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  The Chatter Box : Travel
just back and need some help... by alexchklar on 7 December 2004 5:49pm

i have just cycled 9000 km around europe, on my own. having kept a faithful and fairly brutal journal, i am now thinking about publishing it. unfortunately, being an engineer, this is way out of my realm, and i was wondering if anyone had any ideas about getting started etc.

there is a link to my website, http://uk.geocities.com/sasha_chklar/home.html although a search under my surname also suffices so any feed back would be most welcome.

Re: just back and need some help... by Godfather on 7 December 2004 8:47pm
It is said that travel writing is one of the hardest areas of publishing to try and penetrate nowadays. Most travellers have thoughts about travel writing at some stage (in terms of trip diaries) because naturally it sounds like the perfect lifestyle (travel and get payed for writing about what you experience). Sounds perfect to me for sure.

But from what i understand. Due to the massive amount of submissions now made (due to the huge increase in independent travel), the publishers have narrowed it down and look for really bizzare trips,or trips that are perhaps related with current events that may interest people (explains the popularity and great sucess of the "Kept in Veils" type travel books of western women going to Afghanistan,Iran,etc to converse with their opressed sisters,etc). People love that kind of thing. If you can tell them something they could not find out themselves,then it will be a hit travel book.

Such travel writing is related to fairly recent events, so they're usually guaranteed to make money. Writing a travel book having just braved the dangers of Iraq to speak to locals about the situation,will be an instant bestseller because it's an independent perspective. That's why that "Bookseller of Kabul" was such a hit. The publishers see a real market there.

But for your average traveller,it is said to be very difficult unless your trip was exceptionally difficult or exceptionally original in some way (such as something odd like "cheese rolling to Timbuktu"). One look at the type of travel books appearing now,show novelty trips being the most popular type. It seems they want travel books that have some kind of central theme running through them. Such as one called "Shopping for Buddhas" which i believe is all about one guys journey around South East Asia to find and buy the perfect Buddha statue. The guy may have just spend most of his time on the beaches. But the book is said to have this fascinating theme of seeking out this perfect statue.

But i would'nt be put off by this. Anything is possible. If your trip has something really new for readers, then it may work. But students' year off trips, Backpacking around India, Backpacking in South America,cycle trips through the Karakorum, Mountaineering trips,Finding myself in Tibet, and the like are difficult to get published now it seems unless you've really got something extremely original to show the publisher. Because they've been done so often before.

Good luck :)

Re: just back and need some help... by sminobe on 7 December 2004 10:34pm
Go to your local public library & ask for publisher/market info -- try the "Writers Market" / http://www.writersmarket.com or ask for info about self-publishing / http://www.writerswrite.com/selfpublishing .

As for the basics of writing, take a creative writing class or two or three. In the US these can be offered by private agencies or thru' "university extentions" where you might be able to get college credits &/or even a certificate/degree. Here at UCLA, University Extension there might even be online writing courses available: http://www.uclaextension.edu

These courses often have links with industry insiders, so you can do that all-important "networking" (well, that's not easy if it's an online class...).

Good luck!!
Re: just back and need some help... by Valarie on 8 December 2004 11:16pm
I'm reading a book now by Anne Mustoe called A Bike Ride: 12,000 Miles Around the World, published by Virgin Books. You could try there, but the copyright is 1991. It might be worth trying to find out who her agent was.
Re: just back and need some help... by alexchklar on 13 December 2004 3:18pm
thanks valarie,

will give it a look and see what i can do.

Godfather, the insight is useful... i guess everybodies trip is unique... from the feedback i have been getting so far, i think that i am fairly unique in cycling round europe on a trike and taking in the olympics etc.

there is much work to be done on the details... maybe one day!

Re: just back and need some help... by LiamMac on 13 December 2004 7:21pm

I think that the best travel writing is less about the travel, and more about the writer.

Liam Mac

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