GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Books accompanying travelers to the Park since 2002

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Reviews and constructive criticism, part 3

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As a music student, I learned very early that teachers’ (and others’) criticisms were always meant to be constructive and helped to improve my playing or comprehension. Becoming angry or morose or coming up with objections were always counterproductive reactions.

This is a lesson that carries over into all endeavors in life, so my editor Beth and I have been inspired to turn around recent criticism of Yellowstone Treasures. We’ve taken a critical look at the book in order to tell potential readers just how it can be used for planning and visiting the park. Take a look at a new nugget of information. We hope it will make very clear how this guidebook is intended to be used—and it also showcases pictures my husband and I have taken in Yellowstone on recent trips.

2012

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Reviews and Constructive Criticism, Part 2

Categories: On the Web
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One long review with a useful criticism

Recently I decided to go through the ideas of one reviewer carefully for constructive suggestions—and I found one! More about what I learned and about what I can’t resist disagreeing with will appear soon in a new nugget of information on our website. [See The Features of Yellowstone Treasures.]

One thing the reviewer certainly got right: the book certainly reflects the author’s interests—and what book does not? I check out as many places in Yellowstone as I can every year, but I confess that I spend the most time where I most like to be.

I thank the reviewer for saying he “got a sort of ‘wikipedia’ to Yellowstone” instead of what he was expecting. That’s a compliment!

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Reviews and constructive criticism, part 1

Categories: On the Web
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Since we published the first edition in 2002, Yellowstone Treasures has received 84 reviews on Amazon.com. Of those, 81 are four- or five-star reviews; one each received three, two, or one star. Barnesandnoble.com shows six four- and five-star reviews, two 3-star, and one 2-star, most with no text.

Naturally all this positive response made me happy. My main goal in writing such a detailed guidebook has always been to provide visitors with a really useful book. The occasional constructive suggestions offered online and in person by my readers contributed to the gradual improvements that my editor Beth and I have incorporated in the next two editions.

An article called “The Best Reviews Money Can Buy” caught my eye in the August 26 New York Times Sunday Business section. It seems an enterprising man named Todd Rutherford found a way to capitalize on selling positive online reviews to self-publishers. He wrote some himself and hired others to write them—you could buy reviews in bulk: $99 for one or $999 for 50. The system worked splendidly for a few months, but Google began to limit Rutherford’s ads and then Amazon cut back on the reviews, and Rutherford went into other ventures.

To my way of thinking, paying for reviews is unethical. I had qualms about asking one friend who had used Yellowstone Treasures in the park to write a review. It has been great to have feedback about what can be improved. Tomorrow I’ll post my reactions to the very long and detailed one-star review the book received earlier this month.

2012

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Counting the days

Categories: Bio, Trip Reports
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I am counting the days until I leave for Yellowstone country. Ten days from now I’ll get close, but I’ll start south of the park to do some research in a library collection in Provo, Utah, and then visit old friends in Jackson Hole.

Then the real work begins. I have lots of things to check out in the park for Yellowstone Treasures. I suppose no guidebook can ever be declared finished, since it is only valuable if kept up to date with the changes that inevitably occur. Yellowstone is more prone to changes than most areas, what with all those geysers that keep changing their personalities. And parts of the roads may be different from a few years ago, along with other man-made features. Then, too, there are always ways to improve a book in general.

For the next edition I want to bring the writing about the geology of the park up to date. Yes, you would think the rocks would stay the same, but geology isn’t just about rocks, it’s also about how the earth got the way it is, how the geology affects all the living things in the neighborhood, and what may be going on under our feet that will bring about changes. Several types of geoscientists are working continuously to better understand the processes that make Yellowstone so marvelous.

Then, too, I’m always trying to understand what geologists are learning and bring some of it to my readers. Helping me this year is an old friend and PhD (from Brown University) in geology, Jo-Ann Sherwin. My map maker, Linton Brown, is back at work tweaking the maps, sometimes in subtle ways, and my editor and my book designer, daughter Beth Chapple and friend Alice Merrill, are doing their things for better verbal expression and design. With a little luck, we’ll have some new pictures to share, too.

And, of course, the Internet and phone access are both a bit iffy where I’m going, so I won’t try to write blog posts while there. There will be more words from me on this blog before I leave home, though. . . .

[August 2012]

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White Creek and Yellowstone Treasures

Categories: Thermal features
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From the time Yellowstone Treasures was new in 2002 until the third reprint of the third edition earlier this year [2012], I’ve told readers about a narrow unmaintained trail that leads from the Great Fountain Geyser parking area to some interesting hot springs and geysers along White Creek. Certainly not intending to go against National Park Service regulations, I nevertheless neglected to point out in recent printings that the trail was closed to visitors in about 2010.

This action was probably taken because visitors were overusing the area and harming the natural features, as a knowledgeable geyser gazer pointed out in an e-mail message last week. He said that “the number of people going up White Creek to look at Octopus Pool and other features increased drastically” about ten years ago. He also said that these visitors “had no knowledge of how to be safe in such situations. Nobody understood how much environmental damage they were doing, either,” and he pointed out that “anybody with access to the internet and popular guidebooks thinks of White Creek as a destination.”

