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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Our Calabria book hits the shelves!

The first edition of our Calabria guidebook which we wrote for Thomas Cook Publishing is soon to be released. We spent just over a month there last May researching the book and Terry shot the gorgeous images, and we spent another month or so writing it. It wasn't an easy book to do for a number of reasons, which makes us extra proud. And I was glad to find that I still got a little excited today when I opened the package from London. We've worked on more than 40 guidebooks so it's nice to still get a bit of a kick out of the achievement. But first editions tend to do that for you because they're so completely your own - you do preliminary research, write the outline and shot lists, go on the road and do the real research, in our case Terry also shot the pics, you then write the thing up, do your mapping, answer editor's queries, advise on photos, check the proof, and so on. So it's hard not to feel as if it's your baby.

Which is why I always find it curious when writers don't update their own books. With publishers like Lonely Planet you don't always get the opportunity to - editors move around so much, so by the time an edition needs updating someone else is managing the book and they don't know you from a bar of soap and have writers they like to use. But most publishers invite the original authors to update their books. I've already twice updated the DK Top Ten to Dubai and Abu Dhabi which I co-authored. Yet, along with our Calabria books, copies of Crete, Cyprus, Milan and the Lakes, and Sicily also arrived today - all books I updated during our time in Italy last year; all second editions of books written by other authors. Perhaps the timing wasn't right, there were clashes with other projects, or the job just didn't pay enough. Perhaps the challenges we faced on Calabria provide some insight. We haven't taken a close look at our Calabria book yet but already we've noticed a photo we don't recognise of a seaside restaurant in Cosenza. Cosenza, of course, is inland. And that's the reason Terry refuses to look at our published books. Hopefully the person who updates the second edition will pick that one up.

Keen to read more about Calabria? Take a look at my posts from last year:
On the road again... in Calabria!
Is Calabria the new Puglia?
Calabria: Europe's best-value destination
10 Reasons to travel to Calabria: part 1 & part 2
One more reason to visit Calabria: Liquorice!


Sandy O'Sullivan said...

Aw how lovely! Congratulations!!! I don't know very much about Calabria so I'm looking forward to reading about it! Well done you guys!


Jessie Voigts said...

congrats, lara! that is great news. it does make you wonder why things like that inland photo get in, though, doesn't it?

and i'd think that maybe your reasons for people not writing the 2nd edition (etc) are right on - or maybe they've moved on to a new geographic region and don't want to work on the old ones anymore!

i bet this book will be lovely. congrats again!

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Sandy - thank you! Calabria is probably Italy's last tourism frontier actually - the next hot destination, I reckon.

Hi Jessie - thanks! Yes, we wonder these things all the time. It happened with our Lonely Planet books too, so Thomas Cook are not alone. With LP we would always find dots in the wrong places on maps - we'd check the original digital maps that we'd submitted and sure enough, they were fine so it was the case of cartographers not being careful enough and nobody re-checking their maps against ours. Inserted errors/typos are another frustration. But the problem is that most publishers don't allow authors to proof read the manuscripts before they go to print because they don't want to pay them for their time - and even if they have in-house proof-readers they don't always pick up things like caption errors if they don't know the places.

Re authors not doing their own updates, you're right that it might simply be a case of a scheduling clash or they've moved on and don't want to return. But when updates pay well, they are sometimes the pay-off for being underpaid for writing the first edition - especially if it's a region you specialise in. When they don't pay well at all (in this case), you can understand why authors move on... shame though.

Thanks for the thanks again, you two!

Cherrye at My Bella Vita said...

Congrats, you guys. I'm very excited to see the finished product (even if Terry isn't!) ha!

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Cherrye

Thanks! That's very sweet of you - much appreciated.