It is crunch time at my house. We’re not quite halfway through 2011 and I’m smack-dab in the middle of getting the 2012 edition of Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers ready to send to the editor. Since I’m in the thick of things, I thought now was a good time to unveil the inner workings of Beyond the Attractions :).
First comes the longest phase – research, writing, and editing. Once that process is complete, I shift gears and move into publishing which takes a whole different skill set.
Research for the next year’s edition begins in September. Really, it starts the day after the current edition has been sent to the publisher but before it is available from retailers such as BTA on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. One of the most interesting, but challenging aspects of writing a Walt Disney World travel guide is the dynamic nature of the “World.” New changes are continually made to the Walt Disney World Resort to provide an even more magical vacation experience for guests. What that means for me is spending some pixie dusted hours every day reading the official Disney website, Disney fan sites, forums, and Disney blogs. I know, I know – it’s a tough job but someone has to do it 🙂
Changes to the Disney World Resort that would affect traveling with preschoolers get added to the Updates page of my website, Beyond the Attractions. I also make a note in a Notepad file on my computer desktop that keeps a running list of changes that need to be considered for the next edition. It’s pretty low tech but the simplicity of it works well for me.
Throughout the fall and winter months, I outline and begin writing new sections that I would like to add to the book. For example, in the 2011 edition, I added a section on attractions that were tame enough for preschoolers but that older siblings would enjoy at the same time. After all, family harmony makes for magical memories.
I know it’s early spring when I see the first buds on the trees and when it’s time for one of the most exciting parts of the process – creating a detailed list of research for my spring research trip! Lists are made for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney, the Resorts, and “Around the World.”
Come spring and off my family goes to Walt Disney World for the research trip. Items are meticulously checked off the research list, photographs are taken, new foods are sampled, ideas for new tips and enhancements are chronicled, and park maps, times guides, and pretty much any piece of paper that contains Walt Disney World information that I can get my hands on are picked up.
Early June means intense weeks of fact-checking and a lot of long-distance phone calls. I have a very large spreadsheet that contains every “fact” in Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers that must be checked. My research list and the materials I picked up during my research trip, as well as the official Disney website, the Disney Parks Blog, publications from Disney, and other trusted source are used to verify information. Lastly, many phone calls are made to Disney to confirm items in the book. Each “fact” in the spreadsheet is updated with the date it was verified and the source used for verification.
Please check back next week and I’ll talk about the writing and editing process.
Lisa M. Battista is the author of Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers and the co-creator of WDW Fan Zone. When she’s not chasing after her little ones, you can most likely find her at the beach or in the kitchen trying her hand at a new recipe. You can follow her on Twitter @DisneyExplorer or become a fan of Beyond the Attractions on Facebook.
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