As a travel writer, I’ve visited plenty of destinations that I just itched to write about.
These were places that excited me and that I connected with on some emotional level.
After my first visit to Paris, for example, I just wanted to tell the world about this marvelous place. As a novice writer, I sent out 50 query letters pitching a standard roundup story about the City of Lights. The results were predictable: I didn’t hear back from any of the editors.
Why didn’t editors want to buy my Paris story? Because Paris roundups have been flogged to death for decades, perhaps even centuries. While thumbing through an ancient 1960s copy of National Geographic I found a Paris roundup story. No wonder all those editors ignored my Paris query!
If I wanted to see my articles in print—and be paid for them—I realized I would have to dream up some unique story angles about the destinations that resonated with me.
Somewhat wiser, a few months later I had several Paris articles published in paying print magazines. The big difference from my previous approach was that I pitched unique story angles. One article was about the remarkable funerary sculptures at Pere LaChaise Cemetery. This was published in an in-flight. Another published piece was about the eerie catacombs deep beneath Paris’s bustling streets.
When you fall in love with a place, you just want to share it with everyone. I get that. But selling story ideas about that place to a magazine editor is a different proposition altogether.
When you’re considering a story that you want to pitch and sell, your success will always come down to . . .
- Is the story unique?
- Is there enough “juice” in the story to interest an editor?
- Are there plenty of magazines to pitch your story idea to?
If you answer “no” to any of these three questions, the chance of selling your story plummets.
There are times when you’ll have to place your story idea in a back-burner file because it just doesn’t have enough juice or it’s just not the right time to pitch this piece. Get over it and move on. Work on more viable story ideas instead.
It takes some experience to know what constitutes a viable travel story.
So where—and how—do travel writers start their quest for a salable story?
Here are 6 tips to help you . . .