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Issue #268: The Worst Advice Ever
August 19, 2019
Greetings Fellow Travel Writers and Bloggers!

. . . and WELCOME all new subscribers to The Best Travel Writing Newsletter, ANYWHERE!!

Thanks for joining us.

Registration is OPEN for our annual Travel Writing and Photography Retreat in Hoi An, Vietnam, December 8-14.

If you're looking for a relaxing, atmospheric place to practice your travel writing craft and hone your photography skills, join us in Hoi An.

We’re very excited to learn that Hoi An, Vietnam has just been voted the Best City in the World for 2019 by Travel+Leisure Magazine. Hoi An is the hottest travel destination in the world right now!

You can read more about Hoi An, Vietnam at these links:

Metro article about Hoi An - World's Best City 2019
Lonely Planet article about a Perfect Weekend in Hoi An
Travel&Leisure article about World's Best City

You can find more information about our retreat after the editorial, or at this link:


Editorial: The Worst Travel Writing Advice Ever

Over the years, I’ve received much conflicting advice about how to break into travel writing. Here are two pieces of bad advice - you’re more likely to fail if you follow it:

Bad Advice #1: Queries Should be Short (2-3 paragraphs)

The advice that queries should be short is terribly wrong and should be ignored. Editors want to know all about the story you are pitching to them. Novice writers simply can't get this message across effectively in 2-3 paragraphs.

When I changed to longer and more detailed query letters, I went from a very low response rate to selling 90% of my articles. And, when the writers I coach beef up their query letters, they suddenly start selling their stories.

I’ve worked one-on-one with more than 100 beginning and intermediate level travel writers. They consistently undersell their story ideas in their query letters before I start working with them and they wonder why they can’t sell their stories. Once they add more detail about what they plan to cover in their articles, they’re able to sell their story ideas more effectively to editors.

Remember, the editor doesn’t know you or your work. You might not have any bylines to your name. A detailed query letter convinces them you can deliver a good, well-researched article even though you’re a new writer.

My book, The Complete Guide to Query Letters for Travel Writers has twenty real-life query letter samples that landed me paying assignments in respectable print magazines. Every one of these query letters exceeds the ‘two to three paragraph’ standard that the ‘experts’ recommend. And they all resulted in a paid assignment.

Bad Advice #2: Start by Writing Front-Of-Book Articles

The traditional travel writer’s approach to breaking into top shelf travel glossies and in-flights has been to start out by pitching short Front-of-Book (FOB) stories.

FOBs are typically the 100-450 word pieces you see towards the front of magazines, hence the name. The theory here is that editors can see how you write without taking a big risk. If you hand in sub-standard work, it’s easy for editors to dig out another short piece from their “slush” files to substitute in.

This advice may have some merit if you want to make FOBs your niche. I know one highly successful travel writer who specializes in FOBs and has subsequently broken into the stratosphere. She’s extremely good at writing short, snappy FOBs. But it’s not for everyone.

I’ve never bothered pitching FOB stories although I’ve had a few published as a favor to some magazine editor friends. But I found writing them time consuming and a distraction, for very little pay.

I've always believed that if I have a good story idea, I'm going to pitch it as a feature and get paid appropriately. I’d hate to waste a good feature on a FOB piece for which I'll only be paid $50-$150.

Travel Writing & Photography Retreat

December 8-14, Hoi An, Vietnam

We still have seats available in our Travel Writing & Photography Retreat in Hoi An, Vietnam, December 8-14th.

Vietnam’s atmospheric and beguiling UNESCO World Heritage City of Hoi An offers an unforgettable experience. It will inspire your writing, spark your imagination and please your palate. Hidden inside the ancient buildings are some of the best culinary delights known to mankind. 

Here’s your chance to visit the Best City In The World for 2019 as voted by readers of Travel & Leisure magazine. And you'll brush up on your travel writing and photography skills while you're here. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to tour Hoi An.

Our classes run from 9am to Noon, then you’re on your own to stroll around this captivating town and soak up its extraordinary atmosphere.

The ancient town of Hoi An, Vietnam was a SE Asian trading port in the 15th through 19th centuries and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town continues to thrive today as a trading port, center of commerce and tourist destination.

Hoi An is especially loved for its beautiful lanterns that decorate the streets by day and magically transform the town into a colorful wonderland every night.

At the retreat you'll learn the craft of travel writing while touring this unique destination. No experience is necessary! Just bring an open mind, a laptop, or simply pen and paper. Your sense of curiosity and creative juices will flow no matter which tools you use.

We’ll explore the fascinating local attractions and experience true Vietnamese culture — all while learning the craft of travel writing and photography from a seasoned travel journalist and photographer.

We'll spend three hours each day in classroom instruction including writing and photography activities. The rest of the time you're free to explore Hoi An, relax with a spa treatment, go on a bike tour or practice your writing and photography.

Join us in Hoi An this December for an unforgettable experience!

Note: We limit registration to 10 people. Registration closes September 7th.


Here's what some of the 2018 Attendees had to say about the Travel Writing & Photography Retreat:

“Thank you for an amazing week! We learned so many useful tips to improve our writing and photography. We thoroughly enjoyed the dinners, drinks and cooking class. You are so gracious and generous. Your workshop was everything we hoped for and more!”
- Pam and Gary Baker

“I would like to thank you for all you did for me in Hoi An. I thought you made the classes very relaxed and understandable and passed on a wealth of information. This was the biggest bang for my buck of all the travel writing workshops I’ve attended. I learned more from you in those 5 days than I did in two previous workshops with a competitor. I will definitely recommend your classes.”
- Linda Blair

“I loved the small size of the group and the relaxed and friendly atmosphere.”
- Jill Friedman

“The balanced curriculum between writing and photography were outstanding.”
- Deb Sittko

To learn more and register for the Travel Writing & Photography Retreat click here.

