Become A Travel Writer
Writing a Travel Guidebook
You will have a blast writing a travel guide. You will visit places you've never seen before, and see places you've already visited through different eyes.
You may be hired to write a travel guide even on a topic that is already well covered. Just look at the section on Italy, where my books The Italy Guide and The Rome Guide, are located. That section is swamped with entries. I am constantly amazed that my books even get noticed. But they do, to the tune of thousands of copies sold every year. The same could happen to you.
There are more than 350 travel guide publishers, so if you want to write or update a travel guide, there are plenty of opportunities.
Getting Hired to Write a New Guide
Andy Herbach and his partner Michael Dillon came up with the idea for a series of pocket-sized guidebooks to help travelers translate foreign language menus more easily. The idea came from their own experiences. They had difficulty translating menus despite their proficiency in Spanish and French, and realized that others would as well.
So combining their skills - Andy's the writer and Michael's the graphic designer - they created the Eating & Drinking series of guidebooks, which have been a rousing success. If you are ever going to a Spanish, French or Italian speaking country, pick up one of their books. It can make you less apprehensive at meals, and allow you to enjoy them more.
Basically what they did to get published is what every prospective author can do when they have an idea for a book, whether it is a travel guide or not. They did their homework, created a powerful proposal, and got hired.
The following four steps will help get your own travel guide published:
As you can see from these steps, just as in attempting to get published in a periodical, it is best to do all your homework up front, pitch the idea, and only after getting hired to start writing your travel guide. It worked well for Andy and Michael, it worked for me, it can work for you too. In the sections that follow you will find out where to get contact information for publishers, and how to prepare a proposal.
Getting Hired to Update a Guide
While publishers prefer to hire people with previous experience to update guides, you can break into this field by first getting experience writing travel pieces for newspapers or magazines (covered in the previous section of this guide). This shows that you can write and research, and researching is the key to updating guidebooks.
Each will have their own selection process, so be prepared to have to fill out forms, do phone interviews, submit writing samples, etc. This is a very competitive process, so remember to put your best foot forward through all these trials. You may know that you are a brilliant writer and a dynamite researcher, but they won't until you show them.
The information in the next section will give you some tips on the kind of information publishers want to see.
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Guide by Douglas E. Morris:
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