Reviews for The Travel Writer’s Handbook (Subtitled: How to Write – and Sell – Your Own Travel Experiences) by Louise Purwin Zobel and Jacqueline Harmon Butler call it “brilliant and highly informative … everything I would want to know about travel writing technique” (Carol Guanzon of Scenic World) and “the best on the subject I’ve ever seen” (Alice Cromie, past president of the Travel Journalists’ Guild).
And rightly so. This book is jam-packed with easy-to-read information that both new and seasoned travel writers will find helpful.
The Travel Writer’s Handbook does not provide information about how to write. Rather, it provides a comprehensive road map to brainstorm ideas, research, organize, market and sell travel articles.
It also breaks down the different types of articles a person might consider writing, offers a brief overview of photography, provides interviewing tips and discusses the ethics of accepting press junkets and freebies.
Zobel and Butler’s coverage of research and marketing is inexhaustible. Chapters two and three provide a review of books, periodicals and other publications travel writers might find handy when conducting pre-trip article research, including information from local governments, road maps and special-interest guidebooks.
The section on finding markets for travel writing was another highlight of the book. It provides suggestions on how every travel experience can be placed in just about every genre of publication with the right article idea and audience in mind. Examples include how to save money for travel for banking publications, writing about meal experiences for food and drink publications, finding ties for historic publications and looking at local pastimes for sporting and hobby publications.
I followed the book’s suggestion of brainstorming story angles and doing just enough research to pitch ideas via query before leaving for a trip, and out of 18 queries, I received one rejection and two nods to go ahead with my suggested story ideas in just 48 hours.
What Could Be Better:
The Travel Writer’s Handbook is undeniably comprehensive when it comes to equipping the travel writer, but it seemed unnecessary to devote two chapters to travel preparation and what to pack. Noting specifics as they relate to travel writing — for example, packing a tape recorder and making sure your camera is in working order — make sense, but it wasn’t necessary to mention generalities as they relate to traveling. Information on how to deal with jet lag, staying healthy and learning a language are all general travel tips that didn’t need to be covered in this book.
Also, this book touches on the emerging online travel writing market but doesn’t go into detail about how writers can utilize web environments such as blogs or networking sites to foster editorial relationships or showcase writing skills.
This book is a useful resource for anyone interested in travel writing, regardless of how long they’ve been in the industry. The novel approaches Zobel and Butler present truly make travel writing work to its fullest extent. The Travel Writer’s Handbook offers information on new ways to look at old markets, places to find additional research resources, suggestions on interesting story angles and industry anecdotes that have worked for the authors, and the sale of even a single travel article makes this book a sound investment for any travel writer.
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