Jeff Booth, editor of Student Traveler, made my week. He invited me to write for him and said yes to 2/3 of my off the cuff pitches. For the third, that he didn’t say yes to right away, I just have to tweak to fit his audience a little more before re-pitching.
Student Traveler is the largest independent travel mag for college-age travelers in the U.S. and is distributed to 1300 college campuses. They claim to be different from BREAK, where I have a story appearing this Feb.
So, while I’m counting my laughlines, I’m also cracking up that two student travel magazines have approached me in just about as many months. Maybe I’m not as old as I think I’m getting. Or my writing is immature, which could be the case and doesn’t bother me. Yet.
Regardless of my ramblings on being thirtysomething, the point I want to get at in a hurry is:
Don’t wait for Jeff to come to you. Go to him.
Student Traveler is taking submissions and I rounded up a Q&A with Jeff that gives you all the “off-guidelines” dirt you need to know.
Q. How much of your magazine is written by freelancers
On average, about 50%-80% is by freelancers. We usually have anywhere from 1-3 staff articles, and the rest are from freelancers.
Q. What’s the best way a travel writer with few clips can approach you for an assignment
Send a detailed, focused query to me by email. A sense of the writer’s style should come across in the query, and if they have clips, point me to a URL where I can see the clips. Or, if they are not online, they can send me a PDF, for example, of their article.
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More important than clips, for me, is just great writing. For example, we’ve done two cover stories by one writer, Matt Goulding, who had never been published before — but his ideas for article fit our content, and his writing is fantastic.
Q. While Student Traveler is geared towards the student market, is that who is also writing the stories?
Generally, yes. Either college students, grad students, or recent grads make up probably 60% of our articles. It’s just a matter of distribution. We’re on over 1300 campuses, students are the ones who read the mag, and write me.
Q. What’s your turn around time on responding to pitches?
Depends if they are any good. Anywhere from a day to a few weeks, usually. I don’t usually let something sit for too long – either it’s not for us and I let them know pretty quickly, or it’s worth seeing the manuscript and I ask to see a draft. Sometimes I’ll like a piece but there’s just not space for it right now, and so will ask to keep it in consideration for a few months — but always let the writer know they can resell it elsewhere first if they get the chance.
Q. If writers are studying your archives and saw a topic or location that you’ve already covered, what is the length of time it would take since publication for you to consider that destination again?
It could be the very next issue — if the angle is sufficiently unique and different. But in general, we’ll shoot for about two issues or more between major coverage of a destination.
Q. Are you looking for new writers or do you like working with the ones that have already been working for you?
Always looking for new writers. The key is finding writers who fit our style and our audience. The vast majority of queries I get fall into two categories: students who want me to publish their unexpurgated and incoherent journal entries; and professional travel writers who are parroting press-release cliches and have no sense of our adventurous, younger, literary vibe.
If you’re a writer who avoids those two extremes, there maybe a spot for you in the magazine.
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Worried about the newspaper rate pay? Think outside the box. Write about places you’ve already been to or inquire about transportation assitance.