Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer...Joshua Berman

Today’s interview is with Joshua Berman, travel writer and author travel guidebooks such as Moon Living Abroad in Nicaragua (Living Abroad) and Moon Belize (Moon Handbooks).

Writing credits include articles in National Geographic Traveler, Yoga Journal, and Perceptive Travel.

His blog, The Tanguilo Traveler, focuses on voluntourism, slow travel, and showcases his travel adventures in places such as Nicaragua and Belize.

Hi Joshua and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for stopping by and answering a few questions about travel writing.

1. Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get started in writing?

I won a Pennsylvania state essay contest in the fifth grade, so always knew I had some ability. I worked on lots of school papers, but never set out to study writing or to be a writer, until a few years after I graduated college and realized I could probably pull it off.

2. What do you consider your first "break" as a travel writer?

In 1998, I joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to a beautiful tropical country just beginning to emerge from an intense period of gritty, vibrant history. Nicaragua still conjured up images of the civil war in most of the world's mind, but the strife had been over for years and things were muy tranquilo. Word was out in backpacker circles and beyond, and my fellow volunteers and I noticed a trickle of curious gringos and surfers along the border with Costa Rica; we more or less witnessed the birth of tourism in Nicaragua – with no decent guidebook in sight.

After completing our service, Randy Wood and I began writing the first, longest, bestest-ever guide to Nicaragua. We pitched it to Moon (after finding their book proposal guidelines online) and they bought it (Moon Handbooks Nicaragua (Moon Handbooks : Nicaragua)). A year later we were holed up in Managua, cranking away toward our first big deadline. The book was a big success and my publisher decided to send me to Belize next, and I was rolling.

3. What advice would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing? Any tips to breaking into newspapers and magazines?

First, you’ve got to be a writer. That means you’ve got to write. Lots. The traveling part will happen itself as you live your life. Travel can be driving from your house to the grocery, or it can be sailing around the world. It’s the writing that’s important, so crack open a fresh journal and answer the call of those cool, white pages.

As for breaking into publications, read each one first, study their submission guidelines, then start querying. You may want to read a book about query letters first, then send off 20 queries to different publications and expect to receive one or two jobs. 5-10% acceptance is pretty typical. You have to have a great deal of patience and perseverance.

4. What do you see as the future for travel writers in the printed media and online ?

Great question. We've been debating this for years, trying to prepare for e-books, downloadable chapters, wiki-travel books, but who knows where it will go. I'm sure there will be some form of updatable maps and data, but I'm not sure what form it will take.

5. As a writer and traveler, what are the biggest challenges you face on the road ?

Staying organized. I fill up pocket notebooks during the day, then transfer the sweat-stained chicken scratches into my laptop by night. I'm always having to develop new systems of information management to handle the hundreds of word documents, image files, outlines, and e-mails; this can be exhausting, but in the end, the details add up to a quality book or article.

6. Finally, what is your favorite place and why ?

I have many, many new favorite places which I discovered on my round-the-world honeymoon last year, but Nicaragua is still at the center of my heart because I've spent so much time there and the people have taken me in as a son and brother. I'll always go back there, I have adopted family there, plus two guidebook titles about Nicaragua which I'll always have to go back and update. Belize is pretty awesome as well.

(note from Liz) Check out Joshua’s ‘Questions I've been asked about writing guidebooks’ to find out more about breaking into guidebook writing.


Previous interviews:

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Keith Kellett
Nicole Cotroneo
Barbara Sjoholm
Mike Gerrard
Heather Hapeta
Thomas Swick
Leif Pettersen
Rolf Potts
Ian Mackenzie
Sheila Scarborough
Graham Reid
Candy Harrington
Terah Shelton
Rudy Maxa
Shannon Hurst Lane
Wendy Perrin
David Whitley

Sphere: Related Content

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...