Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

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Tom_Laws
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Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Tom_Laws » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:41 am

Let's imagine you wanted to write a guidebook, or were at the least, drinking beer and were mildly curious about how a guidebook comes about...

What would you want to know?

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Dave T
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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Dave T » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:47 am

How to promote it, any ideas?

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Adrian Cooper
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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Adrian Cooper » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:59 am

I was hoping it was too late to be asking questions like this Tom.

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Tom_Laws
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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Tom_Laws » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:39 am

Adrian Cooper wrote:I was hoping it was too late to be asking questions like this Tom.
Just looking for my crayons to finish off the cover.



I'm giving a brief chat at the Dee River Fest on the Friday night about how the guidebook has come about*, and I am keen to get people's thoughts on what they actually want to know...


*and where you can get your grubby mits on it...

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Jonny Briggs
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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Jonny Briggs » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:17 am

For Yorkshire Whitewater, river descriptions have been kept to a bare minimum in a hope to keep the sense of adventure for the kayaker. Quirky local stories and tales are nice.

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Pete C.
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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Pete C. » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:27 am

I'd imagine most people haven't thought about the actual process - all the different stages from having the idea to the actual print run. There are far, far more stages in there than I'd ever anticipated...

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Pyro » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:33 am

Genuine question, since it's somthing that comes up with a degree of regularity on here:

How have you settled upon gradings, and how have you ensured that the gradings you've listed are consistent?

It's a thought that arose looking through my old copy of the Scottish rivers guidebook, thinking of sections I've done up there and thinking "that can't be a G-whatever? It's much easier/harder than that..."
-------
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Tom_Laws
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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Tom_Laws » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:51 am

Pete C. wrote:I'd imagine most people haven't thought about the actual process - all the different stages from having the idea to the actual print run. There are far, far more stages in there than I'd ever anticipated...

I hadn't. You Hadn't! :-)

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Liam
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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Liam » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:54 am

I can't wait for a copy when it hits the shelves, but til then a couple of general questions that might be interesting to cover in your talk could include:

How do you filter out the "here say" and drivel/urban myths about some rivers?

Have all the rivers been paddled by at least one of the co-authors/editors?

Have you included warnings on certain "characters" who might pop up along certain rivers?

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Tom_Laws » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:57 am

Liam wrote:I can't wait for a copy when it hits the shelves, but til then a couple of general questions that might be interesting to cover in your talk could include:

How do you filter out the "here say" and drivel/urban myths about some rivers?

Have all the rivers been paddled by at least one of the co-authors/editors?

Have you included warnings on certain "characters" who might pop up along certain rivers?

That's the sort of thing we are after! Keep that sort of question coming!

I will record my presentation and put it online as a pod/vodcast sometime afterwards for all to see.

Tom

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by SimonMW » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:06 pm

In addition to the above did you need to make multiple runs of each river at different levels to gain a good insight into its character?

What were the most surprising/unexpected challenges you found when putting it together?

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Pete C. » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:23 pm

Working out how to list and categorise rivers and in what order. It's the only real achilles heel of the first edition - there aren't obvious areas around which to plan an itinerary. Would be interested to hear the different ways you thought about doing this and what you've settled on.

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by scottdog007 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:19 pm

Guess if I was to start a project like this, I would start by writing a plan.

What rivers?

How do I up across the information so all can understand easily and make the most important information standout so the attention goes directly to this.

Possibly put some storys in, may be history, may be humor.

Photo's are a must.

Have a good index

Arrange it say in 5 / 10 years time when you come to update allow for ease to update.

My writen plan would be pages long, and I would pass it to others to look at to critise or to add to before starting.

I guess once started, I would write a couple of pages showing a few rivers, I would then show to others to get their feedback on the style and format listening to their possitive or negative views. Then I would amend these pages, do some more and show again to others, trying to get feedback from a wide variation of people. Young, old, male female, hermaphrodite.

Though I bet there is far more to this than I can imagine.

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Tom_Laws » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:39 pm

Peter!

That looks exactly like how it SHOULD be done!

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by 66quinny66 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:11 pm

Did you establish whether anyone wanted/needed it and, if so, what they wanted to see in it before you wrote it? Or was it more a case of wanting to write a book and if anyone buys it, well that's just a bonus?

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by David Fairweather » Thu Mar 15, 2012 6:12 pm

I want to know how you went about setting and keeping to deadlines.

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by janet brown » Thu Mar 15, 2012 6:29 pm

Tom_Laws wrote:I will record my presentation and put it online as a pod/vodcast sometime afterwards for all to see.
Tom
That sounds like a fantastic idea.

Janet

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by enjoyer » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:07 pm

In my view most people don't think about the process because they are not really interested in it. If someone is interested they can ask a question on the subject during the talk. As you have lived through the process it means more to you than the audience - your challenge is not to go into detail as a consequence.

