Your Input Wanted

Because I seem to be the juggler who keeps saying, “Throw me another ball,” I agreed to do a book on travel writing that will come out next year. It’s not the usual rundown on query letters and deadlines though. It’s going to be more about how “breaking into travel writing” is a lot different than it used to be and a map on to navigate the new digital age.

I’m not so bold to think I have all the answers, so I’ve got 52 writers from my network helping me out with their experiences, as well as a slew of editors with advice to share.

But it would be nice to hear what you’re dying to know. If you’ve ever wanted to make some money as a travel writer or you’re just curious about some aspect of it, what questions would you like to have answered?

Leave a comment here or if that’s too public, send me an e-mail.

Thanks!

Comments
  1. André

    Hi Tim,

    That sounds like a book I’ll buy! Why don’t you write about being an independent writer? About having your own travel blog, like I do? Why all the hassle when you can be a travel writer instantly? All you need is to be sure that you can engage readers. What are the pitfalls and how do you get people to subscribe to your RSS? To what extent do Twitter and other social networks influence?

    Good luck brainstorming!

    André

  2. Jane S.

    I’d like to know about if there’s a way to speed up the process of getting decent pay for your writing. It seems that most newspapers have given up on travel and print magazines are dropping like flies. Maybe that’s good since the breaking in process was so slow and difficult. But most web outlets don’t seem to pay much yet.

  3. JoAnna

    Hi Tim,

    I just went on my first press trip, but I would like to learn more about them. This one sort of fell into my lap, so I’d like to back up a step and learn about where to find them, how to apply properly, what to do if you have a bad experience, how to determine if what you are having is a genuine travel experience, etc.

    Thanks!

  4. Karen Kefauver

    Congrats on landing a book project that sounds interesting and will serve as a resource for many. As a veteran travel writer, I would like to have a comprehensive list of travel web sites – matador, worldhum, etc. I would be interested in a resource that also lists the best social media hubs for writers to interact with editors and web publishers. Since those markets change, your companion e book can be updated more easily!

  5. Shelbie Staley

    This is a small thing, but I’d like to know what things you should always include about a place you travel to (eg: Accommodation, food, cultural events, etc). I think we’ve all got the basics, but is there anything really interesting or relevant you see a lot of travel writers leaving out, or barely touching on in their works? It’d be cool to go into what type of travel writer you want to be – whether you want to reach the younger backpacking crowd, families, people traveling on a shoestring, etc – and how that’ll affect where you go and how much time you’ll stay on one location, things like that. (These are probably really easy questions to answer, but I’m curious.) Good luck! (:

  6. Julie

    Hi, Tim-

    I’d be happy to help out with the project. In addition to serving as Matador’s managing editor and one of the authors of the travel writing curriculum for the school we recently launched, I’m a contributing writer for Fodor’s Puerto Rico and Caribbean guides. If you need an extra pair of eyes and hands, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

  7. Steve Reed

    I’m really looking forward to reading the book, will keep an eye out for it

  8. Pascale Seiler

    Your book sounds like it would provide writers with a roadmap forward. Best of luck with it. I would love to see how writers can best be positioned as a travel writing expert using the social media. What would be your roadmap of success?

  9. Angela

    Hi Tim,

    if it can be of any help, my curiosity is why usually editors don’t reply to queries. Apart from (very) few exceptions, I’ve noticed that the common feedback from editors is no feedback.

    I know they are very busy, but writers are too, and usually editors are, or have been, also writers, and by not replying they seem to forget that writers’ work is very hard, and that the huge amount of time wasted in waiting for a reply that will never arrive, is also a big waste of potential opportunities.

    I’ve been reading about this issue in every writers’ forum I’ve been or subscribed to, so I guess it’s pretty much sensitive!

