Amazon Connect for Authors

Posted by Chika On 9:35 AM 0 comments

Brad Newsham Hits the Beach

The always creative Amazon has come up with another way for book authors to promote their work, and it sounds like a fine way to meld the worlds of travel guidebook authorship with blogging.

The entries were part of a new program called Amazon Connect, begun late last month to enhance the connections between authors and their fans - and to sell more books - with author blogs and extended personal profile pages on the company's online bookstore site. So far, Amazon has recruited a group of about a dozen authors, including novelists, writers of child care manuals and experts on subjects as diverse as real estate investing, science, fishing and the lyrics of the Grateful Dead.

New York Times Link

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Longitude Best Travel Books 2005

Posted by Chika On 12:54 PM 0 comments

Bill Bryson by Simon Schluter

As the end of the year approaches, you can expect the standard listings of "best of" books for the year, including a few sites that specialize in travel literature. Most of these digests are just recycles of reviews and hardly surprise, though I thought the list compliled and profiled at Longitude was adventurous and elegant.

Longitude
Best of 2005
READING AND TRAVEL GUIDE


Our 15 favorite books of 2005, including an atlas we can't keep our hands off, followed by additional New & Notable books of the year.

Atlas Maior • Peter van der Krogt
ART & ARCHITECTURE • 2005 • HARD COVER • 626 PAGES


A richly embellished, gloriously annotated collection of maps from the largest, most complete atlas of its day, published between 1662 and 1672 by Amsterdam mapmaker and entrepreneur Joan Blaeu. The gold-heightened, hand-colored 11-volume original, from which this sumptuous book is taken, is the showpiece of the Austrian National Library in Vienna. Editor Peter van der Grogt provides a history of this exceptional example of art and cartography. (MAP22, $200.00)

The Explorer's Eye, First-Hand Accounts of Adventure and Exploration • Fergus Fleming • Annabel Merullo • Michael Palin
EXPLORATION • 2005 • HARD COVER • 264 PAGES


A gripping tale of 50 heroes and explorers from Alexander Von Humboldt to Robert Peary, Jacques Cousteau and Neil Armstrong, featuring a choice selection of archival photographs. Fleming once again dishes up surprises, telling quotes and even-more-telling photographs in this collection of diary excerpts, quotes and archival illustrations. Well done indeed. (EXP40, $45.00)

Finding George Orwell in Burma • Emma Larkin
TRAVEL NARRATIVE • 2005 • HARD COVER • 294 PAGES


In this penetrating book, Larkin searches for the legacy of Orwell in modern Burma, combining travel, history and reportage into an incisive portrait of the country. Writing under a pseudonym, Larkin -- a British journalist who speaks Burmese fluently -- exposes the corruption and horror of Burma's dictatorship through the people she meets on her year-long quest. Along the way she visits many of the places Orwell frequented during his five years as a civil servant in the 1930s. (BMA40, $22.95)

Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed • Jared Diamond
HISTORY • 2005 • HARD COVER • 592 PAGES


Diamond's provocative analysis of ecological disaster (usually pollution or deforestation) and the subsequent collapse of society. A follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs and Steel, it uses diverse examples from Easter Island and the Maya to Greenland's medieval Norse in order to make his arguments, which are insightful and tightly logical. A paperback version is expected in December. (GEN324, $29.95)

The Gods Drink Whiskey, Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha • Stephen T. Asma
TRAVEL NARRATIVE • 2005 • HARD COVER • 256 PAGES


Asma, a university professor and a Buddhist, writes with verve and humor of his stint teaching at the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh. The book is both an introduction to Theravada Buddhism and a portrait of contemporary Cambodia. He confesses in his preface quite pointedly that it is his mission to take "California" out of Buddhism and his earthy account of his (mis)adventures is refreshingly free of cant and high-minded prattle. He is also acutely aware of his position as a western scholar in a Buddhist country (albeit one where Buddhism was outlawed by the repugnant Khmer Rouge). (CBD46, $24.95)

