Sunday, 7 September 2008

#7 – Exchanging contacts with other travel writers

Or how to speculate to accumulate.

Afraid of the competition?
There are some travel writers out there that like to keep their cards close to their chest. They don’t like to give away information about who they work for, or pass on tips to those new to the business. Heaven knows why – if they’re good enough, then surely they haven’t got that much reason to be afraid of the competition.

A few pointers
I’m not one of them, and while I’ll often do my utmost to put off someone who wants to take up travel writing as a mere flight of fancy, I’ll always try and give some advice to a greenhorn taking it seriously. After all, it’s not so long ago that I was just starting out myself, and I’m eternally grateful to those that had the good heart to take time out from what they were doing and give me a few pointers.

Exchanging editorial contacts and potential outlets
It’s also why I’m usually to happy to exchange editorial contacts and potential outlets with other writers. Some people can be quite Machiavellian about this, and will only exchange this information when they think they will probably get more out of it than the other person.
Others jealously guard their contacts in order to keep them to themselves.

Give out 100 to get 101
I figure that no editor that I work for regularly is suddenly going to ditch me because they have had a pitch from one more would-be contributor.
I also figure that if I give someone 100 new contacts, and I get just one in return, then I still come out a winner. Yes, I’ve given a lot away, but I’ve also got more than I initially had.
And if that one contact can be turned into a regular client, then that’s great.

Be wary of recommendations
I do make one important caveat when I do this, however. I ask that my name is not mentioned. Unless I know the person and their work well, I never want to be seen as recommending someone. If that person messes up, then it reflects badly on me too.


Chava 812 said...

Any recommendations on how to find Aussie travel mags? (Or would that fall under "Do I look like Google to you?") how about the better aussie mags to work with when pitching travel pieces (lists, for example) of places in the US to see that are a bit off the beaten trail?

David said...

The Australian mags I work for are generally after stories about Australia. But for a list, try There are plenty there that take material from abroad. I just don't know them all well enough to give more specific advice.