Reviews For Writer's Digest Magazine

Writer's Digest

I still remember the first time I read Writer's Digest. I was nine years old, and I wanted to be an author more than anything in the world. My great-aunt, who was becoming senile and subscribing to just about every magazine Publisher's Clearinghouse offered, ordered the magazine and then had no idea what to do with it. When we went to her house for a visit, she handed me a thick stack of issues.

Back then, I learned a lot from Writer's Digest. Aunt Marie had given me ten issues and I practically memorized them. Lawrence Block (a mystery writer) was writing the fiction column back then, and I think I could probably recite some of his articles word for word. Somewhere in my parents' house I still have those ten well-thumbed issues. I don't think I (or my mother) could ever bear to throw them away.

So of course when I grew up and decided to take a serious stab at writing, I turned immediately to Writer's Digest. I bought a copy at the newsstand and immediately signed up for a subscription. Unfortunately, however, I have been disappointed, and several months ago I allowed my subscription to lapse.

A couple of things led me to let the subscription run out. First of all, Writer's Digest covers every area of writing you can imagine. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting--I think I even remember an article on making money through fillers for newspapers. This broad coverage is good in theory, but in practice it meant that nothing was covered very well. Only the most basic points of any field could be covered. If I read "Show, don't tell" once, I read it a hundred times. In addition, often only one or two articles in any given issue were interesting or relevant to my needs.

My second problem with Writer's Digest was its focus on selling and making money. In some ways I suppose this was the fault of my own expectations--I was looking for ways to develop my own style, not how to make a story sell. I was looking at writing as a hobbyist; Writer's Digest was writing for a professional free-lancer. (Apparently a beginning professional free-lancer who needs to hear "Show, don't tell" a hundred times.) In the end I felt that most of the Writer's Digest articles were irrelevant to my needs, and the rest were so basic I learned little or nothing from them.

If you are a beginning free-lance writer, if you plan to write non-fiction exclusively or almost exclusively, if you are more interested in selling your writing than in your writing itself, then I recommend Writer's Digest. If you really want to develop your own style of fiction, especially if you are not planning to make your living writing, then I think there are probably other magazines and books that will serve you much better.


Accepts Freelance Submissions: Yes
Primary Reason for Buying: Articles

Good resource for beginners

Writer's Digest is a good resource for the new writer, but the publication spreads itself thin for the more experienced or published writer. Both a benefit and drawback of the magazine is the coverage of absolutely every genre. While this may be helpful for some, the format can't possible provide advanced, specific information for all the genres. The magazine largely covers the basics with how-to pieces. While a how-to article certainly can't hurt a writer, I think reading more in your area of interest would be more beneficial.

Sometimes there are good tips for potential markets. However, a serious writer would be better served by a market guide and possibly a good, updated website.

I feel like Writer's Digest probably intentionally targets the aspiring or beginning writer, and in that aspect they are right on.


Accepts Freelance Submissions: Yes
Primary Reason for Buying: Articles

Writer's Digest Scrutinized

I found Writer's Digest more helpful when I was a new writer than now after I have more experience. I have been selling writing for more than 20 years now.
I was always interested in the market information, but I don't recall selling an article to a market I found in the magazine. I have tended to specialize on the outdoors and some market listings in the magazine were too general to be useful. I did better developing my own markets, than trying those listed in Writer's Digest.
Some of the most interesting articles I found were interviews with established authors, or tips on rewriting articles to fit different markets.
I still check out the magazine on the racks, but I don't buy as many as I once did.


Primary Reason for Buying: Articles
Subject Matter: Satire
Accepts Freelance Submissions: Yes

A must mag for want to be writers

The first time I bought this magazine was about nine years ago. I used to subscribe to it regularly. I tend to subscribe to it off and on. It is not that I do not like it, I do, the magazine helps me out a great deal. I just wish there would be more articles in there for poets. I know, I know there is also the magazine called Poets & Writers. But Poets & Writer's does not do for me what Writer's Digest does.

There is lots of helpful hints on writing styles and people write in for contests and try to write from the quizzes or tests posted in the magazine.I myself have never done those quizzes.

The magazine is real nice. I tend to subscribe to it every other year or whenever they send me more offers to buy their magazine.

If there was a magazine with the layout of WD for poets(not P&W), I would subscribe to that year round.


Accepts Freelance Submissions: Yes

Getting this is Optional but Welcomed

I have bought quite a few of the Writer's Digest magazines. I really like all the interesting tidbits this magazine has about how to get through writer's block. Writer's block can be a killer for any writer. If you are a writer looking for brainstorming ideas on how to overcome writer's block, get published with/without an agent, and read about popular authors (who worked their fingers to the bone to pump out the latest thriller or all-American classic),this magazine is a good buy.