I hope I am being helpful in suggesting you should treat this as what it appears to be, a chance to promote your book. The issues I would try to cover are:
  • Why should anyone buy it? What makes it better/different than accessing info on the internet?
    What type of paddler is it aimed at? White water, lake, sea, ... kayaks, traditional canoes or anything else.
    Who should have a copy - everybody, club coaches, proficient etc?
    If someone just paddles the Tryweryn and Dee (for example) what is in this book that will encourage them to be more adventurous?
    If I am planning a trip two weeks in advance, how will this help me decide where to go - i.e. does it help me pre-plan options for different levels because I don't know what they will be till nearer the time.
    Why should we trust the contributors?
    What do we do if we find it is out of date or just wrong for certain bits?
etc.

I can give you more examples if it helps. If not, sorry. I don't know much about the book so nothing is meant personally.

One more thing; plenty of anecdotes :)

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by DaveBland » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:28 pm

Apart from wanting to know how long it would REALLY take :)

The level of detail in the guide as a whole. Different people want different things out of a guide. Some want just a general nature of the river and access points and rough grade. Others, detailed blow by blow accounts. Deciding on this balance has to be a critical starting point. Equally with Maps. Everyone interprets them differently and has a different expectation of the level of information in them.

And also linked to the above... with many contributors, deciding on common values for consistency.
dave

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by EZ » Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:08 pm

I'd like to know how did it come about? Did you and Patrick contact Chris and say lets update the guide book or was it a drunken discussion in a pub, a plea for help etc etc.

How many swims, tantrums, arguments, carnage, funny anecdotes occured in researching the less well known rivers for the book?

Which of the seldom run remote spate rivers are the best, which are worth the effort and which ones aren't?

How many secret gems aren't included in the book or only feature in the welsh version?

Which rivers have changed the most in the time between the old and new guidebooks?

Are there any grade 3/4 rivers that always always go, no matter how little rain there is in Wales?

Thanks.

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Tom_Laws » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:19 pm

David Fairweather wrote:I want to know how you went about setting and keeping to deadlines.
I just borrowed the time-scale from your PHd

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by banzer » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:24 am

DaveBland wrote: The level of detail in the guide as a whole. Different people want different things out of a guide. Some want just a general nature of the river and access points and rough grade. Others, detailed blow by blow accounts...
At a guess, I would say the easier runs need more detailed descriptions to help those less experienced at reading rivers. The harder runs more along the lines of, "this is a challenging run, be prepared for everything... there might might be one portage, depending on how brave you feel..."

Old anecdotes from the Topo era (and before) always go down well.
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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Bob Flanagan III » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:23 am

Which section of river did you paddle the most because

a) other sections ran into it?
b) you found yourself in an area and the water levels weren't good enough for the section you wanted to do?

Are there any sections that you wanted to include but didn't because the water levels were never right?

Which section did you visit the most before you found it at paddleable levels?

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by nomorfkindhalbhat » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:53 am

I take it that you will be combining a certain area of geographical rivers into its own chapter. How about a list of 1 hit wonders that can be done at the end of each chapter if all else is to low. ie rheadr du on the Gamlan, the final rapid on the Tywi into junction pool etc.

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Pete C. » Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:43 am

EZ wrote: Did you and Patrick contact Chris and say lets update the guide book or was it a drunken discussion in a pub
I'm pretty sure that all guidebooks start as a drunken discussion in a pub.

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Tom_Laws » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:30 pm

EZ wrote:I'd like to know how did it come about? Did you and Patrick contact Chris and say lets update the guide book or was it a drunken discussion in a pub, a plea for help etc etc. .
Better get your ticket for Friday Night at DeeFest then!! ;-) It's not as exciting a story as one might think, but it does involve finishing a christmas dinner on a BBQ and Fred Wondre jumping over a table.

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by clarky999 » Sat Mar 17, 2012 6:06 pm

Once you've written, and have a folder on your comp with all the guides written up, what do you have to do to turn it into a proper book?

And, assuming you've paddled every river you've written a guide for, what are your top 5 in Wales?

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by David Fairweather » Sat Mar 17, 2012 6:55 pm

Tom_Laws wrote:
David Fairweather wrote:I want to know how you went about setting and keeping to deadlines.
I just borrowed the time-scale from your PHd
Touché. I sincerely hope that you are more successful with the guidebook. I look forward to the pre-launch on Friday.

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Tom_Laws » Sat Mar 17, 2012 7:56 pm

David Fairweather wrote:
Tom_Laws wrote:
David Fairweather wrote:I want to know how you went about setting and keeping to deadlines.
I just borrowed the time-scale from your PHd
Touché. I sincerely hope that you are more successful with the guidebook. I look forward to the pre-launch on Friday.
I hearby declare a truce. You will love it Dave, that's a no-money-back offer!

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Re: Guidebook writing - how? why? what?

Post by Croft » Sun Mar 18, 2012 4:26 pm

Having just co-authored WW. S. Alps 3rd edition, my take on this would be:

How? lots of elbow grease
Why? ego
What? the best possible compromise
Ian Beecroft - old-timer amateur boater

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