A wren's breath, and trekking through pandemic-hit Europe

This week's Pinnacle Reads

This week on Pinnacle Reads I have a selection of recent links for you on a range of subjects from adventure, conservation, photography, and more. Below the links you’ll find some very interesting feedback I received after sending last week’s newsletter.

A Cabin Beside A Creek – Andrew Terrill has been spending some relaxing family time in a cabin beside a creek. I love everything about this piece, from the contemplative photographs to its message of deep looking and meditation. This message runs deep in Terrill’s soon-to-be-published writing. ‘The song was just an average burbling sound made by an average creek. But the cumulative effect went beyond average. Far beyond. Without us being fully aware of it the music sunk deep.’

It’s Time to End Burning on Grouse Moors – a well-argued piece by Max Wiszniewski for UKHillwalking.

British Photography Award Winner – my brother James Roddie has been awarded the winning prize in the ‘Land Animal’ category of the British Photography Awards for a splendid image of a pine marten in a cave. In this blog post he outlines the astonishing amount of work that went into this one image.

A Wren’s Breath – Oliver Wright tells his own story of perseverance and previsualisation in achieving a wonderful image of a wren.

The Highland bothy that tells the story of an abandoned place and its people – the story of Peanmeanach. We’re used to thinking of bothies as shelters that exist for our needs as hillwalkers and backpackers, but before that they were family homes – places of deep-rooted connections.

In Defense of Thinking – Cal Newport discusses the connection between thinking and writing, and how they are not necessarily the same thing: ‘...the actual act of putting words on the page came only after many more hours spent thinking through what I wanted to say. This contemplation was where the real intellectual action was to be found.’

The Woman Who Trekked Through Pandemic-Hit Europe – Ursula Martin is currently on an incredible journey across Europe. There are masses of insights into what it’s like to walk truly long distances in this fascinating interview, plus a hint at the level of commitment a project like this has required during a pandemic year.

Dealing With The Challenges Of Long-Distance Walking – a piece packed with good advice here from Chris Townsend, who knows a thing or two about long walks.

Going further: Planning for long distance walks – more nuggets of wisdom on this subject from David Lintern.

Short Runs to Happiness – I’m with Hendrik on this one. My sweet spot for a run is about two kilometres. You don’t need to be training for an ultra to enjoy the benefits of running.

Is the countryside ready for the return of the crowds? – Roger Smith writes about the challenges ahead, and calls for a national effort to avoid a repeat of 2020.

Last week on The Pinnacle I posted a brief piece called ‘That first royalty statement as a traditionally published author’, and received this very interesting response from a reader who has a lot more experience than me in the world of traditionally published outdoor books. The publishers' names have been redacted at the writer’s request.

Enjoyed this and everything you say is true… except that by no means all traditional publishers in the outdoors and travel work on a royalty basis, and not all that do pay advances.

I’ve done over 50 books as writer and/or photographer and only rarely seen an advance.

I did my first two books with Publisher 1 and they paid decent advances but I saw very little in the way of further royalties.

After that… let me see.

  • Publisher 2: royalties only.

  • Publisher 3: royalties only.

  • Publisher 4: royalties only.

  • Publisher 5: fixed fee.

  • Publisher 6: fixed fee.

  • Publisher 7: fixed fee.

  • Publisher 8: don’t ask. And don’t touch with the proverbial barge pole.

  • Publisher 9: can’t remember but I suspect it was fixed fee.

I’ve also just done three chapters for a book with Publisher 10 and they’re a fixed fee. There’s something to be said for a fixed fee as you know where you stand and it’s possibly better for the cash-flow. But if a book does better than expected and perhaps goes into reprint you are losing out compared to a decent royalty deal.

Of the three publishers on my list who pay a fixed fee it’s always been in stages, usually three: first due on signature of contract, second on delivery, third on publication.

So there you have it! All of the publishers that I personally work with, as a writer or editor, work on the advance/royalty system, but it would seem that other models are far more common than I was aware of. I agree with this writer: there is something to be said for the fixed-fee setup. Perhaps my own example of Wanderlust Europe, with its large advance and relatively small royalty, is something closer to the best of both worlds.

Until next time,



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