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A Conversation With James C. Samans Author of Spontaneous Tourism: The Busy Person’s Guide to Travel.

                              

Author: James C. Samans

ISBN: 9780979189708




Today, Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com and Sketchandtravel.com is pleased to have as our guest James C. Samans, author of Spontaneous Tourism: The Busy Person's Guide to Travel.

Good day, Jamie, and thanks for participating in our interview.

Norm:

Could you give us a brief resumé of what Spontaneous Tourism: The Busy Person's Guide to Travel is all about?


Jamie:

Spontaneous Tourism is a handbook for new travelers, focused on Americans in particular. You know, some of us have the luxury of learning to travel at company expense, where we can afford to make mistakes. But travel can be very complicated, and a lot of beginners find it intimidating. The book explains why travel is so important and how it works, so you can more easily fit it into a busy twenty-first century life. I also include some brief profiles on domestic and international destinations that are ideal for people just starting out.

 

Norm:

 

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

 

Jamie:

 

My favorite part was the research. Just about everything in Spontaneous Tourism comes from personal experience. I started with an outline based on the different topics that I wanted to cover, and watching the book take shape as I filled in the content was a lot of fun. Plus, all of the trips that I took to get that content reflected what I was advocating: there wasn't a single flight, train trip, or bus ride that didn't include me pulling out my laptop and using some of that time to write.

 



Norm:

Why do you think this is an important book at this time and what are your hopes for this book?

 

Jamie:

 

For more than fifty years, Americans have benefited from a world that was heavily tilted in our favor. We could expect other countries to adopt American standards. International business was often conducted in English. As Tom Friedman pointed out in The World Is Flat, however, The playing field is being leveled.With that leveling comes a much stronger need to identify with other cultures. Travel is a critical part of that learning experience, because it forces us to see the ways that other societies deal with things, to see that the American way isnt necessarily the best way to do everything.

But we're hampered by our tendency to think that a trip is only worthwhile if we can stay for a long time. At the same time, Americans are working longer hours and finding it harder to get away. Studies tell us that the two-week vacation is dying out. So I'm trying to get people to realize that a trip is worthwhile whenever you have fun, regardless of how long you get to stay. Technology makes work portable, so bring it along for the flight or bus ride--but when you arrive, put down the Blackberry® and focus on the present.

I'd like to see Spontaneous Tourism become the gift of choice for new graduates, arming them with the knowledge they need to start seeing the world--today, not in some imagined future where they retire at 30. But travel is really important for people at any age. If you've never traveled, reading this book can take a lot of the mystery out of it.

Norm:

Can you tell us how you found representation for your book? Did you pitch it to an agent, or query publishers who would most likely publish this type of book? Any rejections?

Jamie:

Well, I'm the entrepreneurial sort. I did submit a partial manuscript for Spontaneous Tourism to one publisher, but I wanted to use this book as a springboard to a new business. So I got some friends together, and we decided to start CrystalOrb to publish the book ourselves--so much of the technical work is done by specialists that the biggest part is footing the bill, and we had solid funding.

Does that make Spontaneous Tourism self-published? In some sense, but the usual notion of self-publishing is a far cry from what weve done. CrystalOrb is a licensed business. More importantly, we have our own block of ISBNs and will be listed in Literary Market Place next year as a small press. It's incidental that our first book was written by me; we look forward to projects from other authors in the future. We've already talked to some.

In any event, by the time that I heard back from the one publisher I'd contacted--and the manuscript was rejected, by the way--CrystalOrb was already up and running. Midpoint Trade Books picked us up for distribution everywhere outside of the library market, where Quality Books selected Spontaneous Tourism for its catalog. By the time my team attended PMA's Publishers University in New York, we'd signed Maryglenn McCombs to handle publicity for the book. We got all of that because we were willing to invest. We contracted with professionals to handle artwork, editing, interior design, typesetting, and even the back cover copy for the book. Everything was top-notch, and it brought definite results.

Norm:

Can you explain some of your research techniques, and how you found sources for your book?

Jamie:

Since Spontaneous Tourism is a handbook for new travelers, most of the material deals with explaining different facets of travel. I certainly used industry Web sites, magazines, newspaper articles, and experts as sources, but most of my research was done first-hand. I traveled across America and around the world by air, rail, road, and sea. It's in my nature to want to understand how systems work, so I set out to answer every question that I had--and then documented the answers in a format that's engaging and fun for readers. The second-hand research material that I used helped expand the content beyond what I'd personally seen, but most of it was already there by the time I was done.

