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  1. #1
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    Tips on creating your touring book?

    So do you have that tour which you would like to write about, if nothing else for your own memories?
    Or are you planning on a tour and would like to write a book about it?


    I would like to hear some tips on writing your touring book.
    Saying it is hot over and over gets boring. How did you make your tour sound interesting with out lying please? What type of format and how did you achieve this?


    Second for those of us who are going to tour do you have any tips on writing or at least what things to look for when on tour so you can write that book when we get back.

    I am writing a book of my last tour. I noticed several things I wish I would paid more attention to.
    Date your notes, mileage markers, food you ate and things you bought, times you cycled IE when in the morning and ended, oddities.

    Third how did you incorporate your pictures into the book?


    I am almost done with the rough draft looks like almost 200 pages for an eighty three day tour written in chronological order like a diary. I found that was the most easiest, and easy to follow format.
    I have over 2500 pictures so I was thinking of just creating a web site again in chronological format. Not sure on this yet since I haven't gotten that far. I might just put figure 1 and link it that way rather than having a hot link. So you would just pull up both pdf and web site and then you could look at the pictures and read at the same time.

    discuss and help us out.
    Thank you

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I have written about my tours and have posted those stories on my website (see signature line). I'm also transcribing my handwritten journal from my 3-month 2004 Australian trip, and will soon post all that to flesh out what's currently on my website. I'll be modifying and fixing up that part of my webpage into a more reader-friendly format as well, when I start loading the info from my handwritten journal.

    But unless I was doing a really major tour (i.e. 6+ months, or possibly a shorter, but very unique and exceptional, tour), I highly doubt I'd write a book about it.

    However, for some tips ...

    Don't write: Sept 3rd - did this and that, saw this, cycled here. Sept 4th - did this and that and the other thing. Sept 5th - cycled here, saw this. Etc. That style is fine for short trips, and for weblogs, but for a book describing a long trip, it gets a little tedius. Instead write about areas or events.

    Break your tour up into sections. My 2004 Australian tour, for example, lended itself really well to that ... Part 1 - New South Wales and Victoria; Part 2 - The Great Southern 1200K Randonnee; Part 3 - Tasmania; Part 4 - Queensland. (And the new format I'm creating for that part of my website will reflect that) Doing that will help you talk about areas and events rather than a day-to-day log.

    When you talk about cycling through a particular area, talk about that area. Give some history, discuss some tourist attractions, and mention interesting places and things to see ... stuff like that. I find information like that in a story to be very interesting ... it makes the area seem worthwhile to visit, and makes me want to visit that area. Oh, and don't forget to record your sources in footnotes and a references section. Plagiarism is illegal.

    Talk about feelings, emotions, etc. as you participated in certain events, or cycled through certain areas ... like maybe how you were awestruck by a particular view in the mountains, or how you were moved by the war memorials, etc. Don't be afraid to express emotion about really bad days too, but counter those with good experiences as well.

    If you're going to include tour details like the time of day you usually started and finished your rides, the food you ate, the gear you carried, etc., include that in its own chapter, or in the appendix. Those are the boring, but sometimes useful, technical details. Only include that information within the story if it enhances the story in some way ... like for example, let's say you normally got up at 8 am and hit the road by 9 am, but one morning you decided you wanted to see the sun rise over the ocean so you got up at 6 am, headed out to the beach, and sat there while the sun came up ... you could go into a beautiful description of the sunrise there.

    And talk about unique, thought-provoking, fascinating, eye-catching things you saw and encountered along the way. Like maybe a store sign that made you laugh ... or a bumper-sticker that made you think.

    As for pictures, I think a lot of times they are included in on several pages in the middle of a book ... but usually only 20 or 30 of them, not 2500.

    Have a read through several books about tours and see how other authors have done it. Check out Josie Dew, Bill Bryson (not cycling, but touring nonetheless), Bernard Howgate, and others.

  3. #3
    for affordable housing
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    Talk about the people you meet - the best journals are the ones where the writer, for example, stopped to help someone fix a flat and subsequently got invited to someone's house for [insert unique family tradition here]. Was there a particular businessplace that was especially good to a wandering stranger? Write about it!
    Quote Originally Posted by colombo357 View Post
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  4. #4
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    I think the most important thing is thatyou have to tell a story. The whole thing needs to build just like any book. As Machka said, don't do the "I did X, then Y, then Z" stuff - that gets really, really boring.

    the book can quite easily be a collection of interesting stories - the people you met, the high times, the low times, etc... but somehow those things need to be pulled together.

