10 things I learned writing, publishing and presenting a non-fiction book.

This article is also available in Catalan, here.

Last Saturday, 10 December, in a small village on the Costa Brava I finished the presentation tour of my book in Catalan “The Baltic Way. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania’s dream of being part of democratic Europe”, a tour that started on 23 September in Tortosa, my hometown.

It has been a long journey throughout Catalonia and Andorra, not only in the geographical sense, but also because of all the learning involved in a field – writing, publishing and marketing a book – which was completely unknown to me.

La Via Bàltica Book Tour Autumn 2022 (22 Sep-10 Dec) graphic report.

All in all I have participated in eleven book presentations and in three literary fairs. Then add on 11 interviews with different media during this period of time, and a promotional article previously written by me in English.

At the end of this post, in the annex, I detail the list of places where I have presented the book and the media I have given interviews with, as well as other media that have published news about my book.

From all of these experiences, I have learned the following lessons that I wish to share with you.

About writing a book.

1. Do you want to write a non-fiction book? Make sure no one has written anything like this before.

Writing a book takes a lot of work, I spent two long years writing mine. So it is important that this work is publishable and has readers.

Write about a topic you are passionate about

Most important advice

So my first advice is: find that niche market of potential readers willing to read your book. As a general rule you will find this niche if two important conditions are met:

a. Write about a topic you are passionate about

b. Write about a topic on which very little has been written

I am a passionate about travel, culture and outdoors in the Baltic States. As there is very little written in Catalan about that part of Europe I wrote my book about my experience walking the Baltic Way 30 years on.

If you have to write, at least have fun doing so, and ensure your book generates some interest with the second condition. Then the readers will come.

2. No more than 80,000 words.

A book will rarely be longer than 300 pages. If you reach this limit it means that you really have a lot to say and you will spend a lot of time working on the book. In any case, never exceed 80,000 words, because then you are going beyond those 300 pages, and when you submit the draft to the publishing house, they will probably tell you to think about making cuts, as actually happened to me.

3. Set a calendar for writing. Record the time spent and words written each day.

Writing a long book is a very methodical job, if you want to finish it in a certain time and not to raise the white flag in the middle of the job, my advice is to set a calendar with the days you can write and the hours you can devote to your book. And every day you type something, then write down how many words you’ve written and the effective time spent, so you can keep track to see if you’re sticking to your plan or not.

About finding a publishing house.

4. Check the publishing market (if possible, before writing anything).

In order to ensure that your book will have sufficient interest for publishers, try to find out what the publishing market is like and who might be interested in a book like yours.

Check out the calendar of book fairs in your city or country. All the publishers will be there grouped together, so you can go and talk to them in person. No one will promise you anything but at least you will know what you have to write for there to be a certain degree of probability that they will pay attention to you.

And keep in mind that, as a first-time writer, it is most likely that no one will give you a definitive yes without seeing the draft almost finished.

5. Consider self-publishing.

The drawbacks? No one will check your writing style, and you will have to pay for the publication of each book out of your own pocket, although these are usually not very high amounts, and, above all, your book will hardly be present in any bookstores.

About marketing a book.

6. Less is more.

Quite probably, once the book is published, and with all the efforts devoted to achieving this moment, you will be thinking about making as many presentations as possible.

This is a mistake.

The book market throughout Europe is increasingly limited. In most places where you go with your book, you can consider yourself lucky if more than five people show up. You must also bear in mind that if you have already made a presentation in a city, no matter how big it is (I am thinking of Barcelona, for example), a second one in the same city will not generate anywhere near as much expectation as the first one. Of course, make sure that everyone you know in the city is aware of your presentation well in advance.

7. Choose the places where you will present your book carefully.

So, you already know that you have to go to very few places, but which ones? The most important thing is to start in the place where most of your friends and family live, and then go wherever you think you will also have a fair number of people interested. Don’t forget, they will surely go to the presentation more because of you than because of the content of the book itself.

If you want to take risks and go to places where you don’t know many people, then go to those bookstores that specialize in the specific genre of your book. In my case I visited as many travel bookstores as I could. But even in this case make sure that wherever you go there will be at least one person who knows you!

