Tips for updating a guidebook


Well. It seems hard to believe, but my Day By Day Guide to Seville has been on the bookshelves of all good booksellers (apart from branches of WHSmith at airports and rail stations) for nearly two years now. So it's time to update it for the 2nd edition. This will be the first time I've updated a guidebook. I'm due to have a kick off meeting with my editor soon and doubtless he'll give me advice and guidance. But here's my thinking in the meantime. I'd be really interested to hear from other guidebook scribes about what they do. I'll then aim to summarise the comments in another post sometime.

Checking Maps - the Day by Day format is very map heavy. Every hotel, shop, restaurant and attraction is pinpointed on a map. There are 31 maps, with roughly 400 establishments marked on them. I could divide the city up into blocks and literally walk the streets ticking everywhere off. I reckon it will be quite a complicated task. I will need to cross check all the different chapters in the book as I walk down a particular street to tick off each shop, bar, hotel etc. Or else I could just call them all on the phone and check the details by phone - would that do? I do need to verify opening hours, credit card acceptance etc.

Adding New Places - I know there are several new hotels that are good that have opened and doubtless there will be new restaurants too. I will ask the Seville Tourist Board office, but they are not over-helpful. I will also ask the Seville Hotels and Restaurant Associations. Who else?

Revising the Layout - the Day By Day format is quite prescriptive. It's all about walking tours. I think it's highly unlikely that I will drop a tour and insert a different one in its place. But should I do something a bit more radical and make clear to my publisher I've made changes and show a potential purchaser that this is a new edition?

How long will it take? I reckon it was a good three months of research and writing to do the first edition - which ran to about 40,000 words. Plotting the places on maps was particularly time-consuming, but now that the maps are all done it should be quite quick to strike out places that have closed and add in new ones. I guess re-jigging the map keys will be a bit tedious. I hope to get the second edition done in 6 weeks quite possibly 4. I plan to spend at least 3, maybe 4 weeks on location. Do I need to spend that long there?

That's the sum total of my thinking so far. It would be brilliant if other guidebook gurus could share their thoughts about the best way to go about updating a guidebook.

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