It’s by no means finished yet, but here are some lessons learned.
Let’s say you want to write a book about the breweries in Finland. Or Portugal. (I don’t need more competition around here, thank you.
Here are some lessons learned:
- Maybe you should register a company beforehand. Even if you’re working with a publisher, you will have expenses. Some of them could be deductible. Maybe even deductible beer.
- (I did not do this. But if there is a second time around, I probably will, even if my bookkeeping skills are pitiful.)
- Spend time on your initial e-mail list. And, please, if you use Gmail, send out separate e-mails to your informants. If you don’t, you are likely to lose control over the e-mail strings and the attachments buried inside them.
- Check the bounced e-mails right away, and check with other sources.
- Work on the questionnaire. It’s important. Do your really need all the numbers? It’s mostly the stories you’re after, right? Adjust for that.
- Make sure you have enough dropbox space, or find alternatives.
- Ask for samples. But don’t ask for samples from all the industrial breweries. Life is too short.
- Samples also means you can take photos of the bottles before you open them, photos according to your own specifications.
- Visit breweries, visit beer festivals. This means you can get more flavor to the text, getting the first-hand accounts.
- Crowdsource information. I got valuable intel from various facebook groups and other parts of my network.
- Use public records. Though even in Norway, with very strict legislation when it comes to licencing alcohol, there is no decent register of the persons and companies with a licence to brew. But our national freedom of information act let me have copies of a fair number of applications from the health authorities, which was very helpful.
- After the deadline, take a week or two off the booze. Get on your bike and do hiking. Consider having conversations with family and friends. Remember, there is a promotional circuit before Christmas, too!
- It’s fun. With a very few exceptions, people are very happy that you seek them out and go out of their way to help you. I assume this is a general rule, but it is even more likely in a country where the direct promotion of alcohol is strictly forbidden and even displaying a brewery logo is likely to bring you a fine.