8. You won’t get rich (probably).

Unless your non-fiction book aims to solve a widespread problem under the title “How to regrow your hair when bald?”, then I am afraid to say the volume of books you sell will be limited. So if you write a book, do it because you enjoy writing or because you need it for your CV or for whatever other reason, but not for the money. This is why you have to be grateful to the people coming to your presentations. Consider bringing some drinks and cookies to offer them…if they wait patiently until the end of your talk.

9. Look for local presenters.

Find a local presenter to help present your book, no matter what, wherever you go. It makes a difference. He or she will help you break the ice in front of the audience and will also help you to attract other local people to your event. When I went to places without a local presenter I could certainly see the difference. Be especially kind to them.  

10. Talk to the press.

Even if the publisher has secured interviews with the press for you, it is possible that they do not know journalists in all the cities where you are going to present your book. In this case you will have to make the contacts with the local press yourself. Prepare a short press release with an attention-grabbing title and subtitle. And whenever you can, point out what specific interest your book has for the local inhabitants of the city where you are going to organise an event. The note or interview will probably not be published before the presentation, but it will help you promote the book and keep interest alive for longer than originally planned.

Bonus point 11. Be active on social media.

I will not explain here how to use social media efficiently as we all know, thanks to Elon Musk, that what is valid today might change tomorrow. But I do advise you to be on as many kinds of social media as possible. The friends and family that are on Instagram are certainly not the same ones that you have on Facebook, whereas being on Twitter, for now, still gives you a lot of visibility in the media world. So think about dusting off your profiles or setting up new ones.


A book takes a lot of work, so it’s important to be sure that you can publish it and, last but not least, that as many people as possible will read it afterwards. I hope that my advice serves as an inspiration to future writers. Do not be discouraged because, in spite of everything, it is a very enriching experience.

Annex 1. Presentations and literary fairs.

23 September 2022. Marcel·lí Domingo Library, Tortosa. Presenter: Oriol Gracià.

30 September 2022. L’Agrícol in Vilafranca del Penedès, invited by Òmnium Cultural Alt Penedès. Presenter: Aleida Bertran.

1 October 2022. Campredó city council. Presenter:Emigdi Subirats.

6 October 2022. Altaïr bookstore in Barcelona. Presenter: Llibert Ferri.

13 October 2022. Civic Center Barri Vell in Girona, Ulyssus bookstore. Presenter: Josep Maria Iglesias.

20 October 2022. Muntanya de llibres bookstore in Vic.

22 October 2022. XVII Lletres ebrenques literary fair, Amposta library.

26 October 2022. Cambrils City Council Cultural Center. Presenter: Lluís Rovira.

29 October 2022. Bassa bookstore in Móra d’Ebre. Presenter: Andreu Carranza.

18 November 2022. Guaix bookstore in Amposta. Presenter: Alba Sancho.

22 November 2022. La Capona bookstore in Tarragona. Presenter: Helle Kettner.

25 November 2022. La Trenca bookstore in Andorra la Vella (Andorra). Presenter: Yvan Lara.

4 December 2022. Indilletres literary fair in la Bisbal d’Empordà.

10 December 2022. La Viatgeria bookstore in Calonge Booktown first anniversary.

Annex 2. Press kit.

In English

What I saw walking the Baltic Way 30 years onDeep Baltic. 29 June 2022.

In Lithuanian

Baltijos kelią pėsčiomis įveikęs ir knygą apie jį parašęs katalonas: jūsų istorija turėtų būti žinoma plačiau – LRT (Lithuanian Public Broadcaster). 4 December 2022

In Spanish

Jordi Arrufat: “Las independencias de los países bálticos no fueron fáciles, podían haber terminado como Praga en 1968” – Público. 25 October 2022.

In Catalan

Jordi Arrufat: «Una lliçó dels països bàltics és que van decidir anar a per totes»Nació digital. 10 September 2022

Jordi Arrufat: “La Via Bàltica és una metàfora”Surtdecasa. 21 September 2022.

Jordi Arrufat ens presenta l’assaig “La via bàltica”Més 324 (Catalan Public Broadcaster). 22 September 2022.