Feet on the Street, Rambles Around New Orleans • Roy Blount, Jr.
TRAVEL NARRATIVE • 2005 • HARD COVER • 144 PAGES


Organized as eight wonderfully digressive, personal rambles around a favorite city, Feet on the Street takes in the neighborhoods, music, history, food and local characters of New Orleans. A book in the exceptional Crown Journeys series, which marries writers and places. (USS370, $16.00)

Into a Paris Quartier, Reine Margot's Chapel and other Haunts of St. Germain • Diane Johnson
TRAVEL NARRATIVE • 2005 • HARD COVER • 204 PAGES


An affectionate, personal portrait of place, Johnson writes with insight, verve and wit of her neighborhood on the Left Bank. She weaves history, anecdote, and tales of the many, mostly American, expatriates of St. Germain. The book, a volume in the National Geographic Directions series, works as both a history and walking guide. (FRN491, $20.00)

The Fate Of Africa • Meredith Martin
HISTORY • 2005 • HARD COVER • 752 PAGES


Ambitious in scope, immensely readable -- and as big as a doorstop -- Meredith Martin's overview of the tumult, horrors and strides made in Africa since independence is invaluable. A veteran newspaperman and historian, Martin has written biographies of Mandela and Mugabe. He is particularly strong in sketching the personalities and events in South and East Africa. (AFR154, $35.00)

A History of the World In 6 Glasses • Tom Standage
FOOD • 2005 • HARD COVER • 240 PAGES


A history of the world as seen though six key beverages, from the stone age to now. Standage argues, the drinks that mattered are beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Each is a tale of politics, prestige, imperialism, commerce and society. The technology editor for The Economist, Standage documents social and technological trends through the ages in this highly enjoyable chronicle. (GEN333, $25.00)

Why Birds Sing, A Journey Through the Mystery of Bird Song • David Rothenberg
NATURAL HISTORY • 2005 • HARD COVER • 258 PAGES


Rothenberg, a jazz clarinetist and philosopher with a strong interest in the interconnectedness of things, weaves music, poetry and science in this intriguing series of essays. It's a riff on the meaning and pleasure of birdsong, including, of course, a chapter on the nightingale. He opens the book with an account of a jam session with -- and for -- the birds of the national aviary. (BRD23, $26.00)

The City of Falling Angels • John Berendt
HISTORY • 2005 • HARD COVER • 414 PAGES


Berendt here does for Venice what he did for Savannah, Georgia in the phenomenally popular Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. His central hook is the investigation of the devastating fire of January 29, 1996, which destroyed the Venice opera house. What follows is intrigue, political machinations, financial chicanery, and, of course murder. Berendt succeeds in conveying a certain essence of what it is like to live in modern Venice. (ITL644, $25.95)

Hungry Planet, What the World Eats • Peter Menzel • Faith D'Aluisio
FOOD • 2005 • HARD COVER • 288 PAGES


As in their mind-expanding, gorgeously photographed and provocative Material World, Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio once again present diverse families around the world, this time focusing on what people eat. The photographs themselves (of 30 families in 24 countries with a week's worth of groceries arrayed around them) are fascinating -- and the accompanying sidebars and statistics on food habits, diet, and economics are just as riveting. With essays by Michael Pollan, Alfred Crosby, Carl Safina and others. (WLD65, $40.00)

Longitude Link

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Travel Writing Jobs and Seminars

Posted by Chika On 9:03 AM 0 comments

Travel Writer, Rajasthan, by Carl Parkes

A few travel leads have poppped up in recent days, along with a pair of travel writer seminars.