    Thanks
    Angela

  10. Sheila Hayes

    Tim,
    Wow, what great idea. One of the best books I have ever read was a “tell all” on someone who broke into (or fell into) the travel writing industry. My suggestion would be to go for it. I think you should ask travel writers for contributions. How did you decide to make the choice to move towards travel writing? Was it a trip? A midlife crisis? Did you feel like your life was passing you by while you rotted in your cubical? I think this book shouldn’t hold back. I say tell the good with the bad.
    ;)
    Sheila Hayes

  11. Rensina

    Hi there Tim
    I’d like to know how to get a distributor or bookshops to take my self published book. As soon as I say “self published”….I get the “look down the nose at me!!” IT’s a fantastic book about a unique 21,000 klm expedition in a Land Rover from Australia to Switzerland. Camping and making our own tracks for five months. It’s got brilliant color pics of rural Siberia, Mongolia and am told it’s a great read. SOOOO hard to get your work out there!! If you want any info on Mongolia…I’ve travelled there alot. Just email me. I wish you EVERY success with your book…What do you do in your spare time?? Regards
    Rensina

  12. Chris in South Korea

    I’d like to know how one goes from a travel enthusiast (e.g. someone that does it on their own dime) to the many markets still open to new stories. I’d LOVE to hear creative marketing / networking strategies that actually work – talk of ‘elevator speeches’ and business cards make me put down a given book in favor of something else.

  13. Ted Beatie

    As an aspiring writer with one successful pitch->article (NGT, no less) I’m happy to help, and to learn. Obviously the playing field has changed, and continues to. Print is becoming harder to break into, and the web as has already been pointed out doesn’t really pay the bills yet. Obviously setting up an active web presence is key – both a blog, a professional web site showcasing one’s work, and being active in social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, but what then? Obviously one needs to develop their craft, but there is what appears to be a long-standing chicken-and-egg problem with regards to breaking into serious travel writing, especially in terms of feature articles – that you can’t get a feature if you haven’t written them already. Should one be thinking about going the book route, which has its own challenges?

    • tim

      Thanks to all of you for these great questions, some already in the draft, some needing to be addressed in what’s left to do. This is definitely a transition time and the rules are changing—or in some cases disappearing.

  14. sansonmelena

    Hi Tim,
    I was in Spain for 3 months this time in a different city (kind of small but unbelievable),this experience has inspired me to write about it, however I want not only to describe the place but also send a message out that would tell people how the pace we live in nowadays take away more of yourself. Any tips? Anyways thank you.

  15. Linda Dini Jenkins

    Hi, Tim:
    Here’s one . . . I’ve been a freelance writer for 30+ years and published my first travel book in January 2009 (www.upatthevillatravels.com). Nice reviews, some industry people love it. I specialize in travel to Italy and was advised by a mutual friend to contact someone at the Italian Travel Promotion Council. Now, I have written over the years for some of the major corporations of America, have taught writing, and have published two books (the travel book was done by an independent publishing company that I’m a partner in). My question: the person at ITPC wouldn’t hear of having me come on a marketing trip because I have no “clippings.” How do you get clippings (I’m 60 years old and a very experienced writer) and do blog entries (on other people’s blogs) count? Seems a bit Catch-22. Thanks. Linda

    • tim

      In the mind of many, clippings=legitimacy as a freelancer. Anyone can put out a book now through POD companies with very little investment or oversight and anyone can put up a blog or write on others’ blogs as a guest. I think they probably want to see that you’ve been paid by known consumer publications for your writing. I would imagine they get requests like this all the time—think how many travel books there are out there about Italy. Leverage your book to get articles published and get quoted in others would be my advice.

  16. Linda Dini Jenkins

    Thanks, Tim. That’s exactly what I’m working on! Linda

  17. Roderick Eime

    The Global Travel Writers Group have published an e-book about travel writing that could be of use to us all.

    http://www.globaltravelwriters.com/e-book/

    • tim

      $18 for 58 pages in electronic form? Really? I sure hope I can deliver better value than that.

  18. Linda LaRoche

    Dear Tim,

    What I’d like to learn is what does it take to get in? I’m not a novice as a writer, and I’ve got numerous queries that I’m circulating. Ordinarily I steer clear of pessimists but I’m getting fed-up of editors who respond to my query and ask to see more. Then I go to work, create more and get the silent treatment. They obviously don’t know what it’s like to be on this end, especially when they don’t want a writer to call. I have never gotten anything by being passive.
    I can handle rejection but I can’t handle silence. Also I’ve begun to think when do adults learn to be dishonest, asking for things superficially. Children are honest, somewhere in our social conditioning we are programmed to make false requests, when a straight “no thanks” would save a lot of time and effort! I’m back to square one- what does it take?