Campredó celebra els 5 anys de l’1 d’Octubre amb la presentació del llibre “La Via Bàltica”Imagina Ràdio. 27 September 2022

Conferència i presentació del llibre La Via Bàltica de Jordi ArrufatEix Diari. 30 September 2022.

Jordi Arrufat · “La independència no s’aconseguix, només, donant-se les mans”Setmanari l’Ebre. 30 September 2022.

«En cap moment vull comparar Catalunya amb els països bàltics»Diari de Girona. 4 October 2022.

Campredó commemora l’1 d’octubre amb la presentació del llibre ‘La Via Bàltica’Ebre Digital. 6 October 2022.

“Els bàltics van voler anar a per totes, fos com fos”El Temps. 6 October 2022.

La Via Bàltica, el llibre que ens acosta al procés d’independència de Lituània, Letònia i EstòniaÒmnium Cultural Alt Penedès. 14 October 2022.

“Les independències dels països bàltics no van ser tan fàcils, podien haver acabat com a Praga el 1968”Diari Públic. 25 October 2022.

Jordi Arrufat: “La Via Bàltica i la Via Catalana tenen en comú que van donar visibilitat al desig d’independència”. Radio Cambrils. 26 October 2022.

La Via Bàltica, de Jordi Arrufat, un llibre de viatges que acosta els països bàltics a CatalunyaRevista Cambrils. 27 October 2022.

“L’amenaça russa ha despertat l’esperit de la Via Bàltica”La República. 11 November 2022.

Jordi Arrufat: “Quan feien la Via Bàltica no hi havia full de ruta, no sabien com acabaria”El 9 nou. 6 December 2022.

El tortosí Jordi Arrufat recorda la ‘Via Bàltica’ d’Estònia, Letònia i LituàniaCanal 21 Ebre. 9 December 2022.

3 similarities between education and public diplomacy

Just finished studying a Master’s Degree in Teaching at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, in Tarragona, where I have been attending classes for 9 months, from October 2018 to June 2019. This has been a kind of career break for me due to having lost the job where I had been working for the previous 10 years, following the application of article 155 in Catalonia as I explained in a previous post.

The main reason behind the decision I took to study this Master is related to regulations introduced in spring 2018 in Catalonia, which allowed for prospective teachers to be included in the Catalan Education Ministry Teachers’ Pool without having the required training, but with the engagement by those joining the pool to obtain such training in 3 years. This measure was adopted in the context of a high demand for secondary education teachers during the next 3 or 4 years.

This is how I decided to enrol myself in this Master’s Degree, as part of the commitment which I made by joining the pool, and also because doing this training would definitely be a worthy complement to job hunting, a way to show prospective employers I was not sat at home doing nothing.

9 months, a Master thesis and 2 intensive weeks teaching 15-year-old pupils later I can proudly say “Mission accomplished”.

Universitat Rovira i Virgili

It’s just that my professional context has changed in these last 9 months too, as I am now once again working for the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (I restarted there last winter), and happy about it, so no plans for me to work as a teacher in the near future even though I have the required training now.

So, now what? Now let’s focus again on public diplomacy, but, first of all, as American activist Maya Angelou once said, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give”. So I decided to write 3 interesting points about how I found out that education and public diplomacy interrelate. I hope you find them interesting and they leave some matters open to debate.

1) Cooperative work makes digital instruments effective. This is one of the main conclusions obtained in the thesis of my Master’s Degree, in which I researched on a small scale about the effectiveness of the introduction of Google My Maps to 15/16-year-old pupils so as to generate competences in cardinal directions and interpretations of scales. Although the study has its limitations, the main conclusion reached is that digital instruments, such as Google My Maps, do not ensure on their own the learning of competences in map interpretation. Instead of that, although more scientific evidence would be required, everything seems to point to the possibility that if students carry out mutually-needed activities to develop tasks, the learning of these competences is more assured.

Regarding the area of 21st century public diplomacy, we know that the instruments introduced in the last 10 years in the field of digital diplomacy, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and, above all, Twitter, are of little effectiveness if they are not used as part of a global strategy to accompany the general objectives of foreign policy. That is, they are useful but only as part of a general objective; those instruments alone do not solve problems, and the people who are in charge of digital communication must be in permanent coordination with other areas of the foreign affairs department.