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CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:
LONELY PLANET’S 2006 LITERARY ANTHOLOGY: “TALES FROM NOWHERE”


We’ve all been to Nowhere. It might have been in the middle of Borneo or Bolivia, or in the back of a bus in Beijing or Boston. It might have been a Zen retreat, a no-man’s-land border outpost, or a six-palm Pacific island in an endless sea. You may have found Nowhere on a sultry summer night in Paris when you’d spent your last franc and had no place to sleep, or on a midnight jeep safari in the African bush after you’d blown your last spare tire, with your campsite a distant pinprick of light, or in the comforting cocoon of an all-night train compartment, in the arms of an intimate stranger. Nowhere is a setting, a situation and a state of mind. It’s not on any map, but you know it when you’re there.

Following in the grand tradition of The Kindness of Strangers and By the Seat of My Pants, Lonely Planet’s 2006 anthology, Tales from Nowhere, will present a rich, multi-faceted portrait of the many Nowheres we visit in our lives. The collection will comprise 30 true travelers’ tales, full of passion, surprise, wonder, curiosity and revelation. Through stories widely varied in setting and situation, Tales will celebrate and illuminate the fundamental truth that travel sometimes takes us places we never planned to go – and that those unexpected journeys can enrich and enlighten us in ways we never otherwise would have discovered.

Have you been to Nowhere? What did it look like and feel like? How did you get there? What did you do there? What did Nowhere teach you?

Lonely Planet is looking for original, unpublished tales of from 1,000 to 3,000 words. These can be about a Nowhere you wanted to be in, a Nowhere you accidentally found yourself in, or a Nowhere you desperately didn't want to be. We are looking for a wide range of stories -- funny, adventurous, romantic, philosophical; the subject, setting and tone are completely open.

Please email submissions to Tales from Nowhere editor Don George at don.george@lonelyplanet.com, or mail them to Don George, Global Travel Editor, Lonely Planet Publications, 150 Linden St., Oakland CA 94607 USA.

PAYMENT: $100 FOR UP TO 3000 WORDS

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CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:
EUROPE FROM A BACKPACK


We are now accepting submissions for Italy From a Backpack and Spain From a Backpack.

We're looking for first-person must-tell stories … the one story you continue to share with friends. Send us your best backpacking stories from Italy and Spain. Italy From a Backpack and Spain From a Backpack will be available in bookstores everywhere November 2006!

Length: Stories average 800-2,000 words. While we will accept stories up to 3,000 words, shorter stories have a better chance of being accepted. Please review the first book, Europe From a Backpack, to determine the appropriate style and length for your narrative. If you read the first book in the series, then you'll know what we're looking for.

How to Submit: Send your story by MS Word attachment with the following information (make sure to include all information in the Word Document):
- name
- story title
- story location
- address
- phone
- primary e-mail
- secondary e-mail
- College or University you graduated from
- Include a fun and brief bio after the story

Rights: We're interested in non-exclusive rights. The author retains the copyright and may reprint the story elsewhere.

Compensation: If your story is accepted for publication, you will receive $100 for each story of any length and two complimentary copies of the book. By submitting your story, you agree to sell the non-exclusive rights to your story at the above price.

Deadlines:
- Round 1: January 31, 2006
- Round 2: March 28, 2006
We anticipate on sending you a publication decision by June 2006. Due to the volume of submissions, the earlier you submit a story the better. Share your story today!

Note that in the near future, we will be accepting stories from France, U.K., Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Greece, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Please check back for updates. More info here.

Submit stories to: submit@europebackpack.com

PAYMENT: $100 FOR UP TO 2000 WORDS

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CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:
WHAT COLOR IS YOUR JOCKSTRAP?


By: Jen Leo on September 24, 2005 | # | Comments (3) | Market Leads (tag)
Have I mentioned were doing a fourth humor book? There's so much to do, I've gotten lost in the list. But yes, we are doing a fourth to wrap up the Empire of Undies. There was so much good material from Thong, that we've started with that, and are adding a bunch more. What Color is your Jockstrap? will release in Spring 06. And the big news....boys get to submit. That's right, the men don't have to have honey-pot envy anymore?we're letting them in?so to speak...

