The way you pitch your travel story to an editor is an investment in your future, so plenty of thought should go into it. Taking the time to do it right could lead to years of future assignments.
Research the publication. Know the audience. Rather than saying something meaningless like “I know your readers will enjoy X,” tell the editor why that will be the case. A quick look at several recent issues (easy to do on the web, go back at least six months) will reveal what they have and haven’t been covering. A pre-pitch is okay: “I’d like to write for your publication. Can you send me a writer’s guide or other details about how I should make pitches?”
Make a detailed pitch, but keep it short. A punchy pitch is a better indicator of writing skill than sample clips. “I want to write about Chicago” will get you nowhere fast. “I want to write about gastro pubs near Wrigley Field” is a lot more intriguing, as long as it’s accompanied by a reason that publication’s readers might be interested and one or two possibilities.
Clips are overrated. Offer links by all means, but don’t include actual samples until you are asked. In some cases, so many editors have handled finished clips that they barely resemble what the writer submitted. Providing contact information for the associated editor would reflect the writer’s pride in the clip and indicate that the writer has nothing to hide.
Check it thrice. It’s a buyer’s market, so typos and/or poorly-worded pitches might lead an editor to wonder how much attention the writer might give to the finished product. I can’t believe that I’m channeling my late third-grade teacher, but a pitch is not a text or a tweet. Misspellings are not hip. An editor can reject a pitch for any number of reasons, so why give him another?
For more tips from Al on breaking into magazines with your travel stories, see: What’s New in Magazine Land: Tips for Selling Your Travel Stories to Glossy Magazines in 2011
Join us at our next live event, here: AWAI Travel Writing Workshops
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]