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The following material is provided by WRITERLIST a Free service providing marketing and other information to writers. This material is copyrighted by Allen Rolf, but permission is hereby given for reproduction and distribution for non-commercial purposes. For more information, email WRITERLIST


Let's Take A Trip!

by Allen Rolf

The How-To's Of Writing Travel Articles

One exciting market that many writers overlook is the lucrative Travel & Leisure magazines. Since 1980 the Travel & Leisure industry has grown at a consistent rate of 5-10% a year as more people around the globe travel to distant and exciting places. As a result, there are several hundred magazines devoted to travel & Leisure in the US alone. These magazines pay from a low of 25.00 to a high of $1,000 for a good 1000 to 2000 word travel piece and there is a constant demand for well-written material.

Where Do You Look!

The Writer Market lists the more popular Travel & Leisure publications in the US. A search of the Internet will reveal many more than are listed in Writer Market, many of them foreign in need of good material on the US. Many corporate magazines that you never see on the news racks, as well as fraternal magazines, publish travel articles. There are also many special interest magazines, such as senior citizen, RV enthusiast, and wedding publications. In-flight airline publications are big buyers of travel features.

A very big market is the Sunday travel sections of large daily newspapers. These sections are largely filled with syndicated news pieces for the simple reason that most travel editors do not have the personnel to generate editorial material. The nice thing about newspaper travel sections is that you can sell the same article several times to non-competing papers.

No matter where you live there are five or six large non-competing dailies that will buy travel pieces on a regular basis.

Take Little Rock, AR as an example. There are non-competing papers in St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Kansas City. Newspapers normally do not pay liberally for travel pieces, but in the above illustration you can theoretically sell the same article nine times!

Select about a dozen Travel & Leisure magazines from the Writer Market, your internet search, and with the help of your reference librarian that you want to write for. Write each magazine, requesting Writer Guidelines. Next, become familiar with as many of the magazines as possible. Look at back issues for article content, length, number of photos used, and presentation. Select three target magazines from your collection. These are the magazines you will concentrate on in selling your initial travel pieces.

How To Snowball Article Ideas

You will probably want to write about local travel sites at the beginning. This, however, is not necessary. Most travel articles are written by specialty writers who have never been to the location they are writing about! A travel piece, these days, is not so much the writer's experience of actually going there, but a piece that gives the reader information and outlines the possibilities of traveling to the location.

Then, of course, there are dozens of support articles that can be written, such as how to travel with children, how to make up a first aid kit for travel, ways to save money on vacation, as well as how to plan a vacation. Travel how-to articles are in big demand and, if cleverly re-written, can be sold to several non-competitive publications at the same time.

As you research a travel article, you will probably be surprised at the number of other ideas that present themselves for different Travel & Leisure markets.

Let me illustrate as I show you how to research a travel article on the net:

Suppose that you decide to write for a senior citizen magazine. Seniors typically do most of their traveling in the late spring or early fall months, before the school year ends and right after school begins. Seniors, for the most part, like to visit unusual places, but seldom are interested in making long drives between stops. Seniors are very conscious of food and lodging, often preferring to spend nights at bed and breakfast (B&B) locations or the better national motels. Seniors who travel by recreation vehicle (RV) are very conscious of safety and the availability of services. KOA is a favorite stopping place for seniors. This information is important in planning and writing a senior travel piece.

But what do you write about? Where would a senior citizen like to visit? What would be fun to do? How about a tour of wineries, a good activity for both spring and fall. The obvious area in which to do this would be in the New York and California wine making country. Let's do something different.

How about New Mexico? Are there wineries there? This is a simple question to answer, go to http://www.Yahoo.com and type in New Mexico. You will get dozens of references and links to New Mexico. Next, type in New Mexico Wines to narrow your search. I was surprised to find that New Mexico is the oldest wine producing area in the US and that there are 19 wineries in the state. It looks like we have a winner. There are plenty of wineries to tour in New Mexico and several important festivals during the late spring and early fall months.

