Our guidebook, Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest, was originally scheduled to release during May 2017. Nearly a year later our readers want to know: where the hell is it? Here’s what happened.
Update: May 1, 2018
The book is (sort of ) out! We had a very successful launch event at Kulshan Brewery in Bellingham. Amazon pre-orders are now available. It may have taken an entire year, but Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest is finally here. Order on Amazon below, or check out our blog post for other ways to purchase!
March 23, 2018: The Whole Story
We never expected writing our first book to be easy. Despite the delightful subject matter (beer and hiking), it actually took a lot of sweat and a few tears to research, photograph, map, write, and edit a 232-page guidebook. We knew this going in. But what we didn’t know was how long the publishing process would take. Here’s a timeline rundown on where we’ve been — and when the book will (hopefully) be available in 2018.
July 2013: Conception
Beers at the Bottom was born. Our goal: to one day write a guidebook about “trails and ales” in the Pacific Northwest.
February 2016: Connection
While writing a book proposal that we planned to shop out to local publishers, Brandon stumbled upon a book called “Beer Hiking Switzerland”. He reached out to the author for more info, and she serendipitously connected us with her Swiss publisher (herein referred to as “the publisher”). Turns out, they were interested in producing a PNW edition. And after chatting, they wanted us to write it. Woohoo!
August 2016: A Deal is Made
After months of contract negotiations, we signed a book deal on the last day of August. Our deadline? December 31, 2016. We had four months to research and write a guidebook covering 50 trails and breweries in the PNW! Why so little time? Because our publisher wanted to release the book the following spring, at the beginning of hiking season. We knew it would be a whirlwind, but we really wanted our first book deal (and didn’t want our proposal to end up in a slush pile for months). So, after consulting a few guidebook author friends, we dove in. We’d been researching hikes and breweries for years on this blog. Our deadline was ambitious but achievable. It was time to get to work!
September - December 2016: #Research
We made big sacrifices to write our book in four months. Rachel quit her job; Brandon put his freelance work on hold. We traveled extensively throughout Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia during the wettest fall and winter ever recorded in Seattle. We crammed in as many high-country hikes as possible during the narrow snow-free window of September-October, before winter weather forced us down to lower elevations. We missed out on time with friends and family during the holidays. But we were focused. We were motivated. And we turned our manuscript in two days early (like a boss).
2017: Year of the Red Flag
Then things started to get interesting. Apart from a “received” email, we didn’t hear from our publisher for a month. Radio silence. We followed up. Another month went by. Nothing. We followed up again, and were informed of “delays”. There were excuses, none of which we’ll bore you with. Essentially, our book was not being prioritized by the publisher. They ghosted us for weeks and months at a time.
As far as we knew, the book was still coming out in May 2017. But there was no communication from the publisher without continued badgering from us. May was getting too close for comfort, and we had a sinking feeling that the book wouldn’t come out on time.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t.
At this point, we hadn’t publicly announced a release date (thank goodness). But people were asking: when does your book come out? Friends and family wanted to know, breweries and destinations and everyone kept asking (thank you all for asking, by the way — we love that you care so much!) But we didn’t have an answer. So we said umm, soon hopefully?
Once we finally heard back from our publisher, it was May and they were just “starting to work on designing the book”. Wait, what? We thought the book was coming out in May! Are you kidding?!
They were not kidding.
So we continued to wait. June came and went. Then suddenly, urgently, a burst of activity: our help was needed securing beer logos for artwork. Easy, we got this. We kindly emailed breweries, requesting their beer logos. Why the publisher couldn’t handle this was beyond us, but we didn’t ask questions. As Rachel’s dad, Jack, says: we’re just the talent.
July 2017: Doing the Prooffings
When we turned in our manuscript, it was damn near flawless. We don’t say this to brag, but to emphasize the frustrations that followed. Brandon is a meticulous copy editor, agonizing over every sentence. But when the publisher layed out our content, it was suddenly a mess. Letters were cut off from the end of words. Blocks of text were placed in the wrong part of the book. Headings like “Choose the beer or the hike” were embarrassingly incorrect.
One could argue that this is what we get for working with an international publisher. But it’s simply not professional. We turned in a clean manuscript on time. When the publisher’s external copyeditor reviewed our manuscript, they returned three comments (two of which were non-issues). In contrast, when we returned our proofs they were full of corrections for errors made by the publisher in the layout process.
Proofing began in July and did not conclude till October. This is because, again, the publisher was unresponsive. We sent a round of proofs back in August and didn’t hear anything for over a month. Then another burst: they needed book blurbs for the back cover, stat. We reached out to a couple friends with an urgent request. Many thanks to Joe and Jessi for turning those around in record time!
The most frustrating part of the entire experience? Our publisher’s complete and utter lack of communication. Throughout, we routinely busted our butts to deliver the goods and were met with silence. “Hurry up and wait” became an all-too-familiar phrase (along with others we won’t mention here — our moms might read this, after all). But when the publisher needed something, they needed it NOW!
October - December 2017: Empty Promises
In October we had a call with the publisher. We hoped that, given slow but steady progress up to this point, the book would come out in time for the holidays (it would make an excellent gift). No such luck. The publisher instead made a slew of empty promises — that they’d send us marketing materials by December, that further delay would give them plenty of time to market the book. It would be in Seattle by January and release on March 13, 2018.
None of it happened.
2018: Crushed Spirits and a slow boat from China
Our spirits were crushed. A year after turning in our manuscript, we still had no release announcement. People were constantly asking about the book, and we began to reply with, “It’s coming out in March!” Now that March is here, we don’t really know what to say. Except thank you, and we’re sorry. We did everything in our power to make this book a success, and our publisher dropped the ball. A lot.
Today, if you try to look up our book, you might be met with a 404 error. Or you might not — let us know in the comments! It seems to be a weird cookie issue affecting some users. We let the publisher know weeks ago, and they haven’t addressed it. This has made event planning difficult, as we cannot send a live link to venues interested in hosting us. So we made our own damn page.
And speaking of event planning (last complaint, we promise) we’ve unfortunately had to cancel our first two events scheduled in April due to delays. Fortunately the venues have been understanding, and we look forward to rescheduling...someday.
All that said, here’s the latest update: the book is (literally) on a slow boat from China right now. 3,000 copies were printed overseas; they should arrive in Washington in early April. Your guess is as good as any on the release date. We’re hopeful for late April, but May seems more realistic (at which point the book will have been delayed a full year). Godspeed, China boat. We’re all rooting for you.
In conclusion, a word of thanks. Your book release enquiries and words of encouragement are what keep us going in the darkest hours. We still have high hopes for Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest. Publisher problems aside, the book looks great in full-color and we can't wait to share it. Writing it was an unforgettable learning experience and a labor of love. We managed to have a pretty good time doing the research, too. So thanks again for your support, and wish us luck — we’ll take all we can get!
We’ll let you all know as soon as we have an official release date. Until then, we’re already thinking about our next projects. Want to save us from further publisher pitfalls? Hit us up with project or collaboration ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org Cheers!