I’ve been working as the online editor for Explore Magazine for nearly four years now. I’m also a freelance writer—I pitch story ideas to various publications and have bylines in The Globe and Mail, HuffPost, HI Hostels, Fodor’s, and more.
While I am certainly not the authority on how to pitch travel articles, I have some experience successfully pitching.
(I also have way, way more rejections.)
This blog post will offer some general advice for anyone looking to improve their pitches or send a pitch for the first time. Please keep in mind this is what I prefer as an editor; everyone will have their own preferences. I’m still learning, too—after all, I haven’t cracked the NYT (yet).
My Top Tips
1. Find the right person to email
Try your hardest to find the name of the editor for the department you’re pitching and their actual email (not the generic pitches@magazinename). Say hello to them, mention a personal connection if you have one, and then get straight to the pitch.
2. Follow their instructions (!!!!)
Most publications have some sort of style guide or submission requirements. If they do, follow them. Do not deviate. Take all of their suggestions. Go above and beyond by following the publication’s style (Oxford comma, Canadian vs American spelling, etc). Do your homework—read back issues for examples of what they typically publish. Cater your pitch to the tone and organization of the magazine you’re pitching. There’s nothing worse than receiving a pitch that has zero relevance to the publication.
3. Keep it short and clear
Editors are busy and reading lengthy blocks of texts from strangers can be tedious. Help us out by sending a concise email with important elements bolded or underlined. Breaking up the text to create more white space can make it easier on the eyes and more enjoyable to read. Write your pitch in the same tone you intend to write the article.
4. A place is not a story
While you may have had an awesome time in Italy, just travelled to Africa for the first time or planned an exquisite Caribbean vacation, none of those have the necessary elements of story: plot, characters, conflict, and resolution. Yes, there’s setting, but even in non-fiction, something must happen (or have happened) that is noteworthy, new, controversial, informative or relatable for it to stand out as a story worthy of publication (compared to a tale you recount to your friends over a beer).
5. Take rejection with a grain of salt
If I quit every time that I received a rejection form letter (or more often, got ghosted), I never would have landed the job I have today. One of my proudest moments was receiving interest from multiple outlets (including the NYT travel) for my article about sober holidays (see where it was published at the top of this blog post). To be honest, refining that pitch took ages—and several rejections. I hope no one is overly harsh on you, but if they are, take it with a grain of salt. Don’t let criticism stop you; let it challenge you.