Guide Book Writing.

Ice on the shore of Thompson Island in Maine's Acadia National Park. (Jerry and Marcy Monkman)

Ice on the shore of Thompson Island in Maine’s Acadia National Park. (Jerry and Marcy Monkman)

It’s a new year, there’s a new inspiring President in office, and Marcy and I have two new guidebooks to work on. Exciting times indeed.  Besides the two new guidebooks, we’re also scheduled to revise our adventure guide to Acadia.  Guidebooks are great fun to work on, but to do them right it takes quite a bit of planning and organization.  Obviously, there’s tons of information to gather and review, photos to take and writing to do.  Another fact of guidebook writing is that there is the need to work long hours on the guides while getting little compensation up front, which means you have to figure out a way to manage your time so that the guides get researched and written while you are doing other work that pays the bills.  For me, that means doing as much research and writing in the winter months as possible before my busy summer and fall assignment season takes off.

Each of the three guides we are working on needs a little different approach at this time, so I thought I’d give you some insight into what I’m trying to accomplish right now.

The first guide is “A Photographer’s Guide to Acadia National Park.”  This will be a new addition to a series of Photographer’s Guides published by The Countryman Press (who published our book “The Colors of Fall.”)  Being part of an established series, means we just have to follow an established formula, making this a pretty easy project for us, since we already have thousands of Acadia photos and have spent a week or more there every year for the last decade or so.  I’ve already mapped out the table of contents and have figured out that I can write about three-quarters of the book without ever setting foot in the park again.  So, my goal is to have that much of the book written by May 1st.

The great news is that the remaining portions of the book that need photos can be completed while we are in the park for a week or so this coming summer working on the revision to “Discover Acadia”, our hiking, biking, and paddling guide published by the Appalachian Mountain Club. This will be the third edition of Discover Acadia, and while it takes much less effort than a new book, there are still several weeks of research and writing involved.  My goal for the winter in regards to this book is to meet with park personnel, as well as our editor at AMC Books, and map out what will be new and different about the book.  I just spoke briefly with the park’s trail supervisor and learned that a lot has changed in the trail system in the park since we last revised the book in 2004, so it may turn out to be pretty obvious what needs revising. The goal is to get the book up-to-date, but also add some new content to pique the interest of past buyers of the book.   I’m hoping to have a new table of contents figured out by the end of February so I know what I’m up against, work-wise for this one.  The manuscripts for both of the Acadia books are due on September 1st.

Mount Monadnock in fall as seen from a farm in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. (Jerry and Marcy Monkman)

Mount Monadnock in fall as seen from a farm in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. (Jerry and Marcy Monkman)

The third guidebook on our table is A Fall Foliage viewing guide for  New England, which will also be published by the Countryman Press.  Of the three guidebooks, this is the most challenging for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s a one-of-a-kind guide, so there’s no formula established.  Of course, while more work, it’s also more fun for us in some ways because the content and organization is up to us.  The biggest challenge is that we have to get enough great  fall foliage photos from throughout New England in two short fall seasons (we actually started this book last fall.)  We have to wait for the trees to start turning and then work non-stop until the leaves fall (3-4 weeks, max.) My goal for this book this winter is to map out every route we’ll be describing in the book, and to start actually pre-scouting some locations so when next fall comes we can just go shoot the hot locations instead of driving around looking for the good scenes.  This manuscript is due in early 2010.

While working on all of this, I’m also working on a photo assignment for Wakou Magazine (a French nature magazine for 3-7 year olds), planning some winter adventures so I can get some new winter stock photos into our collections, uploading new photos to our website, sending photos to our stock agencies, marketing to new and existing clients, planning my upcoming digital photography seminars, and playing with my kids once in a while.  It’s a career chock-full of work, but I love every minute of it.

Until next time…
-Jerry

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