…a conversation with Food, Wine, Travel Magazine, Associate Editor, Noreen Kompanik
TPM ~ Noreen, where do you practice your editorial skills?
Each issue presents our readers with new looks at a variety of international destinations and the culture, activities, wine, and cuisine that make them unique. We interview top chefs, uncover exotic destinations, and walk the vineyards with iconic winemakers. Our readers are adults 35-75, 74% American, and 26% international readers.
TPM ~ What inspired you to become an editor?
NK~ I had been a contributor for the publication, and our executive editor, Christine Cutler, asked if I’d be willing to come on as an associate editor. As the pioneer of the Travel Writers Café program for Great Escape Publishing, I edit articles for publication. It seemed a natural transition. I have the same outlook on quality writing as Chris, so I agreed to accept the position. I also thought it was a good move from a professional travel journalist standpoint.
TPM ~ How long have you been an editor?
NK~ I have been an editor for Food, Wine, Travel Magazine now for seven months.
TPM ~ Do you work with freelance travel writers?
NK~ We work with freelance writers who are members of IFWTWA.
TPM ~ Do you work with new travel writers?
NK~ The answer to this is a general “no” as our membership requires writers to have more than one year experience as a travel writer, and preferably more, depending on the number of published articles or blog articles the writer has completed. As a professional writer’s association, we also provide press trip opportunities and ongoing educational opportunities more focused on the somewhat more experienced writer. But, every writer should aspire to join a professional writers’ organization. We invite new writers to set their goal on becoming a member as they land more bylines. While certainly not criteria for membership, we have several Travel Writers Café members who have joined our organization.
TPM ~ Does your publication have regular contributors? If so, what attributes and experience do you look for in a regular contributor’s portfolio and resume?
NK~ Yes, we do have regular contributors from our organization. We work on an editorial calendar with themed issues. Writers must pitch story ideas first. We look for contributors who follow guidelines, create a compelling story, and are easy to work with. Since a large part of the membership requirement is proof of writer experience from the get-go, we’re already aware we have a somewhat more-seasoned contributor.
TPM ~ What makes a query stand out from the crowd for you?
NK~ Since our editorial calendar for our digital edition is pretty well set, we look for queries that meet the criteria of that issue. For example, our next issue will be covering chef interviews and unique restaurants. We want pitches to follow that theme, be clear and concise, and the writer to tell us a bit about why that story would be a perfect fit for the issue.
TPM ~ What will send a query directly to the trash bin?
NK~ Not following writer guidelines, understanding the voice of the publication, or poor grammar in the pitch.
TPM ~ What advice do you have for a new writer when it comes to queries?
NK~ Queries are a snapshot of you as a writer. Follow writer guidelines, understand the voice of the publication, and make your pitch relevant. Be clear in the story you’re wanting to sell the editor. If there is a requirement for prior clips, again, make those as relevant as possible. For example, if you are pitching a story about a coastal beach town, other stories you’ve written are more relevant than a story about a European winery.
About Noreen L Kompanik—Noreen is a San Diego-based travel journalist with over 500 published articles. She is an associate editor for Food Wine Travel Magazine, the official IFWTWA magazine. She is the pioneer of Travel Writer’s Café, a Great Escape Publishing travel writer’s program. Noreen is a regular presenter at Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshops. Noreen is a regular contributor to Travel Pulse, Edible San Diego Magazine, International Living, The Savvy Retiree, Europe Up Close, and San Diego Explorer Magazine. ~TPM