This last week I have received several letters, all with the same question, “How do I start sending my travel writing queries to travel editors?” Ah, the lure of being a travel writer. The obvious answer is that you just start. However, there are a few basic steps that will help you get your query considered.
1. Read the publications you want to write for and participate in their community, if the publication has a online community
Get familiar with what the focus or theme of the publication you want to write for and join, participate, and ask questions on their forums and comments sections online. These are both good ways to introduce yourself without having to introduce yourself to readers and editors.
2. Read the submission guidelines
I have harped on this enough in Do Your Homework, but it bears repeating that following directions puts you ahead of everyone else who does not — most do not.
3. Read good travel writing
There is a lot of good writing out there. A few of my personal favorites include: Pico Iyer, Paul Theroux, Mark Twain, Jan Morris and J Maarten Troost. Pay attention to what the writer is doing, and think about what makes the writing and storytelling unique. Unique angles make for good stories that editors want to publish.
4. Writers write
Write often and take every writing opportunity seriously — even with your emails. This will help when you shoot off a quick email to the editor of National Geographic. In other words, practice writing always.
5. Get to the Point
For me, the best queries take into consideration that I receives 150-200 emails a day. Larger publications likely receive even more email. A few lines about your story, in vivid detail, with a link to a good writing sample is enough to get the ball rolling. However, some publications, like mine, just want to see the finished product. Keep your CVs, resumes, personal history and your mother’s appreciation for your writing at home, unless requested by the editor.
Never Send Out a Blind Submission
Make an effort to know who you might be writing for and get specific in your query letter. For more on Blind Submissions
Include all of this in your Query Letter
Show off your great writing, familiarity with the publication, unique story angle and knowledge of what is expected of you in a couple of short paragraphs and you will moving in the right direction.
And most importantly, when a query sits on your desk or in your head, it is not yet a query. Get out there and start sending in your proposals, and good luck!