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View Full Version : Is Writer's Digest useful at ALL?



rebelcheese
07-14-2010, 02:29 AM
I've been skeptical about the magazine Writer's Digest for quite some time. I read it, and often see conflicting advice for writers, sometimes in subsequent issues, and occasionally even in the same issue. Also fueling my questioning is that the advertisements are generally for POD, vanity, and subsidy publishers, that feed on the income of authors, not on readers. I don't like thinking about how many authors have been suckered by the "publishers" that advertise in Writer's Digest over the years.

Am I wrong for feeling this way? Is there any decent advice in the magazine at all, and I'm just looking at it the wrong way?

Please clarify this for me.

Medievalist
07-14-2010, 02:36 AM
When I look at a journal about, oh, Medieval literature, I look at the authors and ask myself:

Do I recognize any of these names?

Have these authors written anything I know?

Do these authors have an education or experience in their background that suggests they are better informed than I am?

Are they providing information that I think is worth paying for?

MacAllister
07-14-2010, 02:43 AM
I think WD serves to acquaint very new writers with some vocabulary, jargon, concepts, and so on -- and to be fair, writing advice is often contradictory. But many writers do indeed seem to outgrow the magazine after a while.

Michael_T
07-14-2010, 02:59 AM
Somewhere, I think Uncle Jim's thread, I've heard it compared to a bridal magazine. It's useful for about a year to get you aquainted, but then everything essentially gets recycled...and if you haven't gotten married after a year then it's just not happening. Married in this sense is 'familiar with the writing world'.

Kweei
07-14-2010, 03:02 AM
When I was first starting out, I found many of the articles helpful because it gave me different perspectives and advice on writing. I don't have much need for it now, even though I'm always learning, but it did help me to take my writing more seriously in terms of shooting for my goals. So if it helps you push forward, then it's not a bad thing in my mind :) You just have to be careful and use common sense.

Ryan_Sullivan
07-14-2010, 03:13 AM
It's not necessarily that useful, but it can be interesting and entertaining.

James D. Macdonald
07-14-2010, 03:27 AM
If anyone advertises in WD, cross them right off your list.

stormie
07-14-2010, 03:32 AM
As others said, it's okay for very new writers. I subscribed in my first year of submitting my work to editors. There were some good helpful articles. Thankfully I advoided the ads all together.

Paul
07-14-2010, 03:38 AM
Yes, if you have a wobbly table.

Susan Littlefield
07-14-2010, 04:55 AM
I find Writer's Digest fun and interesting to read, but it has been getting more repetitive. I never pay attention to their advertisements, because they are mostly for self publishing or other services that I am not interested in.

ishtar'sgate
07-14-2010, 06:40 AM
I've been skeptical about the magazine Writer's Digest for quite some time. I read it, and often see conflicting advice for writers, sometimes in subsequent issues, and occasionally even in the same issue. Also fueling my questioning is that the advertisements are generally for POD, vanity, and subsidy publishers, that feed on the income of authors, not on readers. I don't like thinking about how many authors have been suckered by the "publishers" that advertise in Writer's Digest over the years.

Am I wrong for feeling this way? Is there any decent advice in the magazine at all, and I'm just looking at it the wrong way?

Please clarify this for me.
I haven't read WD for a long time. When the advertisements seemed to outweigh decent articles I stopped buying it. As for conflicting advice, advice is really just one person's opinion anyway so take it all with a grain of salt. If the advice resonates with you then you might be inclined to follow it. If it doesn't you probably shouldn't.
Magazines need advertisers. It's up to the writer to do their due diligence and check out 'publishers' before submitting to them.

Chumplet
07-14-2010, 07:31 AM
Most publications aren't responsible for the content in their advertisements. They're responsible for selling enough space to keep the magazine in production. The reader's responsibility is to check out the businesses being advertised.

I pick up WD on occasion and skim the articles. Sometimes they give me a different perspective which injects new life into my writing.

gothicangel
07-14-2010, 10:21 AM
I think WD serves to acquaint very new writers with some vocabulary, jargon, concepts, and so on -- and to be fair, writing advice is often contradictory. But many writers do indeed seem to outgrow the magazine after a while.

I've started feeling the same about a magazine in the UK called Writing Magazine.

shaldna
07-14-2010, 12:27 PM
It's alright. But that's it. After a while you notice that it just rehashes the same old articles time and time again,.

Bartholomew
07-14-2010, 12:46 PM
If anyone advertises in WD, cross them right off your list.

Oh, surely someone honest will advertise in it at some point. :p

Jess Haines
07-14-2010, 11:57 PM
I found my agent through a Writer's Digest article (note: I said ARTICLE, not ADVERTISEMENT).

It's useful for some things. :)

Chris P
07-15-2010, 12:05 AM
I've only looked at their website, and I thought it was confusing; too much going on for this guy. Had I stuck around and learned the site I'm sure it would have been much more useful.

Phaeal
07-15-2010, 01:40 AM
I subscribed to the WD website for one year, but I found the free Agent Query and Query Tracker websites much more useful and up to date, and, of course, our own dear Bewares and Background Checks forum.

As for writing advice, you can get that free all over the Internet. And again, right here!

WD magazine is good for beginners to learn the jargon. Someone just needs to give them the caveat emptor speech on the ads.

rebelcheese
07-15-2010, 02:13 AM
Yeah, AgentQuery and Query Tracker are far more useful than WD.

I think that's what happened to me, I wound up outgrowing it after a while. Though I wonder sometimes if I outgrew it before I began reading it, because I learned how to write the hard way through trial and error, as well as making many face impressions on the desk or wall.

It is useful to see what editors and agents are looking for, though. I queried an agent after an interview with him in WD, as he mentioned what he was looking for in YA and I think I have a pretty good match.

DancingMaenid
07-15-2010, 02:15 AM
I think it's okay, and there are some good articles, but a lot of the writing advice is stuff I've seen before (or, in some cases, is republished directly from writing books I own), and lately I've noticed that more and more just doesn't seem to be relevant to me and my interests.

Scribhneoir
07-15-2010, 04:39 AM
I used to pick up WD now and again if an article caught my eye, but the last time I flipped through it (which was within the past year) I saw the editor touting Poor Man's Copyright as a good thing to do. After seeing that, I wrote it off entirely.

happywritermom
07-15-2010, 04:53 AM
I prefer Poets and Writers. It leans a little more toward literary/academia, but it's a great resource.

benbradley
07-15-2010, 05:38 AM
Hey, for online resources it lists AW, so it can't be ALL bad... ;)

Somewhere, I think Uncle Jim's thread, I've heard it compared to a bridal magazine. It's useful for about a year to get you aquainted, but then everything essentially gets recycled...and if you haven't gotten married after a year then it's just not happening. Married in this sense is 'familiar with the writing world'.
I've read that about a lot of magazines, that it's a basic formula for many magazines. I think the author I was reading was talking about writing for Men's Health, that after a year or so the same sort of topics come up over and over again, and there are just newly written articles saying the same old thing. There's a lot of turnover in readership, but they pick up new readers through advertising and newsstand exposure or wherever.

If anyone advertises in WD, cross them right off your list.
That's kind of what I thought.

shaldna
07-15-2010, 01:35 PM
I think it's okay, and there are some good articles, but a lot of the writing advice is stuff I've seen before (or, in some cases, is republished directly from writing books I own), and lately I've noticed that more and more just doesn't seem to be relevant to me and my interests.


I think this sums it up really. It's a good resource for those starting out, but there's only so many times you can read the same 'top ten tips' articles.

I certainly wouldn't pay for it, you can get the articles online for free.