5 Essential Tips for Aspiring Guidebook Writers

In the early days of travel writing, a guidebook commission was considered to be the golden ticket, the way into making a living. But as publishing has decreased, the medium has become less popular in favor of online guides. However, guidebooks are still used by travelers, especially brands like Lonely Planet and Rick Steves. If you’re working on your first guidebook, there are a few tips that will keep you sane:

  1. Hold on to paper. I originally thought I’d do nearly everything digitally, but I found it much easier to sort through brochures than files. I ordered visitor’s guides from the destinations I was covering so I’d have material to reference and confirm prices and addresses. I also organized them by state and city, so keep some sort of system this way. Just make sure you’re not copying someone else’s words.
  2. Set a schedule. If you have to have a certain amount of words done by the due date, schedule out how many have to be done every day. If you know you’ll want to take off weekends and holidays, take that into consideration. I’ve found the platform for Nanowrimo to be a good way to track progress.
  3. Jump around. You don’t have to write in any sort of order. If you feel compelled to write one section above others, go ahead and do it. You can always go back. Just don’t forget to go back!
  4. Organize photos. If you’re asked to supply photos, organize your photos in folders with the information like the place it was taken and which photographer to credit. Keep a spreadsheet so that they’re easy for the publisher to plug in.
  5. You know best who should sell your book. Once it’s ready to be sold in stores, keep a running list of places where it might fit. You know your destination best, so it might not just be bookstores. Think about museum gift shops, boutiques, and even hotels.

Published by Caroline Eubanks

Caroline Eubanks is a freelance writer and author of the book This Is My South: The Essential Travel Guide to the Southern United States.

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