Get Paid to Travel

bali-570655_640Who wouldn’t want to travel the globe and get paid for it?

Before booking a flight to Bali, get grounded in the basics of travel writing press trips.

 

  1. The Rule of Hype: Teasers such as “Get paid to travel the world!” are usually ad copy written for companies selling courses and books. While it’s true that travel writers do go on paid press trips, known as junkets or “fam” (familiarization) trips, the road toward being wined and dined in luxury hotels is paved with contacts and publication credits.

 

  1. Develop Contacts: freelancetravelwriter.com reveals the secret to receiving invitations to junkets — get your name on the press lists of national and regional tourist boards, airlines, tour operators, hotels and other organizations that regularly host trips for journalists.

 

  1. Join: Become a member one or more travel writers associations which receive calls for writers and hold conferences jointly with travel industry representatives. Every association I looked into requires applicants to have had a minimum number of travel articles (or photos or books) published in widely read media within a given timeframe. For details visit International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Organization ifwtwa.org, the Midwest Travel Writers Association www.mtwa.org, the Society of American Travel Writers www.satw.org, the Travel Journalists Guild www.tjgonline.com, the Australian Society of Travel Writers www.astw.org.au/login.php, or the Travel Media Association of Canada www.travelmedia.ca.

 

  1. Unglamorous Truths: Louisa Peat O’Neil, author of several Travel Writing books, contends that many travel writers hold other regular jobs and use vacations days for junkets. And not every trip is glamorous, as Jeremy Ferguson attests in his article that included the line “It’s a simple restaurant that serves dishes that usually surf on a tidal wave of grease.” (savvytraveler.org/show/features/2000/20000506/china.shtml).

 

  1. Ethics in Question: In “All Expenses Paid: Exploring the Ethical Swamp of Travel Writing” washingtonmonthly.com/features/1999/9907.austin.expenses.html, Elizabeth Austin writes, “It’s true that the writers of most junket-based pieces generally sing the praises of their hosts’ accommodations… the greatest hazard of the press junket isn’t the implicit quid pro quo. It’s the controlled and sanitized travel experience it presents to the writers, with everything as perfectly planned and tidily gift-wrapped as those nightly presents left on our pillows. During our trip…we got the complete visiting rock star experience.” The likes of which Average Traveler won’t experience.

 

  1. Objectivity is Key: Tim Ryan (com/2001/06/24/features/story1.html) tells about the time Paul Theroux (www.paultheroux.com/) joined several travel junketeers for dinner at a luxury hotel. “In a pleasant tone that carried a knife-to-the-heart message, Theroux posed a question: ‘How can you possibly write something objective about a place when you’re essentially being paid to visit? I know I couldn’t.’ The room fell silent as most of the writers lowered their heads.” Writers who occasionally break away from the group can gather un-choreographed impressions and information.

 

  1. Integrity Intact: Disclosing that a trip was sponsored can put the article in perspective. Jeff Shelley writes, “I flew out to ‘the Flathead’ thanks to an invite from the Whitefish Convention & Visitors Bureau…Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t need a ‘fam’ trip to be sold on the Flathead Valley.” Writing about firsthand experiences and appealing to the five senses, rather than parroting adjective-laden brochure hyperbole, demonstrate integrity, too.

 

  1. Readers Trust Writers: Tourist attractions can get publicity with advertising campaigns, but at a high price. Austin explains that “a single full-page ad in ‘Condé Nast Traveler’ (concierge.com/cntraveler/) reportedly costs a whopping $50,000. And an ad lacks the credibility of a seasoned travel writer swooning over a resort’s breathtaking setting and lavish amenities.” Tourist attractions realize value for the dollar when they invest a fraction of that amount per writer per day. According to Jeremy Ferguson, “Travel agents don’t like to use their customers as guinea pigs. If an area of China, for instance, claims to be ready for tourists, the agents want to see it for themselves.” Writers participate in these PR junkets.

 

  1. Travel Writers’ Resources: Order the e-book “Guide to Become a Travel Writer” at FabJob.com. Click on http://www.thetravelwriterslife.com/abswriteclass

If you’ve already had travel articles published, getting invited on a paid press trip could be your next goal. If you’ve dabbled in travel writing, you can follow L. Peat O’Neil’s recommendation. “No one starts at the top. Find your own level, work in it, then work up out of it.”

As you’re jetting to Bali, you’ll agree that travel writing is the best job in the world.

