Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer…Linda Tagliaferro

Today we are speaking with Linda Tagliaferro. Linda is an artist and writer who writes primarily for magazines such as Maxim, Coastal Living, American Style, plus online outlets such as BBW Magazine, the Meeting Professional, and the Washingtonian. She is also a regular contributor (for the past 9 years) to The New York Times. Linda has written over 35 books for adults, young adults, and children - titles include Destination New York, Galapagos Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Hi Linda and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for stopping by.

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

No, writing wasn't my first priority. I started out as an artist, but I always wrote out little stories to go with my drawings in my sketch books, and people always complimented me on my writing style when I wrote letters. What prompted me to start writing professionally was motherhood. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my then young son, so I decided to become a freelance writer. I sent out queries, and that's how I got my first assignments.

I think that being an artist brings out the visual aspects of my writing, and this is an important component of travel journalism.

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

I freelanced for a family publication in NYC, and after a few years, they asked me if I'd like to go on a sponsored trip and then write about my experiences. I jumped at the chance, and did my best to impress them with my reporting. Luckily, they continued to give me assignments. After that, I subscribed to Travelwriter Marketletter to find out about more publications that feature travel stories. The newsletter also lists press trips for writers with experience.

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

Subscribe to Travelwriter Marketletter, and also any other online publications that list new markets. The tried-and-true advice has always been: read the publication, get their writers' guidelines (sometimes available online) and study them, and make sure they use freelancers. Spell the name of the editor correctly when you send out a query letter. And also understand what constitutes a good query letter.

You might go to your local library and look through several years of back issues of the publication(s) you intend to target. This will give you an idea of recurring themes.

Know the readers: are they young and hip, mature and adventurous, honeymooners or business travelers? Do they have children who travel with them? Are they seasoned or first-time travelers? What is the average household income of readers? You don't want to send in a query on a luxe hotel in Fiji to an editor of a magazine for thrifty readers.

Persistence is the name of the game. You can't take editors' rejections personally. They have an agenda and must stick to it. They may have already run a story on a similar idea. Send out lots and lots of query letters to different publications.

Get as much practice as possible. Write, write, write.

Do you have an angle to your article idea? "Visit Paris!" is not going to fly with editors because it's way too broad, but "Ten Hidden Treasures of Provence" will pique someone's interest.

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

I think that print publications will always be around, but they're going to have to include an online presence to continue to flourish. Online publications will continue to add web-only features, like video interviews, links, etc.

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

I think every travel writer looks for places that are lesser-known, but that's getting harder and harder to find. I'm always pressed for time, and often would like to explore a place in more depth, but deadlines loom and airlines await. Unless I'm traveling with a group, meals can be lonely. On assignment in Hawaii, I went to my hotel's elegant dining room, and the receptionist smiled and asked, "Table for two?" She immediately assumed I was there with a love interest. I timidly told her that it was just me, and she led me to a table with a view.....of cooing honeymooners, long-time couples celebrating their anniversary, and undoubtedly some illicit lovers. I felt like an outcast, and wanted to announce, "I'm married, but my husband just isn't along because I'm working."

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

I have many favorite places, including Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes, the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, and of course, all of the Hawaiian islands. The Andes mountains are breathtaking (literally and figuratively) and the Hawaiian islands constitute more than just a tropical paradise: they are home to a fascinating culture of stories, chants, authentic dance (not the tourist luau hula) and music.

I loved the Galapagos Islands so much that I wrote a short book on some of the flora and fauna of the area, "Galapagos Islands: Nature's Delicate Balance at Risk."


Previous interviews

Joshua Berman
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

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