Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Writer's Quality: Patience

My post today is to serve as a bit of inspiration and advice that every writer must deal with. Patience is a quality that doesn't come naturally to me. I can remember last summer when I first began sending out queries. I would wait and wait and then wait some more for responses from editors that seemed to never come. Then I finally started getting a reply here and there, mostly rejections. Then one day I checked my email and there was a message from Transitions Abroad stating that they were interested in an article that I submitted. I was overjoyed!! It took several months to get that ONE positive response. At times I thought I was going to go crazy. But I am still here and still in my right mind and still writing.

Patience isn't an easy thing to learn. In fact, as a writer (and as a human being) your patience will be tested daily. After you've sent the query and waited (patiently) for a response you'll still be waiting several months or more for your article to actually appear in print. Then you will have to wait again for the publication to cut your check. So it's not a fast, easy, comfortable process.

So my advice is to not sit in front of an empty email box waiting for an editor to acknowledge your talent. Though it's tempting to loose your patience on the road to publication, it's a good thing to keep your cool. Once you send out a query, let it go and begin working on the next one.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Writer's Resource: TravelWriters.com

If you are searching for a website that caters specially to travel writers (other than this one, of course), then check out www.travelwriters.com. TravelWriters.com boasts over 10,000 professional travel writers in its community and offers countless resources such as information about press trips, press releases (good to read for story ideas), travel writing market news and a listing of travel publications.

It's free to sign up. The site will send you a daily email full of the latest news in the industry including press releases. It's a good site to frequent to say on top of what's happening in the travel writing world.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Traveler's Pen Forum

Not to piggyback on Denene's original post, but have you joined our Yahoo! discussion forum? Have a question? Need advice? Join the forum. Need to vent? Or discuss your success? Join the forum. We are open to all discussions, as long as it's positive. Check out Denene's original post here. And join!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Friendly Market: GoNOMAD

GoNOMAD is an online travel zine that specializes in articles on alternative or immersion travel. They run articles about going deeper into the cultures that you visit and the site has articles on everything from teaching English to living abroad. Here's a snipet from their writer's guidelines to give you an idea of the kind of content the editors are seeking from travel writers:

Journeys - A first-person account of a unique journey
Destination guides - to your favorite region/city.
Go Local - Know of a way to get really close to the local culture or environment of a destination? Tell us about learning, volunteer or other alternative travel opportunities that really engage you with local culture. With sidebar contact.
Destinations - Tell us about a specific destination, including travel details sidebar (lodgings, getting there, tours or activities, restaurants, markets, arts, health and safety, etc.)

Click here to view their full writer's guidelines.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Motivation: Query a Day

Jen Leo wrote about this over on Written Road, but I thought it was worth re-mentioning. Fellow freelance writer, Donna Talarico created a blog to document her experience getting published. Follow her through acceptances, rejections, bylines, and accomplishing her goal. The goal? Send out a query letter a day.

Which raises an interesting question: What are your goals? And, more importantly, what are you doing to achieve them? Could you research, write, and send a query a day? Personally, her blog has motivated me to create new goals. World Hum and National Geographic Traveler here I come!

Monday, May 22, 2006


If you are in the New York City area check out Gothem Writers' Workshop. They offer courses in every kind of writing including travel writing. If you aren't in the New York City area, Gothem offers courses online too. Here are some details:

Level I Travel Writing 10-week Workshop
Using a balance of lecture, exercise, and feedback on work from the instructor and classmates, this course gives students a firm grounding in all the basics of travel writing. Everything is presented in a clear, accessible manner.
Write one/two travel pieces or begin a book
Lectures on basics of travel writing craft
Writing exercises
Present work for critiqueTravel I is for beginners or anyone who wants to brush up on the fundamentals.

The in-person class starts on July 10th.
Online classes have a few start dates: May 23rd, July 11th and Aug. 29th.

Visit www.writingclasses.com for full details and a listing of all the other writing classes offered.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Friendly Market: Vagablond

If you're looking for a place submit work, gain exposure, and tweak your writing, consider Vagablond. Editor and lead writer, Gil Zeimer, is looking for dedicated contributors to post short articles about food, wine, restaurants, hotels, pretty much anything associated with fashionable travel. Before you ask, no, its not a paid position. But its a great place to build clips, get exposure, and work with a great group of people. You set your own schedule. I contribute to Vagablond and I love it. The experience has taught me how to write every day, spot trends in travel, and develop ideas for freelance articles.