By the author of Ken’s WarWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQjZBjqFNzs&feature=youtu.be

 ken's war cover

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award-winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

 

 

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Use My Winning Query as a Model to Pitch Your Article

Beth Fowler headshotSo, you’re ready to pitch your article idea to an editor.

Read each publication’s submission guidelines VERY CAREFULLY, then write a well-researched query letter.

Below is my query that led to a sale. You may use it as a model for your winning query letters.

Dear Jean Ann Duckworth:

I benefit from reading Simple Joy and was especially happy to see an article by my on-line friend Rekha. I believe that an article about breathing would support Simple Joy’s purpose.

We all breathe, but do we breathe properly?

Once we’re aware of our breathing patterns, we can improve them instantly. Women who breathe properly report that they feel “calm, poised, energized, a general well-being, centered, alert, relaxed, open” and similar positive sensations.

Does that sound like a miracle? Because God is in every breath, the benefits of proper breathing are miraculous.

I’d like to share what I’ve learned about breathing with Simple Joy readers. This proposed 1500- to 2000-word feature article (one time rights) will:

 

  • Explain physical and emotional hindrances to proper breathing
  • Guide readers through a breath awareness questionnaire
  • Review the breath’s path through the body
  • Include several easy, effective breathing exercises
  • List hobbies and sports that improve one’s breathing as a side benefit
  • Provide surprising facts and additional resources

 

Earning an instructor’s diploma to teach Qi Gong (or Chi Kung, it’s Chinese for “skill with breath”), speaking to women’s groups on “Better Breathing Means Better Living,” my research on the topic and my firsthand experience in improving my breathing give me the background I need to write credibly and convincingly.

Magazines that have published my works dealing with improving the quality of one’s life include, but aren’t limited to Daily Meditations, Evolving Woman, The Phoenix, New Vegetarian and Natural Health (Australia), Woman at Work (Malaysia), and Her Business (New Zealand).

I can write the article for the general interest issues or slant it as a December (holidays) stress buster.

Sincerely,

Beth Fowler

Blog readers, you’re welcome to use my query as a template or springboard for your unique query. All the best!

***

Article by Beth Fowler, author of the beloved coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”

Visit https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQjZBjqFNzs&feature=youtu.be

 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

Cool Advice from Editors about Queries: Part 2

Beth Fowler headshotDon’t send another query until you’ve read this roundup of advice from editors.

According to the editors I interviewed, freelancers are irritating editors with lukewarm queries. Queries that sour an editor’s opinion of a writer can kill potential sales.

An Exemplary Query: The basic components of a solid query comprise a salutation to the editor by name, an introductory paragraph establishing familiarity with the publication, and the topic of the proposed article. The second section summarizes (tantalizingly) the gist of the article. Next come the author’s qualifications to write about the topic, and then relevant publishing credits are listed. A polite final line and signature round out the letter.

Editors would give a query containing the basic elements, as this one does, a thumbs up.

 

“Dear Francesca Kelly:

 

I’ve been an enthusiastic fan of Tales from a Small Planet for three years. I feel that the attached essay, in Rich Text Format, about everything going hilariously wrong during a scuba diving expedition in Bali captures the right tone for your magazine.

 

As an expat living in Bali, I want to stress that this essay isn’t a tourist travelogue, but a real glimpse of what local life is like where I live. Using incidents from my own experience, I’ll show how foreigners can go hopelessly astray without someone local to help them.

 

Going Places, Destinations and Islands Ho! have published my articles.

 

I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience.”

 

An actual query would also include the author’s first and last names and all contact information. These can be automatically inserted in e-mails with the signature function. “I’m always impressed when a writer provides several contact numbers and addresses,” an editor said.

 

…Furthermore: “Include your byline on the article you submit,” said an editor of a natural health magazine. “Don’t send me articles full of grammatical errors and misspellings,” another editor reminded authors.

 

“Nothing’s more refreshing for an editor than to read a query that takes him completely by surprise,” Betsy Lerner wrote in The Forest for the Trees: Editor’s Advice to Writers (www.booksnbytes.com/reviews/lerner_forestforthetrees.html).

 

A small magazine editor agreed. “I like a twist. I like to guess. I love surprises, especially when stories involve mundane topics.”

 

In How to Write Attention-Grabbing Query & Cover Letters, John Wood wrote that queries should be professional, novel, provocative and creative, focused and customized. Authors, when querying, want to show that they are reliable and qualified.

