My sister once told me I could be an ambassador for my hometown of Austin, TX. If the job existed I would have been the first to put in an application. My love for Austin came through anytime I eagerly described the city’s laidback vibe and cool quirkiness to an out of town friend or family member.
These days anyone can be a hometown ambassador by writing a book. Technology has made publishing a practice that freelance writers can do on their own without the help of an agent or publisher. You can create books that are completely electronic or get perfect bound book printing on demand to get your creative endeavor into local bookstores.
Watch out BookPeople – my publication will soon be on shelves. Here are a few tips and ideas to get you started if you want to make a city book of your own.
What You’ll Need
Before you begin penning (or typing) your book there are a few things you need to have on hand:
- · A Concept – What type of book do you want to write? Will it be strictly travel related or historical? Create a concept for the book first and let that guide the content creation.
- · A Message – What message do you want to convey with your book? Do you want to show that your home town is an eco-friendly travel spot? Or maybe that it’s relaxing spot for retirees? In addition to the concept come up with a core message for your book.
- · Good Camera – A picture is worth a thousand words. Save yourself the future carpal syndrome tunnel and take lots of vibrant, vivid shots that capture the essence of the city. Luckily, most smartphones have fantastic cameras that are capable of taking amazing shots.
- · Few Local Experts to Quote – You can add personality and a professional touch to your book by tapping a few local experts. They can provide recommendations, cite stories about the city’s past and add to the ideas you’d like to get across in the book.
Now it’s time for the fun part. Take the time to explore your city with the intent of capturing life as it happens. Visit places you know well along with new spots you’ve never seen before. Keep your concept in mind as you take pictures and make notes for the book.
Areas of Interest to Focus On
Need a little inspiration to get your book started? Here are some things that peak the interest of urban dwellers and visitors.
- · Interesting buildings and architectural elements.
- · Art installations around town.
- · The colorful locals.
- · Natural wonders that can only be found in the city.
- · Identifiable landmarks.
- · Views from different vantage points.
- · Notable city establishments like local sports teams.
- · Downtown cityscapes.
- · Famous hot spots or streets.
- · The nightlife.
- · Local cuisine and dishes.
The content of your book is really up to you. Some authors prefer to go for mass appeal while others focus on an offbeat topic. Today, even niche books have an audience online. Go with something that truly interests you about your city and you can’t go wrong.
Structuring Your Book
Non-fiction books require structure just like their fictional counterparts. Even glossy coffee table books are structured in a specific way to tell a unique story. How the content is laid out can affect readability and the reader’s connection with the story.
- · Break the book into sections. Each section will become its own “chapter”.
- · One common structuring technique is to use the theme to tie the sections together. For example, family could be the theme across the book with sections on restaurants, public parks and festivals.
- · Give each section a big header or even a two-page spread to introduce the topic.
- · Find a way to create flow. One idea could be exploring the city in a single day. The book could follow the natural progression of the day.
- · It’s also a good idea to open the book on a strong note that conveys the overall message of your book.
Like the topical matter, the structure of books is very fluid. Above are best practices, but successful authors are known to break the rules from time to time.