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Issue #224: How to Use Executive Summaries for Travel Writing Success
September 24, 2018
Greetings Fellow Travel Writers and Bloggers!

. . . and WELCOME to all new subscribers! Thanks for joining us.

Editorial: Can You Make a Living by Writing for Print Magazines?

“I have a candid question for you. I’ve been told I could never sustain a living by writing solely for magazines. Can you actually earn enough from writing for magazines to have a financially independent life considering there is a move towards free magazine writing? What's your opinion? Thanks.”

I received this question via email some time ago. It’s a valid question and one that provokes all sorts of evasive answers from travel writers, depending on where they lie along the travel writing spectrum.

Here’s my take.

First, I would ask, what income do you consider to be financially independent? $25,000? $50,000? $75,000? $100,000? More? I know plenty of travel writers that earn along this entire income spectrum, and they’re happy with what they’re earning.

But, if your answer is along the high end of the financial spectrum, it would be difficult to support yourself solely by writing for print magazines. You’d have to be an exceptional travel writer.

It’s common knowledge that travel writing isn’t a lucrative career. Many people dabble in it part-time just for fun, and get a thrill out of seeing their name in print. Others do it for the complimentary travel perks.  Depending on how hard you're willing to work, it can be good supplemental income. 

If you’re a novice travel writer, you might think we only do one thing — write & sell travel stories. But, you’ll be surprised to learn that almost without exception, today’s leading travel writers do not subsist solely by writing travel articles for magazines. They have other streams of income.

Most professional travel writers support themselves through multiple sources. Travel writing is just one source of income.

We’ve just completed our latest book Rock Star Travel Writers. It contains in-depth interviews with ten elite travel writers with bylines that make the rest of us drool (National Geographic Traveler, AFAR, BBC Travel, Lonely Planet, Condé Nast Traveler, American Express, Robb Report, Business Jet Traveler, Australia & New Zealand Magazine, plus in-flights like American Way, Hemispheres, Delta Sky).

The book also includes interviews with five budding rock stars just entering the fray and meeting with good publishing success (and some good comps).

In our book you’ll see how these travel writers have broken through into the best magazines. And you’ll get some insight into exactly how elite travel journalists earn their living.

The biggest surprise is no two travel writers are alike. They earn their income from truly diverse sources such as editing, copywriting, photography, consulting, mentoring, teaching, advertising, even as travel guides and travel agents. And that just scratches the surface. Some are full time writers, but most are not full time travel writers - big distinction!

These 15 travel writers have been generous in sharing their stories about how they got started in travel writing. And they offer tips and techniques about getting published in top shelf magazines, how to find success in travel writing, the best travel writing groups and conferences, and so much more.

Watch your Inbox for our special announcement when we release Rock Star Travel Writers, later this week - along with your subscriber discount.

This Week's Featured Post

Using Executive Summaries for Travel Writing Success

Executive Summaries are lists of tourist attractions that travel writers create for an upcoming trip. It’s one of the techniques I use with my coaching clients.

The writers create executive summaries for their planned destinations and then send them to me to review. We use these executive summaries to plan potential story ideas and to help us target magazines to query.

This articles describes the step-by-step process for creating and using executive summaries - and gives you a couple of examples so you can create them, too.


In case you missed it: Writing for Inflights

A couple weeks ago we posted an article about writing for inflights.

If you’d like to add inflights to your list of bylines, you’ll want to read it.


Travel Writing e-Course

Our Travel Writing & Marketing Master Class is available as an online course. It's meant for people who aren't able to wait until next April to see it Live, or for people who missed this year's class.

If you’re an aspiring travel writer, or you haven’t had much luck selling your articles to print magazines, this Online Travel Writing & Marketing Workshop is for you.

Everything from the classroom sessions at the Live Master Class held in Seattle in April, 2018 is included – and you’ll get to experience it in the comfort of your own home, and at your own pace.

Now you can get exactly the same information, techniques, tips, and tricks that participants heard in the live Travel Writing & Marketing Master Class for half the price of the Live class - and without the travel costs!


Upcoming Posts

October 1: Six Ways to Increase Your Productivity
October 8: How to Get Invited on Press Trips
October 15: Organizing an International Press Trip: Roy’s 12-day Press Trip in SW Germany
October 22: PitchTravelWrite Success Story: Sandy Bornstein

How to Dream Up Story Ideas that Sell

It's getting harder and harder to be a generalist travel writer trying to do what thousands of other generalist travel writers are doing; writing superficial Top Ten “listicles”. To be published in paying print media you have to be really creative to come up with unique story ideas that editors haven’t heard before.

