Pros: The ultimate publication reference
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review copy courtesy of F+W Publications/Writer’s Digest Books
A long time ago I reviewed a much older copy of the annual “Writer’s Market” guide. While I haven’t found it necessary to review each year’s copy, since Writer’s Digest Books does such an amazing job of keeping up a consistent quality of articles and market listings from year to year, every now and then it’s good to see what sorts of changes have been made.
The General Concept
The annual “Writer’s Market” book (and its related books, such as “Short Story Market” and “Poet’s Market”) contains two primary types of information: articles on the business of writing, and market listings for publications interested in publishing writers’ work. The articles are most useful to the novice, and range from basic tips (“Using Contests to Jumpstart Your Writing Career”) to personal stories from successful writers (“The Unlikely Novelist”), and some semi-advanced articles (“How Much Should I Charge?”).
However, what people really purchase the market guide for are, of course, the listings. These include lists of non-fee-charging agents, book publishers, small presses, consumer magazines, trade journals, and even contests. There’s also a listing of professional organizations for writers to finish things off.
Listings are typically organized by subject area, so that, for instance, if you want to write for a regional magazine that concentrates on the District of Columbia, you simply look up Regional/District of Columbia. The Deluxe market includes a handy bookmark with a guide to the symbols used in the market listings. These symbols allow you to get a sense of many things at a glance, such as whether a market only accepts submissions from agents, where the market is located, and what payment range the market falls into.
Individual listings typically include information such as the publication’s mailing address, contact number, website, editor’s name(s), what percentage of their accepted material comes from freelancers, how often the magazine is published and what it publishes, terms of payment and rights assignments, instructions for obtaining sample copies and official writer’s guidelines, and so on. Information comes from the publications’ editors, so some listings include more information than others.
What’s Changed Over the Years
Today’s Writer’s Market is huge compared to the ones I bought seven or eight years ago; I’d say it’s two to three times as thick. I particularly like the availability of the Deluxe edition, which includes a free year’s subscription to the online WritersMarket.com.
WritersMarket.com is an amazing resource. In part it’s a searchable online database of the same listings included in the book–however, this database is updated daily with new information and listings. For instance, listings that arrived in their offices too late to make it into the book are included in the online database. The search function also allows you to search listings based on your own particular needs as a writer, and you can bookmark listings you want to return to. Your dashboard will inform you as to how many submissions have been updated recently; for example, at this moment mine says 0 today; 31 in the last 7 days; 254 in the last 30 days.
It’s more than just an amped-up version of the market listing, however: it’s also a resource archive and submission tracker. You can bring up a listing of advice articles on different subjects and search them by keyword, or you can browse recent additions. There’s a “market watch” section with news regarding various changing or emerging markets. “Agent Q&A” provides an address to email your questions; each email receives a response, and some responses get publicly posted for all to see. A surprisingly thorough “encyclopedia” includes entries on everything from query letters to the Quill and Scroll Society; fair use to fulfillment houses.
The submission tracker is extremely powerful. You first add a manuscript listing to your account, including details such as format, word count, etc. You can then create a submission to go with it, and search the database of markets based on an extensive set of criteria including type of publisher, hardcover or softcover, region or country, listings that only publish poetry, have a website, pay an advance, publish reprints, accept simultaneous submissions, accept unagented material, have guidelines available online, or have had their listings added to the listing or updated recently. You can also of course narrow by fiction and/or nonfiction topic, and organize the market listings you bookmark into folders based on your needs. Finally, the dashboard will remind you of submission events that need attention.
It certainly looks as though the site isn’t resting on its laurels; there are plenty of features listed as coming soon, including community features such as forums, the ability to add and track submissions to markets that aren’t listed in their database, and more.
The annual “Writer’s Market” book alone has always been worth the price of admission for freelancers trying to find markets for their work, particularly for those at the beginning of their careers who could use the advice on query letters, simultaneous submissions, and so on as well. The extent to which the book has grown over the years amazes me; if it was worth it seven or eight years ago when it contained a fraction of the listings it does now, it’s certainly worth it now.
In particular, however, I love the WritersMarket.com service. I’ve looked at various submission trackers over the years, and this is a nice, simple one that provides a great deal of added value simply by being tied to such a huge and constantly-updated listing of markets.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the deluxe Writer’s Market, or even just the WritersMarket.com service, to any freelance writer. Note that if you wish to try the service alone, the annual subscription doesn’t charge your card for 30 days, and you can easily cancel your subscription any time within those 30 days through your account panel–without having to go through some huge rigamarole to convince them to leave you alone.
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