    Also, rather than the standard diary type of book, consider other ways or putting it together. Maybe a whole chapter about the times you stayed in other people's houses? Or about the times the bike broke down? Bad weather? Awe-inspiring scenery? Honestly, it doesn't have to be a day-by-day account of the journey.

    And - make sure you add in there the things you learned. How did the journey change you as a person?
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

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    thats all the expert advice given,but from a readers point (me) please no moaning, no big history lessons, make the word's BIG,every picture tells a story ,so if your going to have pic's explain the story behind it.loads of humour ,and dont forget your bike and all your gear.so there you go that's my 2penny's worth ,hopfully i'll get to read your book if ever you write it.best of irish luck.

  6. #6
    Neil_B
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    Machka, 4000 Miles, and Nancy_SV all gave you sound advice. Here's some more, not specifically related to riding a bicycle, but on the craft of writing:

    1. Decide if this is for yourself or for other people. If you write for yourself, you can do whatever you want. If you write for other people, there are rules and expectations.

    2. Those "rules and expectations" mentioned above are the same rules you were taught in English class. Spelling and grammar count for a lot. In the best writing, the reader enters a "continuous dream" as he immerses himself in your story. Spelling errors, run-on sentences, awkward constructions, and the like distract him from entering that dream. As my college writing instructor always told her class, "don't make the reader do the work. YOU do the work."

    3. Writing is rewriting. Don't type a manuscript and think "once and done." You can always find something to change or tighten.

    4. The old rule of "write fat and edit lean" is a good one. Get words on paper, and then tighten what you've written. (As an example of tightening, the last sentence could be reduced to "Get words on paper, then tighten." It's a tighter sentence, and it adds punch. It also allows me to vary my sentence lengths, which avoids fatigue in both the reader and the writer.)

    5. Read your writing aloud. This helps you remember details you might like to include in your story, and it allows you to pick out problems such as long meandering sentences, repeated words, and so on.

    6. If something doesn't work, make it work or get rid of it. "In writing, mercy killing isn't against the law, it is the law." -Stephen King.

    Have fun with your book project. I've made it sound like hard work, but it's not. Enjoy!

  7. #7
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    I don't think cycle touring lends itself to published books very well. As I understand it, publishers tend to limit the number of photos because they increase the production cost of the book, especially in minority interest books such as these. For example, the touring book I'm currently reading ("Discovery Road", which is a British trio riding across Australia, Africa, and South America) only has a single photo, on the back cover. I don't even know what their bikes looked like!

    The beauty of a website like the CrazyGuy ones, is that you can have endless pictures. And the pictures can be compelling on their own.

  8. #8
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    Wow so much great advice from everyone.
    It is a lot harder than I thought to get and keep people's interest. Almost like touring HA!

    Trust me you don't want to read this book yet maybe after a reworking and lots of fiction maybe.
    I might do a pictorial web site after thinking about it. Picture than caption of a story.

    Good advice on the format problems I was having thank you.

    One thing I did find amazing was the amount of material you come up with. Whether you work this into a fiction book or non fiction.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheel View Post
    yet maybe after a reworking and lots of fiction maybe.

    One thing I did find amazing was the amount of material you come up with. Whether you work this into a fiction book or non fiction.

    If you're going to include fiction, make sure that everyone who reads the book knows it is a work of fiction and not true, otherwise stick to what actually happened.

    When I read a touring book, I like to know that what happened actually happened, and wasn't just created to maintain reader interest. I read novels for that purpose.

  10. #10
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    As someone else said above, decide who you're writing it for. I personally think you have to write it for yourself. If you are writing it and trying to please the masses, you'll be disappointed because no matter what you do, some will love it and some will hate it. After you decide you're writing it for you, it doesn't matter what everyone else thinks

    I like books with a theme, so maybe some struggle inside you that you worked out on the road while you were pumping out all those kilometers. Someone else said don't write about history but Ann Mustoe does a lot of that and her books are very popular so... if history of places you've been is your real interest and you can make it interesting, then go for it.

    Whatever you do, I think you need to break out of the 'I went 100km today. It was really hot.' type of writing. You need to go deeper than that.

    Stories of people are great, interactions that make you laugh. I think everyone enjoys those kinds of things. Crazy things you saw.

