ALL CONTRIBUTORS MUST READ
We are a bi-monthly glossy travel magazine with a focus on articles with a twist that offer first person accounts of travel in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific Islands, with a smaller amount of aspirational stories/adventures from far flung places such as South East Asia, Europe and Americas etc. Our readership demographic is LUXURY – if your pitch is about roughing it on a few dollars, we’re likely not interested!
How to pitch your story idea to any editor, anywhere, (almost) any time
Thank to Elisabeth Knowles (editor, writer & content strategist) for sharing these great tips about how to get your pitch right, and how to deal with editors. It’s well worth a read, whether you’re a seasoned writer or newbie!
Head HERE for the full blog.
Before you pitch
The pitch itself
After you’re commissioned
20 tips to make your travel stories sing
There’s nothing quite as enticing, for the armchair traveller, than sinking into a comfy couch to read about places you’ve never seen, and never been to. And it’s a travel writers job to immerse you in that world. Caroline Hurry, editor-in-chief of Travelwrite, offers 20 tips to travel writers on how to make their copy sing, and keep those readers engaged with their travel tales.
1. Make a basic outline before you start writing to see how various aspects of your story can relate and flow in an engaging way.
2. Develop an interesting narrative. Dialogue with someone other than your spouse. Talk to the locals. How else will you learn about the place?
3. On the subject of spouses and family members, unless they’re pertinent to the tale, we don’t want to hear about them. Really, we don’t.
4. Find a fresh angle to the story. Most places have been written about before so find something original that will grab a reader’s attention.
5. Details, darlings, details. Travelling as a writer is not the same as writing as a tourist. Take notes, ask questions, get quotes and jot down the little details of your trip. How much did it cost? What’s the name of the district it’s in? Always be specific.
6. Develop and analyse a list of 25 of your favourite travel writers. What makes them so readable?
7. Avoid clichés like the plague … Eish! Lose the “best kept secrets”, “city of contrasts” and “unspoilt gems”. Why do lodges always “nestle” at the foothills or “perch” vulture-like atop a mountain with “breathtaking views” over a “rustic” village? Stop, already. Try some originality.
8. Lose the unremitting good cheer. Among all the stories I had read about Egypt before I went, nobody had prepared me for the filth, the cruelty to horses, the stray dogs and starving camels eating cardboard from rubbish dumps. Be more realistic. Otherwise get into Pee Aar.
9. Read, read, read: Rinse and repeat. Only good reading can make you a better writer. Dip regularly into your list of 25 favourite travel writers. You will never develop a voice and style without reading.
10. Add historical or political context to assist the point you’re making in your piece. As Thomas Swick wrote in Roads not Taken : “It is the job of travel writers to have experiences that are beyond the realm of the average tourist, to go beneath the surface, and then to write interestingly of what they find … Good travel writers understand that times have changed, and in an age when everybody has been everywhere (and when there is a Travel Channel for those who haven’t), it is not enough simply to describe a landscape, you must now interpret it.”
11. Don’t compare one country to another, as in Camps Bay in Cape Town is the new Corfu. It’s very irritating. Not to mention complete bollocks.
12. Seek to entertain and educate your reader in a light, breezy way.
13. Write, write, write: You have to write even when – especially when – you don’t feel like it.
14. Paint with words: Take the reader on an armchair journey. Include sensory details. What did the place look like? Feel like? Smell like? Taste like? Remind you of?
15. Develop a specialty: If you want to stand out, it pays to be an expert on something that you’re passionate about.
16. If you can’t afford to travel, write about new activities in your local area. Become a travel expert on your own city. Does it have any unusual landmarks, remarkable museums or attractions? How about festivals?
17. Don’t give up. Successful writers stuck it out, writing and learning as they went along.
18. Show. Don’t tell: Lose the adverbs and flowery descriptions. Choose the perfect verb instead.
19. End with a punch or at least ensure the ending captures the point of the story. Don’t you dare say you can’t wait to return to wherever you went. Arghhhhhhhhhh! It’s been done to death.
20. When your piece is finished, read it out loud. Seriously. You’ll surprise yourself. It’s also a great way to find your “voice”.
VIP – We DO NOT commission freelance writers to partake of famils.
DO NOT pitch us on stories you haven’t yet written on locations you haven’t yet visited!
- Most feature articles are between 800 to 1200 words long, and must be accompanied by a separate, detailed fact box.
- Like many travel magazines, we are regularly inundated with travel stories and destination pitches.
