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Issue #311: How to Make Your Query Letters Laser-Focused
June 29, 2020
Greetings Fellow Travel Writers!

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Editorial: How to Make Your Query Letters Laser-Focused

Writing a marketable query is especially difficult in travel writing. We want to pitch a story about every attraction at the destination because it’s all exciting, right?

I get this. Early in my freelance travel writing career I spent a week in Paris. Afterwards, I wanted to write about everything in that wonderful city.

So, I pitched a roundup story about Paris.

I wanted to write about the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumph, the Louvre and my romantic boat ride experience on the Seine. And I wanted to include the mouthwatering bakeries and the delectable bistros and . . . . everything! In my query letter, my story ideas jumped around like Mexican jumping beans.

I was convinced this was a “sure thing” sale and that editors would be clamoring for my story. I sent out 40 queries to travel magazines, then waited for the magazine editors to beat my door down.

You can probably guess how this turned out. I didn’t get a single response. Not one! I felt righteously indignant.

Eventually I wised up and realized my Paris roundup pitch was one of the most egregious mistakes a travel writer could make.

What was my big mistake?

Travel magazine editors look for stories about undiscovered places or new trends and latest attractions. They aren’t interested in the attractions that everyone already knows about - and definitely not one that tries to cover ALL of the destination's main attractions.

Editors will be confused if your pitch jumps around between a bunch of attractions. Pitch too many things and the editor’s head will be spinning. They’ll scratch their heads and wonder what, exactly, is this pitch about? 

This is, of course, a classic beginner travel writers mistake, so it's nothing unusual. In fact, many aspiring travel writers never get around to sending out their pitches because they can’t quite figure out how to fit all their ideas into the query letter.

So, how do you make your query letters laser-focused?

1. Focus on one main angle or story idea in your queries. The most successful query letters focus purely on one aspect of a destination. 

2. Get straight to the point in your query letters — preferably in the first sentence so your story angle is clear to the editor.

3. If you pitch a roundup story, make sure it’s cohesive, with a common thread that links one attraction to the next.

Did I finally sell any Paris stories? You bet I did! I figured out that pitching a specific story angle in each query letter was the best approach for a place like Paris. And I sold several stories to print media, including an in-flight!

You can do this, too - as long as you stay laser-focused.

This Week's Featured Post

Finding Outlets for Your Luxury Travel Stories

Plenty of magazines publish luxury travel stories. These include regional, national, and international magazines and newspapers.

Here’s my advice on how you can break into the luxury travel writing market and the variety of outlets that are waiting for your pitch . . .



Are you tired of talking, thinking, and dreaming of breaking into travel writing?

Are you ready to start writing?

Many of you have asked when we’re going to offer group coaching. So, we're working on it. We’re planning to make it affordable, fun, and helpful and productive for you.

Everything will be done online with video training, a community of like-minded writers helping each other, a robust focus on the craft of writing and the art of selling, and lots of other resources at your fingertips.

Here are a few of the things we’ll be offering through our Group Coaching Mastermind program:

A group coaching place where . . .

- you’ll get helpful critiques of your story ideas
- you’ll learn how to write successful query letters
- you’ll get solid advice about pitching your stories
- you’ll get feedback on your articles
- you’ll get photography tips for preparing galleries for editors
- you’ll have an opportunity to showcase your articles & photos

A safe and helpful community where . . .

- you can ask questions and get the answers you need
- you can gain the confidence to leap over roadblocks
- you can gain insight, encouragement, and support
- you can tap into for help when you’re stuck with your writing
- you can give and receive solid advice about problems
- you can celebrate your writing successes
- you can ask for help with magazine leads to pitch your story ideas
- other members can help with“in-the-trenches” perspectives
- everyone exchanges thoughts on story ideas and what works

A mentoring and resource place where . . .

- you'll receive marketing tips about selling your travel stories
- you’ll find new resources to boost your freelance travel writing knowledge
- you’ll get advice on the craft of travel writing
- you’ll have opportunities to fine-tune your photography skills
- you’ll get a chance to share your articles & best shots

You’ll get a writing community, group coaching and resources and content so you can succeed in travel writing - and have fun with other travel writers while you’re doing it.

Registration will open in August. Get your name on the interest and you’ll be the first to hear when it opens. This Group coaching program will be limited to the first 35 registrants.

Click here to get on the Group Coaching Interest List

Upcoming Posts

July 6: 6 Reasons to Presell Your Travel Stories and How to Do It
July 13: Repurposing Your Travel Articles
July 20: Found a New Magazine? How to Pitch the Editor and Get Published Success Stories

Jessica Pickett

Jessica Pickett’s travel writing journey will surely inspire you to try your hand at freelance travel writing. I’m particularly impressed with her story. 

I first met Jessica at a travel writing conference in 2014. Since then, she’s made a steady ascent through the freelance writing ranks. Hers is a great example of how a novice travel writer can break into this competitive arena. 

Jessica’s trajectory is enviable, and it shows how much is achievable even for complete beginners.  

There were five particular things she did well to succeed in travel writing, right from the start. 

If you’re a novice writer, you can do these things, too. Read this post to learn from Jessica as she tells how she launched her freelance writing career . . .


Pitch Travel Write: Most Requested Links about Getting Published

Here's practically everything we’ve ever published about getting your travel stories published!

Getting your work published is the main objective of freelance travel writers. Every article you write needs to be published somewhere, so you need a solid system in place to do it quickly, efficiently, and successfully.

After all, if you can't sell your article, you don't get to write it!

Here’s the link to our entire suite of 30 articles on getting your stories published.

It’s a gold mine of information!

Here’s the link to our entire suite of 30 articles on getting your stories published. It’s a gold mine of information!

Inspirational Travel Quote


Featured Bundle: The Beginner's 3-Pack

If you're just getting started in travel writing, try our Beginner's 3-Pack—the perfect way to kick-off your travel writing career. You get a 10% discount with the bundle.

The Complete Guide to Query Letters
Everything you need to know about query letters - and 20 examples you can start using immediately.

50 Websites That Want to Publish Your Travel Stories

A list of 50+ quality travel websites where you can collect some bylines.

100 Print Magazines That Want to Publish Your Travel Articles
A list of 100 print magazines that want to publish your travel articles. These lists will save you hours of time researching and creating lists yourself. They give you a foundation of sales leads you can use and build upon. You can buy the books individually, or save 10% by grabbing the bundle. Learn more and purchase the Beginner's 3-Pack Reference Guides

Live Workshops

People have been asking when our 2021 workshops in the U.S. are scheduled. They're scheduled in June, 2021, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Here are the 2021 dates:
June 3-6, 2021, Travel Writing & Photography Retreat
June 8-10, 2021, Marketing Master Class for Travel Writers

We have had a lot of interest for these workshops already. You can sign up for our no-obligation interest list for these workshops and receive our substantial early bird discounts when we open registration:


At Your Service

Coaching and Consulting
Online Courses
Vietnam 1-1 Retreat & Consulting
Expat Consulting


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HERE., is our information-packed website for travel writers. This e-zine, a series of travel writing books and reference guides, coaching programs, and our workshops all work together to give you guidance in this field.

Our aim is to provide you with practical, nitty gritty information to help you gain entry the travel writing realm and all the enjoyment that comes with it, too. 

We're thrilled to announce that is on The Write Life’s 2020 list of 100 BEST WEBSITES FOR WRITERS! 

You can see the entire list by visiting their website - click on the graphic to view the list now.

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

That's all for now. Until next week - just keep pitching! Roy

Roy Stevenson
Pitch Travel Write

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