Tamara O’Dell came to the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop last July in Denver, Colorado, where she picked up three days’ worth of step-by-step advice on getting started as a travel writer.
Formerly in PR, Tamara coupled what she learned in Denver with what she knows about good networking to land her first published article in Alegria Living Magazine, a new regional magazine in Colorado Springs, CO.
Scroll down to read an interview with Tamara, including how she got published the first time, and how to use networking to your advantage when you want to get published.
Director, Great Escape Publishing
P.S. Tamara did exactly as freelance travel writer Jennifer Stevens instructed her to at The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in Denver last year. She started with something that interests her (history). She approached a local publication with her story idea. And she ran with it. And she’s not the only one. In the coming weeks leading up to our next big Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in Santa Monica, CA, this August 5-7, I’ll send you several more success stories from readers, just like you, who have done the same thing.
Getting Published: The Art of Networking and Landing Paid Gigs
Interview with travel writer Tamara O’Dell
By Bonnie Caton in Paris, France
BONNIE: Tamara — you came to the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop last July in Denver… and now you’re a published travel writer in your hometown. What’s your background?
TAMARA: I finished my BA degree in journalism at the University of Houston. Since then, I’ve had a career in sales and fundraising for more than 20 years. However, in February 2009, I was laid off for the fourth time in my career. That’s when I decided that I needed to figure out how to earn a living, return to my first passion of writing, and incorporate my second passion of traveling.
BONNIE: Your by-line appeared twice in Alegria Living Magazine. How did you decide to approach this magazine with your story? Where did you find it? How did you decide what to write? And how did you go about getting published?
TAMARA: Yes, I was published in two editions of Alegria Living Magazine. I had seen the magazine around town and thought it was very pretty and nicely done. I put the word out that I wanted to meet the publisher and one of my contacts through the Chamber of Commerce invited me to attend a photo shoot where the publisher was looking to create a crowd for a story about country hoedowns.
So I dressed in my best “hoedown” outfit and headed out to the photo shoot. I met the publisher at the shoot. She was incredibly busy and very distracted. The last thing she had time for was to talk to me, so I quickly introduced myself, told her I was a writer, and asked if I could meet her for coffee after her current deadline passed. We exchanged cards and I followed up a couple of weeks later.
Alegria Living Magazine is a “good news” quarterly magazine that covers food, history, and people giving back to the counties of El Paso, Freemont, and Chaffee counties in Southern Colorado. I love history, so I pitched a story to the publisher about the founder of Colorado Springs, General William Jackson Palmer.
BONNIE: Was that your first time getting published?
TAMARA: Yes — it was the love story of General William Jackson Palmer and his wife, Queen, and their life both at Glen Eyrie (a local private/public attraction) and in England. It also incorporated the love story of Queen’s sister, Charlotte Sclater, who lived at Rock Ledge Ranch (a local living history attraction owned by the city of Colorado Springs). It was about 700 words long.
BONNIE: How many times have you been published now? And have the articles been paid?
TAMARA: Two times with by-lines, 10 times without by-lines (ghost writing, websites, and newsletters). The magazine articles were paid at $0.10 a word. The others were paid on a flat contract basis ranging from $100 to $2,000.
BONNIE: What’s your number-one tip for readers who would like to start getting published locally?
TAMARA: Know the format of the magazine. Have an article in your head that would fit into that format. And then, meet the publisher or the editor in person, preferably with an introduction from someone who knows them. It is all about relationships.
BONNIE: Thanks, Tamara!
[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.]