Magazines for Writers – Maybe Not

Writing MagazinesEvery writer I know is constantly trying to improve their craft, and there are many ways to go about doing this. We’ve all heard about workshops and conferences for writers, which can cost hundreds of dollars not all of us may have, but there are easier, cheaper options out there for scribes as well. Magazines for writers are loaded with tips any writer can use, but these magazines are not always a good buy for just any writer.

The average cost of any writing magazine is usually somewhere in between $6.00 to $9.00, but sometimes you can find them in your local library, or they publish some articles on their website. If you’re a real cheap-ass you can go to your favorite bookstore and read through an issue or two while sipping espresso. The latter method is usually the one I prefer, but I do like to pick up the big annual special issue on occasion. You could subscribe and have them delivered by mail, but personally I think this is a waste of money and trees.

Almost any issue of a writing magazine is going to have the same basic sections. At first, they are refreshing and full of new ideas. The covers promise tips for beating writer’s block, how to grab fistfuls of cash publishing eBooks, and the inevitable How I got my agent piece. Novice writers may believe the answers to all their questions lie within that single glossy cover, and $8.75 price point seems like a bargain to obtain all that knowledge.

My wife bought me a subscription to The Writer, and I have to admit that overall I like the magazine. Once in a while there are some really good tips sprinkled throughout. Once in a while I find a decent article inside, but the fresh list of writing markets, contests and conferences is my favorite section.

But after the third issue the pessimist inside me began to realize nearly issue is the same as the last issue, as far as the basic information contained inside. By the fourth issue the content seemed as stale as a box of cookies left open for a month. This is why I feel a writer only needs to grab an issue every once in a while. I seriously doubt last month’s How to Land a Writing Contract article is going to be any different than next month’s How to Land a Writing Contract article. I’m sure the concept is fresh to the person writing the article, but to the rest of us it has to sound like the same old shit eventually…unless of course you’re stricken with Alzheimer’s. Maybe next month they should publish an article called, “How NOT to Fuck Somebody Over Who Paid a Measly Dollar for Your eBook.” It’s called paying for a good editor. There, I just saved you all $8.75.

I rather dislike the other vague selection of articles writing magazines feature, such as, “I wrote a shit book, put it on Amazon with no formatting and now I wipe my ass with German Bearer Bonds” Really? That’s all you did? What about the editing, the rewriting, the beta readers, the cover design? The countless rejections that are probably piled on your desk and make you cry at yourself in the mirror? Surely there must be more to being a successful writer than that?

As you can probably tell from my ridiculous article titles, these vague subjects are what drive me crazy about these magazines. They’re focused on hooking amateur authors who have probably never sold a thing in their life and are looking to make a quick buck. The ads in these magazines scream PUBLISH YOUR BOOK TODAY and ADVANCE YOUR CRAFT just like ads in porn magazines scream GET LAID TONIGHT or MAKE YOUR COCK HUGE. They easily peddle delusions of grandeur rather than offering actual advice new writers may really benefit from.

It was this realization that inspired me to start writing my own tips for authors. I’m a writer looking truly improve my craft; not only at writing but also at marketing myself to others. I hope to share some of the specific details which I feel have helped me along my writing career that may also benefit your writing career. I’m not offering an answer to your every writing quandary like some of those glossy covers, but I am offering to share with you the truth as I know it without the bullshit. If you ever see me drifting that direction, please call me on it. Right away.

I’m serious.

2 Comments

  1. Well said. I have found even with Writer’s Digest that the issues start to look exactly the same after a few months. I agree – it is better to pick a copy up once in a while, as they often offer some fresh ideas for writers. Thanks for the insight!

  2. Most magazines since the Great Recession reduced expenses by publishing fewer pages with less controversial content. The final product is often reeking with blandness. I stopped buying magazines unless a $10 subscription is thrown my way.

    As for the writing magazines, I stopped reading them when I started publishing my short stories in the genre anthologies on a regular basis.

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