After 14 years of freelancing it as a travel writer, sometimes in regular gigs, sometimes just knocking on doors, here are my top tips on how to get published:
Firstly, you need to know that travel editors get inundated with emails from people who have had a wonderful holiday and want to write a story about it. Often these people are egged on by their friends (and their mother) who have oooh’d and ahhh’d at their hilarious adventures via Facebook and told them they should write it for the newspaper. But writing witty status updates vs writing a feature story that an editor will want to publish are verrrry different beasts.
So here’s where to start:
1. It’s all about the hook. That 1st paragraph is crucial. I like to try and start in the middle of some action – preferably a drama of sorts!
2. Draw the reader into the story with personal anecdotes or quotes from characters you meet. Go off the beaten track and explore your destination so you have something unique to tell.
3. Take notes on your travels, write down direct quotes, descriptions of the surroundings, sounds, smells, textures so when you get home you can recreate that event/moment.
4. Don’t try to cover too much – you may only have 600 words to entertain, inform and enthrall. A story based on one incident will be more interesting than a whole trip glossed over lightly.
5. Don’t expect to get rich! In fact, expect to write for free to get started. Try approaching blogs, websites, local newspapers.
6. Finally, don’t give up. Be friendly and ask for feedback from an editor if your stories are declined, as this will be helpful to know where you went wrong.