Pros: Some useful articles; few ads
Cons: A little thin on articles for the price
Rating: 4 out of 5
First published 1/18/2001
At cover price, and even subscription price, “ByLine” is a bit on the thin side. The issue in front of me is fairly typical. It’s 35 pages, with a fairly large type-face. There are three feature articles, one piece of fiction, four columns, and a smattering of “departments.” ByLine comes out once a month, with a combined July/August issue.
The features pass on useful information for writers, of both the “here’s how you can improve your writing” variety, and of the “here’s information on writing as a business” variety. For instance, this issue (The January 2001 issue, No. 240) has an article on why it’s important to catch your own errors in your writing rather than relying on your editors – a very good point, but I’m uncertain that it’s deserving of a feature. The next feature is on dressing your characters. The third is on promoting your books on radio and TV. Most of these are decently useful, but usually not earth-shatteringly necessary to your career.
Columns include a few market listings (there are cheaper magazines and even free websites and email newsletters that will give you more), and a few one-page articles on various small aspects of writing. I find these articles useful and well-written.
Departments are little tidbits, like announcements of upcoming writers’ conferences, poetry by readers, announcements of readers’ first sales, and results of ByLine’s constant contests.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s useful, and there are nice bits in here. It just feels like it could be better. ByLine is probably best for the beginning writer, who needs that extra encouragement to get published. Someone who will get a kick out of seeing other people’s first publication tales, who can enter the contests and maybe get their first writing check that way. Someone who needs to be reminded that their characters wear clothes and who doesn’t mind paying $4 for a few pages of articles.
There are always a few articles in here that are useful for more experienced writers (such as that one on radio and TV promotion), but unless you have some money to throw around, I’m not convinced that it’s enough. On the plus side (and this is, admittedly, a major plus), there are very few ads. This plus the encouragement the magazine offers to beginners bumps my rating from a 3 to a 4.