Not surprisingly, this gave me a sense of mea culpa, which has been gnawing at me these past few days. Although I cannot correct old editions, I will no longer write about the White Creek hydrothermal features in Yellowstone Treasures—and I will point out that the area is now closed to visitors. White Creek is one of several interesting but fragile and even potentially dangerous places in the park that have suffered from overuse and been judged by the park service to need time to recover.

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One more Kindle change

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Well, folks, Amazon.com seems to have realized they’d made an error, so today (or yesterday?) they returned the price of the Kindle version of Yellowstone Treasures to $9.99. Like it or not, all publishers and authors are required to toe the mark with Amazon.

[May 2012]

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Kindle version of “Yellowstone Treasures” again available

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If you read my February 25 post or tried in the past few months to buy a version of Yellowstone Treasures for your Kindle, you know that it was not being sold on the Amazon website. But as of earlier this week, an agreement between my distributor, Independent Publishers Group, and Amazon has brought it back. The Kindle version now costs their standard $9.99 rather than the $14-something you would have had to pay for it previously. As publisher, I can live with that. I thank IPG for holding firm when Amazon became unreasonable, but I also thank both of them for arriving at a compromise.

(Added 14 hours later) Oops! I see that now the Kindle price is $11.96. Well, that’s half the price of the paperback. Trouble is, you don’t get the 37 maps or any of the color in the pictures or design elements in the book. With the next edition I will have a Kindle Fire version, which should remedy that problem.

[2012 post. 9/13/13 update: The Kindle Fire version of Yellowstone Treasures has been out for over a month now, and it looks great!]

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Competition for Yellowstone Treasures

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When I opened the e-mail message this morning, my heart sank. Another guidebook to Yellowstone announced! This one is backed by the Michelin tire corporation and the Yellowstone Park Foundation (to which I belong). Wow! There’s no competing with that. Both solid and respected entities. I even wrote to Michelin way back when I was seeking a publisher for Yellowstone Treasures; got a polite refusal back from them—but then, I wasn’t the YPF.

So I’ve ordered a copy and will add it to my shelf of Yellowstone guidebooks. It’s a 106-page book and will certainly be more portable than my book’s pound-and-a half. I always learn something from the guidebooks I see, but I can’t lessen the bulk of mine and keep all the pictures and words I want to include.

I’ll go on working on the next edition of my book and probably find that quite a few people will want what a more thorough treatment of the greatest place on earth has to offer. After all, more than 50,000 readers have wanted and bought Yellowstone Treasures in the past ten years.

[9/13/13 update: I was disappointed with the limited coverage in the Michelin/YPF guide. It’s nothing like the wonderful guides we’ve used in France and Italy to enhance our travels there. And, for the record, our Yellowstone Treasures sales are now well over 60,000; e-book sales are going particularly well.]

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During recent weeks I’ve been concentrating all my efforts on two long-term writing projects.

One job I’ve given myself this fall [2011] is determining what changes I want to make in the upcoming reprint of Yellowstone Treasures. People do not always know that everything is constantly changing in the park, from realigned stretches of road to new geysers that pop up and old ones that change their behavior. My goal is to keep the guidebook as up-to-date as possible with almost-yearly reprints and new editions about every four years.

The other time-consumer is polishing all the parts of another project I’ve been working on for about three years with a colleague. This one is a translation from the French of the account of a visit to Yellowstone in 1883 made by the prolific Belgian travel writer, Jules Leclercq. Getting this fascinating account published requires a lot of small changes to our manuscript in order to comply with the university press’s guidelines, along with preparing information to be used in promoting the book. It will be called Yellowstone, Land of Wonders: Promenade in North America’s National Park. But don’t hold your breath—it won’t be available for more than a year.

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At last! A negative review of “Yellowstone Treasures.”

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[NEW: See comment at end.–Ed.]
Well, you might be surprised to see an author posting this for all to contemplate. I’ve always figured that if someone bought my guidebook and didn’t like it, they would just give or throw it away and not write about it. Wrong!

Here’s a lady who found she couldn’t plan her trip with this book. I had hoped that the two-and-one-half pages near the beginning where it lists all the Best Sights of Yellowstone (pages 17-19) would be just that kind of assistance to people who had limited time to spend in the park or little patience for all those words I wrote. I’m hoping that she just missed that section but that others will find it useful.

Here’s the one (out of 61 Amazon.com reviews) that got two stars out of five:
Bad for planning ahead. Good if you already have a plan
June 11, 2011
By daniela
This book is probably great if you’ve been to Yellowstone before and know where you’re going. We’ll be going to Yellowstone for the first time this year, and this book is just not useful for planning the trip. The book is a set of road-logs: it tells you what sights of interest you will find as you drive along the Yellowstone roads. There is a lot of information but it is organized according to the road location, which makes it almost impossible to plan what sights you want to see on each day, unless you read the entire book end-to-end. I typically prefer having also cross-lists of points of interest that can be used for planning.

7-14-11 Reader David Reed comments:
My suggestion to Daniella. READ THE ENTIRE BOOK FROM END-TO-END. Before you go to Yellowstone you need to have a good idea of the many, many wonders that await you, and Yellowstone Treasures is the place to find out. The more you know, the better you will be able to formulate a plan. The time you take will be well spent, even though you obviously will not be able to see everything in one or even ten visits. Have a great visit, Yellowstone is the most fabulous place in the world.

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