Use your Setting to Market your Novel

Leverage your Setting:

People have an insatiable lust for new experiences, as shown by the popularity of TV, movies, and novels.  This lust also propels another passion:  travel.  When your novel takes its readers to another place—a virtual vacation—you can easily marry the two passions.  In marketing your novel, take advantage of the huge travel industry. 

Travel websites are very popular, and can be a good way to connect meaningfully with readers who crave adventure.  If the settings of your novels are real, and especially if they're important to the flavor or plot, publishing related travel articles can hook readers who are interested in exploring more on the subject.

You may think you're not a travel writer, but you are a writer.  If you've done on-the-ground research by traveling to the places your book takes place, or if you set it in your home state or city, then you have enough expertise to write a travel article.

How to Begin:

1)  Think of the type of article that would complement your book.  You want to make magazine readers buy your novel in order to see more of the scene you've painted. 

For example, if your characters go rafting through the Grand Canyon, and you've done this yourself, you could write a meaty how-to article on planning such a trip.  If your novel is a coming of age story set in a small town in the Midwest, you could write a narrative about small-town life where you grew up, humorous or not, depending on the tone of your novel.  If your book is a wilderness survival story, you could write a philosophical reflection on the grandeur of the Alaskan Bush in comparison to our own smallness.  If your main character meets her love interest in a dance club in New York, you could write a roundup on the best dance clubs in the city, including addresses and costs and best times to go. 

2)  Research  possible e-zines to submit to.  See the lists below or Google travel magazines.  Read their guidelines carefully and pay attention to word count.  Many e-zines are looking for specific ranges, usually somewhere between 300-1500 words.  Online, shorter is often better, so the 500-800 range is quite popular.  Check out the type of stories each magazines publishes.  Make sure they include author bios, so fans can follow your work.

Start small.  Breaking into professional travel writing is difficult, and most likely isn't your goal.  However, many online travel magazines are very open to amateur freelancers, and still have good readership.  Most don't pay contributors.  The benefit lies in exposure and free marketing.  It's also something to add to your credentials in query letters and the like.  Some sites do pay small sums, usually between $10-50 per piece.

3)  Write your article.  Revise.  Polish.

4)  In your short bio, include a teaser about your novel, and how it relates to your article, so it doesn't feel like gratuitous advertising.  Be sure to include proper links so people can easily buy your work.

5)  Submit until you get published.

6)  Advertise its publication on your blog, website, social media, etc.

7)  Repeat.

Some travel magazines that currently pay contributors (a small sum) and are open to freelancers:

Literary Traveler (articles about journeys inspired by authors or literature)
2 Camels (all about festivals and events)

A few of the many travel magazines that don't pay but still give you exposure:

Real Family Travel Magazine (articles on vacations for families with kids)
US Passport Service (only international destinations)
Regional magazines and newspapers

Melinda Brasher is the author of Far-Knowing, a YA fantasy novel, and Leaving Home, a collection of short stories, travel essays, and flash fiction.  Her travel writing appears in The Expeditioner, Travel Belles, Go Nomad, International Living, and more.  Visit her blog for all the latest:


Karen Cioffi said...

Melinda, great information. I haven't thought about using travel articles to boost a book's visibility, and I have a children's MG fantasy set in 16th century China. Articles on China would be perfect. Thanks for sharing. And, thanks for the links!

Melinda Brasher said...

Yes, an article on China would be great. If it's middle grade, there are a lot of magazines aimed at that age group. Some are quite hard to get into, like Cricket, but take a look. Cricket's guidelines:

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

What a great idea and thanks for the travel magazine ideas

Magdalena Ball said...

Melinda, this is a fantastic and innovative idea for both increasing visibility of a novel (always a hard sell these days without a big prize win or media machine), and for making use of that setting research to make a little cash and have additional publication credits and credibility.

Melinda Brasher said...

You're welcome. I hope you try it.

Karen Cioffi said...

Thanks for the link!

D. Jean Quarles said...

Great ideas! Never thought of those. Wonderful!

Don’t Depend 100% on Your Publisher

By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin) In 2007, America’s Publicist Rick Frishman invited me to participate on the faculty of MegaBook Marketing Uni...