Lynne Sturtevant combines decades of tourism experience with a love of local history to produce her nonfiction books. In a span of two months she published her three most recent releases: Create Successful Walking Tours (November 2019), Hometown: Writing a Local History or Travel Guide (January 2020), and The Collaboration Kit (January 2020). Find all of Lynne’s books on her website LynneSturtevant.com and her Amazon author page, and connect with her on her blog HiddenNewMexico.com and on Facebook.
How did these closely tied books evolve from the spark of an idea to their first draft?
All three books started as blog posts. For several years, I had a blog called The History Biz for folks working in local history and tourism. When I moved to New Mexico four years ago, I stopped updating the blog. About a year ago, I read through the posts. There was a lot of good content there. So, I decided to repurpose some of it as eBooks. The material needed to be updated and significantly expanded. I knew how to do that. What I didn’t know how to do was self-publish.
What was the most challenging aspect of publishing three books in two months?
The biggest challenge was just sitting down and doing it. Even though I’m comfortable with technology, there was a learning curve. To be honest, I wouldn’t have attempted it if I hadn’t taken a self-publishing workshop from SouthWest Writers. The process is tedious, but it’s worth it. I’ve become a huge fan of self-publishing.
Who are the audiences for the three books, and what would you like readers to know about each of these releases?
The Collaboration Kit and Create Successful Walking Tours are practical guides for people working in county historical societies, small museums, and historic houses, as well as entrepreneurs who offer history-themed walking tours and events. The books describe how to find interesting program ideas, how to work with other organizations, how to properly price events, how to deal with unruly customers, how much to pay guides, how to effectively use social media, etc.
Hometown: Writing a Local History or Travel Guide is for writers and people who would like to become writers. It’s a complete guide to conceptualizing, writing, publishing, and marketing a local interest book. I published two local interest books about ten years ago. Both are still in print and selling well. So, I have good information to share on this topic. Whether it’s a town history, a family saga, a neighborhood’s story or a collection of legends, a local interest book is a manageable project. The research is fun and there are lots of interesting and lucrative marketing opportunities that are only available for local books.
How has your experience writing nonfiction affected or benefited your fiction writing?
I’m convinced writing both fiction and nonfiction makes me a better writer. I have more techniques to draw from. When I find opportunities to use scene setting and character description in nonfiction pieces, it always strengthens the prose. I also do web copywriting. Part of my process is to interview people about what they want for their websites. I don’t just focus on their answers, though. I listen to the way they speak, their tone, their vocabulary. Because I’ve had lots of practice writing dialogue, I can bring their voices to life on their websites. As far as what nonfiction brings to the table, it’s editing. You learn to spot the chaff when you have to adhere to word count limits.
What writing projects are you working on now?
I’ve got two projects in the works. My novel The Good Neighbors, a contemporary fantasy about a troop of Celtic fairies rampaging through the hills of West Virginia, is in final editing. I’m in the outlining stage of another book for the local history crowd. The working title is Haunted: Profiting from the Paranormal. It’s about how to create ghost walks, graveyard tours, investigations of haunted houses, that sort of thing. I plan to self-publish both.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I offer website design and copywriting services to writers, artists and other creative people. You can find out more about that at www.magicwordscreative.com.
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.