Four Steps to Success This Week
Here’s a four-step prescription for writing, polishing, and submitting a saleable article in the next seven days:
1 ) Start small, 100-600 words.
It’s easiest to break into publications through their “front-of-the-book” departments. Editors are always looking for small, “filler” blurbs about a new travel service, a recommended hotel, an up-and-coming neighborhood, a festival, and so on. Think of these as quick recommendations, the kind of thing you’d tell a friend.
If you’re paralyzed in your writing because you can’t figure out what to put where in your 3,000-word account of your trip to New Zealand… stop writing that article.
Instead, start writing a short one. Recommend the lodge where you stayed. Or the tour company you traveled with. Or a shop where you bought wonderful possum-wool socks.
2 ) Pick a subject in your hometown.
Focusing your attention locally makes sense for several reasons. First, you can walk out your front door today and find a subject to write about — no airfare necessary. Second, as a local you can be sure you’ll pick a place worthy of coverage.
Sometimes when travel writers pass through a destination, they take the path of least resistance and recommend, say, the restaurant three doors down from the hotel where they’re staying. They won’t necessarily know about the local hang-out five blocks up where the food is better, the ambiance is truly quirky, and the prices are half what tourists are paying nearby. As a local, however, you’re uniquely qualified to make just those sorts of recommendations. And you should.
3 ) Have a reader review your work.
Even if you’re an established writer with a knack for putting together splendidly readable stories, it’s always smart to have somebody read through your article before you send it to an editor.
Tell your reviewer who your intended audience is. Ask her to read for typos and such. But also ask her to tell you what she likes most about your piece, what sentence struck her as most interesting. (If that sentence is way down in your article, consider moving it up. In all likelihood, it belongs in your first few paragraphs.) Ask her if there’s any “content” lacking and where you might improve your piece.
4 ) Send your article to an editor.
If you’ve followed steps 1-3, then you’ve set yourself up for success. Now you need only get your article into an editor’s hands.
Not sure where to send it? Check our archives for publications looking for travel content.
You don’t need a by-line on a 3,000-word article in a newsstand glossy to get your career as a travel writer underway. Start small. Start local. And start with a strong article somebody has proofed for you. (After all, you don’t want to undermine your chances of success by sending an editor an article with typos or less-than-convincing copy.)
Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” So follow his lead and just “show up!” Send your article to a publication. It’s the only way to find success.
[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.]