Sell More Stories: Travel Writing for Gnats
“Readers have the attention span of a gnat.”
That’s what master copywriter (and, as it happens, gore film director), Herschell Gordon Lewis, told us last week at AWAI’s Copywriting Bootcamp. He said that in copywriting, you have to grab and hold your reader’s attention from the very start if you want to sell more stories.
And the same goes for pitching a travel article to an editor. Your article query is like an advertisement for your article… and in less than ten seconds, it can make or break your chances of getting published.
Denver Post Travel Editor Kyle Wagner says that, “In order to get an editor to buy your story, you have to have him at ‘Hello,’ and each time, it has to be the most compelling ‘Hello’ you’ve ever written.” So what can you do to grab and keep an editor’s attention in your query?
Here are three suggestions to sell more stories from Kyle, which I’ve grabbed from the ITWPA Insider newsletter:
** 1. It’s all about the subject line and/or the first sentence. A truthful editor will admit that he or she devotes about ten seconds to each e-mail or hard-copy query. That means you have the subject line and maybe one or two sentences into your query to get some attention. If you can’t woo the editor then, your romance is over before it’s begun.
** 2. You’re a writer, so write. I’m amazed at how many writers think it’s OK to put 100% effort into their stories but only 40% into the query. Make sure the editor will want to read the story by dazzling them just as much by your query prose. Spelling counts. Use the same active verbs and strong adjectives as you do in your story.
** 3. Just because it’s e-mail doesn’t mean I’m your drinking buddy. Don’t use the editor’s first name, don’t start off with your credentials or the famous people you know, and don’t act in a familiar, informal way as if you and the editor were at a bar together last night. Address it like a professional letter.
Great Escape Publishing
[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.]