Yesterday we interviewed freelance travel writer and past workshop attendee, Sandra Kennedy. As a retired teacher, Sandra uses travel writing to supplement her income and take all-expenses-paid trips, feeding her ever-present wanderlust.
Yesterday, she gave us a few tips on how to find press trips and writing gigs. If you missed that issue, you can read it here.
I love Sandra’s story because she took what she learned, and proved that it really works. These days, she turns one press trip into two… three… five… sometimes even ten published — and paid — articles. We asked her to share her top three tips on approaching editors with an article proposal. We’ve also included some extra insights from freelance writer and author of The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program, Jennifer Stevens, below…
Director, Great Escape Publishing
Landing Gigs by Crafting Compelling Queries
By Sandra Kennedy in Portland, OR
QUERY TIP 1: Try to make your travel article query letters creative enough to catch the editor’s eye immediately. My query letters don’t fit a form. Sometimes, I start off with a question. Or, I may start off with a description. Check out our archives where Jennifer Stevens outlined five good ways to start a query letter.
QUERY TIP 2: Make sure that you know the editor’s correct name by calling or emailing. It sounds simple. But so many try to start their travel article query letters “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern”. Don’t do that.
QUERY TIP 3: Read their past publications and archives to learn if they have covered the subject or destination you want to propose. If they have, how long ago was it printed? Is there a new angle you could take? How is your article’s slant relevant?
Often, the Writer’s Guidelines will state how long it should take to hear back from the editor. If I haven’t heard by that time, I will send a short email checking on the travel article query letters. It may have been lost or delayed. I only call in special circumstances.
For example, I called Adventure-Life Journeys to inquire about a trip I was interested in taking. During the discussion, I mentioned that I was a freelance travel writer and photographer. The PR person talked with me and said that they may want me to accompany a trip and write about it. It didn’t happen that year. However, I contacted them again in the next year. They remembered me and said that they had thought of me for Ecuador but didn’t get around to organizing it. However, would I be interested in an eight-day trip to Guatemala? YES, I would.
However, I needed a letter of assignment, which I didn’t have. So I called the editor of The Times Community Newspaper, a local paper here in Oregon, and asked if he would write one for me. I explained how I believed his readers would be interested in knowing about how Easter is celebrated in Guatemala, since I would be going to Semana Santa. He said that he’d never written an assignment letter before, but he would since I had written a good article for them in the past. I received that Letter of Assignment and emailed it back to the PR person, who began to plan the trip.
[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.]