Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kathy Gehrt on the Magic of Lavender and the Opportunities of Self Publishing

I first met Kathy Gehrt in Roberta Cruger's writing group in 2005. The group met every Tuesday evening in the old Carnigie Library in Ballard, Washington. Kathy was writing about lavender then and she brought in essays and recipes to share each week. Eventually she decided to go with self publishing. After she went through the process of getting photos and putting her cookbook together, she published it last year. It's been amazing watching her connect with lavender growers and I've learned a lot with my front row seat watching Kathy's niche market book grow and blossom.

I've wanted to learn some of Kathy's secrets for some time. It's my pleasure to share them with you.

1. How did you decide to write about lavender?
I'd been searching for a topic, when my friend suggested lavender. At first I thought it was a crazy idea. The next day, "Sunset Magazine" grabbed my attention. The cover featured lavender--tips for growing along with recipes such as berry crisp with lavender. I was intrigued. The more I learned about lavender, the more convinced I became and I eventually wanted to write a book on the topic.

2. Why did you choose to self publish? What are the benefits and challenges of self-publishing?
I choose to self publish for two reasons:
  • Content control: I wanted to select the recipes, the format, the photography and the design.
  • Business/financial: I believed in my book concept completely and I was willing to invest in it, and I wanted to reap the rewards.

The benefits include editorial control and timing.

The challenges include the financial investment, plus lots of decisions and hard work.

3. Since your book has been out for a year now, what keeps you motivated?
  • Connecting with people who enjoy good food, vivid fresh flavor and healthy eating keeps me excited about sharing my recipes.
  • Meeting lavender growers throughout the world. This past weekend I demonstrated "Latin Lavender Salsa" and "Lavender-Infused Fruit Saute" at Willakenzie Lavender, Helvetia Lavender and Barn Owl Nursery--fantastic farms in western Oregon.
4. What has been your biggest surprise about the book?
How quickly my book Discover Cooking with Lavender found its following. Foodies, lavender lovers, farmers' market shoppers, wineries and spas seem to love my book. I've also been surprised by how much fun I've had meeting people who enjoy fresh and flavorful food. I also learned that self publishing is easier than I'd imagined.

5. Can you give me five tips for marketing your book in a niche market?
  • Identify your potential readers. Be specific regarding gender, age, interests and values.
  • Find out where they shop what they read and topics they follow.
  • Reach out to shops, online stores and publications that serve your readers. Find out if you can do a demonstration and if they want to carry your book.
  • Establish and maintain a dialogue or conversation with your readers using Facebook, Twitter, your blog and newsletter.
  • Promote your book and look for opportunities to tell readers about what they will discover by reading your book.

Kathy is persuing the art of story telling these days. You can read her engaging stories about lavender growers on her blog.

If you want more about lavender, check out lavender musings on my other blog.

This a blueberry-lavender cooler from Kathy's book--a treasure that will make you fall in love with lavender for all the right reasons.

1 comment:

  1. HI! Your blog let me leave a comment. I love food. I love food that others cook lol. I have trouble boiling water. Thanks for sharing your recipes with others.