Getting Naked for Money: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All
It’s here — the story of how I quit my job in travel publishing, moved West, and found my mojo.
Getting Naked for Money is named for, and includes the story of, my assignment by a woman’s magazine to go to a nudist resort undercover – and uncovered (here’s a link to the published version as it originally appeared in More magazine). I pull back the curtain on both sides of the travel editor’s desk:
- As an in-house editor in New York (Simon & Schuster/Fodor’s and Random House/Fodor’s) and London (Rough Guides), I was privy to the inner workings of guidebook publishing. I rounded out my education as a media insider as the Travel and Food editor at Tucson’s largest daily newspaper, the Arizona Daily Star.
- As a freelancer, I authored three guidebooks, contributed to dozens of others, and wrote hundreds of articles, many for national publications. I know how unglamorous being a travel writer can be – and how rewarding.
“Funny, fresh, frank, frisky, and sometimes ferocious. It is a revelation to read about Edie Jarolim’s career in travel writing and editing for some of the biggest players in the business, her insider’s insights into the good, the bad, and the really ugly. Go with this nice Jewish girl around the globe as she strips at a nudist resort in Palm Springs, has sex on the job in Egypt and Mexico, takes a perilous ride down into the Copper Canyon, drinks, laughs, cries, and transforms from a woman who thought “arugula” was a mispronounced “rugelach” to a respected food writer. I had a hard time putting this book down. It’s engaging on all levels.”
—Judith Fein, travel writer, speaker, and author of LIFE IS A TRIP: The Transformative Magic of Travel, and THE SPOON FROM MINKOWITZ: A Bittersweet Roots Journey to Ancestral Lands
“I’ve known Edie for many years, and here at last is the book I always hoped she would write–the totally entertaining, often informative, and at times touching tale of her life behind the travel editor’s desk and on the road. This is what happens when a Brooklyn-born scholar of modern poetry goes west and becomes a dedicated and intrepid adventurer, one who never loses her sense of humor (or self-preservation). Funny, surprising, and highly recommended for the armchair traveler.”
“Edie Jarolim’s tell-all on travel writing is great fun and illuminating. Her scorched-earth approach exposes the role of money in vacation prose, and offers a dismaying look at this under-appreciated career. Full disclosure: The author was once my editor and says very nice things about me in her book.”
—Phyllis Richman, restaurant critic, author of THE BUTTER DID IT and other gastronomic mysteries
“After reading Edie Jarolim’s engaging memoir Getting Naked for Money, it makes me realize what a sap I’ve been all these years peeling off for free. But then I learned all sorts of things from this juicy insider’s guide to the world of travel writing. Edie came roaring out from behind the editor’s desk to ramble around the globe chasing freelance assignments. The result is funny, informative, surprising and funny again. This is a great read for armchair and seasoned travelers, whether they’re naked or not.”
— Roger Naylor, author BOOTS AND BURGERS: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers
“Edie Jarolim is a single woman leading a rich, complicated, exasperating, inspiring, and adventurous life of a writer. Fortunately for all of us, her insights, wit, and story-telling skills are superb. More, please!”
“Here is the insider story of a profession that many dream of entering for its perks, comps, and freebies. In GETTING NAKED FOR MONEY, Edie Jarolim reveals more than the truth about the business of travel writing as she strips down in public for the sake of all armchair travelers and wannabe road warriors. Intrepid, smart, funny, and insightful, this author takes you along for the ride as she explores the world in pursuit of facts guidebooks want, plus the stuff they won’t tell you.”
— Marianne Rogoff, author of LOVE IS BLIND IN ONE EYE: 7 STORIES
“I don’t read books about travel, but how could I pass up a title like “Getting Naked for Money”? It turned out to be a page-turner. Edie Jarolim’s adventures took me on a wild romp across the world, to places I’ve been and others I now want to visit. Her vivid, engaging writing let me see it all, and kept me laughing out loud as I joined her crazy, behind-the-scenes antics in London and Egypt and the beaches of Mexico. I still don’t read travel adventures, but I’d go with Edie anywhere.”
— Ken Lamberton, author of BEYOND DESERT WALLS: Essays from Prison and CHASING ARIZONA: A Centennial Obsession with the Grand Canyon State.