 

Follow editors’ advice and their positive replies to your hot queries will grow.

***

Article by Beth Fowler, author of the beloved coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”

Visit https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQjZBjqFNzs&feature=youtu.be

 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

How to Impress Editors and Get Published: Part 3

computer-313840_150

During my short stint as an editor, I developed sympathy for editors who’d rejected my work in the past. (Contact me for your free copy of Travelers’ Tales, the anthology I edited.)

While wielding the red pen, I learned what pleases and annoys editors. I’ve also gathered advice to writers from other editors. Here’s the final part of this 3-part blog.

REVISE GRATEFULLY

After an editor is hooked on a writer’s work, she weighs its commercial potential. A Tor Books acquisitions editor put it this way: “We’re commercial. If your manuscript is your baby, if you won’t be willing to change it, then this type of writing isn’t for you.”

“Be willing to work with me on changes if the piece is almost right, but not quite there,” is an associate editor’s advice to writers targeting Tales from a Small Planet.

An executive editor at Simon & Schuster values “…a writer’s willingness to take constructive criticism and apply it to his or her work.”

Editors ask for revisions that will topple barriers to good communication between writer and readers and enhance the value and credibility of the work by fixing errors and smoothing out rough spots. “Don’t get upset when we reject or wish to change your article,” the editor of a global magazine said. “For the most part, we know our audience better than you do. We do this for a living, so take our word for it.” Thin-skinned, egotistic writers are a pain in the asterisk. Believe it or not, Jack Kerouac was a pain.

Kerouac dropped a manuscript off to his editor at Harcourt Brace. In spite of having published Kerouac’s first novel, Robert Giroux refused to read the uncorrected, original draft of On the Road. Kerouac declared that the Holy Ghost had touched his book. Giroux countered, “After you have been inspired by the Holy Ghost, you have to sit down and read your manuscript.” The novel needed revisions, in Giroux’ opinion. Kerouac refused to change a single word, denounced his editor and left in a rage. Who knows how far that power struggle set back Kerouac’s career?

“As two professionals,” said an editor at Houghton Mifflin, “you should be having a cooperative, constructive, ongoing relationship.”

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

Successful writers build good relationships with editors from the outset. Editors have lost my work, asked me to re-write articles only to reject them, introduced errors into my articles, and forgotten to pay me. Through it all, I kept in mind that editors are my customers and I’m their supplier. Hoping to work with those same editors in the future, I wrote courteous follow-up letters.

An editor at a major publishing house said this about the author/editor relationship: “Look at the editor as somebody who is going to be your most important critic. There has to be an extraordinary amount of trust between editor and author, which is fostered by a great deal of respect for each other.”

“Show respect for my time,” said Pat Samples. “I’ll be likely to show more interest in you and your work, and give you more of my time.”

John Wood, a magazine senior editor, described numerous ways to build and maintain good relationships with editors in his How to Write Attention-Grabbing Query & Cover Letters. He pointed out that writing prompt, specific thank you notes to editors after works have been published can “bond a relationship.”

LEARN THE LINGO

Chemists talk about valences and isotopes; mechanics about torque and viscosity. As writers, we should be fluent in the technical and specialized vocabulary of our field. If you don’t know ARC from FNASR, don’t bug the editor. Look it up or ask another writer.

Editors working under deadlines and mountains of mail decide, “Does this piece fit our publication? Is this writing better than good? Is this writer a professional?”

Impress the editor and he’ll say, “Yes, yes and yes!”

***

When teen hormones and culture shock collide: Ken’s War

ken's war cover

 

How to Impress Editors & Get Published: Part 1

By Beth Fowler

Editors acquire, improve and publish manuscripts. Although I had only 50 manuscripts to work on during my two-week stint as an editor, I developed sympathy for editors who’d rejected my work in the past. (Contact me for your free copy of Travelers’ Tales, the anthology I edited.)

While wielding the red pen, I learned how to make the best impression on editors. Here’s the scoop.

FOLLOW GUIDELINES (Yes, that again!)

When H.L. Mencken received a batch of Thomas Wolfe’s short stories, the critic yelled, “Take them out! They’re not even sanitary.” The future novelist had submitted dog-eared, greasy manuscripts.

That anecdote reminds us that good writing alone didn’t guarantee publication in the past, and it doesn’t now. During my stretch in the editor’s chair, otherwise talented authors submitted handwritten manuscripts without contact information, without margins, with pages secured by pins and with word counts too high by half. Standards for capitalization, spacing and punctuation fell by the wayside.