Of course, this magazine is more of a motivational device than an actual writing guide. You won't get The Elements of Style here. You will get some encouragement to continue pursuing writing and that's a pretty good deal.

Learn the Tools of the Writing Trade

Writer's Digest is a magazine designed for writers and it attempts to cover many different aspects of writing in its columns and featured articles. Most every issue offers at least one interview with a famous or semi- famous author. This spotlighted author could be the author of a book, a screen writer, or some other type of author. These interviews offer some good insight into writing success and the necessary skills and sacrifices to succeed at your chosen craft.

Aside from the interviews, Writer's Digest is basically a magazine of tips and advice. One issue might talk about ways to break into the business of movie reviewing for newspapers. Another might talk about ways to make your writing more concise and less wordy. Still another article might discuss ways to overcome writer's block. The main goal of Writer's Digest is to help the reader become a better writer and, hopefully, gain an offer for a publication at some point in the future.

One thing that is a little different with Writer's Digest is that it doesn't contain the long list of standard monthly departments like you find in other magazines. With Writer's Digest, the departments are de-emphasized and there are only a few of them in each issue. The rest of Writer's Digest is dedicated to columns and featured articles. This format is unique and it makes Writer's Digest a good choice for those who like change and prefer to read something different in each issue.

Writer's Digest does contain a pretty good number of advertisements, but the ads are usually for writing conferences, writing software, writing contests, or ads that encourage a visit to the magazine's own web site. Because the ads stay so focused on the subject of writing, they don't seem all that bad and they are not distracting. I know some Writer's Digest readers who actually look forward to the ads so that they can find information on the latest contests. And speaking of the magazine's web site, it seems to be an important component of the magazine because it is referenced on many pages throughout each issue.

Writer's Digest is a pretty good magazine for writer and I like it for its advice and classified ads more than anything. The success stories can sometimes get a bit carried away and they make it look a little too easy to land a huge writing contract. It would also be nice if Writer's Digest was published monthly rather than semi- monthly. But Writer's Digest is still a good magazine for writers everywhere, with plenty of good advice and tips to help you become the writer you always knew you could be.

Required once--basically worthless now

Years ago, WD was required reading. That was before the big "everyone in the world should write a book" fad. WD, likely in an attempt to cash in on that fad (and stay alive in the internet era) has switched formats. Most articles are only a few pages long, and are fluff at that. Half of the magazine is either white space or filled with oversized clip art. My advice--pick up something useful (like StoryView by Screenplay Systems, NovelPro by NovelCode or BookWriter by Yaddu Digital [no I'm not affiliated with any of these groups]).

About the business (not the skill) of writing

The main target audience of Writer's Digest appears to be freelance writers. Most of the authors are freelance magazine article writers who have finally `made it', and that is what they write about. There are a few short articles about writing (usually written by the same people each month), but that is not the main focus of the magazine. A large portion of the articles are about technical topics related to publishing, and not writing. This magazine is not for people who want to learn about writing; it's more for people who want to learn about how to sell their writing. The advertisements in the back of the magazine are so shady that Writer's Digest actually has to put a disclaimer on each page (think results are not typical in the lose 100 pounds in ten minutes infomercial), and I now get `if you can write a letter like this one, you could make a million dollars a year' junk mail as well. The best part is the writing calendar with writing prompts for each day. This is a great resource for writing exercises and generating story ideas. However, it can be accessed for free from their website.

Lots of fluff...very little substance.

If you're a beginning writer, you could do worse than subscribe to WD. But a year's worth of the magazine is about all the use you'll get out of it. After that, the articles start to sound about the same, and if you become a serious writer, you'll soon want something meatier. Here's why:

This magazine (and its publishers) don't seem too terribly serious about the craft of writing. What they ARE serious about is making money off of the mass of people who dream of being writers. WD and F&W publications (excluding Writer's Market, which is actually a valuable tool) is all about giving hope (not a better chance) to everyone interested in writing a book, despite the odds being stacked against the chances of most wannabe writers actually achieving sucess. WD's only real value anymore is in the market listings it highlights each month...but you'd be better off subscribing to the online version of Writer's Market for that.

Not that much there.

I was actually disappointed with the magazine. When I started getting it I thought it would have lots of articles on how to write, but I found that it usually has two maybe three on fiction and one maybe two on non-fiction. Then there's a couple contests most of them are pay to enter, and there are a few writer's market clips, but besides that it seems to be a bulky bunch of adds. I still enjoy reading the parts that are in there, but there's just not that much in there for me which is disappointing.