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Friday, May 26, 2017

 

Friday Speak Out!: How to Publish Travel and Outdoor Guides

by Kathy Schrenk

Writing travel and outdoor guides can be a rewarding experience — emotionally and monetarily. If you have passion for a particular place or activity, sharing that with others makes your work seem like play. And it can yield small but steady pay in the form of royalty checks.

Find your Niche

The world doesn’t need another guide to the top tourist sights in Chicago or to the best hikes in Yosemite National Park. But smaller niches in your geographic area might be waiting to be filled. When I moved to St. Louis with my three young kids, I was pleasantly surprised by how many beautiful hikes lay just outside my new hometown. Then I realized that no one had published a book about hikes for kids in the region.

Find a Publisher

There are book series that cater to hobbyists and adventurers of all types: travelers who have dogs, travelers who have kids, travelers with disabilities, mushroom hunters, kayakers, rock climbers, the list goes on. If you are passionate about something or have a special perspective you want to share with the world, search the Internet for guides that cater to your niche.

I had used the “Best Hikes with Kids” guide for the San Francisco Bay Area when I lived there. I found that there were a dozen regional guides like that one in the series, so I sent the publisher a proposal for a St. Louis version. It was accepted, and before long I received my first advance check.

If you don’t find an existing series that your book idea fits neatly into, check the Travel section at your local bookstore and make a list of publishers to query that published similar books. Check with your state parks department, travel club, or local chapter of a national club or society that focuses on your niche; they often publish how-to guides.

Follow Instructions

Once you’ve identified a publisher, get a copy of at least one of the books from the publisher that’s similar to yours. Familiarize yourself with the style. Then carefully read the proposal guidelines on the publishers website—then read it again to make sure you don’t miss anything! Keep the guidelines at your side, along with the sample book you want to emulate, and write with passion. Be professional in your emails and phone calls with the publisher.

Be Confident—But Be Humble, Too

You’re the expert. By the time you get around to sending a publisher your proposal, you should know that you are the best person to write this book. You’ve found thousands of tasty mushrooms in the woods around your city, or you’ve explored half the kayaking routes nearby and you’re ready to paddle the rest and share your knowledge with the world. But don’t forget to ask for help when you need it. In the course of writing my hiking guide, I’ve consulted geologists, wildflower experts, historians and countless park rangers to fill in my gaps in knowledge about the region.

Most important, have fun with your research and your writing. Your enthusiasm for your subject will come out in the finished product.

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Kathy Schrenk writes fiction and non-fiction from her home in the St. Louis area. She hikes with her three kids (ages 11, 9 and 4) and husband as often as she can. Her first book, “Best Hikes With Kids St. Louis,” will be published by Mountaineers Books in Spring, 2018. She hopes to publish some fiction shortly thereafter. 
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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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3 Comments:

Blogger Angela said...

Great post, Kathy! I live in Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley where there are so many wonderful hikes...literally hundreds of hiking trails with beautiful scenery and interesting history. I could write a book alone on all the hikes out to movie filming locations. I would be interested in combining the two things I love: hiking and writing. I'm glad you got to do so with your forthcoming book! Thanks for sharing your tips. :)

12:10 PM  
Blogger Kathy Schrenk said...

Movie hikes! Sounds like a blast! Good luck!

12:30 PM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

I like your idea about finding a niche--kids hikes in your region. I think that would be a big sell with parents.

11:58 AM  

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