In addition to word count and format, guidelines provide other information if read closely. A magazine’s articles that are “highly referenced” means writers better quote big cheeses, if they want to see their bylines in this mag.

Deviations from guidelines sabotage or even kill your chance for publication and leave a sour taste in editors’ mouths. The editors at one large publishing house say, “We’re linear. Very linear.” Translation: If your submission doesn’t follow their guidelines, they’ll reject it.

Guidelines are provided so incoming manuscript formats and conventions are standardized, allowing editors to do their real job, discover and publish writers’ work.

CRAWL INTO THEIR HEADS

Paul McCarthy, author of Editing and the Ideal Editor, believes “It’s only by understanding totally your editor’s thinking that you make the best creative decisions about your manuscript.”

Understanding an editor’s thinking isn’t difficult if writers remember that an editor’s greatest dream is to publish crucial information and riveting entertainment that readers need and want. And then readers crave more! Editors need writers to turn the dream into reality.

Crawl into editorial heads by “reading the writer’s guidelines and back issues of the publication,” longtime e-zine editor Dan Case said. Scrutinize letters from the editor in magazines and newspapers, and dig into books the editor wrote or had a hand in. Study written communications (acceptance letters, contracts, suggestions, short e-mails and the like) from the editor.

In the early stages of works-in-progress, make sure you understand the editor’s ultimate vision for the piece. For example, does she envision the book splayed on coffee tables or shelved in university libraries? Does he envision illustrations, lists and sidebars or a dense article? The Better Homes & Gardens editorial team says that most of their articles undergo a lengthy development process involving both editor and writer. This “lengthy development process” gives authors opportunities to see the world through the editors’ eyes and revise along the way.

QUERY WITH STYLE

Let’s say you’ve studied Gentleman’s Quarterly guidelines and editorial vision. You have an idea for an article about custom-made shoes. A query to “Dear Editor” screams “Amateur!” So you flip GQ open and see 28 editors listed. Six handle fashion. To which editor should you pitch your bespoke shoes idea? Aim for the editor-in-chief, and you risk annoying this VIP who’d delegated portions of his editorial tasks to lighten his load, and you risk snubbing a fashion editor. Call, write or e-mail and ask who gets a shoe query. Staff might’ve departed since the magazine was last published, so verifying the recipient is a good idea in any case.

Submitting queries “on topics that are over-discussed, entirely general in nature or don’t apply to our targeted readership” is one of the most irritating thing writers do, according to Francesca Kelly, who edited Tales from a Small Planet.

Francesca’s colleague added, “Don’t think that because you’re submitting or querying by e-mail, you don’t have to be polite. ‘Hi! Thought you might like to read this!’ with a link to an essay on the writer’s website doesn’t inspire me to use my limited time to follow up. Even though I correspond with people by e-mail, I expect writers to present the same information they would in a written query letter: who they are, what they’ve written and why they think their work fits our publication.”

In her book The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers, Betsy Lerner wrote, “Nothing is more refreshing for an editor than to…read a query letter that takes him completely by surprise.”

***

ken's war coverIf you were to judge a book by its cover, what do you suppose Ken’s War is about? (I approved the cover art a few days ago. . . pub date getting closer…)

Eat, Drink, Make Money: Part 2

salad-210717_150You’ve been dining out ever since you were knee high to a Grasshopper pie. That experience accompanied by a generous serving of solid writing skills, and a side dish of smart market research, ensures that you can eat, drink and make money.

 

Getting restaurant reviews published in e-zines, blogs or sites such as http://www.tripadvisor.com/ is easier than getting your byline in traditional media, but it’s harder to find good pay, typically.

However, the ‘net is an all-u-can-eat buffet of facts to spice up your articles. One of my favorite food websites is http://www.epicurious.com. In addition to the ‘net and reference staples such as a thesaurus, the restaurant review writer’s larder should be stocked with ethnic, foreign, specialty and classic cookbooks.

A file folder stuffed with samples of other writers’ restaurant critiques is inspiring, especially after you’ve written several reviews and are starving for a fresh way to say “delicious.”

As always, you’ll ascertain the target publication’s preferences in word count, slant, attitude and so forth to avoid rejections. There are questions to sift out that are unique to writing restaurant critiques. My sumptuous article about a French restaurant was rejected because the magazine only accepted restaurant reviews of restaurants that had advertised in their
publication. Getting the mag’s submission guidelines would have spared me from disappointment.