But we're on the rush job since we're making it a Spring book. All stories are due now. As in, the next two weeks. Hurry up, can't promise there will be more after this one.

Just do the usual. Send it to both me and Travelers' Tales. And make sure to let us know you heard about it hear on Written Road.

PAYMENT: $100 FOR UP TO 3000 WORDS

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MAKING A LIVING AS A FREELANCE WRITER
COST: $95


"Making a Living as a Freelance Writer" will be the subject of this intensive class with Michael Shapiro. A contributor to the New York Times, Washington Post and National Geographic Traveler, Shapiro will discuss strategies and techniques for earning a living from one's writing. Topics include finding your niche, developing professional relationships with editors, targeting potential markets (publications), the art of the interview, and self-syndication.

$95.

For more info or to sign up, contact Book Passage at 800-999-7909.

Saturday February 4, 2006
10am-4pm
Book Passage, Corte Madera

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INTENSIVE TRAVEL WRITING CLASS
COST: $395


Donald George's 18-hour intensive travel writing workshop is patterned after a graduate school creative writing program. The emphasis is on the craft of travel writing, with students reading and critiquing writing assignments each week in class. The assignments progress from a few paragraphs to full-length articles, with the goal of publishable-quality pieces. Students learn to research stories, write query letters, work with editors, and market their articles. His students have been published in many newspapers and magazines. The class is limited to 16.

Donald George is the former Travel Editor of the S.F. Chronicle-Examiner and current Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet. He is the editor of A House Somewhere, By the Seat of my Pants, and The Kindness of Strangers. He chairs the annual Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference.

As in years past, workshop participants will focus closely on one article, with the goal of crafting a publishable piece. This workshop is always energizing and exhilarating, and numerous published articles -- as well as wonderfully thriving writers' groups -- have come out of it.

$395
6:00-9:00 pm
Six Tuesdays, Jan. 10-Feb. 28 (no class 1/31, 2/14)
Book Passage in Corte Madera

To sign up, call Book Passage at 415-927-0960.

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Writer Beware at SFWA

Posted by Chika On 3:27 PM 0 comments

Cat Blogging Returns!

The two biggest complaints I get here is that my posts are infrequent and then quickly pile up (guilty as charged), and that I rarely post any cute cat or kitty pics. So I'm fixing that now, but I'll probably continue to be a lazy, irregular travel writer blogger.

If you need more action, and have an interest in Southeast Asia, check my FriskoDude Blog. Not only do you get the latest news on Southeast Asia, I keep the amusement quota high with recent posts on Michael Jackson and Jesus Jokes.

In other news, more tips for budding book writers at Writer's Beware, a wholly owned subsidiary of the SFWA.

Who Are We?

Writer Beware is the public face of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Committee on Writing Scams. Like many genre-focused professional writers' groups, SFWA is concerned not just with issues that affect professional authors, but with the problems and pitfalls that face aspiring writers. The Committee on Writing Scams, and the Writer Beware website, founded in 1998, reflect that concern.

Although SFWA is a US-based organization of science fiction and fantasy writers, the Committee's efforts aren't limited by country or genre. We've designed the Writer Beware website so it can be used by any writer, regardless of subject, style, genre, or nationality.

Writer Beware is a volunteer effort, run by a number of intrepid fraud-hunters--most of whom, because of the nature of their work, prefer to remain anonymous. Showing their faces to the world and taking the heat, however (are they crazy, or just dedicated?), are:

What Does Writer Beware Do?

Writer Beware conducts a variety of activities revolving around the effort to raise awareness of the prevalence of literary fraud.

We maintain and continually update the Writer Beware website with the latest information on literary schemes and frauds, and the most up-to-date information on what writers can to to protect themselves.

