Tom Schueneman on Travel Writing and How He Started His Own E-Zine, "The Tourist Traveler"
TGT: Were you always a writer – or is this a career change for you?
TS: Though I have always loved to write, I have worked mostly in music and theater as a sound engineer and musician. I still work in that field, but I am fortunate enough to have the time to devote to my new career as a writer.
TGT: You've taken both Great Escape Publishing's Travel Writing course, and AWAI's Copywriting course. How has what you learned in our Copywriting course helped you as a travel writer?
TS: On a practical level, the copywriting course has helped me structure all my writing. Whether you're writing a package for a vitamin supplement targeted at middle-aged men or trying to convey the essence of a place you've visited, you're selling – and the structure of all sales pieces are similar. From the headlines … to the leads … to the paragraphs … the way you write any sales piece is similar. I learned that it's all about Picture, Promise, Proof! For a promotional package or for an article about Fiji. The Copywriting course also taught me to talk directly to my readers, one on one, in order to capture their attention and pull 'em in.
TGT: Where did the idea of "The Tourist Traveler" come from?
TS: I've always had wanderlust and have often fantasized about the "freedom of the open road." (Though I can tell you, when you're out on the road working as a sound engineer, there isn't a whole lot of freedom!) I love the way great travel writers weave their personal experiences into fascinating stories and anecdotes – and have been intrigued by the idea of becoming one myself. For many years now, I've dreamed of publishing my own newsletter or e-zine, focusing on people's adventures in new and exotic places. I finally did something about it and came up with "The Tourist Traveler."
TGT: What are your goals for "The Tourist Traveler"?
TS: Well, there are the obvious goals … like building a large subscriber base and maximizing the potential for revenue. But I also have a more philosophical vision for "The Tourist Traveler." In addition to publishing basic "destination" travel articles (the kind we learned about in Great Escape Publishing's Travel Writing course), I want to feature content with an insightful and intelligent outlook on the world … and include articles that stress the importance of respect and concern for the environment.
Travel is a great way to expand your world view by learning about other places and cultures. I want "The Tourist Traveler" to educate, enlighten, amuse, inspire, and inform. I hope to shape it into a publication that my readers will look forward to getting in their e-mailboxes every month. I also hope to give aspiring travel writers a chance to get their work published. (Goodness knows, I can't do it all by myself!)
TGT: What advice would you give to our students who want to start their own e-zines?
TS: Well, first thing is to find your niche. Focus, focus, focus! I've learned this lesson over and over again, both on and off the Net. Do your research, find out what is already out there, and subscribe to e-zines that are similar to the one you are thinking about doing. Then figure out a way to do yours better or slightly different. You'll also need to know some of the mechanics of marketing, publishing, and distributing an e-zine. That kind of stuff isn't too hard to learn – and you'll find tons of information on the Internet. I'll be happy to give advice to AWAI students. Just e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
TGT: If AWAI students are interested in submitting travel articles for your e-zine, what should they do?
TS: As a publisher of a fledgling publication, I have found that good writing is hard to come by – but I'm sure that serious AWAI students will be able to write material I can use. We do pay for published articles – not a lot, but we hope to increase the amount as the e-zine continues to grow.
The best way to get a feel for the kind of articles we publish in "The Tourist Traveler" is to subscribe to it. Take a look at past issues and read the feature articles – especially the articles I've written, since these establish the "voice" of the e-zine. Then get the guidelines for submission by clicking on email@example.com. Either query me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your idea or submit your completed manuscript.
Check out our website at http://www.touristtravel.com/.
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