Find out if reviewers are paid a standard fee. Are they reimbursed for meals? Who provides the photos? Are menu prices listed? Is dinner dinner or is dinner supper? Are restaurants rated on a five-fork scale? How are negative opinions expressed? (Most editors prefer to publish positive, yet honest critiques.)

Are readers likely to know what fricassee means? Is the chef’s or manager’s bio mentioned? Is the writing sensual or businesslike or technical? Are storytelling techniques used? Apart from all those permutations of policy and style, the prime objective of restaurant reviews is informing readers what to expect if they dine at the reviewed restaurant. The second objective is entertaining readers, regardless.

Before zeroing in on a specific restaurant to review, look for gaps in the target publication’s coverage. Have previous articles covered downtown cafes, but skimped on bistros and diners in the ‘burbs and hinterlands? What about vegetarian restaurants? Kosher restaurants? How about an article that focuses on restaurants serving wild game? When a new restaurant pops up, be the first to pop your piece de resistance in the mail to an editor.

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It’s 1965 and Ken Paderson is itchin’ to get his driver’s license, but his world turns upside down when he and his dad are whisked off to a remote army outpost in Japan. Bento, moshi and udan replace lunch box, rice and spaghetti. The novel, Ken’s War, is slated for publication this May by Melange Books LLC. Please like the brand new site https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

article by Beth Fowler

article by Beth Fowler

Eat, Drink, Make Money: Part 1

by Beth Fowler

If you like to dine out and you like to write, then earning money writing restaurant reviews might be your cup of tea. Cracking into this market requires the usual strategies and some specialized tactics for writers ready to dig into the smorgasbord of opportunities.

Look for restaurant reviews in the pages of newspapers, magazines and websites that have already published your work. Editors are more inclined to consider work from writers they know than from unknowns. The newspaper features editor, who knew that his boss had accepted my travel articles, bought my first restaurant article. (Since then I’ve sold a baker’s dozen of restaurant reviews.) If the editors of publications (hard copy and online) in which your byline has appeared haven’t published restaurant reviews, maybe they’d be open to the idea if it’s pitched right.

Let’s say that “The Town Times” doesn’t publish restaurant reviews. The editor might be amenable to publishing a restaurant column if he or she feels confident that you can deliver. Approach the editor with a mouth-watering proposal, samples of your work, that is, a buffet of two or three restaurant reviews with quality photos from eateries within the geographical area the newspapers’ readers live, work and dine. The length of each restaurant review should be about the same length as the newspaper’s other lifestyle pieces, such as those covering gardening, music, art and literature. Don’t bite off more than you can chew – be clear about how often you’re expected to eat out and write a column. Weekly? Monthly?

If a newspaper or magazine currently publishes restaurant reviews, check if the same person always writes the articles. Unless the authors are big names with their own TV shows on the foodie channel and cookbooks to their credit, you could, without stepping on the steady writers’ tacos, offer to be a “guest contributor.” A magazine I frequently wrote business articles for published batches of restaurant reviews in each issue  – all written by the editor, so I continued happily submitting business articles.

If the reviews are under various bylines, this is an indication that freelance submissions are accepted and chances are better for gaining entrée into that publication. Some publications publish reviews without bylines. Compare the
style and tone of the reviews, and you can probably tell if the same person or several people wrote them.

In-flight magazines feature restaurant reviews and travel articles that include verbiage about restaurants. As always, study “house style” and take note of the photos. In-flight magazines tend to publish high-quality photos. The slicker the magazine, the higher the odds that the editor requires professionally shot images and might even assign a photographer. In-flight magazines need articles about the destinations and popular tourist sites close to the airlines’ normal routes. Articles highlighting restaurants serving regional cuisine are popular with in-flights. You don’t have to live in an exotic locale to write for in-flight magazines – every place is someplace else to someone else.

“Follow” to receive Eat, Drink, Make Money: Part 2 as soon as it’s out of the oven.

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(C) Beth Fowler 2014It’s 1965 and Ken Paderson is itchin’ to get his driver’s license, but his world turns upside down when he and his dad are whisked off to a remote army outpost in Japan.  Bento, moshi and udan replace lunch box, rice and spaghetti. The novel, Ken’s War, is slated for publication this May by Melange Books LLC. Please like the brand new site https://www.facebook.com/kenswar