Be Your Own Birder

Migration: A Journey to Publication

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I’m fortunate that one of my personal passions – birds and birding – intersects with my professional passion – writing – and I’ve been writing about birds for more than 15 years. In that time I’ve been published in local newspapers, birding organization and festival newsletters, glossy national birding magazines, and many different blogs and websites of all sizes. I greatly enjoy writing articles, as it gives me the opportunity to explore more topics in more ways, and I’ve written my way through all sorts of birding subjects on species all over the world.

My Keyboard (Yes, it needs dusting...) - Photo by Melissa Mayntz
My Keyboard (Yes, it needs dusting…) – Photo by Melissa Mayntz

My publication migration took an unexpected turn on May 1, 2018, however, when I received an email from Harriet Butt of Quadrille Publishing, proposing an opportunity for a book. From that day on, my writing changed.

I’d never sought to write a book, but the potential intrigued me. Potential to explore one facet of birds in far greater depth and detail. Potential to develop my own writing skills in a new way. Most of all, potential to have my writing in a tangible form, between two bound covers with my name on the front, rather than words tossed into the digital ether where they may or may not stay, may or may not be changed, may or may not remain connected to me (you have no idea how rampant digital plagiarism can be).

It took more than six months to put together the proposal: a detailed outlining of the book’s topic and structure, marketing projections, competition analysis, sample text, and my own credentials for pursuing the project. Further weeks were spent with committee reviews and sales meetings to determine the project’s viability, and at any step the project could have fallen from the sky.

But it didn’t; it kept flying through steps and over hurdles, making its way to paper. On April 2, 2019, I officially signed a manuscript contract, and my writing changed again.

Flamingo Notebook with Migration Notes (Yup, that's what I used!) - Photo by Melissa Mayntz
Flamingo Notebook with Migration Notes (Yup, that’s what I used!) – Photo by Melissa Mayntz

For the next nine months, bird migration became my world, from pole to pole and hemisphere to hemisphere. I traced birds’ routes, motives, mechanisms, hazards, and more, in greater detail than I’d ever written before. Research, notes, writing, revisions, questions, more revisions, more writing, deletions, even more writing. Beyond my own writing, I was consulting on and approving illustrations, discussing and formulating maps, tweaking layout, planning promotions, arranging author headshots, reviewing edits, answering questions, and doing everything else that I never considered about a book’s publication.

On December 19, 2019, the book was sent to the printer. Just a few small, scattered feathers of work have remained – setting up pages on Amazon, social media design, business cards. Finally, however, I can tell the world… Migration: Exploring the Remarkable Journeys of Birds is scheduled for publication on May 5, 2020.

Let’s fly!

Migration: Exploring the Remarkable Journeys of Birds
Migration: Exploring the Remarkable Journeys of Birds

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