We constantly research the problems we discuss, reading trade publications, newspapers, and other sources, and subscribing to professional newsletters and mailing lists in order to keep current with issues and changes in the publishing industry. We're in regular touch with legitimate agents and editors, so we can better contrast their business practices to the nonstandard practices we warn against. And we're advised by an experienced intellectual property and consumer protection attorney.

We maintain an extensive database of questionable agents, publishers and independent editors. This database has been assembled thanks to the hundreds of writers and publishing professionals who have contacted us to share their experiences and to provide us with documentation (correspondence, contracts, brochures, and other material). Our database is the most complete of its kind in the world.

To give an idea of the scale of our data collection: When Writer Beware was founded in 1998, we had just under 100 names in our database. We now have more than 600, and add a new one, on average, every two weeks.

Note: All documentation is gathered in the understanding of confidentiality and will not be disclosed except to appropriate law enforcement agencies, in response to an enforceable subpoena, or as directed by counsel, and only upon special request.

We offer a free research service for writers with questions about agents, publishers, and others (e-mail us at beware@sfwa.org). The information we offer on questionable agents and publishers is supported by multiple identical complaints from writers or by documentation, and in most cases by both.

We assist law enforcement agencies with investigations of questionable agents, publishers, and others. Both A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss qualify as expert witnesses.

We help build public awareness of literary fraud by writing articles (our work has appeared in the SFWA Bulletin and Writers' Digest, among others), appearing at writers' conventions, conducting workshops and classes, and participating in online writers' discussion groups and message boards.

Writer Beware Link

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Tips on Avoiding Writer Scams

Posted by Chika On 2:56 PM 0 comments

Guidebooks/Rodger Cummins

Somebody named Anonymous posted a comment on this site a few weeks ago, and left behind several suggested websites about travel writer scams, including a link to Preditors and Editors. Loads of great stuff here including these useful tips for writers dipping their toes into the sometimes perilous world of publishing.

Some General Rules for Spotting a Scam Publisher

Openly advertises for writers in print or online publications or both.

Openly claims that it's not a vanity or subsidy publisher.

Claims that it has a new business model that will bring success, but never explains why other successful publishers aren't utilizing it.

The publisher gives no or very low advances for books it buys.

The publisher's books are rarely in any bookstores, particularly the large chain stores that carry books from just about all reputable commercial publishers.

The publisher's books have never been seen on a bestseller list published by a reputable source such as the New York Times, especially when said publisher claims to be large.

The publisher's books rarely sell more than 5,000 books to readers in individual purchases and more often fail to reach that number.

The publisher refuses to release even approximate sales figures for its own bestsellers.

When confronted with very low or non-existent sales, the publisher refuses to release the book from contract.

Books it claims to have published were actually published by another publisher, now defunct, that used the same business name.

Its contracts contain provisions that prohibit complaints by its authors about its service and product.

Postings in online forums never seem to include anyone who was rejected.

Online forum criticism is frequently immediately responded to by a defender of that publisher.

Acceptances usually take place in less than a month. Even less than a week is not unusual.

Acceptance letters tend to be identical when compared with what other authors received.

Contract provisions are specific as to how termination can be invoked, but the publisher disdains using anything other than some other method of communication.

Communications from the publisher are frequently unsigned by any individual using a department address so that no one can be pinned down as responsible for any comments made to the author.

The publisher never gives a direct answer to any direct questions. Instead, the publisher points to others who are satisfied with policy, procedures, contract, or sales as proof that everything is fine.

The publisher has a no return policy on its products.

The publisher threatens to blacklist its authors within the industry should they mention leaving.


Some General Rules for Spotting a Scam Literary Agency

Openly advertises for writers in print or online publications or both.

Claims that it has new methodology for gaining access or acceptance with book publishers, but never explains why other successful agencies aren't utilizing it.

Does not list any sales or refuses to divulge the titles of sales for confidentiality reasons.

The only sales it lists are for vanity or subsidy publishers or the sales it lists were made by the author before the author signed with the agent, often years before representation.