For more information, feel free to contact me or

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

MediaBistro's Travel Writing Bootcamp eClass

If you haven't checked out MediaBistro you are missing a wealth of information for writers. The site has resources, a job board and a message board. MediaBistro also offers workshops in major cities like New York and San Francisco. But as travelers it isn't uncommon for us to be on the go, so if you're interested in sharpening your travel writing skills you can take an eClass. MediaBistro is offering their 8-week Travel Writing Bookcamp online starting July 10 - August 28, 2006. Tuition for the class is $499 ($475 for members).

Friday, May 12, 2006

Writer's Resource: Writing World

There are loads of writer's websites out there packed with practical information about starting and maintaining your writing career. One that I find to be very helpful to writers is Writing World. This site has a full bank of article's on everything from writing queries to handling finances. Though it is not geared toward travel writing, many of the same principles apply to writers in all genres.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Job Boards: Writer's Row

When I began a career as a freelance writer, I wondered, where do you look for jobs? I knew that if I wanted to make it in this business, stay at home, write full-time, and pay rent, I would have to find something in addition to travel writing. I would've loved to travel around the world and make a comfortable living as a travel writer, but that's something only 1% of travel writers out there can do. So, if you're like the other 99% of us, --- constantly looking for freelance writing jobs --- check out Writer's Row.

Writer's Row is a blog written by fellow freelance writer, Deborah Ng. Daily, she scours the internet looking for freelance writing jobs, all of genres --- copywriting, travel writing, editing, proofreading, and much more. Call me lazy, but I love the blog because she does all the work for me. But, keep in mind she does this for free. If you get a job from her site, or you just appreciate her hard work, please reciprocate by putting something in her tip jar, making a donation, or nominating her website as one of Writer's Digest 101 Best Web Sites.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Q&A: Queries 101

Q: I have a hard time writing query letters. What are the basic elements that every query letter should have?

-Stumped Writer

Query letters are a necessary evil. It's almost impossible to get an assignment from an editor without a strong query. But let's look on the bright side. A query may only take you a few minutes or a couple of hours to write. While a full article could take a few days and a lot more work. So in theory queries make sense. It saves you time and energy and it saves editors having to read entire articles that may not suit their publication.

A good query contains a great idea, is focused and is well-written.

First consider your idea. Ask yourself if your idea would make a great article? Is it interesting? Get other people's opinions on your ideas. As travel writers we want to steer clear of "My Summer Vacation" type of queries. No offensive, but who cares if you went to India? Lots of people go to India everyday. What happened in India that would make your experience different and worth reading about?

Secondly, make sure your idea is focused. Again, a laundry list of your activities in India isn't focused. A more focused idea might be a restaurant you ate in that served some type of unique food. Another point with focus is to make sure your idea fits with the editorial direction of the publication you're pitching to.

Lastly, and probably most important, make sure your writing is top-notch in your queries. This is your writing "audition" for an editor. If your query is full of errors and bad grammar, you don't stand a chance of getting an assignment! So become your own best editor.

One final note. I like to "sit on" my queries for a day or two. When I first started sending out queries I'd get so excited to hit the "send" button and then realize that I'd made a grammatical mistake. If you step away and then come back and re-read your query you might save yourself from sending a bad query.

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Friendly Market: Trips & Journeys

If you're looking for your first clip or additional clips to pad your portolio, consider Trips & Journeys. This bi-monthly online travel magazine covers the U.S. and Canada, with 90% of content written by freelance writers. Lisa Morgin Blackwelder is the editor. As with any publication, read a few copies for style and tailor pitches to a specific department. A few of Trips & Journeys departments include:

Right - a photo feature with the focus on a destination, usually running 200-400 words
Elsewhere - a 400-word column detailing museum
Smart - a service focused column on travel tips, money saving idea, and technology, 200-800 words

Trips and Journeys pays $20 for feature articles and $15 for shorter ones. Click here for more information, including writer's guidelines, pay rates, and detailed department information. Send e-queries only to Lisa Morgin Blackwelder,

Monday, May 08, 2006

Markets: Put Yourself Out There

As a new writer you may be wondering what publications are open to for you to submit your work. Well the short answer is - they all are. You can pitch with confidence to any publication you've set your sites on. If you have a great idea for, say, Travel + Leisure, write your pitch letter and send it off. Don't be intimidated because you never know if your ideas will generate a story. The moral of this post is: don't limit yourself. You are a traveler, seek some adventure in your ideas and queries.

