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.

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