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Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com
 

Travel Writing: Navigating the Murkiness of Writers' Guidelines

by Roy A. Barnes

Arriving at the threshold to where a novice writer can proclaim a publication credit for pay can be a daunting undertaking. Many travel publications exist, and the guidelines for submitting to these venues can vary greatly with each medium, often leaving the beginning travel writer dazed and confused before they have crafted one word about their adventures.

Submitting work to a travel publication is a process best handled one step at a time. Here are the principle issues for beginning writers to keep in mind when attempting to, first, seek out suitable markets for submitting their work to, then in submitting the work with all its ensuing ramifications:

Finding the Guidelines
Imagine it’s early January, and you live in the Pacific Northwest. You’ve just returned from a great volunteer experience that took place in a remote area of the Czech Republic. You desire to share your account with the rest of humanity. This quest to get published for pay becomes your New Year’s Resolution. The first step you need to take is to do the tedious work of finding markets that consider articles about volunteer travel holidays.

The Internet
The Worldwide Web, with its countless travel-themed sites, is a great place to get published for pay and build up one's clippings. Because an online travel medium like GoNOMAD.com has gone from 37,000 visits per month in June 2004, to over 177,000 visits in July 2005 alone, travel articles published online can generate a large and sustained reading audience for a writer’s work, especially since most travel Web sites archive their content for indefinite periods of time.

One of the best ways to find travel publications is to go to writing sites full of market listings. Some places to start are Freelance Writing.com and WritersWrite.com These links contain market databases which are sorted by category, such as travel. The Web sites of WorldHum.com and World-Newspapers.com give comprehensive listings of newspapers and/or other travel publications around the world that are Internet-accessible.

To find the online guidelines for a particular publication, look for a link at the homepage that contains the words “Write Articles,” “Editorial Guidelines” or “About Us.” Such links will usually lead directly or indirectly to the writers' guidelines.

If no guideline links can be found from the above step, go to the “Contact Us” or "Menu" link to see if a contact name and e-mail address for the travel editor exists. If not, send an e-mail to the general e-mail information contact box and ask for the name and e-mail of the travel editor. For newspapers that don't have online news staff listings, sending an e-mail to the general information inbox will usually result in an online staff service representative responding back within a couple days with the answers you want. Remember that, for newspapers, Features Editors are often the people to contact for travel article submission guidelines if no specific Travel Editor contact is listed.

Browsing Libraries and Stores that Contain Magazines
Writers can find publications they would have never thought of submitting to just by looking at what is in their local libraries and stores that sell magazines. Generally, the publication’s masthead, which lists the editors' names and other publication information at the beginning of the publication, will list an Internet address for the publication if it has an online site.

The added advantage to searching out these places for publications is that writers can get the feel of what editors want in content and style. Many submission guidelines advise a writer to study the current and back issues of their publications before submitting.

Writers’ Market Books
Publications like the 2006 Writer’s Market have traditionally been the place to find venues for publication. The drawback to solely relying upon these kinds of resources is that numerous markets listed in them are often out of date or defunct by the time these books hit the street. Still, many of the markets listed in these publications do include Internet sites for getting the most up-to-date information about submitting, and whether or not the publication still exists or not.

If All Else Fails, It’s Back to “Google”
Okay, Czech Republic volunteer, you know that airlines have inflight publications that feature the goings on in and around their gateway cities. You flew into Belgrade on Continental Airlines en route to your adventure, but unfortunately, you forgot to bring home a copy of Continental’s inflight magazine. You can’t even remember the name of the publication. This is where search engines like Yahoo! and Google come in handy. For example, by “googling” the words “Continental Airlines inflight magazine” you will come up with a link that will take you to Continental, which is the name of the magazine:

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