Now you may be thinking, "but I don't have any clips." The advice I always heard at writer's conferences and through reading books on writing is to not mention your lack of experience to editors. Don't draw attention to what you lack. If you're portfolio is rather thin, beef it up by submitting to beginner-friendly markets (see previous posts for ideas). I jump-started my writing career by volunteering to write newsletter articles for an art museum. It gave me experience in reporting, meeting a deadline and seeing my name in print. Best of all it gave me a few clips.

There are many things you can do to break into bigger, better-paying markets. Don't let a lack of experience hold you back. Query large and small markets and find creative ways to get a few clips.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Q&A: Markets

Q: Every book, magazine and article I read about travel writing says "know your markets". But what is a market and where do I find these markets?

-Lindsay, New York, New York

A: It's ironic that most beginning travel writers ask that very question. In fact, it was mine also.

A market is the publication you would like to write for - a travel book, magazine, etc. Knowing your "market" is essential to publishing an article with that particular publication. You should study 3-6 back copies of the magazine to get an idea of focus, style, columns, and departments. This, essentially, will increase your chances of publishing an article because you can tailor your query/article to their exact needs.

To find markets, start at your local bookstore (which is great because you can read the magazines there, take notes and don't have to buy the magazine, if you're strapped for cash).

Next, try the newest edition of the Writer's Market. They list hundreds of magazines seeking a variety articles. A note of caution: the travel writing section of the Writer's Market is underrepresented.

Also, search the internet. Go to your favorite search engine, type 'travel magazines' and a list of magazines will appear. Cross reference the ones you already have and add the new ones.

Lastly, you should never stop searching for markets. New magazines launch and e-zines begin. This process should be a continuous adventure.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Simultaneous Submissions

For new travel writers the idea of coming up with an idea and sending a query to only one publication and then waiting six weeks for a reply can seem like forever. And trust me, it does feel like forever. There are various opinions on sending simultaneous submissions among writers. It's my experience that as a beginner your chances of having two publications buy your idea are pretty slim - however it's always a possibility.

I'll admit that I'm guilty of simultaneous submissions. I became comfortable about the idea after reading The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell. They suggest taking your ideas and putting different "spins" on them in order to keep multiple queries out in the market place.

The bottom line is this: Do what you're comfortable with. And keep in mind that some publications accept simultaneous submissions. Just be sure to mention that you are submitting the idea to other publications. That way if two or more publications bite, it won't be any surprise if you tell them you've sold it elsewhere.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Travel Writer's Resources: Written Road

Google 'travel writing' and millions of websites appear. But, which ones are creditable? Which ones are advertisements for high cost classes and books? Which ones can you depend on for accurate information? Don't worry. Every Tuesday, we'll provide you with reliable travel writing resources to help move your career forward.
This week, we feature
Written Road. Noted as one of Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writer's, this travel blog is operated by fellow traveler, Jen Leo. For over four years, Jen has provided readers with the 'scoop' inside travel writing. Check the blog daily for author events, story ideas, and information about your favorite travel writers. Her blog is close to what we would like Traveler's Pen to be. However, our focus is solely on beginning travel writers.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Friendly Market: BootsNAll

The BootsnAll Travel Network is a huge online community of travelers all seeking and giving advice about travel. It is also a great place to get some exposure in the travel writing world. BootsnAll is a non-paying market, however, it's a great place to share a story about a trip, start a travel blog or post on their message boards.

If you are a brand new travel writer itching to get your feet wet in the article submission process, this is a great market to gain confidence. It's also a great way to get that first, all-important byline. Here's how to submit your articles to BootsnAll.

* First, read through the site. Terah and I both have published articles on BootsnAll - feel free to read our stories for inspiration. Click to read Terah's A Cuban State of Mind and my article Alone, But Not Lonely in Florence.

* Sign - Up and become a member of the network. This will allow you to send articles, post on the message boards and become a part of the community.

* Read the writer's guidelines

* Submit your article

* If you'd like to start a travel blog, which by the way is another great way to practice writing everyday and build an audience, BootsnAll is looking for bloggers. Click here for details on starting a blog with BootsnAll.

If you have a story published on BootsnAll, share it with the Traveler's Pen forum (which have you joined by the way?). We'd love to hear about your successes!