More specifically, if we look at the value that digital diplomacy generates, it is mainly through the interactions Heads of State, Government, and Ministers generate among them, by creating value in the network, rather than through unidirectional tweets or messages. In short, in education, as in public diplomacy, the value of digital instruments lies in the cooperative work that is done with them.

2) Special education needs or diversity is wealth. Since 2017 Catalonia has an inclusive school model system in which everyone must share the classroom with everyone. This decision was taken because of a situation of high school segregation.  In this new scenario diversity is considered a value that enriches the group but implementing this is something easier said than done, which is probably the reason why Special Education Needs or “Diversity management” had such a prevalent weight for all the teachers of the Master I have just completed.

In the field of ​​21st century public diplomacy, we know, for example, that a larger wealth of voices offers a better public diplomacy strategy towards the public from outside. The more voices you empower, the more credible and powerful this strategy will be. Governments need to know, as Cull (2019) says, what specific group of a country’s internal public is more useful to engage with a certain external group. Once found out, it is necessary that this group be given a certain training and formation. Is that an easy task? No, it is not, nor is managing diverse classrooms easy, but the educational result can only be positive for society as a whole, just like the international bilateral dialogue that is intended to be established in the field of public diplomacy by empowering citizens.

3) Initial evaluation or the importance of listening. A correct teaching programme cannot be carried out in a specific classroom if we do not know about the group’s starting point at the beginning of the period of time we are going to teach. In order to know this, you can talk to other teachers from previous years, or you can also start assigning homework (although this should be avoided the first day), or you can do a survey or a role simulation game; the methods are many and varied and I do not mention them all but the message is clear – you need to know who the students are when the course begins by means of the so-called initial evaluation, the starting point of programming your classes.

In a similar vein, in public diplomacy, and as Cull (2019) says, there is one activity that is more important than any other, and this activity is listening. Listening to find out who the audience is that you want to address, what their concerns are, what they expect from you and what message or engagement with them will be more effective. Listening is also crucial to avoid your position being considered as propaganda, since listening is expected to generate a two-way interrelation. This is different from what was done, for example, during the Cold War, or with the different fake news campaigns that are currently taking place.


Conclusion. This exercise of reflection was done in my spare time when preparing for exams. I’m not sure what my final conclusions would be as this is not part of any serious, well-based research, but one thing  I would state is that both teenage pupils and foreign public opinion now have more access to first-hand information than ever before, if they want to make the effort to get this information. What both teachers and public diplomacy practitioners do now is completely different to what they were expected to do 30 or even 20 years ago; they must have the capacity to put people to work, by creating value in the case of public diplomacy, or by generating positive emotions or creating interest among students. This is the challenge.


Cull, Nicholas J. (2019). Public Diplomacy: Foundations for Global Engagement in the Digital Age. Polity Press.

Why am I walking the Baltic Way?


(This article is also available in Catalan)

On May the first I start walking from the Pikk Hermann tower in Tallinn with the aim of arriving, if my legs and feet do not fail me, at the Gediminas Tower in Vilnius, going through Riga and past its central Freedom Monument on the way. I am doing this, mainly, for everything that I admire about Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

I have just finished my work as a project manager of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, where, along with other colleagues, we have spent years explaining to the European public opinion the reasons why Catalonia wanted to organize a referendum on self-determination. It is in this context that, over these last few years, I have met many Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian citizens. In my conversations with them, we saw there were a few particular similarities between the history of the Baltic republics and the political situation in Catalonia, and it is thanks to these conversations that I learned a lot from their history – especially their most recent history.

There are many aspects of their determination to exist as a people which I admire, but as a Catalan that participated in the Catalan Way in 2013 there is one that I find particularly interesting, and it is the great human chain of almost 700 kilometres organized in 1989, whilst they were still living in the Soviet era and without internet or mobile phones. Three nations holding hands together, but alone in front of the rest of the world, overcoming fear and with very few technological resources;  coming together for a common desire for freedom, generating a huge sentimental value for the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, which is still alive and well today.

