promotion, promotion must be the author's mantra just like a real estate maven must focus on location, location, location.   After promotion, marketing becomes the next new skill to learn as you till your garden of creativity.

Becoming a successful author requires hard work, dedication, an eye on details, and time.  It requires a product that someone will want.

Writing the novel is sometimes the "easy" part - making it through the editing (think weeding and hoeing), the marketing, the promotion can be far more difficult.

A lot of would-be writers are lost when they realize how much toil is involved.

So, Mary, Mary, author of a new book, how does your garden grow?

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