As you answer your question about wineries in New Mexico, you will also note that there are many historical sites, indian pueblos, art centers, and scenic beauty spots in New Mexico. These can all be subjects for future articles.

This basic research should give you enough information to get a query out to your three target magazines. Let's call the article: "Seeking the Heady Wines of the Enchanted Land" with a descriptive lead-tag "A five day tour of the wine makers of New Mexico." The article will be 1200 words, contain two sidebars, and four photographs. It will be a planned tour to four of the outstanding wineries in New Mexico, with side-trips to Spanish markets, old missions, and native American pueblos.

Once you get a positive query return, you are ready to do further research and write the manuscript. The interesting thing us that you can do all your research by Internet and e-mail! Here are some search areas to use:

New Mexico
New Mexico Wines
New Mexico Festivals
New Mexico Bed & Breakfasts
New Mexico RV Parks
New Mexico Pueblos
New Mexico Restaurants
New Mexico History

Each of these searches will give you numerous sites as well as links to other sites. I have found that http://www.yahoo.com is an excellent search engine for travel articles. Two very good general information sites are Http://www.excite.com and http://www.epicurious.com.

The best advice on how to structure a travel article is to copy the format used by the magazines you have targeted. Usually, travel pieces open with a strong attention getting first paragraph, followed by several paragraphs of history and why the trip is important to consider. The body then turns to actual places the reader will visit, giving locations, costs, and other pertinent information. The close paragraph should be a brief wrap-up with emphasis again on the reader making a decision and taking action. Travel articles are always based on having fun traveling, easily and at low cost.

In our article, we will probably plan out a five or six day excursion following a logical route to four wineries with side-trips to pueblos, scenic sights, Spanish markets and festivals, and western landmarks. Keep driving times between stops to a maximum of two hours, since senior citizens do not like to drive long distances when they reach their vacation spot. Include ample information on eating and overnight accommodations.

Remember, we decided on two sidebars. A sidebar is a separate mini-article (normally placed in a box) that gives additional information in brief form. The sidebar for this article could be a listing and history of the wineries mentioned in the article, a list of festivals throughout the year, recommended B&B's and eating establishments, or a brief history of New Mexico.

If you are writing an article for spring publication, make queries in November and be able to provide the completed article in January. For fall publication make queries in April with manuscript completion in June. Editors typically start putting together an issue three months before the publication date.

How To Get Photographs

Photographs scare a large number of writers away form attempt Travel & Leisure writing, but they are very easy to provide and will enhance the article's value to the editor. In our New Mexico Wine article there are several sources we can use for color prints and slides, depending on what the editor prefers.

A one stop source for this article would be the New Mexico Department of Tourism. E-mail this department and request the type of photos you need giving a brief description of the scenes you are interested in. Ask for, say, ten photos so you will have a choice. Normally, these are free if you indicate that they will be used to illustrate an article in a national publication on New Mexico wine. I have found it good business, never to disclose the magazine name since some tourism promoters will contact the magazine and attempt to provide their own material.

A good source of photo material on wine making itself, are the wineries you intend to feature or the New Mexico Wine Makers Association. Both of these sources probably hire advertising agencies which maintain a stock of photos not only on wine making but on associated subjects.

Wherever possible, choose photos that show people or some kind of action. You may be provided the photos free or on a loan basis. If you are borrowing the photos be sure to get them back from the editor and return them to the lender with minimum delay. This insures a good relationship with your photo source for future photos. In some instances. you may not want to handle the photos but only suggest to the editor where they can be obtained, but providing the photos is best, since you will be providing a complete article package. Editors appreciate this, and it shows you as a professional level travel writer.

The research/writing process and tips presented here should get you on the trail of becoming a professional published Travel & Leisure writer. As you write and publish more articles, you will find that your confidence increases and that editors will start to take notice of your work, so you must produce consistently if you are to be successful in this field.

Give Travel & Leisure writing a try.

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