Visual Travel Tours has just published a photo tour guide of mine providing commentary and directions for a walking tour of downtown Raleigh. It is a unique program that is different from traditional comprehensive printed guidebooks in that: 1) the programs are downloaded directly from the Internet to your computer or smartphone, 2) most of the 128 tours cover specialized areas or interests rather than broad coverage of a city or state. The San Francisco-based company publishes 128 tours internationally. I submitted 92 photographs electronically in .jpg format along with brief narration paragraphs to describe and follow each photo. The company has a standard format (pdf) for their QuietGuides, but they also offer voice-over narration guides where you can listen to the descriptions of the tours rather than just read on a screen. The third option includes a CD disc with all of the information on the disc rather than having to download from the Internet if you have a slow connection. You also can access the tours on Amazon.com and download their Kindle format.
You can access my tour directly at: http://visualtraveltours.com/tours_show.html?id=916
I won’t go into all of the details of their pay schedule or guidelines for authors to submit potential tours, but it includes an initial fee plus royalties versus a contract price on usual “fee-for-hire” books. The big advantage for writers is that it doesn’t take 2 years to compile like it does for a comprehensive printed guide.
In my case, the production cycle took three months, but I don’t know if that is their usual schedule. It is a lot simpler process than trying to create a unique iPhone application, submitting it to Apple, and then trying to promote it in the maze of thousands of apps. Visual Travel Tours owns the copyright to your tour, but they also handle the distribution and promotion. This company does not appear to yet receive a lot of press coverage or recognition in the travel media so it remains to be seen how it may grow. They have a list of prospective tours for which they are looking for authors.
Perhaps the most significant impact for me resulted in my decision to focus more on my photography. I have more than 6,000 travel photos on my hard drive in iPhoto format (jpg) so I’m looking into potential sales to stock photo sites as well as other outlets for income streams from photography. Since nearly every web site offers an opportunity for “readers” to upload their photos, it appears that the glut of digital photographers may reduce the income potential for professional photographs. It is a problem similar to the “content mills” that pay very little for writers. I have shot travel photos for more than 50 years but still consider myself an amateur even though friends compliment my photos. I’ve never entered a photo contest so I’ve had not any independent evaluation. I just purchased a new Olympus digital camera and enrolled in a photography class to upgrade my equipment and skills.