If you create a place and it ends up going into one of the books

Do you think it’s fair that those people receive compensation for it?
I think it could be good for the site because people might be incentivized to make the entries as best they can.
They do make money off the books, so they might as well share it with the people who scouted out the entries.

Besides, they pay lots of money to to people who write the stories.


None of us ‟create a place”, it already exists in the world :roll_eyes: and we simply raise awareness of these through the medium of Atlas Obscura, right ?

Personally I don’t think it warrants financial compensation or that it would incentivize better writing but I do think our names should be mentioned in the book if a place we mentioned is published in it.


Well, by that logic, the editors/authors of the book don’t create those places either.

They pay money to people who write the stories and the wages are pretty handsome, I would just assume helping sell a book should be worth more than a publishing story.

Just food for thought

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You mean the journalists who write the stories I assume ?

Yes, they are paid (and admittedly it would be nice to be paid for writing too)…

However, all of us who contribute our place entries to the Atlas do so voluntarily under the prior understanding that we will not profit from it financially (we do benefit from the publication of an entry in numerous other ways though and I think that is worth bearing in mind) and that is how the Atlas Obscura community driven platform works.

If you want to write for AO and get paid for this then all you need to do is to reach out and contact the editorial team and if you write them a decent pitch for a story with luck it may be accepted.


Well, personally, I’m not complaining that I don’t get paid for contributing places because, for the most part, I don’t contribute places and use Atlas Obscura in other ways such as favoriting places and reading it.

I’m curious what the other benefits are for contributing places in your opinion?

“If you want to write for AO, all you have to do”…it’s not as easy as it looks. The pitching competition with the stories is very cutthroat. It also seems like the places might drive more traffic than the stories, but I’m not sure. I’m just providing some food for thought.

I see, well it certainly came across as a complaint of some kind.

I think what comes first to mind is the joy of writing about places, expressing yourself, really honing your writing skills (a big benefit for me personally), doing the necessary background research while writing the entry.

Undeniably another benefit is seeing the article shared on social media , commented on and discussed and getting positive feedback from people who have found it interesting or who intend to visit the place.

By writing an entry you are also helping to encourage more visitation of these sites and that was really why I first started submitting place entries on the Atlas because I wanted people to visit these places and to be enriched by the experience and to appreciate them (and there are a lot of fascinating sites hidden in plain view around the world which just do not receive enough visitors or appreciation).

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I’m quite aware of how difficult it is to get a pitch for a story accepted by Atlas Obscura as I myself have tried this in the past and haven’t been approved.

But that shouldn’t deter us from trying again right ?

Yes, I know you are just voicing your opinions and that is ok as you are entitled to them.

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There are a lot of fun elements of writing and doing writing in a way that’s shared on social media. It might be born out of frustration that I can get places listed here more easily than articles and that I am a person who does write for money.

I’m only saying: Atlas Obscura has the budget to compensate people to write articles and I’m not suggesting they give all their money to places but if the place is so successful that it gets in the book, I’m just saying that’d be kind of nice.

I’m not sure it makes sense for the people upstairs, I’m just saying: Food for thought.

Also, I thank you for the discussion.

So you are a journalist by profession ?

Correct, although I try to attract other forms of income. Sometimes, I make money through journalism, sometimes I make less money through it. Today is a day that feels like the latter as I have nothing on my plate but an article that has its first interview tomorrow and I have nothing to do today but pitch and it is wearing me out, haha

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I see, yes, I can understand and empathize with your frustration.

Listen I can’t promise anything (I can’t pay you and I’m not the head of a popular publication) but I work in a profession and vocation that has many interesting stories which we always appreciate reaching a wider audience.

If you are interested then PM me here on the forum and if feasible we can move forward with something.

Yes, I also work on that side of the aisle where I help people get into the media too.

Can I just give you an email?

Awesome !

:slightly_smiling_face: this could be mutually beneficial

Yes, but send it via private messaging to me please

I’m fine with not being paid for adding places or food to AO. I view AO as a fun way to build up my portfolio. I do however, wish they would add bylines to the entries in the book or at least acknowledgment in the back of the book such as a list of contributors. In my copy of the Atlas Obscura book, I don’t see any such acknowledgment and its highly unlikely that every entry in that book was written only by the three listed authors on the cover. AO does seem to go out of its way to avoid referring to us as “writers.” I do get the impression from interacting with some of the editors on AO that they don’t quite accept us as colleagues, despite many of us, myself included, do have professional writing experience.


That’s why with very few exceptions, I don’t contribute places. If others do, that’s ok. It’s a balancing act for some people who are professional writers and have to ration time/energy towards things that pay.

It’s the law of supply and demand and apparently the supply is high enough for them not to pay. I’m not trying to start a revolution or anything. I just think the book is a different story, but that’s me.

Honestly, I would be glad, and actually was a bit sad that none of my ~300 made it on!

The only thing that I wish that they would do is list the contributors either at the place or in the back. (AO is not great at this sadly, but they seem to be getting a bit better.)

They make money on what we write, but we also get a nice community and site to work with and a cool site to use. That’s how it works for me at least.

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Totally agree and well said

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I for one don’t expect anything from my contributions to the community. I would like to see it thrive!

Don’t forget that there are costs to running Atlas Obscura and if they make money from a book or some other means well good luck to them.

Deal breakers for me are selling my data; unwelcome or over the top advertising. If they steer away from those I’m happy.