I am walking the Baltic Way, one year before the 30th anniversary of this milestone and during the centenary year of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian declarations of independence, to appreciate the magnitude of that feat on the ground and to learn more about these three countries. I am walking the Baltic Way to learn about the imprint on our current days of the singing revolution and the partisans who hid in the woods to fight against the USSR, to live close-up and experience the digitalization of Estonia far away from the capital city, to find out as much as possible about the work they carry out creating attractive cities while maintaining a way of life close to nature, to discover what the new Skype will be, to inspire myself with their commitment to democracy, anti-totalitarianism and the committed defence of their freedom and identity, while, at the same time, keeping their doors open to a global world. Surely there are many more other interesting aspects unknown to me at the moment which I hope to learn about closely, aspects that would not be possible without the longing for freedom inherent in the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians.  I want to get to know all this and I want to explain it, in Catalan and in English, both while walking the Baltic Way through social media, and later in a format that I have not decided on yet. Their message deserves to be heard and read, all over Europe.

I have not come to the Baltic area to talk about what is happening now in Catalonia, it is not the purpose of my trip. I have come to learn and to explain to the world the message of freedom from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania coming from the voices that I meet along the way. Having said that, I will be happy to talk about Catalonia with anyone who asks me, of course.

I would like to speak with Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian citizens, men and women, of all ages and social conditions, living either in villages or cities, to discover the soul of your countries and learn about the Baltic ways towards freedom. If you live close to the 1989 Baltic Way, you can contact me via Twitter or through the contact form on this website. I’m sure you have interesting stories to tell.

In addition to that, by making a quick search on Google, it seems that the 1989 Baltic Way has only been walked by two people so far; the Brit, Ben Nimmo, in 2004, taking 5 weeks, and the Latvian, Aivars Noviks-Grasis, who did it running in 2014 in just 2 weeks. If anyone knows about someone else, please let me know.

I am starting in Estonia, as a personal recognition to the Catalonia support group in the Riigikogu, the Parliament of the northernmost of the three countries, with a special thought for the Estonian MP Andres Ammas, who recently passed away, and was a member of this group.

For you, Andres, wherever you are, and for all the other people from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that I have been lucky to meet.

And for freedom. Vabaduse eest. Par brīvību. Už laisvę

10 tips for making public diplomacy work on a sub-state level

Jordi on Twitter
Picture by @HelleKettner

(This article is also available in Catalan)

As the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) has now been closed down due to the application of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, I thought it would be appropriate to write, as a reflection and guidance, some points that the experience of having worked in Diplocat gave me that could eventually be used in the future, either by those who create a new Diplocat (or whatever  name the new institution would have) or by other sub-state entities or agencies throughout the world willing to carry out a public diplomacy programme.

I am well aware of the confusion in Catalonia and Spain regarding the term “public diplomacy”. For instance, the vice president of the Spanish government, Ms. Saenz de Santamaría, said that autonomous communities cannot carry out public diplomacy and the Constitutional Court has confirmed this. Neither Ms. Sanez de Santamaría nor the Spanish High Court tried to give a definition of what “public diplomacy” means, though, and this is why I am inclined to think that either they ignore it (I hope not) or they are deliberately playing with the confusion and want the Spanish public opinion to think of “public diplomacy” as a concept opposed to “private diplomacy”.

Nothing is further from reality. We at Diplocat explained the meaning of public diplomacy in a document we published on our corporate website, which is sadly already inactive following Spanish government orders. However, I have recovered the document and you can read it by following this link.

In short, there are many definitions of Public Diplomacy but it could be summarized as the art of cultivating relationships with foreign public opinion by an international actor (government of a particular territory or city or even another organization), not necessarily a nation-state, in order to help and foster progress in the strategy of international relations or foreign affairs of the aforementioned actor. What public diplomacy is NOT, undoubtedly, is conventional diplomacy from government to government.

Using this definition I’d ask you  to check whether the other Spanish autonomous communities are carrying out public diplomacy campaigns, because if they are doing so, someone will have to explain why these Spanish regions are allowed to do public diplomacy but Catalonia isn’t.

Having made this clarification, here are my 10 tips for making public diplomacy work on a sub-state level based on my experience working for the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia.

