Frequently Asked Questions of the Stone Road Press
On the Parks.
Q: What’s your favorite park?
Q: What’s your favorite site?
Q: Have you been to all the U.S. National Parks?
No. I spent two full years exploring the parks, reaching 48 of the 58 national parks. Alaska, American Samoa, and U.S. Virgin Islands would have sent me too deeply in debt before I even began piecing together Your Guide to the National Parks.
Q: Where did you sleep while visiting the parks?
Almost exclusively in my tent and car.
On making the book.
Q: What program did you use to create the book?
Adobe InDesign (highly recommended, this project would not have been feasible without it).
Q: Are all of the pictures your own?
No, but I am the primary photographer. The photo credit stats go something like this: 1/3 are mine; another 1/3 come from flickr contributors, friends, and family; and the final 1/3 are from NPS employees.
Q: Where did you get the maps from?
All of the maps are in the public domain and easily accessed at NPS.gov.
Q: What’s the deal with the “thumbs up” icons?
In the hiking and camping tables a thumbs up refers to a preferred trail or campground.
Things get more complicated in the “What’s Nearby” sections. Many people have asked whether I receive payment for a “thumbs up?” I can assure you no money has exchanged hands. I would never approach another business to pay for my recommendation and if someone were to approach me I would be more likely to delete their entry from my work than to stick a “thumbs up” next to their name.
So, how did I decide who was thumbs up material? Simply put, I researched these areas as if I was trying to choose a place to spend the night or eat a meal, cross-checking reviews from Yelp, TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon, and Google. Seeding reviews has become a far too common practice, but with patience and a trained eye you can easily weed out the rubbish. To summarize, each thumbs up is not just a recommendation from me, it’s a recommendation from dozens of online users, just like you and I, who want to find the best places to eat or spend the night–just like it should be.
The above question about thumbs ups was a late addition to the FAQ. I never thought I would need to clarify how/where these recommendations were coming from, but now that I’ve been asked about it several times and have been in the guidebook business for a few months I’ve learned how relevant it is. I’ve heard stories of guidebook writers who own the restaurants they’re recommending and other less-than-scrupulous dealings. This is a complete disservice to you, the reader and a sad testament to man’s greed. When I can’t bring my work to you at a reasonable price without under-the-table deals, I’ll start doing something else. Integrity is priority one for me.
Q: How long did this take you?
Over the course of two years I spent more than 10,000 hours in front of my computer working on this project. During that time I took just one full day off to visit the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago with my friend Curt (with free tickets received from applying for their Month at the Museum promotion).
Q: Are you nuts?
Maybe a little!
Q: Are you done yet?
(I cannot count how many times I was asked this question.) But I can finally answer, YES, I am done making the book. Now it’s time to promote it. (Please help by sharing on Facebook or Twitter, or simply telling a friend–word of mouth is my #1 marketing tool.)
On the Stone Road Press Tour Bus.
Q: Where’d you pick that sweet ride up from?
Lamers Bus Lines in Green Bay, WI. Little known fact, you can get old (on their last leg) school buses for near scrap value by talking to bus companies.
Q: How long did it take until you broke it?
A couple of weeks. It wasn’t all my fault though. I was completely unaware that the fuel gauge didn’t work. I just thought the tank was perpetually 3/4 full. She ran dry on a joy ride in the beautiful Wisconsin countryside and now, because it’s a diesel, a little work needs to be done to get her back on the streets.
Correction: She didn’t run out of fuel. That was just a coincidence. Fuel injector was shot. She’s running again.
Q: What are you going to do to the Stone Road Press Tour Bus?
I’m going to turn it into a nice little home/traveling book sales unit. She’ll get a bigger battery bank, a pizza oven, a couple of beds, a new paint job, and who knows what else.
On the future of Stone Road Press.
Q: Do you publish the work of other authors?
Not yet. But, I’d still love to hear from you. I’m happy to share any information, tricks or tips I learned along this arduous journey, or to simply discuss what you’re doing and how to get it done.
Q: What’s next?
First I’m going to fix up the bus. But, I’ve already started on the next guidebook. I’m planning to make four guidebooks, and then I’ll focus on their upkeep and dabble in writing whatever comes to mind, maybe a little fiction.
Q: Are you hiring?
On the website.
Q: Who made it?
A good friend, and former college roommate of mine, Luke Holschbach. Check out his other work at jukes.us. If you’re looking to hire a web designer, this is the guy.