Return to Home Page

January 15, 2007

Tips for getting a travel book published

A reader named Scott recently wrote me with the following question:

How do you get published? I am working on a book proposal, but publishers don’t take unsolicited manuscripts or proposals and agents don’t seem to want unpublished writers. The book is nonfiction, about living and working in Russia for the last two years. I think I have a unique perspective to offer because I am in the Russian branch of a company and I am the only non-Russian in the office. My Russian is not perfect, so this causes some funny situations. Also, I moved myself here at my own expense with my Russian wife and have lived for two years without a single American friend.

I think I have seen a side of Russia that most foreigners never see because I basically live like a Russian. I also brought my car here from the states and have had a few interesting road trips to places like the Ukraine that most outsiders would never see either. I also am a fanatical photographer and I have thousands of publishable images to go along with the stories. Advice?

This is what I told Scott:

1) The best route for publishing your book is finding an agent who is interested in helping you develop the project. More on that in a moment.

2) Right now, you should do some market research on books similar to your own. Which books have been published about Russia in the last 10 or so years — and specifically, which of these books have been about travel and expat life? Research these books a bit, and find out who is publishing them (sometimes it is not American publishers, but smaller outfits in the UK or even Russia). Find out about the authors, and how they might have gone about getting published. Try and find out which agents, if any, represented these writers.

3) If your humor voice is indeed very funny, that might be your best asset. Check out J. Maarten Troost‘s recent expat memoirs about the South Pacific. Different location, but effective use of humorous voice. Check and see which agent is representing him, or other travel humorists. But again, you really must have a truly funny humor voice, and that is not very common.

4) Try and pitch parts of your book, as-is or rewritten to be self-contained, to publications of all sorts — expat rags in Russia, online travel magazines, newspapers, magazines. This is a long and slow process, but it could win you some publication credits and give you an indication of how people respond to your writing.

5) If you don’t have a lot of writing and publication credits or experience, you might take your manuscript to some writing classes and workshops. I teach one myself every July at the Paris American Academy.

6) Based on the research above, start looking for agents. Click here to read some tips from my own agent, Sarah Jane Freymann.

7) I’m not sure that the photographs are going to help you much. They can’t hurt, I suppose, but I doubt they’ll be a selling point.

8) In general, your book will be a tough sell unless your stories are intriguing, your prose is sparkling, and your humor side-splitting. That’s just the reality of things for a book with as specific of a subject matter as yours.

9) Good luck!

Posted by | Comments (6) 
Category: Vagabonding Advice


6 Responses to “Tips for getting a travel book published”

  1. Maia Says:

    Do you have Scott’s contact info? I’d love to swap stories with him.

  2. Kit Herring Says:

    Hi,
    My own literary agent says that since the economic crash last year, only about 30% of new writers are getting contracts as compared to a couple of years ago. I’m still waiting and she is working hard to get a bona fide publishing deal for my travel fiction work, “Descending the Cairo Side.”

  3. Austin Beeman Says:

    What about self-publishing and selling through the web. You’d make more per book and need less sales to fund the next chapter of traveling.

  4. sofia Says:

    I have to agree with “Austin Beeman”. Self-publishing is a quite better way if you manage to do it well.

  5. Safari Says:

    This is the advice i would give to Scott.
    I was thinking that you start up a website where you publish your adventures, those photos and the less traveled destinations like a road trip to Ukraine. There are lots of monetary benefits.

Main

Bio

Books

Stories

Essays

Video

Interviews

Events

Writers

Marco

Paris

Vagabonding.net

Contact


Vagabonding Audio Book at Audible.com

Marco Polo Didnt Go There
Rolf's new book!


Vagabonding
   Vagabonding

RECENT COMMENTS

Roger: Your camera technique looks really good and the colors are vibrant. What kind of...

Ric: I have been seriously vagabonding for the past 6 years on numerous trips ranging...

laurent: @ Ani: My wife and I have house and pet sat on many occasions in California in...

Angela Laws: There are vagabonds of all ages and from all walks of life! Like Charlie...

Roger: “When one is tired of London, one is tired of life.” –Samuel...

Jussi: For Dengue: check out Youtube. Sorry to hear about your husband’s dengue....

Jussi: Baños in the case of the city, does not mean “bathroom,” it means...

Charli: Thanks for sharing details of the assignment you are offering Ani! Sadly...

Yves Potvin: A comment for Tom : Your are asking about an hotel in Herat. Il I recall...

Lars: thanks for an interesting post. do you know how common this kind of setup is in...

SPONSORED BY :



CATEGORIES

TRAVEL LINKS

ARCHIVES

RECENT ENTRIES

Vagabonding Case Study: Theodora Sutcliffe
5 tips for how not to chase a deal
Field Report: Nimbin, Australia – Where flower power retired
Vagabonding book club: Chapter Four: Preparation
At its best, travel is indistinguishable from just living life
Post Salkantay trek, Peru
Up Cambodia without a phrase book
Vagabonding Case Study: Luke Armstrong
We all see the same sun
Vagabonding field report: London,UK


Subscribe to this blog's feed
Follow @rolfpotts