Become a Published Travel Writer
By Martin Li
Reviewed by Living Abroad Contributing Editor Volker Poelzl
If you have been looking for a concise and clear definition of good travel writing and a manual that teaches it, look no further. Martin Li's Become a Published Travel Writer is an all-in-one crash course for aspiring travel writers. The Kindle eBook is also a great deal, as not only is it free of charge during its introduction during the coming few days, but it will cost just US$2.99 thereafter. The eBook puts the most important travel writing tools right at your finger tips, so you can start practicing immediately what you have learned.
There are plethora of books that teach you about the business aspects of travel writing, how to do taxes, take decent photos, go on press trips, get article assignments, etc., but Li's eBook tackles the essentials and focuses on the first skill any travel writer has to master—that of good writing. Li gets to the point from page one and demonstrates to readers the general principles and styles of travel writing that are most commonly used in publishing. Without preaching lofty concepts and long-winded theories about the art of travel writing, Li shows you how to write well by providing dozens of writing samples that illustrate his points and teach students the how-to's in a clear and easy-to-understand way.
The author also emphasizes that travel writing is not about telling personal stories regarding your travels abroad. A good travel article is tailored to the target publication and target audience. “Think like your reader” is important advice that is often easily overlooked by beginning travel writers too eager to tell their story and fall into writing more about themselves, their highly personal adventures, and excessive subjectivity. Some of Martin's writing advice reads a little bit like an entry-level English course, such as "show, don't tell" and "use adjectives sparingly," but by providing examples to illustrate his points and by focusing specifically on travel writing, these common teaching points become relevant for beginning travel writers.
In addition to various style guidelines and suggestions, Li's travel writing course also covers other important aspects of good travel writing, such as article layout and structure. After all, what makes an article successful is how it conveys a sense of place and how vividly it paints a picture of a destination in the reader's mind. Li provides step-by-step guidelines on how to create an outline for a successful article that lures readers in, creates lively images, and is informative. He discusses important points every travel writer needs to know before they sit down to write an article: who is the publisher, who are the readers, and what kind of travel writing do they want? Li then goes on to present several templates for structuring articles, which are a bit formulaic but still useful for beginning writers. From an evocative opening, to the central theme at the core of the story, to a satisfying ending, you get good advice for each and every step of the travel writing process.
Martin Li's practical eBook, Become a Published Travel Writer, offers a great deal of useful information about the craft of travel writing without reading too much like a textbook. In addition, the book has a friendly and fresh tone and is easy to read, which allows him to succeed in making it fun to learn about travel writing. Li's clear and concise advice is easy to put into practice as soon as you put the book down and start working on an article draft. For best results, I recommend printing important chapters of the book and keeping them next to you on your desk, as you work on your articles, in order to provide an easy-to-use reference. There is no doubt in my mind that this book will be a great tool to help beginning and even intermediate travel writers write better articles that will get published.
As a bonus, even experienced travel writers and editors who are honest with themselves can use the eBook as a refresher course on travel writing fundamentals! We cannot wait for the next eBook in the series.
The table of contents offer a great overview of what you will learn and re-learn:
Chapter 1: What are the principles of good travel writing?
Chapter 2: What are the basics of good writing?
Chapter 3: What must I do before I sit down to write?
Chapter 4: What are the most successful templates for structuring travel articles?
Chapter 5: What are the secrets to creating powerful introductions that grab readers' attention?
Chapter 6: What are the secrets to writing articles that readers want to read and editors want to publish?
Chapter 7: What are the secrets to creating powerful endings?
Chapter 8: What are the most important writing pitfalls to avoid?
Chapter 9: What are the practicalities of writing travel articles that sell?