Beattie is the director of Artistic Adventures a company dedicated
to teaching the art of documenting travel. As one journey woman
to another, she shares her travelwriting know-how...
1. Before you
go on your adventure, pick your angle. Remember, "Paris" is not
the story, it's the destination. You, as the travelwriter, must
think of a unique way to present "Paris" to your readers. It is
this special angle that will be necessary to grab the interest
of a travel editor.
2. Know who
you are! Are you a woman travelling alone through China? Then
that may be your angle, your expertise. Perhaps you are a woman
physician travelling alone through China. Suddenly more markets
open up. You can write from the independent female traveller's
angle or from that of a physician, or both, simultaneously. Are
you a culinary expert who loves the tastes of the countries you
visit? Lots of newspapers have food sections and there are many
magazines dedicated to scrumptious stories from around the globe.
are very busy people. The easier you can make their job the more
chance you have of being published. Before sending a query to
anyone, be sure to read their writers guidelines. You can write
or call the publication for these guidelines.
4. Once you
have read through the guidelines be sure to read some back-issues
of the publication to get a feel for their style. It helps to
know what they have published in the last year so you don't propose
a repetitive story.
5. Never phone
an editor and say "I'm going to Mexico, do you want any stories?"
What you should say is "I'm going to Mexico and I have some angles
for stories that I'd like to run by you......" If the editor is
interested, she/he may invite you to submit your story ideas or
angles on paper.
6. Each publication
will handle the query process in their own way. In general, magazines
like to have clippings of any stories you may have published as
well as the story angle you are proposing. Again, the easier it
is for the editor, the more chances you have of getting a response.
Editors need to have confidence in you and that needs to radiate
off the page since it may be the first time they have heard from
what you know makes you the expert. Your own backyard is interesting
to someone, somewhere. And who better to write about Banff National
Park than someone who lives and works there. Ditto, if you are
are, for example, a weaver. Imagine the interesting article you
could write about the wonderful woven goods in the markets of
free is sometimes possible if you are the writer chosen for a
familiarization trip or if you are convincing enough to get the
tourist authority to pay for your expenses in exchange for a story.
Again, have your great angles ready. You will also be asked for
clippings of your work. However, if you are both professional
and organized in your approach, they may agree to help finance
your trip without proof of publication. But beware, word travels
fast if you take free trips and don't publish. Your free travel
will end very abruptly if you don't follow through on your end
of the bargain.
9. Like any
skill, writing takes practice and dedication . Travelling as a
writer is very different from travelling as a traveller. You must
learn to record the sights, sounds and smells of a country. Your
reader wants to feel like she is travelling alongside you. What
really caught your eye in a bustling Vietnam market? Have you
ever tried to describe the sound of the ever-present wind on a
mountain top or to write about the wonderful aromas wafting from
the kitchen in an out-of-the-way Italian trattoria?
organization is key to making money as a freelancer. Successful,
full time freelancers have an extensive database of potential
markets for their stories. Do your research, too. Start building
a database of your own. Getting your story into multiple publications
is the way to see a return on your travel investment. Happy writing!