Promoting A Book: How Social Are You?


I like people.  I love plants.  Here is the difference:  Plants never bore or exhaust me.  More to the point, I never bore or exhaust myself with my own chatter when I'm face to face with a plant. 

Nonetheless, I have a burning desire to communicate something to humanity, which is this: Vegetable gardening is easy and absurdly enjoyable. GrowGoodLife_DJrev

So I wrote a book about this idea, which will be published on February 15.  Writing it was a completely delightful experience. 

We'll see whether selling it is equally enjoyable. Since I am publishing this book in the modern world, no passivity is allowed. I am supposed to employ the full force of social media for its benefit.

Writing books, I am discovering, is a sociability test. 

Which is, of course, highly ironic, as I'm sure umpteen people have already pointed out.

People only become writers because they are not as smart as they want to be in social situations and tend to think up the good remarks after the fact, alone in their rooms with their laptops. People who are really great on their feet become politicians or television anchors or college professors.

Which I suppose is the genius of social media.  Facebook, Twitter, and blogs allow forethought, calculation, and some degree of revision to the self-presentation…as well as genuine interaction.

I would rate myself a 6 out of 10 on the sociability scale: Love a party, especially if you let me get a little dressed up!  Love Garden Rant!  Love the friends I've made by blogging! 

And now, thanks to Sasha Smith, Rodale's delightful social media expert, I LOVE Twitter!  My husband says I am spending too much time on Twitter.  Undoubtedly.  But it's as much fun as Page Six! And you don't just get the gossip for five minutes in the morning.  It lasts all day long.

Apparently, I'm not done with Twitter and Garden Rant. 

I also have to speak in public. That at least I'm professionally interested in, since I've made my living as a speechwriter since 1994.  I've written a thousand speeches, I've watched a million, I've developed ten theories about what makes for a good speech. Now, we'll see if they work for a gardener, not a governor.

As soon as the domain parking gets straightened out, I'll also have a personal website, so people don't have to hunt here among all the other outstandingly uppity women to find out about my book. I'm going to try to make it useful for beginning vegetable gardeners, and do a garden diary there.

Oh yeah, and then there is Facebook, too.  Facebook, too!  God, I am already completely tired of myself, and I haven't even gotten started.

Why am I only a 6 out of 10 on the sociability scale?  Because I am exhaustible


  1. I love this article – the first sentence is spot on, and you remain so right until the last word. We write books because we love plants and want to share than knowledge, but not necessarily face-to-face with people all the time. Congrats on the new book, hope it does really well for you 🙂

  2. Congrats on the book, Michele! I’ll look for it, although my yard is mostly woods and shade. Is there a chapter on growing veggies in the shade?! Wishingful thinking.

    Know exactly what you mean. My first novel came out last spring (Forget-Her-Nots (HarperCollins, a new spin on garden magic), and I’ve been out there in the public domain ever since. It’s tons of fun to connect with people, but I’m still trying to find the balance between all-out promo and quiet writing time. Gardening helps immensely, but it’s winter here, so I’ve taken up hula hooping. Love it.

    Off to follow you on twitter …. 😉

    -Amy (Brecount White)

  3. Michele – I do love the ‘veil of the page’ between me and my readers – but after 30 years! I have at least learned not to get flustered when one stops me on the street with a kind word – or heaven help me – a question. Amy certainly knows about hitting the road! Can’t wait to see the book – and the new website.

  4. Congratulations! I will watch for the book because this is the year that I start growing veggies for real, not just flowers anymore, and I can use all the help I can get.

  5. Good for you. It’s good to go outside of your comfort zone. I like people too, but not all people, and really I would rather choose which ones I spend time with. So I feel for you, having to get out there!

  6. Garden speaking, pay & venue, is in the dark ages. What are your observations in this arena?

    How will you expand that horizon?

    Are you attracting speaking venues outside the horticultural world?

    Who are you referring, to speak the following year, at each of your speaking venues? Who are you mentoring in the Garden Speaking realm?

    Pushing The Envelope For Gardening Into Untapped Realms where growth is UNLIMITED.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  7. How about a link to your Twitter account? (for those of us who are knew to that and find lots of Michelle Owens’ there!!!) You’ll do fine, Michelle! Look forward to your book, too.

