Travel Writing Marketing

Nick O'Connell speaking at the Travel Writing Marketing Workshop.
Nick O’Connell speaking at the Travel Writing Marketing Workshop.

I had the pleasure of speaking at Roy Stevenson’s recent Travel Writing Marketing Workshop. I’m including below a guest blog post from Roy about how to market your travel stories, including some very helpful books and articles:

The majority of travel writers struggle with marketing and selling their articles to print publications. Most of us just want to write, but the stark reality of travel writing is that if you can’t sell your stories, you don’t get to write them.

My books address this dilemma by presenting travel writers with a suite of manuals and guides that show exactly how to go about pitching, querying, and selling your stories to travel editors.

  • The Complete Guide To Query Letters For Travel Writers

Everything you need to know to craft compelling query letters. Includes 20 sample query letters that were actually used successfully to get assignments.

  • 100 Print Magazines That Want To Publish Your Travel Articles

Save yourself hundreds of hours of time and accelerate your travel writing career with this travel magazine distribution list.

  • Fifty Websites That Want To Publish Your Travel Stories

50+ quality travel websites, along with ten pages of advice on getting published online.

  • How To Land Press Trips And Fam Tours

How to leverage travel assignments for free or discounted travel, meals, tours, accommodations, and entry to museums and tourist attractions.

  • How To Break Into The Luxury Travel Writing Market

Break into the luxury travel market faster because you’ll know how to do it right. This 130-page book includes a listing of 55 print magazines and 21 travel websites that publish luxury articles – sales leads that will save you time and get your story ideas out to editors faster.

  • The Complete Guide To Marketing And Selling Your Travel Articles

Everything you need to know to sell your travel articles: how to select story ideas that are enticing to editors, how to pitch your ideas the right way, how to find magazines that will be interested, and much more.

Please feel free to check out these guides and manuals at:

While you’re at my website, please sign up for my free weekly freelance marketing eZine. If you haven’t signed up for it yet, you’re really missing out on solid, actionable advice about selling and marketing your travel stories and landing press trips. And you’ll get insider discounts on my eBooks, coaching, and upcoming workshops. Please sign up here:

A Winery to Watch

Chris Peterson
Chris Peterson pouring at Taste Washington

The Writer’s Workshop Blog highlights my adventures teaching writing classes, writing stories, articles and books, leading travel, food and wine writing classes to France and Italy, traveling the globe, promoting my books including the novel, The Storms of Denali, and other aspects of the wild and crazy world of writing and publishing. Writing and publishing are changing enormously and I hope this blog will help keep you up to date on some of the changes.

I recently had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Taste Washington, a food and wine extravaganza in Seattle. I always uncover a lot of great stories at this event. One of the highlights was tasting Chris Peterson’s wines from Avennia. They are made with native yeasts, giving them a sharp, bright profile with a superb finish. Check them out!

What Makes Washington Wine Unique?

Washington State’s star is rising. Awards flood in from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, the Wine Spectator and many other publications. But what’s distinctive about the region’s wine? Is there a style or flavor profile that sets it apart? Is there a standout varietal? And is it riesling, merlot, cabernet, syrah or something else?

Sandy Block, Master of Wine
Sandy Block, Master of Wine, and Drew Hendricks, Master Sommelier, discuss the unique qualities of Washington wine.

These were the questions raised during a lively seminar at the 2011 Taste Washington on March 26 in Seattle. The panel included winemakers, journalists like yours truly and retailers who debated these questions.

“What the hell is Washington?” asked moderator Bruce Schoenfeld, the wine editor at Travel & Leisure magazine. “Do you define yourself by a grape or a style?

Schoenfeld compared Washington’s diversity with the more unified image of Chile and South Africa, whose regions are making very different wines, but have been forced to work together for marketing.

“Any viticulture district has to be defined by its physical characteristics,” replied Bob Betz, of Betz Family Winery and a Master of Wine (MW). “It’s climate and topography. I’m a terroiriste; the conditions where you grow the grapes lead to sensory expression.”

This begged the question: what are Washington’s distinct sensory impressions? Is there a commonality between Chelan, Red Mountain and Walla Walla?

“We have the ripeness of the new world, and the earth and the elegance of old world regions like Bordeaux and Barolo,” said Shayn Bjornholm, Master Sommelier (MS) of the Washington State Wine Commission. “But we don’t have a sound bite. It’s difficult to give people an elevator pitch.”

Some of the panelists disputed the need for such a pitch, saying all consumers really want is a great bottle, no matter where it comes from.

