Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Andrew Hempstead and Help for Travel Writers
Andrew Hempstead -- Travel Writer
Andrew Hempstead on Travel Writing
Andrew is an experienced travel writer who has posted a superb array of travel advice for both experienced and potential travel writers. It's best to just go to the link above, since you'll find all the hot links there, but I'll post his homepage below just to give you an idea.
Travel Writing as a Business
No doubt about it, travel writing sounds like the dream job to many people. For the vast majority of aspiring writers, earning a living from traveling and writing remains just that—a dream. The good news is that getting your work published is easy. The bad news is that earning a living from getting your work published is infinitely more difficult.
Most guidebook writers are signed on by publishers as experts to a particular region, or start out by researching and updating for an established writer. Contracts for writing a guidebook vary greatly between publishers, with potential returns that are usually poor and occasionally good. Payment is either via royalties or work-for-hire (set fee). Many outside the guidebook writing world would be very surprised at how little some of the better known publishers pay their writers.
InfoExchange is Tom Brosnahan's analysis of the guidebook writing industry, with solid information for beginner writers, including the excellent essay "Is Guidebook Writing Worth the Money."
The following travel guidebook publishers supply online writing guidelines and information on submitting book proposals:
► Avalon Travel Publishing
► Lonely Planet
► Rough Guides
► Sasquatch Books
GETTING YOUR ARTICLES PUBLISHED
The easiest and least expensive way to have your travel articles published is to focus on writing about where you live or vacation, then submit your story ideas or finished pieces to local newspapers and magazines. These outlets are bombarded with literally hundreds of stories and queries (story ideas) each week. In this flooded market, many will pay little or no money for your work. Like signing up to write a guidebook, you may be surprised to learn that payment from even major magazines and newspapers sometimes won't even cover expenses.
The ideal scenario is to produce work for a variety of outlets from a single trip, to submit photography with your writing, or to spin off articles from guidebook writing. Websites such as BootsnAll.com and Away.com provide a good outlet for beginning writers, as do magazines like Transitions Abroad.
To find other markets for your travel writing, search at Google using the term "travel writing guidelines" and you will instantly find literally hundreds of outlets offering online guidelines for submitting your writing.
Here are other helpful sources of information on travel writing markets:
► Writers-Editors Network is loaded with information for freelance writers of all genres. Basic membership starts at US$39/C$47 per year, which includes the monthly Freelance Writer's Report, containing want ads, market updates, and contract information. Excellent value.
► The US$30 subscription to Writer's Market includes access to an online database of over 5,000 paying markets. See below for the printed version.
► Writers Weekly is a free e-zine packed with information for writers of all genres. Includes freelance job and assignment offerings.
TRAVEL WRITING ORGANIZATIONS
The following organizations have rigorous membership standards, which in turn give them creditability:
► American Society of Journalists and Authors
► Australian Society of Travel Writers
► Canadian Authors Association
► National Writers Union (United States)
► Outdoor Writers Association of America
► Society of American Travel Writers
► Travel Media Association of Canada
► Writers' Guild of Great Britain
Many larger cities have writing clubs, some specifically for travel writers, others for writers of all genres. These can be an excellent way to meet with other writers and exchange ideas. Look for them in your local phone book or online by searching for "(your city) writing club." Online communities of travel writers include Travelwriters.com, which provides a forum and meeting place for travel writers from around the world.
Don't be sucked in with offers of free trips and press cards, which are the eye-catching incentive offered by some writing organizations. Before signing up, do some research—check how experienced their members are, contact members in your area, and ask questions about the benefits. Also find out who is behind the organization; be wary if it's an individual.
The market is awash with travel writing courses and how-to books, all provided by "experts" who are probably making more money selling their knowledge than they ever did actually writing for someone else. The following titles will help at any stage of your career.
► The printed version of the 2004 Writer's Market (Writer's Digest Books, US$20.99) has been updated annually since the 1920s. It is, by far, the most comprehensive book for writers looking for new markets.
► The New Tax Guide for Artists of Every Persuasion (Limelight Editions, 2002) includes valuable tax information for U.S.-based writers, as well as blank spread sheets for recording expenses and income. And the cost (US$15) is deductible.
► The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success (Marion Street Press; $15) comes highly recommended for its insights on getting started in the magazine writing business.
► A Way to See the World (Thomas Swick, The Lyons Press, 2003; US$25) details the travels of a writer with a unique approach to the profession, which leads to interesting insight on why travel writing in general is so superficial.
MORE LINKS FOR TRAVEL WRITERS
► Carl Parkes' blog The Travails of Travel Writing is an insider's view of the travel writing industry.
► Durant Imboden, one of the few writers who has made the transition to profitable online travel writing, gives his take on the profession and changing markets at Writing.org.
► Travel Web Owners is a collection of non-corporate, destination-specific websites. Strict membership qualifications maintain a high caliber selection of sites.
► Canadian writers who have authored books should register their work at Access Copyright, an arm of the the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency.
► Go Media Canada is the official media website of the Canadian Tourism Commission. Benefits for accredited writers includes newsletters, travel assistance, media releases, and access to an image library.
► Media Bistro is for all media professionals—job listings, a forum, how-to pieces, related news articles, and more.
► Free for qualified travel writers, Media Kitty provides a database of contacts, press releases, trip opportunities, and a tool that allows you to post requests for information on specific destinations.
► Peter Jason Riley supplies tax information for writers at Tax Guide for Artists, as well as income and expense worksheets tailored especially for writers.
► Publishers Weekly is the news magazine for the book industry. Print and online versions, with lots of subscription bonuses.
► Writer's Marketplace is a leading forum for travel writers and photographers. Also includes one of the better publication and market databases. Membership requires affiliation with a major writing organization and costs US$29 per year.
OTHER WEB SITES TRAVEL WRITERS MAY FIND HANDY
► Acronym Finder is the place to find the meanings of acronyms and abbreviations.
► Free access to an online dictionary and thesaurus is at Dictionary.com.
► Earth Cam is a directory of streaming video web cams from around the world.
► For converting most measurements —weight, length, area, temperature, speed, etc—click through to Online Conversion.
► Edward Hasbrouck’s Practical Nomad is a comprehensive directory of travel tips. The online version includes insightful articles while the printed version (Avalon Travel Publishing) has been updated for 2004.
► Time and Date.com is an easy-to-use tool for finding the time anywhere in the world, and generates calendars for years past and present.
► Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory lists sources of tourist information around the world.
► The most useful online currency converter I have found is at www.xe.com/ucc
► Wikipedia does a good job of describing the differences between British English and U.S. English. The few differences between Canadian English and U.S. English are discussed here.