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Know Your Readers!  

When you write a travel story or guidebook, you're not writing for yourself, you're writing for others.

You must be careful to write what they want to read, not what you want to read.

Of course, the easiest situation is when you and your readership like the same things, but that's not always the case. Usually readerships are fairly broad, and include a spectrum of likes and dislikes.

Don't write about a vigorous backpacking trip you've taken and submit it to the AARP Magazine. Retired travelers probably don't go on long, vigorous backpack trips. This absurd example is just to demonstrate the point. Knowing your readership is usually not quite so easy.

If you write about restaurants for a publication read predominantly by young people, be sure to include information on vegetarian dishes, as vegetarianism is an increasingly popular way of life. If you write about Europe for Americans, mention something about smoking, as most Americans are no longer used to encountering smoking in public places, and in Europe smoking is more common. Whether you are a vegetarian or not, whether you smoke or not, you must be aware of these things because your readers will want to know.

I once wrote an article on "Skiing in the Golan Heights" for the New York Daily News. I was not a skier at the time.

No problem!

I found out from skiing friends what skiers wanted to know, I researched slopes, moguls, powder, corn snow, gladed trails, etc. and I wrote about skiing in Golan as though I were a skier because I knew my readers would want to know.

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Tom Brosnahan