    And then, get someone to edit it or read it for you. It's hard to detach yourself from your own writing.

    We met someone who just published a book that was basically their journal entries from each day. It wasn't really our thing but they just did it for themselves and also so that a copy would go in the National Library as a record for others to read later, not so much as a touring story to sell. That's fine too if you want to do that.
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

  11. #11
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    I agree with the others who have said that deciding on your audience is all-important. You cannot write one story for all audiences. The way you write it and the information you include will be vastly different for different audiences.

    If you are really writing only for yourself, then include all the little details you can. After all, you're not really writing it so that it will be interesting to read; you're writing it so that you can relive it later.

    If you then want to rewrite it for a different audience, then keep what you have and start over again.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by avatarworf View Post
    I like books with a theme, so maybe some struggle inside you that you worked out on the road while you were pumping out all those kilometers. Someone else said don't write about history but Ann Mustoe does a lot of that and her books are very popular so... if history of places you've been is your real interest and you can make it interesting, then go for it.
    I like reading some history and background in the stories because that sort of thing adds character to the story. Otherwise, one road is much the same as another road, one field is much the same as another field, etc. I like reading about what makes a road, field, town, hill, etc. interesting and distinctive. But that said, there is a point where a person could go overboard with that and make the book read like a a history textbook, so I think it needs to be done in moderation.


    Quote Originally Posted by avatarworf View Post
    We met someone who just published a book that was basically their journal entries from each day. It wasn't really our thing but they just did it for themselves and also so that a copy would go in the National Library as a record for others to read later, not so much as a touring story to sell. That's fine too if you want to do that.
    I think Bernie Howgate self-publishes: http://www.berniehowgate.com/ and sells the books on his own, so that might be an option.

    Now Bernie's books are definitely not day-to-day journal entries ... have a look to see a description of his books, and some extracts from the books.
    http://www.berniehowgate.com/books.htm

    I'm not saying that you should take his approach, but it might give you some ideas of an approach to take. Read other touring books as well, and go with a style you like.



    I would also highly recommend reading "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White, if you have not done so already, prior to sitting down and actually writing the book.
    http://www.bartleby.com/141/
    http://www.pearsonhighered.com/acade...30902X,00.html

  13. #13
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by machka View Post
    i would also highly recommend reading "the elements of style" by strunk and white, if you have not done so already, prior to sitting down and actually writing the book.
    http://www.bartleby.com/141/
    http://www.pearsonhighered.com/acade...30902x,00.html
    +1000!

  14. #14
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Great advice so far.

    Personally, I'm not that interested in reading books about bike touring. I'd rather be bike touring than reading about it. One exception is when someone writes a book about a route I'm contemplating riding, like "Bicycling the Lewis and Clark Trail" or "Bicycling the Pacific Coast." I've read both of those. I think they fill in the gaps in the ACA maps.

    Otherwise, I prefer to read people's journals on CrazyGuy. I've read a ton of those, and bookmarked several. Once again, the ones on which I spend the most time are about routes I'm contemplating cycling.

  15. #15
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    I found this at CGOAB
    It talks about what and how to write
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=1101&v=98

  16. #16
    Senior Member Gotte's Avatar
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    Read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. It takes what is perhaps an even duller subject than cycling (for non-cycling readers, at any rate), hiking, and weaves a great story out of it. Also, it doesn't do it by relegating hiking to a backdrop, it includes it as an integral part of the story.

  17. #17
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    now that we have these great tips go win your tour YAHOOO
    2,500 bucks tour for just one story
    http://www.tourdafrique.com/scripts/...s/Welcome.html

  18. #18
    Dale Spinner Kathy's Avatar
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    Check out "How Big Are The Pancakes?" by Kathryn Krull. It is a self published book about a cross-country tour. It has color pictures in it. The book may give you a few ideas.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/193403536X/

  19. #19
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    Once you've got the manuscript ready you will need to decided whether to go with a traditional publisher or self-publish. While it is not for everyone self-publishing worked well for us. A few tips:

    - The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter is an excellent resource.

    - After more than a hundred requests for quotes we went with United Graphics as the printer. They were first rate and the lowest priced by far. They have a resources section of their website that is useful even if you do not print with them.

    - The Yahoo Self-Publishing groups is very helpful but you must weed through quite a few shill posts.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Losligato; 02-03-09 at 06:00 PM.
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