Happy birthday to Farmer Bear’s Garden! That’s right, one year ago on March 8 the book went out into the world. What an interesting year it’s been!
Around October of 2019 I was working with my illustrator to get the art done for the book, which is the most time-intensive part of the publishing process. I told her I wanted the book ready for spring, since that’s the beginning of gardening season, and gardening is of course a big theme of the book.
Lezlee did a great job of getting me the art in time, and then I worked with a designer to make the actual book. Once that was done I had to figure out how to upload the files to the major publishing platforms, and then wait for a printed copy to make sure everything was OK before I started selling the book. I felt like I was up against a time crunch, but little did I know how right that was.
My own copy came the first week of March, and it looked great, so on Sunday, March 8, 2020, I announced to my friends and family that the book was available for sale.
When you publish a book independently it’s incredibly important to get the word out as many ways as possible. Social media, friends and family, book reading events, craft shows, farmers markets – there are dozens of ways and venues that authors use to spread the word and generate interest. Of course most of these involve being in person, and I was nervous but excited to explore some of these options. I was going to try to get the book into a few local independent book stores and see if the library would be interested in having me do a reading.
However, right when I launched the book, the news was increasingly being dominated by coverage of the new coronavirus that was spreading throughout the country, and on March 13 I was told I would be working from home for at least the next few weeks. Pretty soon everything was shutting down. People were hoarding food and toilet paper, stores and restaurants were closing, as well as public buildings. Suddenly all those big ideas for things I could do to promote a book were out the window.
Of course even in a pandemic there are still ways to get the word out about books, and my social network was a big help. I have to thank all the friends and family who ordered a copy or spread the word about it to their own friends and family.
To date, Farmer Bear’s Garden has sold 142 copies. I can’t say if that’s good or bad, but due to the many limitations of the past year I’m pretty happy with it. The book is in several libraries as well and has been checked out many times. I’m glad that I’ve been able to reach so many people. It’s not about the money; it’s about getting the message out.
People have told me that the book made their child interested in starting a garden, which makes me happy. I think it’s great for children to learn to grow things, see where food comes from, and gain respect for nature and for life. I also appreciate all the positive reviews people have left on Amazon (some of whom don’t even know me, so you know it’s sincere!) It’s a very nice feeling to know that somewhere, someone is sitting down with their child and sharing the book you wrote with them.
I’m hoping that when the pandemic is under control I will be able to spread the word even more and reach more people with it. If you’ve read the book, I hope you and your children enjoy it. If you’ve helped me tell people about the book, thank you!
Here’s hoping this is a great year for the country, the world, and children’s book lovers everywhere. And I hope the story of two bears and their garden can bring some joy to many more families out there.