I’m a procrastinator. I’m also a nervous person… contacting an editor — even by email — makes my palms sweat. But that hasn’t stopped me from convincing editors to pay me for articles. And it shouldn’t stop you, either.
If you like to write, but you hesitate — maybe because you’re nervous, like me… or maybe because you’re just not sure where to start — then I suggest you follow my lead.
Submit your stories, first, to internet magazines.
They may pay little or nothing for stories, but they’re easier to break into than those intimidating glossies. And your articles in them will give you instant “professional status” — with clips to prove it.
I got my start by submitting stories to Bootsnall.com, a site we wrote up as a featured publication last June. (You’ll find the article here.) Though Bootsnall.com doesn’t pay for the stories it publishes, it is a place to get an easy and good-looking byline you can show to editors.
In fact, it was those small stories on Bootsnall.com that landed me a job writing — and getting paid for — articles on Oregon.com. When I first approached the editor and he asked to see my clips… I hesitated. I had never been paid for a story. Luckily, I had links to two articles I’d had published at Bootsnall.com — and that was enough to convince him to give me a try.
He paid me for the first article I wrote… and then asked for more. And more. It was fun to write about my home town, too.
There are plenty of sites out there that gladly publish travel stories from inexperienced writers. Whether they pay for your story or not, those bylines are the first step towards landing articles in bigger publications and collecting handsome checks. The trick is to start small and work your way up, clip by clip.
I’m telling you this now because if you’ve been to our workshops or taken our course, you know what you need to do to get published… it just takes doing it.
Right now I’m working with the ITWPA on an online magazine called Travel Post Monthly that was made for people just like you who need to get started with a few clips.
If you haven’t seen it yet, go take a look: http://www.travelpostmonthly.com.
Travel Post Monthly is special not only because it’s an easy clip, but because each month, we send an issue out to a list of editors who are always on the lookout for new material.
One of those editors may want to buy your story — but even if they don’t, you’ll have a good-looking clip you can link to when you’re pitching stories to other editors. I’ve submitted a few of mine… in fact, I’ll be writing a piece for next month’s issue about simple, fun, and effective travel workouts.
We’re always looking for good content. If you submit your story now, you could be a published travel writer by next month.
Still not sure how to start? Scroll down for today’s writing prompt.
Once you write three pages, or as much as you can in an hour, set your story aside for a day or two and go back to it later to see what you can use. You may be able to revise it and submit it to Travel Post Monthly, or another online publication.
You’ll find the writer’s guidelines for Travel Post Monthly here: http://www.travelpostmonthly.com/writers_guidelines
READER FEEDBACK: Roy Stevenson sold 34 articles in 10 weeks, and he’s not stopping there.
Jen Stevens, author of our Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program (and our fearless workshop leader) passed along this note, which she just received from a gentleman who came to our live program in Portland, OR last summer:
I’ve continued to have good success pitching query letters and getting articles accepted for publication. My total in the past ten weeks, since I got serious about freelance writing is 34 articles. I’m quite amazed because I’ve only had one article query rejected by all magazines I pitched.
I’ve sold every other article that I’ve pitched, although I still have several in with some BIG national military glossies that I’m waiting to hear from — they can take several months to respond, according to their writer’s guidelines. I’m not counting them in my “pitched” total yet.
I had set a target of 40 articles by Christmas, but it looks like I will surpass this easily if I keep going at this rate.
Here are some details of my latest submissions/acceptances.
Military Magazine liked my article about the Ten Best WWII Museums in Western Europe so much they decided to split it up into a 10-part series. I then pitched them the idea of doing a regular monthly museum review column, and am waiting to hear back about this idea.
I pitched the Kitsap Sun newspaper an article about “The Five WWII Museums At Normandy For Americans To Visit,” which they picked up and ran on Veterans Day ($60). I’m starting to get the hang of pitching to newspapers. I look for regional newspapers that have a strong military presence nearby, and they seem to be interested.
I pitched an article to an Erotica Emagazine about the Ancient Chinese Museum of Sex Culture and they replied they wanted it. I’m still debating whether to pitch it to travel mags too.
Sharon Miller [an editor Roy met at our Portland travel writing workshop last July] accepted my piece on “A Bali Hindu Cremation Ceremony”, and then indicated she’d like to look at my article about the Catacombs of Paris.
I work at a Community College with over 50% minorities, and pitched an article about “Highline community College: Seattle’s Multicultural Microcosm” to Colors Northwest magazine, which they promptly picked up, one day after I sent out the query letter. $250 for that one. I saw that magazine in a Teriyaki restaurant and thought, “bet I could sell them an article.”
I just got $200 cash in the mail from the UK Classic Military Vehicles Magazine for the 4-part museum review series I wrote for them a few weeks ago. These reviews were only 500 words apiece, which did not take very long at all to write.
Mid-Columbia Magazine, a glossy Eastern Washington Magazine about wine, recreation, sports, events, travel, etc. has just picked up an article I pitched about “Where To Find Traces Of The Great Columbia River Basalt Eruption In Eastern Washington”. I sent the query letter out to 6 Pacific NW magazines at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, went to the supermarket, and came back an hour later to find an acceptance email from the editor. That’s a new record.
I’m using all the ideas you taught us at the workshop in Portland, and of course learning lots of other things about the freelance writing business while I’m at it.
Anyway, sorry to bore you with a long email, but I wanted to let you know that I’m still revving along and thoroughly enjoying the game. I had to stop sending out query letters again because I have another backlog of articles to write. Not a bad problem to have for a beginner.
Best Regards, Jennifer,
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]