You Can Write and Sell a Regional Trails Guide

If you live in an area with significant outdoor activities, you can make money writing a guide to local trails and sports.

| September/October 1976

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    Writing a guide to local outdoor activities, trails and ski areas can bring you extra income.

  • 041-110-01

Gary Noren discovered self-publishing can be quite rewarding four years ago when he—along with friend Dwight Olsen—wrote and published a $2.75 trail guide which has since sold 10,000 copies in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Here, Gary reveals how he and Dwight managed to create a "best-seller" in their spare time.

If you're looking for a way to make extra income in your spare time (is there anyone who isn't?), you could do a whole lot worse than write, publish, and market your own regional trails guide. With thousands upon millions of people "getting back to nature" via outdoor sports right now (sports such as backpacking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing), the demand for "wilderness literature" is at an all-time high. Which means you should have little trouble making expenses with your self-published guidebook. In fact, you could very well end up—like me—with a best-seller on your hands.

More important than the money you're bound to make, however, is the fact that by writing a regional trails guide you'll [1] help satisfy the public's insatiable appetite for information...regarding wilderness areas, [2] publicize the scarcity of well-maintained trails in your state (if such a scarcity exists, which it almost certainly does), and [3] maybe-just maybe—get some parks And recreation officials moving in the direction of opening up more land.

Besides which, putting together your own book can be a lot of fun . . . as my friend, Dwight Olsen, and I (and our wives) discovered when we researched, wrote, printed, and marketed Ski Minnesota , a ski touring guidebook which has sold 10,000 copies in the four short years of its existence.

Here's how we created our "backwoods best-seller" . . . along with a few words of advice on how you can publish and sell your own regional trails guide.

A Winter Brainstorm

After we'd both worked in a cross-country ski shop for a year—and endured the mad rush of first-snow novices (who'd invariably ask "Where can we go to ski?")—Dwight and I got to thinking: Why don't we publish our own guide to Minnesota's cross-country ski trails ... and sell the manual in shops such as the one where we worked?

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