  19. Max

    It’s great. But Is it OK if I’ll write not in English?

  20. Bob Thomas

    Sounds like a great book idea!

  21. John M. Edwards

    Hi Tim:

    As a travel writer, I’m interested in the process of starting a travel magazine. Any tips on manuscript calls, advertising, printing, and distribution, so in effect we can all start our own magazines. For example, how much would a first print run of, say, 20,000 cost nowadays, stuff like that.

    • tim

      John, sorry, but info on how to start a magazine is not going to happen. That advice would be at least 10 years too late I’m afraid. If you really have the huge financial backing required to make it work in the digital age, go interview the surviving upstarts like Wend and Afar. They’re the exceptions, so they’re doing something right.

  22. Stephanie Flood

    I’m a freelance writer fighting the vortex of Demand Studios in hopes to persevere into travel writing. I’m reading and learning all about this profession. It’s ambiguous and a tough cipher to crack when you’re a wee beginner, with only books like Mary Morris, Nothing to Declare, and Vagabonding, by Travis Potts as your guides. Great books by the way. But that’s just literature. I need a friggen’ text book! Man.

    I huff and puff, and slowly, gobble more traveling tips, travel blogs [from Nomadic Matt or Dustrotter], travel articles from potential future magazines and check up on Transitions Abroad. Those help. A little.

    While the world turns with practical responsibilities -like saving money for retirement and thinking about the future, while all you’re wanting to do is just hop on that airplane, head to Cancun, Mexico, and leave the modern-day pressures behind; You can’t just have a crash course these days, there’s too much at stake.

    For me, I’d like to know more about the true beginnings of a travel writer. Reading success stories on a writer’s profiles is like flipping the chapters of their life’s story to the very end, because you get this feeling like you know it was harder than that, you know it was more dangerous than that–and what about those gaps in the years in-between the acknowledged achievements?

    Struggles, mayhem, turmoil, tough luck, current guides, practical methods, tutorials, modern issues that rise with blogging, help for the just-college graduates who are living at home again wanting to travel write… cultural viewpoints [like racial prejudices and current news affecting traveling and overseas living opportunities], the nitty-gritty, the ins-and-outs of foreign currency/traveler’s checks/visas, add some insights on volunteer work like WWOOF, Habitat for Humanity and Eco-Villages, more on Traveler’s Insurance, and where are the cheap tours by the way… get it all ready…

    …then download it into my brain.

    • tim

      Stephanie,

      That’s about 10 books’ worth of stuff and some of those are already out there already. This won’t teach you how to travel or how to work abroad. But there will be lots of personal experience and “how I got started” info in the book for sure. Thanks for your input!

  23. aythiana

    Buenas noches, estaría dispuesta a escribir sobre viajes, podría escribir sobre España (tierra natal) y sobre argentina casi al completo que lo conozco muy bien por varios viajes que he realizado.
    Esperando su pronta respuesta, le envío un cordial saludo.
    Atentamente; Aythiana

  24. Roy sinclair

    sounds a great idea and a book I eould buy. I am a mega bicycle traveler/photographer and authour of 12 NZ non-fiction titles. But it always a hassle getting the breaks and getting into masgazine print. Best regards, Roy S….

  25. L. Brunelle

    I am a Travel Writer, Press Writer and Social Networker who would love to help you if needed.
    Cheers,
    L. Brunelle

  26. Alice

    I want to know precisely how to get started doing travel writing. I only want to write about the west coast (which is where I live and what I know), no international travel. I don’t want to hear others’ success stories. I want to know exactly what magazine to send what article to. I prefer print journals, but would be willing to learn how to write blogs, too, if I were given detailed instructions. In short, details, man, details! Step by step details for a novice who loves to travel and to write and wants to combine the two.
    Thank you.

    • tim

      Alice, thanks for the feedback, and there will be plenty of details, but I’m afraid you will never find a book following the format you want. It’s too specific to your particular needs to be commercially viable. You should join Media Bistro, join the Wooden Horse editor database service, and buy (or check out from the library) the latest Writer’s Market book. Or hire a consultant/coach.

  27. John

    Tim,
    I’m game to help out if you are still looking for contributors, but let’s wait to hear what William Caverlee has to say about my travel book.

    Thanks,
    John

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