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Guidelines for writing a garden book

Write your own garden book
Photo by Wilma Arste

These days many more people are writing books than ever before. There are also more ways to have your book published and offered to the public. For people who love gardening and think they have helpful knowledge to share – no matter what your reason is for writing a garden book -- here are some tips to help you write and publish your own book.

  • The first thing you want to do is to decide what your garden book will be about. You know what your expertise focuses on. But you have to think about who will buy – or even read your book. Check out the competition. Look for a novel approach to your subject if you see there are already books on your subject.
  • Organize your time. Scheduling regular work times will help you become more productive.
  • Write out an outline to follow. You can rearrange parts of your book easily this way. Eventually you will want to do a table of contents, anyway, and this will be a first step.
  • Keep all your notes, writings and pictures in one folder (with subfolders) so you can find everything easily as you work.
  • Back up what you think you know. Facts need to be substantiated, words can be misspelled (especially Latin plant names), and there are new discoveries (always new products and ideas being introduced) that may influence what you write.
  • Have your work read by as many people as you can to get useful feedback.
  • If you don’t have a publisher who provides editing services, hire your own editor. Even the best writers make mistakes they can stare at over and over and not see them.
  • Research how you want to publish your book. Garden books are not the same as other books when it comes to how they are packaged and marketed. Partner with businesses that understand your target audience.If you want to find a good publisher, look for one that has a good reputation and has the resources to best produce and promote your book. Check into self-publishing and all the different supporting services. There are many ways to produce a book these days.
  • Put together your book carefully following all the technical guidelines if you are self-publishing. And if you are pitching a book publisher or agent, spend equal effort in putting together your proposal. Follow submissions guidelines exactly. They vary.
  • Before signing any contract, have it reviewed by an expert or a contract lawyer. Contracts are all different and many have clauses that might not work to your advantage -- worded in ways you might not suspect.

Writing a garden book can be exhilarating. But it is a big commitment and will consume much of your time. Sales are not guaranteed, so make your efforts as efficient as possible. Just like gardening, writing a book is a project best planned, researched and executed carefully!