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Gardener At Heart And More

Organized by: Jane Gibson

Jane's Photo
Jane's Photo


The Short Story:

Poems are rarely moneymakers,  but I love writing them. I wrote them to be read by whoever 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 whoever can get to the Internet ( ).

I have also written a novel ("The Scarlet Tortoise Expedition")  and published it as a paperback with minimal royalties.

If  you enjoyed either of my books and you would like to give back, your  support will be very helpful, and much appreciated. You will be helping  to support the website and my writing. Thank you!

The Long Story:

One  morning I woke up very early and the first thought in my head was, "I  must write a poem." 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.
What if,
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?”
Cattail mused,
“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 whomever 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 them  on a website, which is as close to giving books away as I could get. So  I published my poems all three ways: as both paperback and e-book  on Amazon, and on a website ( ).

I  went on to write a novel of adventure and romance for all ages,  entitled "The Scarlet Tortoise Expedition," and published it as a paperback on Amazon, also with minimal royalties.

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 bit of refreshment in a difficult world.

--Jane Gibson


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2 years ago

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