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Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else This is an opportunity to ask any question, and post any notice you wish that doesn't fit into one of the other sections.
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  #1  
Old 15 Apr 2011
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Publishing a book about my adventure

Hi, not sure if this is the right area to post this question. If not pleas say. But anyway, I am considering writing a short story of my travel experiences last summer - a 3 week journey on a CG125 across Europe. This is to kill 2 birds with one stone in being able to relate my experiences to friends / family and also due to me being skint a few pennies wont hurt.

Anyway - any suggestions / tips on achieving this? Is it a case of writing it and then sending it to publishers (which ones?) and relyng on luck? s it worth sending a short extract of what the book would be like before spending a lot of time writing it up?

Any thoughts/ comments/ advice would be greatly appreciated,
Cheers,
Rob
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Old 15 Apr 2011
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Hi Rob,
Mate, you are about to embark on a new adventure. Your journey sounds great. 125? Good stuff. I think this is the direction that many will be taking over the coming years. And why not? You see more at 45/55 – how often do you want to go much over that speed anyway?! Then there’s insurance, fuel consumption and… Great idea!

A book? Great way to share the fun and dramas of the road with family and friends.

Earning money will be harder and finding a publisher even harder still. I in no way want to put you off though. My first book ‘Into Africa’ got published even after Virgin and Random House (the last two publishers on my list) said it wouldn’t sell because I’m not a media personality.

I currently know of 9 people who have written motorcycle travel books and are chasing (slowly because that’s how things happen) around agents and publishers. You have competition, but how often is that a bad thing?

The facts to face are, in the main:
§ You have to be able to write well, or to have a great editor.
§ You have to have a story that is little like any other that’s currently on offer.
§ You have to have a great start, an obvious middle and an ending that leaves the reader feeling that the time they have spent reading your book has been worthwhile.
§ Look at books similar to the one you plan so you can see what number of words you should be aiming for.
§ You need to know who your target market is and must evidence that when approaching a publisher.
§ You need to show them where your book will be able to be promoted – for sure. eg which parts of the media. If you can have any confirmation from mags that they are up for reviewing your book, that really helps.

I suggest that the first thing you do is to get hold of this book - ‘The Writers Handbook’. You can find out about it here The Writer's Handbook 2011 - Home Your local library may well have a copy but if not Waterstones either have them in stock or will order one for you. There’s also Amazon of course. A lot of the things you’ll need to know are in this book. It’s a great read. Fascinating in fact, and like I said, a new adventure.

The book tells you what you have to do to approach a publisher. There is a very set system and I suspect that those who don’t follow the rules have their work end up in the bin without much consideration. Publishers see thousands of manuscripts every year and the system is set up to streamline things for them.

But for goodness sake – don’t be daunted by this. I spent 2 years knocking on doors with Into Africa, until I ran out of doors to knock on. The publishers said they liked my book but wouldn’t take it on because they didn’t think that it would sell well enough (the ‘media personality’ bit). I went for it on my own, with the help of really good friends (stand up, Peter, Paul, Fil, Iain, Nikki, Ros and of course, Birgit). We now have four books published. It’s amazing what you can do if you really want to.

Getting your work published is just like a journey/adventure. New rules to learn, new customs, history, culture, and you’ll fall off more than once. But hey, no worries, you just get back on and try the next route.

One final thought. If all the above doesn’t sound like something you want to get into, think about self-publishing. It really is no longer considered to be ‘vanity’ publishing. Things have really moved on from those days. Companies like Trafford How to publish a book | Self-publishing | Trafford Publishing UK help you through the process for a fee. You can end up with a very sellable product. Then the next task is to get it marketed and on the shelves. A new adventure begins.

Mate, I wish you every success. If you do decide to have a go, you’ll have fun and frustration to deal with. But you’ll learn shed loads and if you make it through, you’ll have the amazing satisfaction of having a book that you wrote, in your hand. You’ll never forget that feeling. And you might encourage others to go out and have an adventure too.

Good luck.
Cheers,
Sam
PS You might also consider writing a couple of 2,500 word articles. Adventure Bike Rider and Motorcycle Sport and Leisure magazines are always interested in submissions. Just a thought. Might also earn you more money! Though be aware, mag pay rates have dropped a lot this year due to a shortage of advertising revenue.
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Old 15 Apr 2011
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Self-Publish on Amazon Kindle

Hi Rob,

One other thought about self-publishing... You might want to look into publishing your story as an eBook - either as well as or instead of print - via the Amazon Kindle store.

It's a low-cost route that you could potentially have complete control over. Maybe also a lower-risk option for a first short story.

Good luck with it.

Iain.
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Old 15 Apr 2011
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After 5 years of family and friends bugging me to write up my diaries I think I'm going to have to self-publish on kindle or similar. Hard thing is trying to find the time to prep for another big trip, save cash and also spend hours on a pc...... Personally I'm hoping that the first trip will turn into 'chapter 2' of a much longer story!
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Old 15 Apr 2011
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I've written two books and the intention was never to make any money out of them seriously. More, as was mentioned, as a 'vanity' thing and for my kids and relations to read. I am quite happy with that but could go down the route of marketing them if I wanted.

So I went down the self publishing road and just put them on Lulu -
Publishing - Lulu.com
The company was picked virtually at random but served my purposes. If it's a good or bad one I've no idea.

So you need to choose whether you want to go at it seriously and hawk it round publishers, or the easier but less fruitful option of self publishing.
One thing to note though is if you're going to use a lot of photos then it can get quite expensive. More so than you'd think the book is actually worth. But you can adjust revenues to get it as cheaply on the market as possible, plus downloads, e books being the option to make it as least expensive as possible for the public to buy.
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Old 15 Apr 2011
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Great advice. I hear really good things about Lulu. They seem to be a good option. They will do a downloadable version and a print version won't they?
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Old 15 Apr 2011
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Yes. And eBooks.
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Old 15 Apr 2011
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Having thumbed through a copy of onlyMark's book, I can say that it is pretty impressive to see a travellers stories in print. A great keepsake for yourself, family and friends and any external sales would be a bonus.
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Old 15 Apr 2011
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Your cheque is in the post.
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