Kind of like if you went on vacation in Abbottabad last summer...
May 3, 2011 6:17 AM   Subscribe

[Freelance Writing Filter.] Where to submit this long and suddenly very timely travel essay?

Last year I took a trip and wrote an essay about it, which I've since been half-assedly trying to find a home for. Now, all of a sudden, this place is in the news. It's not a terribly popular tourist destination, so it's unlikely that lots of writers have travel essays about it lying around. The reaon I went there is not exactly the reason it's in the news, but they definitely overlap. I mention what is currently going on several times in my story, because it was also happening, though to a lesser extent, when I was there. All the coverage I've seen this week is of the breaking news variety, so I think a piece about this area when it wasn't in OMG-breaking-news mode would be something that some editor might want. But I'm drawing a blank trying to think of magazines/websites that a) publish travel essays, b) accept submissions, c) don't have a really long lead time, d) wouldn't object to something ~3,500 words long, e) are US-based and publish US travel, not just foreign/exotic stuff, and f) pay with actual money.

So, fellow writers (or readers of travel essays), any ideas on where I can send this thing?
posted by DestinationUnknown to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is a shot in the dark completely, but what about airline magazines? If the destination is near an airport, check out the airlines that fly there.
posted by troika at 6:37 AM on May 3, 2011

Post a blog entry about it, get some ads up, send links to prominent bloggers covering the story.
posted by empath at 7:29 AM on May 3, 2011

Big four:

Harpers, The Atlantic, New Yorker, New York Times magazine.

You can also try Slate or Salon or The Awl or any number of places.

Also look at regional or local magazines for that spot (ie. Sunset Magazine covers the American West).

Where do you have contacts? Where have you sold before?
posted by klangklangston at 8:04 AM on May 3, 2011

Most magazines have 3-4 month closing times, so you're far better off with either a newspaper or an online mag. But long isn't great for either--can you pare it down?
posted by Ideefixe at 8:15 AM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not familiar with the US market specifically but I'd agree that if you want to place a story somewhere quickly (which is what you presumably want to do in order to capitalise on the topicality), flexibility with the length will increase your options. Everyone loves topicality, so it could be really marketable, but if you're determined to only use the 3,500 article you've already written you'll have fewer options than if you can call travel editors and say "I went to Abbottabad last summer, do you want an article on it?" and turn round 400/800/1200 words for them, to their specification, over the next day or two.
posted by penguin pie at 8:36 AM on May 3, 2011

All magazines have long lead times. If you want to get this thing placed somewhere while the destination is still in the news, you shouldn't approach magazines. (I'd also not even consider places like Harper's and The Atlantic, NYTM, in general, as they usually only commission travel pieces from recognized names or their staff/frequent contributors.)

If you are going on the timeliness angle, your best bet is probably the web. I'd use penguin pie's advice and pitch something to one of the big travel websites, like maybe Gadling. Slate et al might also be worth getting in touch with.

3500 words is terribly unrealistic for an unpublished travel writer trying to place something in a paid medium with quick turnarounds. Even the pieces I've written for Matador had word counts way below that, and they pay like $30 per article.

If you want to publish a timely long-form piece as originally written, you want to start your own travel blog and not worry so much about the money angle.
posted by Sara C. at 10:05 AM on May 3, 2011

Response by poster: I should have said "online magazine" in the OP - that's what I meant of course. Thanks for all the answers so far.

Oh, and I do have a somewhat travel-y blog, but this really has nothing to do with the topic of that, so I'd prefer not to put it there.

(And I just noticed this, so if nothing works out in the next few days, that might be the answer!)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 10:48 AM on May 3, 2011

Response by poster: Oh, also, sorry if I gave the impression I've never been published. I'm not that connected (obviously) but I am a professional writer.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 10:49 AM on May 3, 2011

On the one hand, it'd fit the MeFi Mag theme. On the other hand, we don't pay at all.
posted by klangklangston at 11:03 AM on May 3, 2011

But do submit it if you can't get someone to pay.
posted by klangklangston at 11:03 AM on May 3, 2011

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