Writer's Market: What's the big hairy deal?
January 11, 2007 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Writers: What's so great about Writer's Market?

I've been thinking about trying freelance writing and one of the most common pieces of advice given by more experienced writers seems to be to get the annual edition of Writer's Market.

Looking through it though, many of the magazines I read or would be interested in writing for are not listed. These aren't obscure underground publications either. They're well-established magazines available at any Borders, Barnes and Noble, etc. And I know they do accept submissions.

I realize there are other avenues I can take and I plan to but I just don't understand why this particular guide is so revered when it doesn't seem at all comprehensive.

What gives?
posted by Jess the Mess to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Are you sure these experienced writers weren't trying to keep their jobs for another year? My personal opinion as a hack writer is that they're quasi-scams. Yes, they publish addresses, but no, this is nothing a writer cannot find elsewhere--like the front/back cover of whatever publication.
posted by shownomercy at 10:38 AM on January 11, 2007

I never got the big deal either. Especially in the age of the internet, it seems obsolete.

I wouldn't bother buying it. Just browse it at your local library and copy the info you need.

Or, you know, Google around and look at magazine/journal websites.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:40 AM on January 11, 2007

I know what you're saying. I've never bought the US version but I have the most recent Canadian version, and it hasn't been so useful to me. That said, there are listings in there for lots of publications I wouldn't have otherwise known of, so I'm glad I have it. It has some good general advice too. I doubt I'll buy it again though. Any directory on paper is necessarily going to be less vital than resources online. I prefer to go directly to the publication for information on submissions.
posted by loiseau at 10:42 AM on January 11, 2007

These were my feelings exactly, JtM. There's nothing in there that ain't on the Googles.
posted by The Straightener at 10:48 AM on January 11, 2007

While I honestly never used it enough to give a personal opinion... To play both sides, it is relatively cheap, even the "deluxe edition with one year online subscription" is something like 50 bucks, and if you are serious about getting into freelance that seems like a small investment for what seems to be a generally respected reference tool. It's hard to tell though, all book reviews online look like Astroturf to me.

On the other hand, if you have your eye on periodicals you think are right for you, these people generally publish their submissions guidelines, save your fifty bucks, write and submit work or proposals if that's what they want. You can always buy it later and generally review a current copy at better libraries. 50 bucks is a lot of photocopies.
posted by nanojath at 11:03 AM on January 11, 2007

Agreed that the Internet makes Writer's Market obsolete.

Additionally, I don't know about magazines, but it's certainly the case that many of the best literary agents don't list themselves in Writer's Market.
posted by Prospero at 11:25 AM on January 11, 2007

It's a nice reference to have when you're first starting out. I used to like to combine the 'net with the Market, because the book often provides editors' names, genders, and buying preferences. I recommend it for true beginners all the time, because they don't even know where to start.

Just to clarify, the Writer's Market isn't necessarily slacking when you can't find a listing. They depend on the agency/publisher/staff of the magazine or whatnot to return a short contact-sheet questionnaire. If the market doesn't return it, they don't get listed.

But, if you're at all aware of your market, though, Google away and save the cash. (And even if you're aware of your market, please check out Writer Beware and the Bewares & Background Checks thread on the Absolute Write forums.) And always remember, money flows TO the writer, not away!
posted by headspace at 11:32 AM on January 11, 2007

I subscribe to the on-line version, and have found it useful for addresses and listings I might not have thought of on my own. The subscription is tax-deductible, by the way, if you're a professional advisor (NOT TAX ADVICE).
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:30 PM on January 11, 2007

It's a nice reference if you have found that you are ready to build a niche in one or a couple of areas. One of my early mentors in college, who had an MA in creative writing from UOregon got a gig as a regular writer for a swimming pool trade magazine and then told everyone and their mother that Writers Market was the best thing since sliced bread.

Personally, the book gives me writers block. Too many ideas, choices, cynics, etc. Now I wish there were something for journalists who have moved away from writing, but that's just another AskMe thread that I am not really waiting with baited breath to write.
posted by parmanparman at 12:31 PM on January 11, 2007

It's an option to just use the online subscription to Writer's Market. It's been quite awhile since I had a subscription, but back in the day it only came to about $25 a year, or your had an optin for $3 a month. The benefit was that it did a lot of the research for you online - the guidelines, staff changes, and so on. They even included a way for you to do submission tracking.

That said, I can't think of a single hit I've gotten in my writing career that was generated directly from the Writer's Market. I'm adding screenwriting to my repertoire, though, so I'll still probably go back there to touch base until I find out where the leads really are.
posted by medea42 at 6:13 PM on January 12, 2007

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