1) Never turn away from your mission and goal. It seems obvious, but the first thing that needs to be clear before developing our strategy is to know why we are carrying out the public diplomacy programme that we aim to implement, what the objectives are and who the target public is. Once these aims are clear, many different siren songs may try to divert us from our goals or encourage us to carry out activities counterproductive to our  mission. If we deviate from the mission and the objective then it will be hard to justify in later evaluations why we carried out these activities.

For instance, if our goal is to reach the European public opinion, do we have to go to a Southeast Asian country just because a window of opportunity has opened there? I think the answer is obvious.

2) Be trustworthy. Another point that seems obvious but is often ignored. Our narrative will not be credible if there are no real, tangible, verifiable measures that give solidity and truthfulness to our story. In the case of Catalonia, for example, we can hardly say that Catalonia is committed to animal welfare because we have prohibited bullfighting when, at the same time, in some parts of Catalonia there are festive events involving bulls with flammable material attached to their horns. It is not clear whether the animal suffers or not but at first glance it’s not a pleasant sight when seen from abroad.

3) Give voice to as many people as possible. Linked to the previous point, this is especially important when we carry out programmes of public diplomacy with a clear content of a political nature, which is not necessarily shared by a clear majority of society. Taking the Catalan case once again as an example, the surveys clearly stated that 80% of the Catalan population is in favour of a political consultation to solve the territorial conflict with Spain, but society is divided over whether independence is the solution or not. Then it is appropriate for programmes to include the opportunity to offer points in favour and against this idea to our target audience. By doing this the organization will be respected as a good reference body to take into account as was the case with Diplocat.

4) Each country requires a different strategy. The strategy and transmission channel used for the Middle East is quite probably not the most suitable one for Latin America, for example. Even within Europe the strategy to apply in, for example, Portugal , could be completely different from the one for Poland, not only due to a completely different political, social and media context but also because the interests that your territory or organization has in Portugal might be completely different from those in Poland.

5) Keep your diaspora in mind … but you will not necessarily work with them. In every public diplomacy plan it is important to know who your Diaspora is and what they stand for in the country or territory that is the object of your programme. It will be necessary to know if they have good relations with the political, social, and media agents of the country in which they reside or if, on the contrary, they have a negative reputation and approaching them can be a setback to our strategy. In any case, what we must not do is to ignore the Diaspora when setting out our strategy.

6) Work with internal actors. From your organization, country or territory, in order to enrich the strategy and make it more attractive, look for synergies between different actors. If you are a university you can incorporate, for instance, students into your programme. If you are a city you can give a voice to the neighbourhoods and if you are a sub-state entity you should seek, among others, to give a voice to different city councils and the economic world, the further away from your capital city, the better.

7) Always remember that your target audience is abroad. Clearly linked to the first point, there may be times when we confuse the fact that we work with internal actors as I mentioned in the previous point with the fact that we may believe that they are also our target audience. They are not, or at least not beyond the necessary accountability measures that may be required periodically. If we carry out public diplomacy, we dedicate ourselves only to the foreign public. This seems obvious, but we must make it clear. Otherwise, what we will be doing is Public Relations, not Public Diplomacy.

8) 21st century public diplomacy is bidirectional. Yes, it is true, public diplomacy allows us to send our message to the foreign public opinion, but it also represents an important exercise in listening to what external actors might want to say. The time of the cold war is over, this was when the concept of public diplomacy was created. We either listen and adapt or risk being perceived as propaganda.

9) Innovation is key for you. This advice is valid for anybody that carries out public diplomacy programmes but it is especially important if you are not a state actor. State actors have a bigger budget and brand image than other actors in international relations, but they are usually more limited in terms of the actions they can carry out due to having to follow more stringent action protocols and their vertical structures. Small organizations, with a lower budget, have more freedom to innovate and, if they really want to achieve visibility, they must be constantly innovating.

10) And all this … to obtain results mostly in the medium and long term. Public diplomacy gives results but these, with the exception of those carried out in the field of the press and social networks, are not usually results in the short term. Public diplomacy is about cultivating trusted relationships with outside actors and this does not give measurable results immediately. Nevertheless, public diplomacy cannot be disdained, it is something that everyone does today. Disdain it and you risk staying out of the race.