Nick Boulos Twitter Q&A – the best bits
Article 23 April

Nick Boulos Twitter Q&A – the best bits

We hosted a Twitter Q&A session with award-winning journalist Nick Boulos – read on for his answers to your travel writing questions...

How do you approach companies you wish to write for?

With strong and original ideas and examples of previously published material – you need to prove you can deliver the goods. Also, be realistic. For better odds, target smaller publications which are less likely to be inundated with ideas.

What are your tips on getting your foot in the door when travelling on your own dime is financially out of reach?

Start by pitching round-ups or features on places you've already been.  Many editors are often reluctant to send unknown or first-time writers away on assignment. Exploring your own backyard is another way – pitch a piece on your local area.

How do you pitch a story to an editor? Let's say, a Wanderlust editor!

With patience and perseverance! It took me more than a year of pitching to get my first Wanderlust magazine commission. Read the publication and find strong ideas tailored to that title – what works for one, won't work for another.

Any tips on what editors look for?

Something newsworthy – a new or novel way of experiencing a popular destination (cycling in Delhi, for example).

Have you ever been sent away for a story and not been able to deliver what the editor asked for?

The pressure is always on and I've had many challenging assignments that haven't quite gone to plan. I once went to a remote island in Panama to stay with an indigenous tribe and my guide didn't speak a word of English. There was no WiFi or phone signal so I had to track down a satellite phone and get another guide flown in!

Should writers accept radio silence from editors when they pitch?

Send a polite follow-up along the lines of: 'If I don't hear back, I'll presume this isn't for you and will try elsewhere'.

Which travel writer do you take inspiration from?

Myself! ;-) There are many writers whose work I enjoy – my favourite is probably Stanley Stewart. Check him out!

How do you tackle people wanting creative control of your work?

As a freelancer you have to work in sync with your editor. They are, essentially, a client and have the final word. There have been times when I've been disappointed with the edit but it's usually fine as I'm often sent proofs before publication. But if you're starting out I wouldn't ask editors to see the final piece before publication – nobody likes a diva.

How do you pitch a story? Physically? On the phone? Email? Tweet?

Turning up at a publication's office is NEVER a good idea. Don't phone as you risk becoming a pest – email is best.

What has been your best ever travel story?

Now, that's a toughie! There have been so many, but I was pleased with my Northern Lights piece.

What are your tips for juggling jet-lag with a tight deadline that you need to be fresh for?

Sleeping tablets... and trying to blag an upgrade!

Some final tips: think creatively, be realistic and don't get into it for the wrong reasons. Travel writing is not about free holidays!

Like this? Don't miss...
The 5 biggest mistakes made by novice travel writers | Are you guilty?
Confessions of a travel writer | Is it really the best job in the world?
Travel writing tips | Wanderlust editor Phoebe answers your questions
Get paid to travel – become a guidebook author | Do you have what it takes?
Get paid to travel: become a travel blogger | Insider tips to crack this industry