One of the biggest questions I get from aspiring travel writers is, “Where do I sell my travel stories?” The answer in today’s interview with Roy Stevenson — a classic from our archives — may surprise you.
Roy’s 2012 travel schedule is filling up rapidly, including trips to Montreal, England, Brussels, Zurich, Malaysia, and more. Find out how he does it below…
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Roy sent me a note last week that ended with, “I owe the travel workshop everything for my success. That’s where I got started.”
This interview first ran in The Right Way to Travel on June 21, 2008. Since then, Roy has been published more than 700 times in 160 different publications and spends most of his days jumping from one city to the next as a travel writer.]
FROM MAGAZINE READER TO PROLIFIC WRITER IN 10 MONTHS: AN INTERVIEW WITH RETIREE-TURNED-FREELANCE-TRAVEL-WRITER ROY STEVENSON
By Bonnie Caton in Arlington, Virginia
Roy Stevenson doesn’t need Writer’s Market to find out where to get published. He likes to do his own research on publications at newsagents and bookstores like Barnes and Noble.
He knows his magazine racks… and the sales clerks know him. They even tell him about other magazines in his writing genres when they see him walk in the door.
Roy’s been at it since he came to the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop last July… and over the last 10 months, he’s met with loads of success – 150 published articles.
The coolest part, he says, is walking into Barnes and Noble, grabbing a magazine off the shelf, and flipping through to find his name on the glossy pages.
I interviewed Roy this week to find out what kind of research he’s doing… how he went from magazine reader to magazine writer… and where he finds the right publications for his stories without using Writer’s Market.
Here’s my interview…
BONNIE: Let’s start with a little background. What made you want to come to the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in Portland last July in the first place?
ROY: I’m an exercise physiologist by trade. I train personal trainers to work in fitness clubs in the Puget Sound area. I teach mornings at a local community college (exercise science, nutrition, health, and P.E. classes). But I’ve only been back in the U.S. for one year after spending almost 6 years living overseas. Three years in Singapore and 2.5 years in Belgium.
I didn’t work in this time, as my wife was on an expat contract, so I traveled non-stop around Asia and Europe. Thirty-five countries in five years! So now I want to write about the amazing places I’ve seen and some of the exciting things I’ve done. That’s why I attended the Travel Writer’s Workshop last year in Portland.
I’ve had articles published before. 20 years ago I wrote about running and fitness (which I have broken back into with much success this past 10 months), but travel writing is whole new game to me. I can write fitness and running articles in my sleep — but it’s the travel and military stuff that excites me to no end.
BONNIE: Where do you go first when you’re looking for publications for your travel, military, or fitness articles?
ROY: First, I check the better-stocked magazine racks in about four or five bookstores and specialty magazine stores here in town.
Specialty magazine stores, or newsagents, can be real gold mines. They tend to stock some of the more offbeat publications you won’t find in Barnes and Noble and the other big chain stores. Offbeat magazines are generally more “freelancer friendly” than the big glossies on the supermarket racks.
So I check these racks every three weeks. I know the people working in the specialty stores now, and they know the genres I write about. Often, they even tell me if there’s a new publication I should know about.
BONNIE: Where else do you look?
ROY: The internet, of course. It’s amazing what you’ll uncover when you Google your genre. I Googled “maritime magazines” to find some leads to pitch a series of articles about maritime museums in Europe, and eventually came up with a list of well over fifty!
There are other online sources I’ll use occasionally, too. Some time ago, Great Escape Publishing published a lead on NewsDirectory.com, which I use when I’m tracking down newspapers to pitch. It has proved invaluable, and I’ve had two successful newspaper article leads from it so far.
I also always keep an eye on the magazines and ezines featured in the weekly “Featured Publications” you send out, as I’ve gotten some tasty little morsels from them, too.
BONNIE: When you’re out researching for a place to pitch your articles, how do you choose publications that are approachable, and that you know will fit your writing style?
ROY: I know this is hardly scientific, but I’m a big believer in multiple submissions and will pitch an article idea to any magazine I think the article could or should appear in. I’m just not scared to pitch anyone.
And here’s a tip that’s helped me a lot: I don’t care about rejection letters. A rejection letter at least indicates the editors are looking at my pitch. Sometimes they like my query letter so much they suggest I pitch them with something else.
BONNIE: Thanks Roy!
[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.]