Saturday, May 15, 2010

Developing a book is quite different than building a Website. With a Website there is almost unlimited storage potential, as well as the opportunity to make changes and additions as frequently as required. A book, however, is inflexible; what can be included is constrained by space and once printed it can only be changed at infrequent intervals.

So it is critically important to the success of a book to plan what will be included long before the writing begins. In the case of Hiking Trails of Montréal, that meant, among other things, deciding how many trail listings will be profiled.

In the previous entry, I mentioned that I had selected an area within a 100-150 km distance of the Island of Montréal Hill as the region to be profiled in this book. As any experienced outdoor person knows, Montréal are blessed with hundreds of possible hiking destinations inside that small area, and thousands of kilometers of possible walking.

However, if I attempted to profile every trail, the Hiking Trails of Montréal would be little more than a shopping list, with very small amounts of information available about any particular trail. Either that, or I could produce a volume of 1,000 pages or so - but I think the resulting price tag would be too high for most people. Creating lists is excellent for Websites; books need to be more selective.

For me, two facts are critically important for each trail profiled: how to find the start (trailhead), and what will be seen when on the trail. Obviously, you need to be able to find your way to the trail in order to hike it, but many books I have seen somehow fail to provide adequate or clear directions, and I find few things as frustrating as driving an hour for a hike and being unable to find "the third driveway past the blue house", or some similarly unhelpful postings. Perhaps even more importantly, once on the trail you should be able to follow a route without becoming lost. Again, some books provide such vague comments about a particular route that it is as much by luck as by design that a hiker is able to navigate their way.

To provide even this basic information accurately, approximately 1,000 words of text is required for each trail listing. Add supporting information such as natural history facts, hiking tips, maps, and general background, and for a book limited to about 350 pages - about $20-25 retail). That works out to being able to squeeze about 50 walking routes between the covers.

So, expect that Hiking Trails of Montréal will provide detailed descriptions of 50 hiking routes within a 100-150 km circle of the Island of Montréal.

Next Post: How were the profiled trails chosen?