Sales it claims to have made cannot be found listed in any reference lists of books that were printed by the supposed publisher.

Sales it made were mostly to a publishing house wholly or partially owned by the agency.

Requires an upfront payment for administration or for a web display or for later postage and copying.

Online forum postings never include anyone who was rejected.

Online forum criticism is frequently responded to by a defender of that agency.

Representation is usually granted in less than a month or even less than a week.

Representation acceptances are usually worded identically.

The agency name has changed, but the same personnel still work at the same address and there was no conflict with another agency with the same or a similar name and no merger to warrant a change.

The agency never provides original comments from publishers that manuscripts were allegedly submitted to.

The agency never provides original invoices or receipts for postage or copying expenses it claims were made on behalf of the author.

The agency suggests that it will grant representation if the manuscript is first given professional editing. Frequently, it will suggest who should do the editing or offer to make its own in-house editing service available for a discount price.

The agency threatens to blacklist its authors within the industry should they mention leaving.

Preditors and Editors Link

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Tips on Avoiding Writer Scams

Posted by Chika On 2:36 PM 0 comments

Anne Lamott at Home in Marin County

The following three profiles and subsequent tips are aimed at the general writer's market, but could also be applied to prospective travel writers seeking a book contract.

Avoiding Writing Scams: Advice From Those Who Know
Writing-World
by J.A. Hitchcock


You've probably heard about online writing scams and told yourself, "I'd never do anything as stupid as that. How could someone not know that this literary agent (or publisher) wasn't a scam?"

That's what victims of three well-known online writing scams thought after they'd been pulled in by scam artists. Why did they let themselves get hooked like that?

Staying on Guard

"Newbie writers think, even after reading the fine print, that they're dealing with legit publishers," Crispin says, "especially when vanity/subsidy publishers claim that new writers are rarely accepted and make regular publishing look like a lost cause and impossible. There are no shortcuts to getting legitimately published and getting paid for your writing."

Rasley agrees and adds, "To guard against being cheated, you'd have to investigate all the prospective publishers, check out customers (satisfied and unsatisfied), call the Better Business Bureaus and attorney generals in their home states, have an attorney check out their contracts... and even then, you could get taken. Is it worth the risk?"

Beware of:

Requests for up-front fees (i.e., any money due out of the writer's pocket before a book is actually sold -- this includes all "expense" or "marketing" fees).

Referrals to paid services, such as editing.

Recommendations to use the agent's/publisher's own paid editing services

Offer of a "co-publishing" contract.

Being asked to buy something (such as a certain number of copies of your book) as a condition of publication.

Offers of representation/publication that come after reading just a synopsis and a few chapters.

An agent who won't reveal details of his/her track record of book sales, or claims his/her client list is confidential.

In addition, make sure any publishers an agent claims to have worked with are real ones and those you can easily find on bookshelves. Perhaps most important, don't let your desire to be published overcome your good sense. Join a local or national writer's organization and see if they have a list of known writing scams. Get involved in an online writing newsgroup, forum or message board; if you have a question about an agent or publisher, you may get answers there.

Victims Klatt, Edwards, Rau and Esrati offer this advice:

Always have a lawyer look over a contract with an agent or publisher before signing it.

Avoid agents/publishers who come to you first.

Edit your manuscript yourself or join a local writer's group to get feedback on your work.

Keep sending your manuscript out, even if you get a lot of rejections. If your work is good enough, it will eventually find a "home."

Never, ever pay any money; as someone once said, "Money flows to the writer, not away from them."

