Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Haynes Manual

One of the 1001 incarnations, 2009
"The 1001 versions of Mattos' other general paddling book has been consistently the best selling UK paddlesport book of the past decade, if the Amazon rankings are any guide."
Mark Rainsley, creator of ukriversguidebook.com

What Mark has been kind enough to observe is probably true. If anything has sold better, it is probably the BCU Canoeing Handbook, which is kind of a "must buy" for any BCU member and certainly anyone involved in coaching. And to be fair, it is a far more comprehensive manual than any of mine, going into greater depth about more types of canoeing and kayaking. Horses for courses...

The forthcoming Haynes Manual of Kayaking is designed to achieve something else. My "Practical Guide(s) to This and That" have sold really well, and I hope they've been useful if only as a paperweight or to level the kitchen table, but the real tipping point (pointless paddling pun)(awful attempt at alliteration) was the book Kayak Surfing, which was a labour of love that I never expected to sell a lot of units. There just aren't that many kayak surfers.

I'd become disillusioned with the dry, informative, supposedly authoritative style that I had been asked for in the past, and begged the publishers to let me write it informally, as if I was talking about it face to face, and to present the photographs more randomly as if in a magazine, so that each page could be laid out as best suited the material. And luckily, people loved it. Debra Searle MBE described it as "The best instructional book about any sport, ever. All books should be written this way." Other people said nice things, too. 

So when Haynes approached me about writing for them, I had to ask: "Can I do it like this? People like it better, I promise!" And (possibly in a moment of weakness) they said yes. I was so unsure that they really meant it that I sent the editor home with a copy of Kayak Surfing, telling him to read some passages and confirm he was OK with it. And even once he'd done so, I still sent him sample chapters as I wrote them, asking if he was happy with the style. Until he said: "Look, it's great. Let me know when you're done" (Subtext: stop bothering me!)

So, here we go. A Haynes Manual of Kayaking written in a completely informal style, packed with my usual deranged and opinionated ranting, but luckily also with anecdotes and spectacular photos from kayaking icons such as Eric Jackson, Freya Hoffmeister, Helen Wilson and Rafael Ortiz. With a following sea, it may be funny, too. The copy editor said he loved it, anyway. Especially the part about the gibbon...

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