Sunday, 16 August 2009
Travel writing resources
Today's the final day of the 18th annual Book Passage Travel Writers Conference, which you may have noticed among the "Travel Writing Resources" links in the sidebar of my blog. I'm not at the conference this year, but it seems a good occasion to highlight some of the other resources I recommend to current and aspiring travel writers:
- Thoughts on travel writing -- Some of my own recent thoughts on the role and the future of travel writing
- Bay Area Travel Writers -- A local professional organization of travel writers and photographers, with monthly meetings at varied locations throughout the San Francisco Bay area and a strong commitment to skills-sharing, professional development, and supporting new and aspiring travel writers. I'm a member and have served on the Board of Directors. I wish there were groups like this in other cities, but there's a particular concentraiton of travel writing and publishing in the Bay Area, and so far as I know this is the only active travel-specific writers' organization in the USA or perhaps anywhere.
- National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981, AFL-CIO -- The only trade union in the USA for freelance and contract writers. There are other professional organizations for writers, but none has the NWU's focus on work "to defend the rights and improve the economic and working conditions of all writers." Every writer who hopes for fair treatment and fair compensation for their work should be a member! I joined when I was negotiating my first book contract -- the NWU's advice was invaluable -- and have been a member ever since; I've also recently been elected Co-Chair of the Book Division of the NWU.
- Travel Website Owners Association -- A network of author/publishers of Web sites that are "owned and operated independently by one or a few people, and [that] concentrate on travel content," including Hasbrouck.org. "Sites that do not qualify include corporate travel sites -- sites that 'exist to sell' rather than 'sell to exist', personal travelogues and single-point destinations (hotels, restaurants, attractions, etc.)"
- Tom Brosnahan on Travel Guidebook Writing -- Tom Brosnahan went to Turkey as a Peace Corps volunteer, stayed to write the first Frommers guide to Turkey, and continued writing best-selling guidebooks for various publishers until Lonely Planet stopped paying royalties and switched to flat-fee "work-for-hire" contracts (a bad deal for both writers and readers). Since then he's been self-publishing TurkeyTravelPlanner.com . Along the way, he's been a generous mentor to many other travel writers, myself included. His article on Is Guidebook Writing Worth the Money? and the related articles on guidebook contracts and online self-publishing should be must reading for anyone who hopes to make a living from travel writing.
- Travel Guidebook Writers Email Listserve -- Moderated (lightly) by Tom Brosnahan, this list is open to "professional guidebook authors and travel writers, beginning writers, editors, and anyone interested in the craft of guidebook writing". Most guidebook publishers have closed lists for their own writers (I host one for Moon and other Avalon Travel authors and contributors, so if any of you are reading this and aren't on the list, please let me know), but this is an open forum for new and aspiring guidebook writers as well as those who write for many different publishers.
- Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference -- Held annually in Corte Madera, CA (in Marin County just north of San Francisco) at Book Passage, a superb bookstore with a special focus on writers and travel. The conference program generally emphasizes the craft of travel writing (including both travel journalism and travel stories) and opportunities for networking with a star-studded faculty. I've been a participant and speaker several times through my former employer Airtreks.com , which co-sponsors the conference.
- SATW Institute for Travel Writing & Photography -- Organized by the Society of American Travel Writers, this is a highly professional event with a first-rate faculty and a strong focus on the practical and business aspects of travel journalism, rather than on travel story-telling or wordcraft, making it in many ways a perfect complement to the Book Passage conference.