Recommended web sites:

SFWA Writers Beware - http://www.sfwa.org/beware/
Todd James Pierce's Literary Agents List - http://mailer.fsu.edu/~tjp4773/litagent.html

Agent Research and Evaluation Site - http://www.agentresearch.com

Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) - http://www.sfwa.org

Romance Writers of America (RWA) - http://www.rwanational.com

Preditors & Editors - http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors

National Writers Union (NWU) - http://www.nwu.org

Writing World Link

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Amy Tan at Home in Pacific Heights

Some basic questions to ask before you fork over big bucks on How to Be a Travel Writer:

Question: How do I avoid a writing scam?
4 Ways to Avoid a Writing Scam


Question: I'm considering taking a writing course that's offered on the internet. The one I'm interested in costs several hundred dollars. How can I be sure it's not a scam? eb

Answer: Hi eb,

First of all, let me acknowledge you for wanting to take your writing to a new level. Writing courses can be good ways to learn more about your craft. And you're wise to be cautious about a writing course you find on the 'net.

Keep in mind that if it sounds to good to be true, it is. Any one or any site that promises to teach you how to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars writing and teach it to you in a few weeks is highly suspect. Not because it's impossible to earn that amount - it is, and it's by and large a learnable skill. But it takes significant time to learn both how to write and how to market the writing.

I suggest the following:

Look for an unconditional money back guarantee.

Insist that you have access to two or three students so you can ask some questions.

Post on our forum, and on two or three others asking if anyone has any experience with the course you're considering.

Google the name of the course and see if, in the first few pages of results, you can find other sites that indicate the course you're considering is a scam.

If, after all this, it still seems like a good deal, you may want to go for it. I do know people who feel they've truly benefited from online writing courses as well as those who don't. Remember, if you do decide to buy the course, you'll have to hold up your end by working hard at what they're teaching you.

If you have a question you'd like to see here, send an email to me at: anne@aboutfreelancewriting.com. Please, put Q&A in the subject line so it won't get lost. I don't promise to answer every question, but I'll consider it. Know too, that when you send a question, and I do decide to publish it, I reserve the right to edit for clarity, etc.

About Freelance Writing Link

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Robert Young Pelton

A few weeks ago I attended the Adventures in Travel Expo at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and was pleased to listen to several lectures by famous travel writers such as Kira Salak and Robert Young Pelton. I've been reading Pelton for many years and had previously met him at the Book Expo in Los Angeles in 1994, soon after he had taken over the corpse of Fielding's and was cranking out books at a furious pace. I purchased his guide to Borneo, which turned out to be the biggest piece of crap in the world.

He has improved mightily over the years I think, in large part due to the efforts of his editors. His monthly column in National Geographic Traveler is always a hoot.

But the most impressive part of the lecture was his photography: stark, black-and-white images of war zones around the world. I was amazed, since I only knew him as a writer, though his real talents lie in his superb photography.

Rolf Potts has just posted an interview with Pelton, filled with Pelton's pithy and devastating opinions about the craft of travel writing.

How did you get started traveling?

I lived in a car when I was 16. I couldn't afford an apartment but I could afford $150 for a tired pink 1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country. Living in a car is called being homeless, but when you drive around and pick fruit for a living it's called traveling.

As a traveler and fact/story gatherer, what is your biggest challenge on the road?

I travel mostly in active war zones with insurgents, rebels and people who kill other people for a living. Gaining their trust and staying alive are probably the two most critical skills.

Have you ever done other work to make ends meet?

I am multi-hypen these days: Adventurer, filmmaker, businessman, author, writer, director, lecturer, columnist, host, explorer, executive producer, photographer, pundit, vagrant and student of life. In my past life I have been a lumberjack, blaster, boundary cutter, ad spokesman, copywriter, hostage, marketing guru, hardware store manager, and bounty hunter. Lets just say I get bored easily, and writing is a broad enough excuse to do something interesting, get into trouble, and see what happens.

What advice and/or warnings would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing?

Don't. It's like the label "war correspondent". You either write or you don't. My advice to people who aspire to be me is to stop whining and just do it. Everything falls into place once you begin the process. If it doesn't, there is always Wal Mart. Just write and use it as your passport to learning about the world.

Rolf Potts Link

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