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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Advice Writers Can Bank On

Beth Fowler headshot Beginning writers know that they’ll get bylines without bucks from time to time, free copies of magazines in which their works appear, and a few dollars here and there. No pay and low pay are typical during the apprenticeship phase of writing.

Following the advice of paid writers representing nearly 200 years’ experience can advance your career and compensation to the next phase.

Q: What separates paid, published writers from wanna-bes?

A: Discipline, persistence, hard work and the ability to “get back up on the horse” were common responses from the interviewed writers. Francesca Kelly, Tales from a Small Planet editor (www.talesmag.com), says, “You don’t have to have brilliant talent to be published, but you DO have to have incredible persistence.”

Lucy Clark, prolific medical romance writer for Harlequin Mills & Boon (http://www.eharlequin.com.au), is the personification of persistence. “I received the contract for my first book the same day I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. Life happens! It’s hectic. It’s busy, but if we don’t make time for the things that are important to us, we might have regrets later on. I now have two adorable children who commandeer most of my time. I don’t have time for writers’ block. I don’t have time to waste. My stories have to be planned, the research done, so when I sit down, I can build up word count. There’s no such thing as writer’s block – just lack of planning.”

Q.What rumor about the business of writing turned out to be false?

A. Arlene Uslander, editor of The Simple Touch of Fate (www.uslander.net) which has one of my stories in it, discovered three falsehoods on the road to publication. “Once you have a book published, it’s easier to have the next book published and that when you send out a manuscript, no news is good news. And that having an agent accept your work means you’re going to get published.” Not true. Not true. Not true.

Karen Rose Smith (www.karenrosesmith.com) is a fulltime author with about 40 books to her credit. She sold her first book in 1991. “I thought after I sold the first few books, life would become easier! That’s not necessarily true.  After ten books, I remember being stalled and not selling for about ten months.”

Francesca believed that editors were unapproachable. “They’re usually really nice people who are just overworked.” She should know. She’s an approachable and no doubt overworked editor.

Q. What advice do you wish you’d received (or heeded) sooner?

A. Karen Rose Smith learned to “Write to the market. Study the line you want to write for.”

Studying the magazine she wanted to write for had a lot to do with an editor accepting one of Francesca’s articles. Being published in Redbook was a “sudden breakthrough” for her.

“It’s not enough that you have something to say,” is freelance editor and author Karen Schmitt’s advice. “You have to make yourself understood – connect.”

“Rejection isn’t personal,” counsels Megan Hart, an author whose been paid to write for decades. “They’re not rejecting you, they’re rejecting the work.”

“ ‘To be a successful writer, you must write every day,’ ” recalls editor, Dan Case. “I heard this a lot, but really didn’t believe it. When I read Stephen King’s book, On Writing, and he said ‘write everyday,’ I believed it. (Hey, if the King of all writers says it, it must be true.)”

Q. What would you tell a beginner about writing for pay?

A. Writers’ answers ranged from “Don’t write for pay. Write because you love it,” to “Don’t write for FREE!”

Lynn Wasnak, a freelance writer for 25 years, explains that fulltime freelancers urge beginners not to write for free or too cheaply because it allows editors to lower the going rate. Go to https://www.writersmarket.com/assets/pdf/How_Much_Should_I_Charge.pdf.

As for me, I do the writing because I love it. I donate some works to organizations where I volunteer. Otherwise, I sell my work for dollars.

   ***

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.

 

 

 

“Walking the Trail” by Jerry Ellis: Long Trail-Short Book

Beth Fowler headshot by Beth Fowler

 

 

 

When I bought “Walking the Trail” by Jerry Ellis, I crossed my fingers and hoped it would be the kind of travel memoir I would savor while reading and cherish when finished.

My hope was met.

The dreadful history of the Cherokee Trail of Tears is skillfully interwoven in “Walking the Trail.” And we learn a little about Ellis’ family back home, too.

During his walk he, of course, meets people, all of whom are broken to some degree or other, yet they remain kind and philosophical in their approaches to Ellis and life, respectively. He seems to bond with them on a soul level, even though the meetings are brief, a pattern that was cast when he was a boy. He tells us about the time this pattern was created in a passage describing a dove that would come to him when Ellis whistled. I think every human being has had a dove in his or her life, and then learned that doves aren’t forever. The passage is as pure and true as anything you could wish to read.

Readers are rewarded with gems of observation, self-revelation, lust, loss, peace, one-of-a-kind Americans and forward momentum. I was confused only twice by the absence of quotations around dialog.

Ellis wrote about his 900-mile walk in a voice that is both masculine and vulnerable. Now that I’ve finished the 256-page book, I wish the book was longer.

Walking the Trail

Visit Ellis on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/NATIVEDEFENDER

 

 

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 & 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…)

Make Money Writing Travel Articles – Part 2

Take lots of photos to jog your memory when you write.

Take lots of photos to jog your memory when you write.

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, your experiences could make great reading and bucks. Here is the second batch of reasons to take notes and photos.

6.      Work when you want.

It’s 2 a.m. Your body clock is four time zones out of whack. Ideas for articles flood your mind. Wearing your bathrobe (or not), you brew a pot of tea, turn on the computer and crank out an article explaining how to minimize jet lag. If you don’t feel like writing for a spell, no 9-to-5 honcho will hassle you. Assuming you’re not counting on living on income generated from travel writing (at first, anyhow) you can write when the mood strikes.

7. Boredom isn’t an occupational hazard.

Readers who haven’t “been there, done that” crave to know What’s it like to be there, to do that? Authors writing about a place notice details, recreate scenes accurately with word pictures, capture the atmosphere of a place and observe nuances that epitomize a location. The writer’s experience becomes a jumping-off place for others. To write interesting travel articles, the writer must be interested.

8.      There’s a niche for every writing style.

No doubt there’s a publication buying the works of authors who write in a style similar to yours. Whereas one publication features concise articles liberally spiked with distances, dates, addresses, costs and other numerical information, another publication prefers articles brimming with impressionistic descriptions of splendid sunsets, roaring waterfalls, noisy marketplaces. Other publications feature articles covering an entire nation in 1500 words, and yet others assign 3000 words to a single attraction or event such as a new zoo or annual regatta. While certain publications want authors’ personalities to show through, other publications solicit articles in which authors remain invisible. Study the market to find publications matching your style. Or adjust your style to your target. Sites dedicated to travel writing such as www.freelancetravelwriter.com/ and  main.travelwriters.com/ feature techniques, markets, pay scales, editors, specifications and trips for writers.

9.      Travel writing covers a vast field.

Topics for travel writing are as varied as the world itself. Writers have sold (and resold) pieces about hiking the Appalachian Trail, bicycling in Malaysia, sipping green tea in Kyoto, pub crawling in Dublin, chewing betel nut in Taiwan and touring Pearl S. Buck’s Pennsylvania home. People preferring to stay close to home can succeed as travel writers because every place is some place else to someone else, and travel articles aren’t about places only. Furthermore, locals like reading about and exploring their own neck of the woods. Advice articles with tips on traveling with children, handling money on the road, avoiding food poisoning and packing economically, to name a few practical concerns, fall into the travel writing category.

10.  Job satisfaction guaranteed.

Satisfaction comes from raising the curtain on little-known destinations, from assisting sightseers in making the right turn, from taking armchair travelers along for the ride. Satisfaction comes from seeing your name after “By” in a publication and after “To:” on a check.

***

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. The novel, Ken’s War, is slated for publication this May by Melange Books LLC.