For your edification, here are some things you may be wondering about travel writing as a profession.
Q: Who are you?
A: I’m James, a writer, editor, traveler and entrepreneur meandering his way around the world taking on editorial and publishing projects. Currently in Hong Kong.
Q: What else can you tell me?
A: I started as a reporter in London way back in 2000 working on a tiny little financial newsletter, moved into food and drink writing, and for the last few years have specialised in travel and lifestyle stuff. I managed the homepage for CNN Travel for five years, launched LE PAN’s website and online strategy and set up a publishing company in Mumbai. I’ve assigned thousands of articles over the years, written several hundred and edited more than I care to remember.
Q: Should I be reading your blog?
A: If you’re interested, or even slightly curious, about travel writing and selling travel articles, yes. I’m trying to break down the barriers between editors and freelance writers and shed some light on how we think.
Q: How do I become a successful travel writer?
A: If you want the one-line answer – travel places few others have gone, write amazing stories about them, take fantastic photos and pitch all this as a package to dozens of publications every month for a decent sized fee. For the detailed answer you’ll have to wait for my book. In the meantime, read through my travel writing and pitching posts on this blog.
Q: Why are you so obsessed with pitches?
A: As an editor I saw a lot of evidence that writers don’t take pitching seriously enough. And the unfortunate truth is that without a decent pitch, your story will likely fail to sell, especially if you’re pitching to an editor who doesn’t know you well.
Q: So what’s the secret to a good pitch?
A: A good pitch has a strong, identifiable angle, provides enough detail to explain why this story needs writing and is tailored to the publication and editor it’s aimed at. It’s both a science and an art.
Q: Great, thanks, so I don’t need to read your blog or your book now!
A: Shoot, you might be right. I never was any good at selling stuff.
A: No! There’s a lot of nuance to writing a great pitch, which I hope to detail here and in the book, and the book will also have a lot of detail about my time as a travel editor at CNN, with observations, anecdotes and insights. All of it entertainingly told!