Mark Lowenstein has gotten a fair bit of press this year for his self-published Great Runs books that feature running routes in Boston and Brookline. But what really interests us is that he’s working on a third book that would include Wellesley. (Lowenstein moved to Brookline in 2007 after living in Wellesley for 8 years and briefly in New Jersey in between.). I’ve known Mark forever and recently asked him a few questions about his latest venture.
What inspired you to write running books?
I am a long-time outdoor enthusiast — biking, hiking, skiing, running. I noticed that there are all sorts of “route” and “guide” books for all these other sports, but not running. But running is a hyper-local sport, so the routes have to be near where people live. Another reason is that running tens to be a solitary sport and it can be boring. I’m hoping that these books help people discover some additional route options. The books are geared toward recreational/casual runners.
Talk about your writing routine.
Well, like most authors, this project was on top of my day job [as a mobile communications consultant]. So I worked on the books from 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., seven days a week, for six months. The hardest part was doing some of the off-road routes during the winter – there was lots of snow and ice. The other irony is that I did less running this winter, since I was spending so much time sitting writing these books!
What’s it been like creating your own publishing business? What have been the biggest surprises? How are the books selling and where are they available?
The main reason I created my own publishing company is that I wanted to control the release schedule. Doing two books in four months is unusual. The two biggest surprises are, first, the economics of the publishing business – even successful authors I know have a tough time making a decent living. The second challenge is distribution. Some stores that would be naturals to carry the books won’t for whatever reason. My favorite example: the huge Nike store downtown. The place is a mecca for running… but they only carry Nike products – so they carry no books! The Great Runs books are quite widely available, though: at the Booksmith and Marathon Sports in Wellesley, and many other retail locations in the area. They are selling well. The Brookline book has been a top seller at the Brookline Booksmith since it was released in February.
You’re working on a book that would include Wellesley and other suburbs. What were your favorite places to run in Wellesley and can Wellesleyites chime in ahead of publication if they have ideas for routes to include?
I am working on a book right now that would include a number of towns including Wellesley. Wellesley is wonderful for running. Great off-road paths, quiet residential streets. Some of my favorite areas include the path around Lake Waban, the Crosstown Trail, and some of the residential streets around the Farms. I would welcome suggestions of good routes.