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  1. DarkWoods

    DarkWoods Member

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    Writing a book about how to create a wildlife friendly garden

    Discussion in 'Non-Fiction' started by DarkWoods, Nov 7, 2020.

    Hi everyone.

    For more than twenty years, I have studied and been interested in native plants, birds and pollinators. Instead of starting by writing a novel, I decided to first write a non-fiction book about this subject.

    I want to help people create an ecological and low-maintenance garden that will attract more birds, bees, butterflies and moths. And because we are in the middle of a pandemic, I thought it would help people release their stress and anxiety a little bit.

    My goal is to sell this book on Kindle or any other platforms and make some money with it. I have a lot of knowledge about the subject and where I live there are not much competition on this subject.

    A few days ago, I made some research on different books I have on the subject and made several lists of ideas. I will continue this research for a few days and then I will make a plan of what I am going to talk in each chapter. Once this will be done, I was thinking that I should just start and write one chapter after another until completed.

    What do you think? Is it the right way to do?
     
  2. More

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    I have only written some non fiction articles, so what do I know? I would say , there is not a correct way , but I would do it much the same as your planning. I like to attract as many animals to my garden as possible. I live in a detached house that has a large secluded garden . However I do have neighbours and I don't discuss it with them . I know for a fact that some pople would rather shoot animals like Gulls , pigeons, foxes ,squirrels , mice , and many more . All are visitors and inhabitants to my garden . I would consider including a chapter on the hostility you might encounter from neighbours . Another problem you might have, in some countries it is actuly against the law to feed , encourage ,or medicate wild animals . I have put out medicine to treat mange in foxes
     
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  3. Vince Higgins

    Vince Higgins Active Member

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    I have drifted into non fiction as well, writing, as you are, on what I know. "Write what you know" is a clear truism. In my case it is environmentalism from a viewpoint of physics. My writing on the subject contains layman's explanations of elements of geology, and physics, including thermodynamics. My challenge is making clear and convincing explanations of those things with minimal math. Besides, being out of college for decades, I'm rusty on the math I did not use in my work.

    I have never really finished any of the fiction I've written. Making stuff up may not be that hard, but doing it well is. If you know a lot about the subject, that's probably because it interests you. Guessing that if you do not have an academic credential, you have gardened, and probably your attention is often drawn to the flora and fauna. Having an academic credential myself that included no preparation for this kind of writing, it has been work. I look back at some of the early things I did and I cringe. The cliché is true. A writer writes. The first short story I ever wrote, I still have a paper printout of. It was horrible. If you don't have an academic background, you just have to be careful in your research. Doing that is how you get educated anyway. American Satirist Frank Zappa once said "If you want to get [girls], go to college. If you want an education, go to the library." (dropped out his first semester in college to focus on music, and going to libraries.)

    In very brief abstract, my piece is titled (working) Concentrated Sunlight. It cautions the public to look realistically at alternate energy. It explains some very real challenges to getting off of fossil fuels. It emphasizes that conservation of power is crucial if we are to run a massive civilization like ours on sunlight. It explains the nuanced differences between energy, work, and power, using some simple math, concluding that fossil fuels are concentrated sunlight, and sunlight is now hitting the surface at a fixed and limited power level.

    Keep the novel handy as an occasional diversion should you need a break from research. Helps if you're ADD like me.
     
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  4. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    I think it is a great idea. You can build narrative off of your research. Planning the chapters might work for you. You could build on the survival of bees to the need for trees. I used a method of a short blurb on each chapter I wanted to write and although the booklet is only forty pages, the short chapters helped me stay focused on my project (Frequencies of Mankind).
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
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  5. DarkWoods

    DarkWoods Member

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    Thanks More.

    In fact, I will not encourage people to feed the animals with feeders ... I will encourage them to plant more native trees, shrubs and plants that will produce lots of fruits and seeds and also feed a lot of caterpillars. And caterpillars are the favorite food of birds ;)

    But you have a very good point. I will include a chapter explaining how to deal with neighbours.

    Hi Vince.

    I will eventually write my first short stories and a novel but for now, I think that writing about what I know and that can help people is probably the best thing I should do. I lost my job about five weeks ago and if I finish this book, I think it could help me getting the recognition I want as a specialist in this niche.

    Good luck on your fiction and non fiction books :)

    Hi Thundair.

    What do you mean exactly by building a narrative of my research? I also not fully understand when you write about a short blurb on each chapter. Sorry but my first language is french and I still have lots of english expression I don't fully understand ;)

    I was thinking that the first chapter would explain the "Why is it important to do something now?". In this chapter, I will talk about the extinction of bees, other insects, birds, trees' disease and pests like the emerald ash borer, the loss of forests, wetlands and biodiversity ...

    Thanks for your help :)
     
  6. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    This is exactly the kind of blurb I was talking about. For instance, if you wanted to talk about the loss of small birds.

    CHAPTER 1
    Blurb... A study of why so many small birds are disappearing.

    Research into loss of habitat from human encroachment, storms wildfires. and predators like feral house cats or paragon falcons. Categorize the biggest cause and analyze the threat.

    Your narrative would start off with shocking figures... Maybe...
    A single cat has hunted to extinction the entire species of Stephens Island Wren. New Zealand town suggests banning cats to save native birds.

    These are headlines I took from the web, but you get the idea is to draw us in by telling us something we don’t know. Don’t start with global warming as you will lose and audience that is tired of the discussion.

     
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  7. DriedPen

    DriedPen Member

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    I would think a kindle book would not be as well used by your target audience. If you are doing a book on gardening, then those are "hands on" type people, so they may want a hands-on type of book.

