Day 1 in San Francisco: Can You Write Stories Like These?
Free Report #1 from The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in San Francisco
When you’re starting out as a writer, the thought of approaching an editor can be enough to make you break out in a sweat. You know…that scary person sitting at the other end of your e-mail query or submission…
Allison Maryan here, coming to you live from the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in San Francisco, CA. I’m your official “Workshop Spy” for this event, leaking juicy tidbits from my covert position at the back of the room.
During this first day we’ve learned a lot about breaking into the travel writing business. And one of the most important things we’ve learned is that, here in San Francisco, the editors are our friends.
We’re lucky enough to have a panel of some of the best editors in the travel industry here to help us understand what they’re looking for from freelance travel writers…and how, by using certain techniques, we can stop them in their tracks with our story ideas.
So, before I head off to join my fellow attendees for cocktails — and rub shoulders with these editors — I’d like to share some of the top tips we learned from our guest editors today… things you should bear in mind when you want to win over a travel editor with your writing…
EDITOR TIP #1: Start with a front-of-the-book piece. When breaking into a new publication, it’s best to start small and pique your editor’s interest with a 100- to 300-word piece — the kind that’s typically placed in the first few pages of a magazine. You’ll have an even better chance of getting published and paid if you cover local, lesser-visited destinations. (In other words, no need to book a plane ticket. Get started, right now, in your own hometown.) Editors are always looking for these shorter pieces, yet few writers think this small.
EDITOR TIP #2: Be original. Editors want topics that will surprise and intrigue them — especially when you develop innovative ways to present them, both in terms of how you report the story and how you structure the language. Unless you’re famous, that first-person travelogue of syrupy, adjective-laden writing about your Tuscan wine tour is a non-runner. There are so many bad cliches in travel: avoid them!
EDITOR TIP #3: Get blogging. If you’re not already blogging, you need to start. Not only does daily writing improve your skills as a reporter and editor of your own words, it produces clips to show off to potential clients. And, as these clips haven’t gone through the filter of an editorial staff, they give editors a true idea of your unadulterated voice and journalistic abilities.
And, here’s a great tip from International Living Contributing Editor, Jennifer Stevens that I was able to nab for you… do your publication research.
Before submitting a query to an editor, go back through that publication’s archives to see what kind of stories they’ve published in the past few months. If you want to write about your trip to Paris but they published an article on Paris last month, make sure you give it a different angle so that it stands out.
That’s as much as I can spill here, today.
Stay tuned tomorrow for more insider tips to help you get on your way…and start earning paychecks from your travels.
Great Escape Publishing
Official Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop Spy
[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.]