  8. Ah! Old dog, new tricks! (Riffing off your last post about being 50.) Congratulations on the book and the platform. Maybe Jeff will come around. But, will he twitter, or, worse yet, befriend you on FB?

  9. Congrats on the book. I know marketing is exhausting at times. But I think even with the success of this blog you have already conquered socialability.

  10. Social media is good, but I found I need twitterfreedays and days when I turn off the computer completely to get somethings done. When I do this, I find I’m so wired that I’m constantly battling the temptation to sit down and turn on the computer. I combat this urge by distracting my attention with another “to-do”. Consequently, the days when I’m not online are very productive.

  11. Ah, Michele – I could’ve written that first paragraph ! Many a time I’ve lamented my weekends/vacations saying I didn’t get enough time with the garden. Not the kids, the hubby, the relatives or friends. The plants.

    Look forward to your new book, & thanks for the insight into the world of publishing. Should I ever gather my scattered gray matter & put my gardening thoughts on paper, I’ll try to remember that sending it to a publisher is really the beginning.

  12. Congrats on the book, Michelle. I pre-ordered one through my local bookstore and am really looking forward to reading it. Any chance you will be in Minnesota? We have lots of avid gardeners and readers here.

  13. I’m a college professor and writer, and I expend too many good thoughts in class discussions (teaching is an act, like going to parties or giving readings–I can act for an hour or so, but then I get so exahusted I have to be alone for 24 hours. Writers must have split personalities to survive in a social world). I wonder, isn’t social media as exhausting, and it’s such a time suck. I enjoy Facebook, hate Twitter. Why do you like Twitter? Huh?

  14. Huge applause and congratulations on your new book.
    I’m looking forward to reading it so that my veggie garden can make me more healthy, wealthy and wise. … I just hope I don’t have to eat okra to be wise. I rather be poor than eat okra. Please don’t say that it is the secret ingredient.
    Congrats again !

  15. Benjamin, my sympathies! I taught college for one year–one three-hour class a week. I used to have to nap the whole rest of the day afterwards.

    I’m new to Twitter, but finding it a great source of news. I can follow the food writers and the science writers, even if I’m not taking the time read their blogs or articles. I get a good laugh out of some of the personal tweets. But I’m in it for the links.

    Michelle D, thanks for the great interview. Look for yourself in the “beauty” chapter. And I love okra. But it’s not the key to wisdom. I think a shovel is.

  16. Congrats on your new book, Michele. Yes, it is ironic that introverted writers have to get out there and press the flesh, so to speak, to promote their books. Good luck with all that. I think you’ll be great.

  17. Don’t be so negative with yourself (or other writers) with your comment: “People only become writers because they are not as smart as they want to be in social situations.”

    Certainly not me- LOL! You obviously believe in yourself and your message so, take a deep breath, and just have a conservation with other (interested, or they wouldn’t be attending) people. You’ll be just fine!

  18. Certainly like the ability to craft an answer on paper than come up with one off the top of my head in person. I never feel like it comes off my tongue just right.

    Will look forward to reading your book!

  19. Congratulations, Michelle!

    I’m exactly where you’re at right now. And you nailed it when you said “People only become writers because they are not as smart as they want to be in social situations.” It’s true in my case!

  20. Michele, I can SO relate! For a couple of blissful decades, I wrote in the mornings and gardened in the afternoons. I had an ivory tower existence, emerging only to tour gardens and interview great gardeners.

    I covered gardening for a major newspaper and wiggled my way up the food chain so I was writing for Sunset and Meredith—all without going to GWA or putting in “face time” with editors, most of whom I never or seldom met. I built a solid reputation solely on merit. I scorned wannabes who relied on their social skills to get ahead.

    Ah, but now…when I had a book come out in 2007, suddenly I had to give speeches. Yikes. I joined Toastmasters to get over the jitters (words and content were not my problem, knocking knees and a racing heartbeat were). I tweet. I network. I have long lunches with up-and-comers. I spend way too much time on Facebook.

    Times change. I actually like where I’m at now—a “personality” and mentor in the garden media. I don’t miss the past. Yet I can’t help but be amused by it all. I’ve created a brand, but the REAL Debra is the writer, the lover of words, and the gardener who’s outdoors until the streetlights come on. And someday, I intend to be that person again.

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