    I might consider a coffee table book because just as the first coffee table book was on Ansel Adams, your garden theme goes right along with that.

    I can envision it. Get some really nice photos of gardening for pollinators, and then just add in the text as needed. In this case, a picture is worth a thousand words, and it would seem to me, if you got too wordy, it would get mundane pretty quickly. You just need a blurb explaining the concept, then pictures to back it up. Then just go chapter by chapter with each pollinator type you are trying to attract.

    I can picture that being on people's coffee tables. A quick read as they have tea after weeding their gardens.
     
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  8. Vince Higgins

    Vince Higgins Active Member

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    Confession. Vince Higgins is a pen name. My real name is Vince Signs, except it isn't spelled that way. It's spelling is different, but more phonetic than 'sigins.' Off topic, I went to a job interview where the interviewer asked about the ethnic origin of my name (1979, before things like that became unacceptable.) When I told him it was Spanish, and that my grandparents were immigrants from Chihuahua, he told me I spoke English well for one of "my people."
     
  9. DarkWoods

    DarkWoods Member

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    I understand now. Thanks for the info.

    Talking about blurb, here are a few I will probably want to add in my book. I don't know if it corresponds to a blurb?

    - There are 40% less insects and birds today that in the early seventees.
    - The more we plant exotic plant, trees and shrubs on our property, the less birds, bees and butterflies we attract.
    - More than x% of plants sold in plant nurseries are exotic.
    - As we expand the lawn on our properties, we also decreased biodiversity.

    I agree with what you say. I, too, prefer a coffee table on subjects like those. Books with lots of photos.

    The only problem is that from what I have heard, producing a coffee table is a lot more difficult because you have to find a publisher willing to publish it and the amount I could earn this way is much less than if I self-published via Kindle where I keep most of the money.
     
  10. DriedPen

    DriedPen Member

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    While Kindle Books is indeed easier, if it is not the ideal way to form your book, then why half-do-it?

    Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

    Publish it yourself, that is what I do. I had to do that for my memoir when the publisher did not allow more than 6 photos, and mine was heavy on the photos. Binding books is NOT hard, and while harder for hardcover books, still not that hard. There are plenty of examples on how to do it on youtube.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2020
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  11. DriedPen

    DriedPen Member

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    Just for the record, "blurb" is a relative term.

    I have a coffee table book on tools, and it has 12 chapters, with about 20 pages for each chapter. Of those twenty pages, it has (4) pages of text describing the chapter theme, then a paragraph for each picture of the tools. So while it is a coffee table book, it has quite a bit of written information in it still. I mean, being much bigger then standard book size, it would be the equivalent of an 100 1/2 page book or so. That is a lot of information.
     
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  12. DarkWoods

    DarkWoods Member

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    I understand your point. Yes, a coffee book with lots of photos would be ideal in this niche.

    Another problem I have is that right now, I have not taken lots of photos on the subject and with the winter coming, it will take months before I take more on the subject. Plus, I don't have the best camera to take macro photos of insects, spiders, flowers ... What I am good at is mostly landscape photography.
     
  13. DriedPen

    DriedPen Member

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    I FULLY understand...I was just making a suggestion on what I thought might be a better book form for what you were proposing. I have nothing against Kindle Books or other means of making a book, it's just that a lot of people might not readily think of a Coffee Table book at all.

    I am like that on here, just giving alternative ideas. No one has to do what I suggest.

    I got into self-publishing when a person I know did one on tractors. He just makes the boos himself and sells them, and it is not all that hard. So far he has sold 400. For many that is pathetic, but I do not think so. 400 people were willing to shell out $25 USD dollars per book...and he has 400 books of his circulating. good for him. And it is not all that hard to do.
     
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  14. Vince Higgins

    Vince Higgins Active Member

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    A question on clarity. Is that 40% fewer species, or total population? A friend in college who was a bio major told me of a study one of her professors did of an acre in Irvine CA that was slated for development. He had done a census of spiders on the plot, then went back after it had been built out as a residential development and occupied for two years and did another census. What he found was that the number of spiders had recovered significantly, but the diversity had dropped to the point that 90% was made up of only two species, Black Widows, and Daddy Longlegs.
     
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  15. DarkWoods

    DarkWoods Member

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    It must be very cool to see a few hundreds of copies of your book circulating. It's also a good way to be seen as an expert in your field, which is one of the reason I want to write a non fiction book in the first place.

    From what I have seen, today, there is 40% less species of animals than 40 years ago. That's crazy.

    Just think about insects. When I was young, I remembered camping with my family in the woods. When we came back home, the windshield was full of insects. Today, I rarely see one insect crashing on my windshield when I spend the day in the woods.
     
  16. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Making the books yourself just isnt a credible option for most people...i have a hard time believing that bookshops will stock these and amazon certainly won't. Particularly on a coffee table book, home printers just aren't capable of producing the pro quality finish these photos need.

    If you want to self publish a coffee table style book you can use print on demand options from ingram spark or lulu or short print runs from the likes of blurb... if you're going to put the effort into writing a book, don't let it down at the last minute with an amateur print job.

    Likewise if you want to be seen as an expert in your field, you need expert level production standards

    the same applies to photos... if you're not a professional photographer, its best to buy your photos from someone who is... there are stock libraries dedicated exclusively to images of the natural world, not to mention individual photographers who sell shots on spec

    kindle/vs print doesn't have to be an either or... you can do both... but you will need to include significantly fewer images in the kindle book or your file size will be huge.
     
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  17. DarkWoods

    DarkWoods Member

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    Thanks for your suggestions.

    I must admit that I have not worked on my writing project in the last weeks. My anxiety is increasing and I am procrastinating very often :(
     

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