Gardener At Heart And More
Organized by: Jane Gibson
The Short Story:
Poems are rarely moneymakers, but I love writing them. I wrote them to be read by anyone who might enjoy them. So I self-published Gardener At Heart as a paperback and an e-book with minimal royalties. And I put the poems up on a website, free for anyone who can get to the Internet (flyingcrowpress.com/garden ).
I have also written a novel entitled The Scarlet Tortoise Expedition and published it as a paperback with minimal royalties, under the same intention.
If you enjoyed either of my books and you would like to give back, your gift will be very welcome and much appreciated. I have not set a campaign goal in order to leave it up to you what you wish to give. Thank you!
The Long Story:
Early one morning I woke up suddenly and the first thought in my head was, "I must write a poem." I remembered that I had seen a call for poetry submissions in a journal, so I started writing poems about something I love--native plants. I sent some of them in and was fortunate enough to have them accepted and published. I kept writing, and eventually I self-published a small spiral-bound book of fifty poems, using a local print shop. I wasn’t sure what to charge for this book at first. I knew I needed to make back what I had put into it because money was tight. Finally I settled on $20 without realizing that this was overpriced. I sold several copies to people I knew, but not nearly enough to pay for the whole printing.
Then one day on a field trip with some other native-plant lovers, I joined a conversation with a fellow hiker named Elizabeth Stanek. She started telling me about how she had made and given away hundreds of porcelain leaves (more information about Elizabeth can be found here). I was surprised that anyone would give away their artwork instead of selling it. I had always believed that art of any kind was like a treasure that is jealously protected and sold only for its full value. Privately I thought at first that she was crazy, but I was curious, and as I asked questions and listened to her describe how she was trying to mimic what plants do with their seeds, a new prospect began to open up in my mind. Over the next few days I thought it all over, and I felt inspired to give away the rest of my books. At a potluck, I signed them and gave them to friends. I also wrote this poem:
The Dispersal Project
Long ago, at a meeting
Of the Green Artists League,
Ponderosa said, “I’ve been thinking.
Instead of selling our artworks,
We gave them away?”
Yellow Bells chimed in:
“Yes, what would happen
If we handed out our best treasures
Like business cards?”
“We could send them out
On the wind.”
Sagebrush said, “You know,
We could change the world.”
So they all decided to try it.
Ever since I heard this story,
I’ve been wondering:
What if we humans did this too?
Giving away my books was so much fun that I wanted to keep doing it. I wanted to just walk around town and give them away to everyone I met. But at this point I could not afford to have any more books printed. A friend of mine had recently been awarded a small grant for a writing project, and she suggested that I write a grant proposal to the same outfit, so I did. I wrote up the story of how Elizabeth had changed my mind. I proposed that I reprint my book as inexpensively as possible and give away as many copies as I could. But my proposal was rejected.
I kept writing poetry, but instead of trying to find a way to publish, I moved on to other projects. After a while I got the idea that when I had written fifty more poems, I would somehow publish again, all one hundred poems together. And eventually I had more than one hundred. Meanwhile the publishing world had been changing rapidly. I discovered that I could now self-publish a paperback online for nothing but the expense of proof copies, and I could publish an e-book for truly nothing. (Except for my own time and effort, of course.) My dream of walking around giving away actual books was unattainable, since I couldn’t afford to pay for that, but I could still make my books available pretty inexpensively. I decided that I would also publish the poems online, which is as close to giving books away as I could get. So I published all three ways: as both paperback and e-book on Amazon, and on a website (flyingcrowpress.com/garden ).
I went on to write a novel of adventure for all ages, entitled The Scarlet Tortoise Expedition, and published it as a paperback on Amazon, also with minimal royalties, under the same intention.
I no longer think of my books as hoarded treasures for which you must pay the full price before you can enjoy them. Instead I think of them as gifts to you, my reader. Sometimes I imagine you at the end of a long day of doing whatever work you do, finally sitting down and putting your feet up. I imagine you reaching for my poetry book to read a poem or two, or picking up my novel to immerse yourself in a chapter. And I hope that it brings you a little refreshment in a difficult world.