Pros: Helpful articles
Cons: Shallow articles; ads that make you want to scream
Rating: 3 out of 5
First posted 11/27/2000
I decided to try a year’s subscription to “Writer’s Digest” magazine. It’s very well-known, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the best-selling writer’s magazine out there. Or at least one of the top ones.
I do like the articles in this magazine. They have question & answer sessions on both fiction and non-fiction that answer reader-sent questions, and I find them quite useful. I’ve even recognized a few of the author names (I love Nancy Kress’ books!). They have interviews with leading authors, such as Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
They have other interesting articles, such as how to write newsletters that people will find interesting and worthwhile. The last issue had an article on writing plays for kids, and another on breaking into the food magazine market. They cover all sorts of writing, from novel-writing to freelance writing, from journalism to horror, from newsletters to plays.
From that perspective this is a fantastic magazine. I do have a couple of negatives, however. First, I often feel that the articles don’t go into enough depth. Most of them are pretty short; they go surface-level into things, without ever getting into the nitty-gritty detail. Second, there’s little to distinguish the information in here from things that you can find for free on the web. Perhaps if they went into more depth I would feel differently, or if each issue felt like a coherent whole instead of having a short article each on very different topics. But as it is I feel as though there’s one short article in each issue that I end up wanting to read, and that isn’t necessarily worth the price of a whole subscription.
Beware the advertisements; many of them look like obvious scams. There are very few advertisements in an issue of “Writer’s Digest” that I would feel safe answering. In fact, in many writers’ circles the ads in this magazine are a running joke. (As in, “that’s as trustworthy as the ads in “Writer’s Digest!”) For that reason, if you don’t have enough experience in the writing business to be able to recognize a probable scam, either don’t buy this magazine or make yourself a promise not to answer any of the ads. Maybe they aren’t as bad as they look, but I wouldn’t place any bets.
I won’t be renewing my subscription. It was a hard decision to make, honestly. I do get some use out of some of the articles, but is it enough use to justify a full subscription price? Probably not. Is there enough information in here that I can’t find for free elsewhere to justify the price? Probably not. And then there’s that icky feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I run across the ads – and there are a lot of ads in “Writer’s Digest.” Maybe I’ll subscribe again some day when I have money to throw around, but right now it isn’t worth it.
This magazine is useful. But you’ll have to decide for yourself whether it’s useful enough.
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