This Week's Featured Post

Travel Hazards and Dangerous Destinations

This article could save your life!

The prospect of having an accident with a serious or fatal result is an aspect of travel we don’t want to think about. The odds of being killed as a tourist are significantly smaller than the odds of being hit by a bus in your own hometown. That’s the good news.

But, as travel writers, we travel far more than most tourists.  And we often take part in a larger number of activities and adventures than most tourists will ever experience. Statistically, that makes us more vulnerable.

As a travel writer, it’s worth increasing your awareness of travel safety and reminding yourself to be alert to everything going on around you, everywhere you travel.

Here’s a high-level view of things that happen at popular tourist destinations in the U.S. and around the world.


Upcoming Posts

August 26: Four Reasons Why You Should Get Published On Travel Websites
September 2: Twitter and Travel Writing
September 9: Trip Planning For Travel Writers

Pitch Travel Write: Most Popular Links for Researching Your Destinations

Most travel story ideas are worthy of publication somewhere, but you need to spend some time researching your destination to find marketable story ideas. 

Sometimes you’ll have to abandon a travel story idea. If it doesn’t have enough “jam” to hook an editor, you won’t be able to sell it.

But it’s more likely that you just need to do a little work to discover what’s so interesting about a place and to clarify your unique story angle.

What does it take to sell your travel articles? In simplest terms, my sales process starts with pitching a story idea.  Once I have an assignment, I travel to the destination. Finally I write the article. Pitch. Travel. Write. That’s the birds-eye view. Here's my sales process in a little more detail.  This is the process that works for me over and over again.

It takes some experience to know what constitutes a viable travel story.  And deciding whether a story idea is a dog or a shooting star is an important first step in the pitching process.

So where, and how, do travel writers start their quest for a salable story? Here are 6 Tips for Dreaming Up Better Story Ideas.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve received several desperate requests from novice travel writers, asking me to help them round up some last-minute assignments, so they can request complimentary accommodations, meals, entry to tourist attractions, rounds of golf, fishing trips, boat cruises, and a host of other freebies, at their destinations.

There’s only one problem with these requests — they’ve all been expecting to round up some travel assignments from a few days to a week or two before they leave for their destination! Here's an article I wrote for Travel Writers Exchange about planning your trip.

Inspirational Travel Quote of the Week

Do You Have a Success Story?

We’re Looking for More PitchTravelWrite Travel Writing Success Stories.

Have you used our reference books, our website, Roy’s coaching, our Master Class, our online Master Class, our Travel Writing & Photography Retreat, our weekly newsletter, or any of our other resources to achieve travel writing success?

If so, we’d love to hear from you. Don’t be shy!

We also want to hear how you’ve used our resources to land press trips, score complimentary stays at hotels and resorts and spas, get free guided tours and meals and ground transport and tours, etc.

Please send a summary of your successes to


Featured Book of the Month: How to Land Press Trips & Fam Tours

Do you want to know how to get invited on press trips? Are you wondering how to find organizations who can help you cover your travel costs?

How to Land Press Trips and Fam Tours tells you all the different ways to find press trips and get those coveted invitations to exciting destinations. You’ll learn exactly what you need to do to find the people who can assist you with travel costs and how to approach organizations for support.

In ten years of freelance writing, I’ve been on more than 100 press trips & fam tours. Places like Belgium, Wales, England, France, Germany, New Zealand, Bali, all over the U.S.A., and to many other exotic and exciting destinations.

You, too, can get regular press trip & fam tour invitations.

Books about travel writing might mention that press trips are available to travel writers, but they fail to tell you how to get invitations to these gigs. For some reason most veteran travel writers keep this information to themselves.

My resource guide, How to Land Press Trips and Fam Tours, tells you exactly what you need to do to get invitations to press trips and fam tours, and also how to organize your own self-guided press trips.

Here’s a review of my manual by travel blogger Chris Backe at
“I was extremely impressed with Roy’s last book, reviewed in April, so reviewing another of his books was a no-brainer. Roy takes a simple, logical approach to getting invited (or getting on the list) by the folks that have the budgets to offer them. Reality checks are aplenty, and he links to several excellent sites or conferences to stay in-the-know. There are also several sample letter templates to borrow from, along with an entire chapter on etiquette (which could easily be titled ‘How to ensure this isn’t your last fam trip ever!’)

At 75 pages long, the only thing it really lacks is fluff. You can breeze through the basics in a single sitting, but actually taking action will be your bigger challenge. The book does everything it can to offer tools and advice, but it’s still up to you to follow it.”


We'd like to say THANK YOU to all our subscribers and social media followers. Running the PitchTravelWrite site would not be possible without your support. Thank you for following us, reading our posts, and emailing questions, comments, and compliments.

We value you more than you can know. Our goal is to help you break into travel writing, get paid for it, and land some cool press trips and free travel.

So keep emailing us - we love hearing from you!

At Your Service

Coaching and Consulting
Travel Writing Workshops
Travel Writing Retreats
Online Courses
Vietnam 1-1 Retreat & Consulting
Expat Consulting


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That's all for this week.

Until next week, just keep pitching!


Roy Stevenson
Pitch Travel Write

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