Jouni Laaksonen 4.6.2018
The reason I started this blog is that I’m writing a guidebook on hiking in Finland. In English, that is. I’ve earned all my income last two decades by writing (in Finnish) about hiking, both guidebooks and articles to outdoor magazines. During this winter and spring I had many magazine articles to work on, and I was partly busy with another book project, but I have also managed to write The Hiker’s Guide to Finland a lot. I still call it with this name, though that may yet change.
(Addition in January 2019: The name did change, it is Hiking in Finland – Day Trips and Backpacking Expeditions, see more here. The book will be published in March 2019.)
Here in the blog I have written about many topics I cover also in the book, like Everyman’s rights, best hiking destinations, wilderness huts, gear, seasons and needed skills here in north etc. I hope that this blog grows to kind of a database on everything related in hiking in Finland, trekking in Finland, backpacking in Finland. Kind of A Hiker’s Guide to Finland, this one, too. I’m talking about walking along trails and walking off any paths, cross-country and off-track skiing, basic paddling along lakes and rivers, and bicycle trips along roads – not about more specialized activities like climbing, shooting rapids, mountain biking etc.
Working on my book Retkeilijän kansallispuistot some years ago: making field research in Pyhä-Häkki National Park.
Still, however much I try to tag and categorize these posts, a blog seems to be quite a haphazardous media. There’s one post on this subject, and the next one is on a totally different topic. A blog is like a magazine, isn’t it, in a way? You read one article and that’s that. Or maybe you read two or three, but you don’t expect them to be connected.
A guidebook, on the other hand, is something completely different. In a book I deal with one topic from the beginning to the roots without jumping here and there, and I try to cover the topic of the book thoroughly and in a logical order. So, I just wanted to tell that no, the book is not going to be a messy collection of these blog posts. 🙂 Nope, nowhere near.
The professionals behind a book
I’d say right now I have completed about 80% of The Hiker’s Guide to Finland. After June the figure should be over 90. During July I’ll have a break from this project.
I almost always get the idea for a new book, or a new angle for an article while I am hiking. Sometimes on a day hike, but more often when I am out of civilization for many days. Also every book and article rely on heavy field research, but most of the working time I spend in my study.
In August and September I’ll reread and edit the manuscript. I always find it very useful to have a break from the book project before reading it again. That way I see the text with new eyes, and notice where I am repeating myself etc.
In September I give the manuscript to my publisher, and the literary editor edits it. I proofread his work and then the manuscript goes to a translator. He takes care that English is fluent and good and not such as here in the blog. I proofread once again. Then we get to choose pictures out of my archive, and the graphic artist creates the layout of the book. What do I do? I proofread one last time. And naturally there are many professionals in the printing house.
Nowadays self-publishing is easier and cheaper than ever. I’ve considered that option twice, when I had difficulties in finding a publisher for the current book idea. Both times I finally found a publisher, and I am happy for that. Why do I like publisher more than self-publishing?
- I believe the quality is higher. It’s not just me, but also the above-mentioned professionals who polish the outcome.
- For the reader the name of a commercial publisher on the cover of the book is in a small way a proof of quality. Only a small portion of all book ideas presented to publishers get a publishing contract. (There are some very high quality self-published books, but it’s not the rule.)
- For me maybe the most important is that it is the publisher’s duty to market and sell the book. I am not at all a salesman. Of course I help the publisher in any way (characteristic to me) I can. Like I started this blog. Or I go and lecture and show pictures on the subject of the book on a hiking fair or book fair, or library, or other event – I like that. But I cannot go to the fair to the publisher’s stand and cry to bypassers: Come and buy this book! Well, nobody does it quite that crudely, but you get the idea. I just am not a salesperson.
In a way writing a book is one-man-job, but in truth there are many professionals involved.
With this new book, The Hiker’s Guide to Finland, I am more uncertain about marketing and selling than ever. How do we, me and my Finnish publisher, find international market? My idea is that the hiker, the tourist who likes more to explore the nature than cities, the ecotourist (you, is it?) finds the book in her/his home country. My wish is the book inspires her/him to choose just Finland for the next vacation destination. The book gives concrete and specific advice on where to go, what to pack, how to plan, what to expect and so on.
Well, let’s hope we do find you, for I can sincerely tell you Finland is an absolutely fantastic destination for a hiker!
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Next week I’ll continue on the book subject. Let’s see economics behind a non-fiction book. Can you make a living with it?