Many of my freelance writer friends tell me they have difficulty coming up with multiple story ideas about one place. It takes some groundwork to become savvy at recognizing and mining gold nugget travel story ideas. The following articles point you in the right direction for dreaming up saleable travel stories.

Although there will always be a market for basic roundup articles, the competition is fierce. Editors are looking for new ideas and fresh perspectives.
Many Types of Travel Stories

For novice freelance writers, trying to figure out what story to pitch to an editor is a daunting task because they have no frame of reference.  Often, beginners lack confidence in their story ideas. So where do you start?
Six Ways to Generate Story Ideas that Sell

The best travel story is a result of writing about your personal interests or passions. Anything that interests you will result in an article that has more meaning, more emotion, and a deeper level of knowledge to share with your readers. 
Writing Genres and Your Travel Writing Niche

There are some common travel writing themes for travel articles. Here are a few of them.
The Best Travel Story Taps Into Your Interests and Passions

Round-up travel stories have many similarities.  These are high-level descriptions, or “roundups”, of what a city or destination has to offer.
Roundup Travel Stories are the Most Fun to Write

A huge factor in selling story ideas and getting them published is the quality of your idea. So where, and how, do travel writers start their quest for a salable story? 
6 Tips for Dreaming Up Story Ideas that Sell

Inspirational Travel Quote of the Week

Featured Book of the Month


Everything you need to know about selling your travel articles. If you can’t sell your travel stories, you don’t get to write them.

My freelance travel writing manual, The Complete Guide to Marketing and Selling Your Travel Articles tells you how to select salable story ideas, how to write query letters, how to pitch your ideas the right way, how to find magazines that will be interested in your story, and how you can start selling your travel articles to magazines immediately and reap the fantastic travel benefits.

Here’s what travel writer Mike Gerrard said about my marketing manual.

“I bought this book direct from the author's website and even though I'm a full-time travel writer myself, I learned a heck of a lot from it. We all have our weak spots, and mine is definitely pitching and writing query letters. This book pushed me into action, showed me lots of the author's own query letters that worked, and has now given me a 'to do' list for pitches I want to send. Just reading it reminded me of trips I've done in the last year or two that I could sell more pieces from, and also stuff that's on my own doorstep that I could and should be pitching. Whether you're a professional or a complete beginner, I highly recommend this book.”

Here’s travel writer Chris Backe’s review of my marketing manual:

“Roy is a machine – at least, that’s the only conclusion I have come up with. Having written for over 190 magazines (and reaching the 100 mark in 25 months), you would expect him to have a well-oiled machine and strong sense of process to keep things running. And you’d be right – his six-step ‘chain-link’ process is made out to be intentionally simple and easy to follow. That said, pitching, researching, and collecting good information still requires a fair bit of hard work, and the book offers no shortcuts. The specifics focus around coming up with good ideas, the correct questions to ask, finding the right publications for your ideas.

Creating distribution lists (one for each genre) makes pitching easier, while he encourages no fewer than 17 “essential elements” of a good query letter. Parts of these will sound old-fashioned to the younger set, (“no pictographs of inkwells, suitcases… smileys, [or] pink fonts…”), but will distinguish you as a professional. Chapter eight gets into some of the terminology used as rights go, along with the delightful problem of how to handle multiple acceptances.

At $99 it’s far from the cheapest set of information out there – but getting your first night in, say, a four-star hotel room in Europe means the book has already paid for itself. Highly recommended."


Friend me on Facebook

My Facebook page is about freelance travel writing. I frequently post about:
• travel writing & blogging conferences,
• links to other well produced travel websites and blogs,
• links to my travel articles,
• travel writing themes,
• links to reputable travel writer’s groups, associations, and newsletters,
• magazine covers stories and back stories,
• links to resources pages,
• links to travel writing archives,
• links to coaching and mentoring resources,
• and plenty of other useful information to get you up to speed.

Link to Roy's Personal Facebook page

Please share the e-zine with friends, family or anyone you know who's interested in travel writing. They can sign up for the newsletter and get free marketing tips each week at this link:

Sign up for my weekly marketing tips

That's all for this week.

Until next week, just keep pitching!


Roy Stevenson
Pitch Travel Write

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