- Thus, in order to be considered, your articles require authentic observational copy that imparts great story-telling. You need to be able to hook us, and our readers, in from the first paragraph!
- Stories should be well researched and well crafted, with an unusual angle that sets you apart from other writers who might have travelled with the same operator or been to the same destination. Our feature stories are almost always written in the first person and should be based on the author’s recent trip experience.
- Accepted copy can be a mixture of: historically significant, amusing, colourful and quirky, with possible quotations from unique people you might have met.
- Our savvy readers expect to experience a strong sense of a particular destination/city or the particular traits of an adventure trip whether it be hiking, rafting, on safari, during a voyage or road excursion.
- It should also include the character and outline of attractions/accommodation enroute that you visited.
Ultimately your story should inspire our readers to want to emulate the journey at some future point in time.
Rights and payments
- We require first time rights to unpublished articles in New Zealand and Australia.
- We offer a strict payment policy of a flat fee of NZ$500 (+ GST if applicable) per story for all our previously published contributors. This fee reduces to NZ$300(+GST if applicable) per story for unpublished writers.
- This fee should include a small selection of approximately TEN good quality, high res images.
- Payment is always on the 20th of month following publication. (Note international transfers may take an extra day or so to clear). Your invoice may state “7 days” etc, but we pay as above!
- We prefer to pay international writers via PayPal. If you have an account, please indicate this on your invoice. If you don’t have an account, we strongly urge you to set one up to avoid unnecessary bank charges for international money transfers.
- Copyright will remain with you, but we do have right of proofing.
Order of process
- Please submit all pitches via email to Shane Boocock, E: shane @ letstravelmag.com
- Pitches should be submitted via email – if you are pitching us for the first time, please include a short bio of where you are based, who you have written for, awards won etc.
- At the same time, submit a bullet-point list of completed articles that you would like us to consider, preferrably including the first paragraph or two.
- Furthermore, include one or two samples of work so that we can assess your writing style and content.
- If yours is the type of story/angle we like, then we will ask to see the full story along with sample images.
- NB: We stress again – we do NOT commission any freelance writers to go on assignments/famils!
For all submissions please allow 4-6 weeks for replies.
Conditions of Article Acceptance and Submitting an Article:
- Due to the large number of pitches received, we are not always able to acknowledge receipt or reply instantly to queries directly relating to submissions – however, we will try our best to respond when possible.
- The article must NOT have been published previously in either New Zealand or Australia.
- If your article is accepted for publication in another magazine during our selection process, we ask that you advise us so we can remove it from our potential editorial schedule.
- Once accepted, Let’s Travel Magazine may retain the article on our editorial schedule to await allocation of an appropriate issue (we occasionally keep accepted articles for up to one year). You may submit your invoice to us once your pitch has been formally accepted, but payment remains 20th of the month following publication!
- We will contact you once we have allocated an issue for the article. Please ensure that you advise us of any change of contact details whilst an article is being held by us.
- We reserve the right to editorial control over any article selected for publication.
- Whilst we make every effort to retain the original wording, occasionally we will make amendments to avoid any grammatical errors or repetition, or articles may be edited to fit the available space.
- It is understood that we may use the text and images submitted as promotional material or on our website and in a digital media format at no additional cost to Let’s Travel Magazine.
- Please supply a detailed caption for each image submitted. A tear sheet with thumbnail and full caption is preferred.
- Ensure you assign/name images in an easy-to-reference manner – this is particularly important if you are submitting more than one article!
- When you submit your high resolution images, please email them separately, with the SUBJECT line referencing the article and image.
- If sending more than 5 high resolution images, we prefer a mailed CD or Flash Drive, clearly labelled.
These may be posted to us at: P O Box 55-199, East Ridge, 1146, Auckland, New Zealand
- We require images at least 300dpi with a minimum size of 1mb or higher if possible. (Note: disks/drives cannot be returned).
- Submission of photographs by you implies that you have the right to do so. If you are submitting photographs supplied by a third party, you MUST advise us and ensure you have that party’s permission.
- We retain the right to utilise the image as a Front Cover option and for promotional material in relation to Let’s Travel’s marketing of the title. We do not pay extra for the use of photographs on the Cover!
The PMCA is authorised by LT Publishing Ltd to grant non-exclusive licences to copy cuttings for internal management purposes. The statutory framework for the PMCA is the Copyright Act 1994, which embodies the principal that copyright is a property right subsisting in, among other things, original literary or artistic works and the typographical arrangement of published editions.
