Our new review section deals specifically with magazines
for writers. These are not those which feature writers’ work, but the ones
that are directed at writers themselves, to help them improve their writing
and get published. We hope this series might help you decide which one might
suit you, before you opt for a year’s subscription.
Writer’s Digest is the long-established and well-respected
writers’ magazine which dominates the American market. Established in
1920, it’s really the grand-daddy of all writers' magazines and is linked in
to a writers’ book club bearing the same name, writers’ courses and an
extensive publishing programme of writers’ books. Owned by F & W
Publications, its headquarters is in Cincinnati, Ohio, giving it a
distinctly non-New York perspective on the writing and publishing world.
Writer’s Digest is focused on helping writers to improve their work,
research markets and get published, although in more recent years there has
also been more emphasis on showing you how to publish your own book, as
American writers turn increasingly to self-help.
The focus on writing means articles on subjects such as finding the right
hook for your article; ‘acting out’ by keeping your audience hooked if
you’re writing a TV script; planning your projects; grammar rules which
should not be broken; stretching the tension and revealing what’s on your
characters’ minds when producing fiction; and how to give personal
experiences a universal meaning when you’re writing a life story.
There’s also a great deal of advice on getting published,
including articles on getting to an editor without having an agent; how to
break into travel writing; 30 hot markets for your short stories; how to
find an agent; and getting the right title for your book. These pieces are
bang up-to-date and offer real practical assistance with getting your work
In addition to this, Writer’s Digest has a lot to help the
self-publishing author, who really needs to know how to price their book,
how to publish and how to sell it. A recent article offered advice from
self-publishing companies on how to go about it, highlighting the way in
which the possibilities for writers have opened out in recent years with the
increasing availability of print on demand.
Firsthand accounts and advice tend to come from bestselling authors, such
as Janet Evanovich, Stephen Coonts and Tess Gerritsen, rather than ‘new
author breakthrough’ type of stories, so it’s 'telling it from the top'
rather than stories from the trenches.
In general it’s fair to say that the magazine is very professionally
produced. It has a slightly glossy quality (not in terms of the rather
cheap paper it’s printed on!) which lets you know that it comes from a
highly successful and profitable stable. There’s also plenty of advertising,
much of it related to Writer’s Digest own other businesses, which
some may find intrusive but which does give the writer a series of other
well- managed alternatives if you’re looking for help from books or courses.
Perhaps American writers are more professional in their approach in what
after all is a highly developed and lucrative market, the biggest in the
English-speaking world. Writers from elsewhere may find that Writer’s
Digest’s exclusive focus on the American market makes it less useful for
them than a more locally-produced writers’ magazine would be. On the
other hand, they may feel that they need to study what the US market wants.
For American writers, it looks like a pretty essential read, but for
everyone else it’s perhaps a good secondary choice.
Review of Writers' Forum
Review of Writers' News
Magazine review index