David Beirman is a senior lecturer at the School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism at the University of Technology, Sydney. He’s contributed chapters and articles to many academic books and journals on tourism, and has published his own book, Restoring tourism destinations in crisis – a strategic marketing approach (Allen & Unwin).
Before David can put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, he first needs to gather the facts that will form the building blocks of his piece.
‘The first element of any work is collecting the evidence,’ explains David. ‘I’m currently working on my second book and have gathered thousands of pages of material which I now have to distil into a book which may be something in the region of 300 pages. I find this distillation process – the writing – to be the most exciting part because I am turning a million dry facts into pages which will hopefully educate, entertain and inspire the reader.’
The timeframe for each piece of work from conception to publication varies with each piece that David composes. ‘I tend to write in bursts, normally after a light bulb moment and this can occur at any time of the day or night. I can whip up a journal article in ten days, but my first book took three years.’
As a new book author, David said he found the writing and publishing process a valuable but humbling experience.
‘My publishers, Allen & Unwin, were terrific in guiding me through the review and editing process. But as writing is not my prime source of income, other matters can get in the way of writing a book,’ says David.
‘The biggest challenge to overcome is time management. How do you properly balance the competing responsibilities of preparing and delivering a lecture to inspire students, working with travel industry colleagues, preparing conference presentations, and at the same time producing credible research articles, chapters and books? It’s tough, but what drives me is the fact that I love every second of my working life.’
Finding the time to write has paid off for David’s career. Since his first book was published he has travelled to 16 countries to speak at various conferences.
‘All of this largely on the strength of a book which will never rate in the bestseller lists, but which reached out to the readers who cared about the issues I covered.’
David considers himself a writer, an educator and a tourism practitioner and says he wouldn’t like to wear just one of those hats.
‘As both an academic and a tourism professional, writing is an integral and enjoyable part of my work. Academics have a delicate time balance between our teaching responsibilities and research obligations. A record of publications and research is an important element in the academic pecking order but we also have an obligation to impart our knowledge and effectively mentor our students.’
For academics it’s not a matter of it being simply desirable to get published, it’s a professional requirement. So what’s David’s advice to other academics about to embark on this journey?
‘Find a mentor, or several mentors, who can guide you through the process of producing publishable work.’