February has started with the good news that we have a (vague) publication date for my walking trails book. After several months of blisters, sweat, tears and blog posts in 2011, everything went ominously quiet once I’d emailed off the last chapter. But now things are moving along and the book should be out in June. In the meantime, just in case you’re thinking of pitching your own trails book, here’s what I’ve learnt:
Step 1: Don’t assume your pitch will be laughed out of the slush pile.
The stats about getting published are so gloomy that I didn’t really believe in my own pitch. So getting an email from the editor saying: “We’d love to commission your book!” came as something of a nasty shock. Especially as it was followed by: “Please complete 20 trails and write 40,000 words by September!”
Step 2: Location, location, location
One of my mistakes was pitching a book in Wales. I’ve lived here long enough to know by now that it rains. A lot. One simple four-mile trail had to be done three times and I quickly learnt that notes are surprisingly illegible when wet. I’m visiting Madrid in a couple of months… wonder what the walking trails market is like there?
Step 3: There’s no such thing as safety in numbers
I thought it would be nice to complete a couple of the trails in the company of local walking clubs. It wasn’t. Just have a think for a minute about why someone might be available to go hiking on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s clearly because they are too mad to hold down a job and are going to spend the next seven miles telling you all about the book they’ve never written and how you should write yours.
Step 4: Don’t get stung
No, I’m not talking financially. I’m sure that’s a whole other blog post. I’m talking literally. Wear long trousers. Stingy nettles grow really quickly in August.
Step 5: Don’t have children
Especially if most of the trails need to be completed during a six-week period in July and August. If it’s too late and having children can’t be avoided, stick pictures of them on your OS map, as that’s the only way you’re going to see them for four months.