Norm:

As there does not seem to be any authoritative standards that exist for guidebook authors or publishers, how do you know that a guidebook is up to par? How do you check out the authorial competence? And as a follow up, what makes your book different than the thousands of other guide books available today?

Jamie:

Well, let me start by saying that Spontaneous Tourism is not a guidebook. The last two chapters include some destination profiles of places I recommend for new travelers, but they're really just cursory overviews. This book is a handbook for new travelers that teaches them why and how to travel--as I like to say, it helps them avoid all of the beginner's mistakes so they can jump right into making advanced mistakes of their own.

But to answer your question with regards to quality, the best way for any nonfiction author to validate his or her work is to involve as many experts as possible, as early as possible. I started contacting subject matter experts before I'd even drafted some of the chapters, and sent them manuscript sections to review at their convenience. Most of the people I contacted were very enthusiastic about being involved and were happy to critique, correct, and expand the content wherever appropriate. I used that process for each chapter, then I got a whole new collection of people together to help proof the content of the complete manuscript.

Norm:

You have no doubt traveled a great deal. If you were to choose 6 venues that you would consider most romantic, which ones would they be and why?

Jamie:

Well, Paris tops the list. It's a beautiful city, the food is exceptional, and the French language definitely has a romantic flair. I surprised my girlfriend with a weekend trip to Paris for Valentine's Day in 2005, and she still tells people about it.

But you don't necessarily need to go to Europe for romance. Standing on the deck of a cruise ship at night certainly makes an impression. Niagara Falls is beautiful any time of year. VIA Rail Canada offers an incredible Romance by Rail package out of Vancouver. There are hundreds of delightful bed-and-breakfasts across America. And as lovely as the view is from the 64th floor, I'm not sure that dinner in Singapore's Tower Club is necessarily more romantic than a candlelit picnic under the stars.

When it comes to romance, the important thing isn't the venue; it's showing the person with you how special he or she is. Its sharing an adventure with someone you love.

Norm:

As a follow up to the last question, which 6 travel destinations are your favorites and why?

Jamie:

That's an easier question. Each destination is unique, of course, and Ive been to relatively few places that I didn't like. I'm also limited to considering places where I've been, which leaves out several continents and more than a hundred countries. But my six favorite places, in no particular order, would be San Diego (great climate); Miami (fabulous party scene); Hawaii (the Big Island; lots of open space, live volcanoes); Sydney (extremely welcoming to travelers); Singapore (a fascinating mix of cultures); and--again--Paris.

Norm:

What does travel mean to you?

Jamie:

Travel is the best and most comprehensive way to understand other people and the ways that they think. It's a way to challenge your own beliefs, expand your view of the world, and bring knowledge back to your own society. Of course, travel is also a lot of fun and caters to the natural human instinct for change and adventure. Its the best of both worlds--education and entertainment rolled into one.

Norm:

How will you be using the Internet to market your book and yourself?

Jamie

Well, Spontaneous Tourism has its own web site, which includes reviews and publicity information as well as online ordering. Thats also where you'll find links to my blog, which is regularly updated with news and commentary relating to travel, and photos that I post from my adventures around the world. I have pages on MySpace and Facebook, both of which reference the book, and I contribute articles to ezinearticles.com and other sources.

Midpoint takes care of distribution to the trade, so youll find Spontaneous Tourism for sale through the Web sites of Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com as well as retailers like Wal-Mart and Overstock.com. You can also browse through selections from the book on Google Book Search. We're in the process of building a referral marketing program and plan to have a book trailer on YouTube and travel podcasts on iTunes later this year. I also encourage people with travel questions to email me at author@spontaneoustourism.com, all of which builds interest in the book and awareness of me as a travel expert.

Norm:

 

Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered and what is next for James C. Samans?

Jamie:

Well, there's a lot more of the world to see. In July alone, my schedule includes San Diego, central Pennsylvania, New York City, Singapore, Orlando, and Boston--that's a mix of business and personal travel, including a weekend with my girlfriend at Disney World®. Chicago is on the list for August or September, and I'm heading down to Buenos Aires over Labor Day.

CrystalOrb is also a new publisher, and there's definitely a desire to make a big splash with this book. One idea is to offer some of the content from Spontaneous Tourism in an abridged, booklet format for the catalog market. There's been talk of an audio book. But we'll also be looking at some new projects with other authors.

Against that backdrop, I'll be doing all of the rest of the things that I usually do--going to work, serving in the Air Force Reserve, and spending time with my girlfriend as well as my cats, friends, and family. I could hardly have written The Busy Person's Guide to Travel were I not such a busy person myself!

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.

Jamie:

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

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