It has only been recently that I’ve known Ed Wetschler. I met him as a result of his role at Tripatini. I’m going to use its own definition, “TRIPATINI is a fun, free social network and blog where travelers and travel experts from across the planet hang out, share and learn how to travel better and smarter.”
I have to agree. For me, I have made valuable contacts, gotten help on researching articles, and kept up with media and public relation activities.
I was quite pleased to have Ed agree to an interview.
1. How do you want your name to appear in the title of this post?
In neon. But failing that, Ed Wetschler.
2. Please introduce yourself: provide some background, i.e.where are you from, how did you start writing, is there anything specifically interesting about you? If you had another career first, how/why did you switch to writing?
I’m a native New Yorker who started out as a high school teacher. I was a dedicated teacher, and I also loved the long summer vacations because they allowed me to do serious traveling. However, I had a yen to write, and I was an avid theater-goer, so after ten or so years I started doing Off Broadway reviews and features for a neighborhood magazine. Occasionally I covered for other writers, doing reviews of cabarets, restaurants, and concerts.
A friend convinced me to send some clips and queries out to more mainstream publications, and I got lucky: Travel & Leisure (back then it was an ampersand, not a +) assigned a couple of theater stories to me, as did one of the travel trade magazines. I said to myself, Self, you’re beginning to look like a travel writer.
Sure enough, the trade mag editor called one Thursday afternoon in July and asked if I could possibly go to London the next day. Well, certainly. “And can you take photos?” she asked. “That’s an important part of this assignment.” I assured her that I’m a very good photographer.
A good photographer? I didn’t even own a camera.
The next morning, a photographer friend shepherded me through B&H, helped me choose a camera, and I took it on the plane, still in its wrappings, and started reading the instructions.
In 1984 I quit teaching, took some short-lived jobs in travel editing, and finally landed a bottom-of-the-barrel position at Diversion, the Hearst leisure magazine for physicians. I stayed there for 20 years, rising to executive editor and then editor-in-chief. But I continued to take responsibility for washing the coffee pots.
Since resigning in 2004, I’ve been freelance editing and writing for The New York Times, Diversion, Delta Sky, Caribbean Travel & Life, Caribbean Escapes, EverettPotter.com, Tripatini.com (where I’m the executive editor), and so on.
Postscript: It was my love of theater that helped me get started in this biz, but I stopped going to the theater in 1984 – I was just too busy – and I’ve never gone back.
3. What type of writing do you write?
Great writing. Seriously, I do both narrative and episodic stories, both first-person accounts and reportorial work.
4. What can you share with others as to important tips or suggestions for other writers on writing and finding outlets for articles?
I have no brilliant insights on this. The general rule is to write about what you know, so as Herb Hiller puts it, if you live in Florida, write about Florida. However, this axiom has less merit if you live in a place that does not have national touristic appeal.
5. Did you have something specific that inspired you to write in this genre?
As mentioned, this whole travel-writer thing was unplanned; I thought I was a theater writer.
6. Do you also blog or have a website?
I work for two: I’m the associate editor of EverettPotter.com and the executive editor of Tripatini.com
7. Do you query for assignments before you write or after the article is done?
Damn right I do. Just two business days ago I pissed off an editor (irreparably, I fear) by saying that I would not write on spec.
8. Can you comfortably recommend any publications looking for freelancers?
Writers can query me at Tripatini.com (email email@example.com). Also, when I hear about publishers and/or editors who are looking for writers, I post that information on Tripatini’s Media Only group.
9. Are you a freelancer or on staff?
Toughest question you’ve asked. The answer is, Yes.
10. What’s the most difficult part of your job?
Deadlines. And what makes deadlines so difficult for me are that I firmly believe that they are a sham – that if something’s due on the 10th, you should have it done by the 7th.
11. What is your approach to research?
If it’s an experiential story, I go out and experience the experience. But I also like consumer-oriented stories based upon Internet research and interviews.
12. Have you learned any inside tips along the way you could recommend to writers starting out?
I sure have, and you most certainly are not going to like it: If you really love travel, don’t be a travel writer. Instead, be an academic (love those long vacations) or a mercenary (e.g. lawyer, engineer, plastic surgeon, corporate executive), because people I know in those fields choose where they want to go, not where the business is. Moreover, they travel with their own families, rather than with other travel journalists. Me, I’m a real pro. I haven’t traveled with my wife (except to visit family) in years. And I know this will sound anachronistic, if not downright quaint, but I like traveling with my wife.
13. Have you considered writing a book? If so, could you tell us about the subject?
It’s a novel, and it has nothing to do with travel writing.
14. Do you Facebook or Twitter? If so, do you find them effective?
I sure do. Just by virtue of my association with Tripatini, you can see that I’m a social media guy. Every time I post a story I want people to see on FB or Twitter, we get a good bump in visits. That’s the bottom line. Also, I just like these things.
15. Where can readers learn more about you?
Thanks Ed. I enjoyed reading your interview and I know our readers will. Be sure to check out Ed’s websites.
If you are a writer, author, publisher, agent, publicist or magazine editor who would like to be interviewed, please let me know at MDHill@NoraLyn.com.
International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association
Books By Hills Success With Writing Where & What in the World
Member: Society of Professional Journalists
Finalist in the Writing and Publishing category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, “$uccess, Your Path to a Successful Book,”