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Break Into A New Market
by Susan Miles
One of the joys of writing is the sheer variety
of topics and interests you can explore through your articles and essays. For
most new writers, we start writing about a particular field that we have an
interest or some expertise in. For me, this field was running. I was by no means
an "expert" but enjoyed being an enthusiastic participant and then writing about
my experiences and observations to share with others. My clip file therefore was
full of articles on this topic. The only problem with this is 1. There are only
so many story ideas on running I can come up with and 2. There are only a
limited number of running publications in the world that I can pitch these
In order to keep generating sales and stop
myself from becoming bored with writing I was going to have to expand my
repertoire and flesh out my clip file with some new topics. But getting into a
new market was almost as difficult and as frustrating as getting published in
the first place. I needed to have 3 or 4 clips appropriate to my new market in
order to achieve a sale, but I needed to make a sale in order to accumulate the
As with my foray into writing on running, I knew
I should follow my heart and write on a topic/interest I was passionate about.
My other great interest is travel. I love to explore new places and learn about
new customs and cultures. This seemed like the logical genre to tackle next as I
already had a truckload of memory's and experiences to draw upon without even
having to pull out my passport. But as anyone who has ever put pen to paper
dreams of being a "travel writer" I knew I was going to have to be inventive in
my approach in order to break into this tough and competitive market.
I decided to stick with my strengths and write
again about running, but this time with a travel element incorporated into the
article. I wrote a "How to" piece on maintaining a training routine while on the
road for a running magazine in New York. The piece was studded with travel
antidotes from my own experiences and those of runners that I had interviewed
for the article. By writing this "cross-over" piece, I was able to sell the
article to the market I had written for a number of times before but gain that
first elusive "travel clip". The other area I had been able to sell a few pieces
in, has been the genre of the personal essay. So my next piece was a personal
account of the women I had met on my travels and the travel hints and tips they
had taught me. By taking this approach I had a personal essay/travel how to
article that I then sold to a women's magazine.
Without too much effort I now had two "travel
clips" to present to prospective editors to demonstrate my work. But I wanted a
third clip and preferably a destination piece for a travel publication. I was
unable to get a commission from any of the traditional travel magazines. This
was not surprising as I was an unknown to these editors and my clip file was not
substantial enough to warrant their attention. I was going to have to come in
through the "back door" so to speak of the travel writing industry.
I therefore looked to the growing market of
travel websites and ezines. A new site advertised in a small ad in a Writers
magazine I subscribe to catch my eye. I submitted a package of five proposals
for the editor to choose from on a variety of destinations from a recent
vacation, confirming the availability of photos to accompany each article
The one that they choose to buy had an unusual
angle to the story. The town I was showcasing was not only an ideal holiday
destination, but has been a popular backdrop for movies and television shows
over the years. I was able to tie in particular features of the town with the
movies/TV that the landmark had appeared in.
Once this article appeared, I decided to try and
resell it to other publications. One editor's response was a no to the article,
but a request for a piece on my current location. I had fortunately included
sufficient detail in my biography in my submission to grab his attention as to
the potential for another article. I had recently relocated overseas and was
enjoying the highs and lows of being a foreign resident in a new
This inspired me to seek out specialist travel
magazines geared towards ex-pats like myself. I achieved not a full sale, but a
sidebar sale to accompany an already planned article on the same topic. The
reason I was able to sale the sidebar information was that my proposal included
unique and specific detail that was not mentioned in the main
Since these early successes I have been able to
sell further travel articles to the publishers who gave me my first break and
slowly but surely build a travel article clip file that is now as thick and as
varied as my running article clip file.
So what have I learnt from this experience of
breaking into the travel writing market?
- Write "cross-over" pieces combining your
established market with your sought after market. In my case running &
travel, then personal essays & travel.
- Use ezines and websites to build your clip
file in your new market.
- Propose multiple article ideas when pitching
to a new market. This will teach you the type of piece that most appeals in
- Include a unique angle to your story or
provide specific interesting facts in your proposal to grab the editors
attention and demonstrate your knowledge on the subject.
- Build your reputation by selling sidebar
details to accompany other articles.
- Remember your backyard is someone else's
exotic travel location. You can either pitch an idea on your local area or at
least include sufficient details in your biography to make your editor aware
of the destinations you can write about.
I would like to try writing for the
corporate/business environment next, drawing on my experiences as a Finance/IT
Manager. For this and future markets, I will apply the same strategies as I did
when I wanted to break into travel writing. My "cross-over" piece for this new
market is already at the submission stage, but this time I have pitched a piece
combining travel and career changes. Writing is a stepping stone process. The
secret is to find the right sequence of stepping stones to go from an
enthusiastic amateur with a good idea to a working writer. I hope my suggestions
have provided you with some useful first stones!
Recommended websites for prospective travel
Use their searchable guidelines database to access publications that accept
Travelwriters.com - This site
offers a lot of useful information for the would be travel writer as well as a
database of over 600 publications that accept travel articles. The database can
be purchased online for $39-00 US.
Writersweekly.com - In this
sites weekly market listing is often included job ads and guidelines
specifically for travel articles.
© Copyright 2002, Susan Miles
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