“Consumers want something delicious,” said Sandy Block (MW) of Legal Seafoods. “If it has a story, a clear identity, the staff will form a picture of how it will work with food. If it’s hazy, with a vague story, it’s a harder sell. What is the story? People don’t have all day to pick out a wine. What causes people to look at the Washington section?”

Part of the reason the story may be hazy is that it’s still unfolding. The region is still in its infancy. Much of its growth and development still lies ahead. After years of leading Travel, Food and Wine Writing Classes to established wine regions like Bordeaux, Provence and Montalcino, Italy (, I’ve come to understand just how long it takes regions to develop such distinctive styles and traditions. It will be a while before Washington gets there, no matter how high its quality.

“Old world structure with new world fruit,” said Betz, summing up what he finds distinctive about the state’s wine. “But sometimes the best gauge is the two-point scale—yum or yuck.”

The panelists may not have been able to define exactly what makes Washington wines unique, but they all agreed on its quality. Yum!
Are you a fan of Washington wine? What do you like or dislike about it? What is your favorite house or varietal? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Publishing Opportunities

Pont des ArtsPublishers occasionally contact me looking for writers to contribute to their publications. Here are two that you might consider as homes for your stories:

The editors at City Arts Magazine are now accepting submissions for Ampersand, City Arts print and online showcase for original work by emerging Northwest artists and writers. We want to see fiction, poetry, essays, film, painting, music, lyrics, scripts and whatever else you can think of. In particular, we are looking for under-celebrated work that demonstrates innovation, superior craftsmanship and, as much as possible, a healthy sense of humor.Explore Ampersands new home on our Web site at

Pink Pangea, the first online community for women travelers, is seeking travel writers! Pink Pangea is the place where women travelers share their experiences abroad, connect to fellow travelers, and inspire other women to explore the world. Pink Pangea’s goal is to make travel easier, safer, and more fulfilling for women of all ages. We are looking for adventurous and eloquent students who have traveled abroad and want to document their experiences while discussing issues that are relevant to women travelers.

Contact for more information, and visit to read current articles.

An Oenophile’s Eden: Wine Touring Story about Napa Valley

Stag's Leap winemaker Nicki PrussStag’s Leap winemaker Nicki Pruss beside the “Hands of Time” tribute to those who have worked at the winery

It’s harvest in Napa. The smell of fermenting grapes fills the air. Pickers comb the yellowed rows of vines, culling glistening clusters before fall rains or early frost damage them. Wine makers work feverishly to crush the fruit at the apex of its ripeness, insuring a stellar vintage. Fruit flies buzz excitedly, caught up in the frenzy of the crush.

“It feels like we’ve been doing an ultra-marathon,” says Nicki Pruss, the red-cheeked winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, one of the most famous houses in Napa. “I sometimes don’t know what day of the week it is.”

During the harvest, Pruss serves as chief “grape herder,” coordinating the picking and tasting the fruit before it enters the stainless steel maw of the crushing machine. Amid the noise and haste, she recites her mantra “balance, elegance, restraint” allowing her to decide which juice from the vineyard blocks will go into the winery’s signature blends.

“Each block is like a color on a painter’s palette,” she says. “Each block is a slightly different expression of cabernet. Some have bigger, more structural components. The soils, climate and grapes all make a difference in the blend. We are trying to become in tune with this place.”

Harvest in NapaWarm days and cool nights make for an ideal Napa wine harvest

Stag’s Leap occupies one of the choicest sites in the Napa Valley, an oenophile’s Eden of some 400 wineries located 50 miles northeast of San Francisco. Thirty miles in length, it ranges from five miles wide near the city of Napa to one mile near the town of Calistoga. Internationally known as one of the world’s greatest wine regions, the valley contains the richest concentration of wineries, fine dining and wine touring facilities in North America.

After leading wine tours for The Writer’s Workshop to France and Italy, I wanted to see how North America’s greatest wine region stacks up against the best of the Old World. I’d passed through the valley before, but didn’t have the time to fully explore it till a three-day trip last fall. What is special and unique about the place? Why do so many people fall under its spell? How does it differ from the great wine regions of Europe? These were some of the questions I sought to answer during my visit.

I was here on assignment for Alaska Airlines Magazine to write about Napa as a wine touring destination. In the course of the writing assignment, I interviewed Nicki Pruss of Stag’s Leap, Chris Howell of Cain Five, Antinori’s chief enologist, Renzo Cotarella, and visited with Karen Trippe at the Conn Creek Barrel Blending Experience. The assignment required research and interviewing skills, as well as structuring the story in terms of a quest, some of the techniques I discuss in my writing classes as well as trying to put into words what makes a wine like Stag’s Leap Cask 23 so superlative.  The story will be coming out in the February or March issue. Please let me know what you think!