We have appointed the PMCA as our agent for the copyright in (i) the typographical arrangement of the published editions of any works; and (ii) the literary and artistic works appearing in the Publication (referred to collectively as the “Works”) and the right to licence the photocopying, faxing, digital transmission and any copying or reproductions or other act which takes place as a necessary incident to the licensed.
“Works” shall include advertisements, photographs, cartoon and strip illustrations, graphic designs and illustrations, charts and diagrams, paintings and other works of fine art published or previously published in Let’s Travel.
Licences will be limited to use for the licensee’s internal management purposes, save that (i) press cuttings agencies, public relations consultancies and professional practices may allow the licensee to provide copies of the Works to its clients for internal management purposes, (ii) any licensee may provide copies to its financial and professional advisers, (iii) schools, colleges and universities may make copies for instruction to students, and (iv) incorporated associations may make copies for members.
Licences may include the ability of licencees to create and sub-licence searchable PDF documents of the works.
By sumitting your material to Let’s Travel for publication, you agree to the above licensing by the PCMA of Let’s Travel.
Rules of Writing
There are basic rules for the standard of copy that should be adhered to when submitting articles. Your articles are more likely to be accepted if you’ve followed the basics!
- Turn your spell check onto UK ENGLISH – there’s nothing that drives us more insane than having to Anglicise Z’s!
- Use an easy to read font, such as Arial
- Keep copy in SINGLE spacing
- Use DOUBLE-RETURNS at the end of paragraphs
- Do NOT indent paragraphs
- Spell out numbers below ELEVEN
- Do NOT begin a sentence or paragraph with a number in figures
- Give your copy a clear heading and sub-heading
- Credit for copy and accompanying photographs must be clearly stated
- When quoting telephone numbers, use the format: +(country) (area code) (phone number)
- When quoting emails use the format: E: firstname.lastname@example.org
- When quoting websites, use the format: W: www.name.com
10 Words and Phrases we never want to see again in travel writing
1. “Best-kept secret”
Really? Are you sure The Purple Dinosaur Bar is Denver’s best-kept secret? You found it, after all, and now you’re publishing its location, so it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a secret, much less a well-kept one.
2. “Et cetera”
Whether it’s “et cetera” (fancy! Latin!) or plain old “etc.”, you’re really saying this: “There’s more, but I’m too lazy to tell you about it.” Keep it out of your travel writing.
3. “Sun-dappled” / “sun-speckled” / “sun-splashed”
We get it. It’s sunny. Tell us about it in a way that doesn’t involve the word “dappled.” Please.
4. “Don’t-miss” / “must-see”
A bit of a bully, are you? What are you going to do to us if we miss it, huh? Just give us your experience. Let us decide for ourselves if South Dakota’s Corn Palace is a must-see or a see-maybe-if-I-happen-to-be-driving-through-South-Dakota-someday-and-need-to-use-the-bathroom.
“Exotic” is relative — it just means “different” or “foreign,” and depending who your reader is, that could mean ao dai, guayaberas, or blue jeans — so focus on describing your experience, and let your readers murmur, “oooh, how exotic!” if they so choose.
6. “Gem” / “jewel”
A beach is not a gem, and a restaurant is not a jewel, and yes, we know what a metaphor is, but you can come up with a better one than that, can’t you?
7. “Oasis” / “paradise”
If you’ve traveled to an actual oasis, as in “a small fertile or green area in a desert region, usually having a spring or well,” feel free to tell it like it is. But describing anything but an actual oasis as an oasis is another case of a threadbare travel writing metaphor.
And throwing “paradise” around just makes you sound clueless. Have you seriously found a place with zero problems, conflicts, threats, dangers? Or are you just, you know, on vacation?
8. “Treasure trove”
If you’ve stumbled upon a previously undiscovered royal Egyptian burial chamber, or a forgotten cache of pirate’s booty, fine. Otherwise, leave “treasure trove” alone.
Was your breath literally taken away by the beauty of that sunset? Probably not, so this word is overkill. Unless you’re blue in the face and suffering from awe-induced oxygen deprivation, look for another.
Why must places “boast” fine dining, colonial architecture, unspoiled beaches, or symphony orchestras? Can’t they just have them? “Have” is a perfectly good word. The citizens may well boast about their city’s marvelous offerings, but that’s another story.
* Note: Thanks to Matador Network. Originally published on June 3, 2009.