Also check out the reviews on Amazon: 50 five-star reviews and counting (and even the four star reviews are glowing)!
Edie Jarolim earned her Ph.D. in English and American literature from NYU and worked as a guidebook editor at Frommer’s, Rough Guides, and Fodor’s before moving to Arizona to become a freelance writer (or, as her mother might have put it, “You left your good job in New York to go where? To do what?”). She is the author of three travel guides, Frommer’s San Antonio and Austin, The Complete Idiot’s Travel Guide to Mexico’s Beach Resorts, and Arizona for Dummies, and one dog guide, Am I Boring My Dog? And 99 Other Things Every Dog Wishes You Knew. Her articles have appeared in publications ranging from Brides and Sunset to The New York Times Book Review, National Geographic Traveler and The Wall Street Journal. She created three blogs, Will My Dog Hate Me, focussing on all things canine; Freud’s Butcher, devoted to genealogy, psychology, and meat; and EdieJarolim.com, primarily dedicated to discussing writing and publishing, but likely to go off on weird tangents (that’s true of all the blogs, come to think of it). She currently spends most of her time in Tucson, where she is best known as a dining reviewer, but her terrier mix, Madeleine, is showing signs of restlessness.
My appearance on KGUN 9’s Morning Blend TV show was notable for the fact that I brought Madeleine with me. I was nervous, but she was a natural.
Less stressful for me was the Buckmaster Show. Host Bill Buckmaster is a media icon in Arizona, and a terrific interviewer. He not only read my book before doing the segment, but he is also one of the few people I’ve ever encountered to guess the derivation of my last name. You’ll have to listen to the interview to find out what that is.
I taped my segment of Arizona Public Media’s Spotlight show with Mark Mclemore a week before it ran and didn’t hear the edited version in advance so I was almost as surprised as the NPR audience to listen to it. I was, naturally, very critical of how I sounded but I was told by people who had no reason to lie to me that I did a good job. So I’ll accept that.
On visiting a nudist resort
We observed a wide range of shapes at the nudist resort, from totally toned to way overweight, and ages, from teenagers to septuagenarians….I was riveted by the display of male genitalia. I felt like I was in the produce section of an exotic supermarket—no poking or squeezing, please.
The only two main course options at the resort’s restaurant were steak and salmon. Didn’t naturism and vegetarianism go hand-in-hand? Proto-nudists Adam and Eve had followed a plant-based diet before losing their innocence. Then again, they would have been better off on a strict Paleo regimen, eschewing the apple and sautéing the serpent instead.
On beginning a travel writing career
For as long as I can remember, I secretly wanted to be a writer. I also fantasized about visiting far-flung lands. It never occurred to me that I could combine those aspirations—and convince an editor to pick up the tab.
The signs were not auspicious. My parents weren’t keen on travel, at least not the voluntary kind. Refugees from Nazi-occupied Vienna, they were in no rush to head back overseas.
Early on, I was encouraged by several teachers to believe I might have talent. In fifth grade, Mrs. Chudnoff chose me to helm the P.S. 92 magazine, Hegeman Highlights. My moment of editorial glory was short-lived: The magazine lost its funding almost immediately after I was selected to edit it. By the sixth grade, I already had a taste of the bitter disappointment of having a publication with which I was associated suddenly fold.
Some writers can look back proudly at their literary precociousness. Me, I found several entries in a pink diary dating to the days when the Beatles first arrived in the US that read: “Dear Diary, I love Paul. He’s so cute. I wish he would love me. Goodnight, Edie.” If I’d had the strength of character to love John or even George and the originality to choose a diary that wasn’t pink, I’m certain I would have become a writer far sooner.
Q & A
It’s too late to win a copy of my book on the More Time to Travel blog, but it’s never too late to read the Q & A, wherein I give sage advice on How to Be a Travel Writer.
And I also asked myself a few questions here:
What, besides become a writer, was your greatest accomplishment?
Learning to drive. I was phobic about it. Once I left public transportation-rich New York City and moved West, I had to get over my fear of driving if I wanted to be independent and to pursue a travel writing career. At first, I missed the reading I used to do on the subway, but the arrival of audio books solved that problem.
For the rest, click on the Q & A pdf.
The Whole Enchilada
I’ve also put up a virtual press kit on DropBox, so you can see everything in one place. Check it out.