Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Writer's Market 2009

The 2009 edition of the Writer's Market is much improved over the 2008 edition: the labelling has improved, so it’s far easier to navigate your way around the dense and thorough listings, and the associated website is now accessible to everyone, free of charge.

The articles in the guide are a real strong-point: there's a foreword from Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, a piece about crime writing from Simon Brett, an article about writing for the internet by Scott Pack, Commercial Director of the publishing imprint The Friday Project, a piece about acquiring fiction by Penelope Hoare, Deputy Publisher of Chatto & Windus, and many other articles from editors, writers and agents. I would have liked to see more information about the mechanics of the publishing industry, and more specific information to help people spot scams and dubious practices for themselves—but that's not surprising, bearing in mind the subject of my blog!

My main reservation about writers' guides such as this one, and other similar guides such as the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook and the The Writer's Hand Book, has nothing to do with their content or design.

A novice writer recently told me that she knew that the publisher she'd submitted to was legitimate because it was included in both the Writer's Handbook and the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook. When it turned out that she had submitted to a vanity press she was hurt and upset, and felt doubly foolish having made such a public announcement of what she thought of at the time as a writing success. She made the common assumption that all entries were vetted in some way before being included in these guides, and she was wrong. When these books are compiled, entries are requested from all available sources. The replies are then collated into a book with little or no content-checking or verifying.

I'd like to see the editors of all writers' guides add a prominent warning that inclusion in their guide does not mean endorsement. Meanwhile, make sure you realise that while these guides are useful they are not a substitute for thorough research and careful fact-checking.

6 comments:

ORION said...

This is a really good point. It's important to check out publishers & agents on many levels. Like any resource, Writers Digest needs to be used with care.
I suggest cross referencing names of agents and publishers on Publishers Marketplace or go to the library and check back issues of Publishers Weekly...

Sally Zigmond said...

As in all things, it's a matter of combining information, advice and experience with a great big dollop of Common Sense.

It also helps to remember the No. 1 rule of Life, the Universe and Everything.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Anne Walls said...

I completely agree with this post. I used to buy the Writer's Market, but was tired of how expensive and outdated it quickly became. My partner and I started a writing website called WordHustler.com that has over 3,500 FREE literary markets. Not only that, we're the first website to take care of the WHOLE process of writing, more than just giving you market listings. WordHustler allows you to upload projects and then we print and ship them for you. Our markets and membership are FREE.

We love what the Writer's Market has done for writers so far, we just want to take it to the next level. WordHustler encourages members to comment on markets and if any doubts about credibility are raised, we review and will remove the market if necessary.

WordHustler saves you time so you can do what you're supposed to be doing: WRITING.

Please take a look and good luck writing! http://www.WordHustler.com

Best,
Anne Walls
WordHustler Co-Founder

Anne Walls said...

Forgot to mention: because we print and ship everything for you, WordHustler is able to open US literary markets to the world (especially you UK writers). You won't have to deal with International Postage anymore! Oh, and before you mention it: WordHustler isn't too good to be true. We're just true. :)
Best,
Anne Walls
writer/WordHustler Co-Founder

Jane Smith said...

Anne, thanks for your comments: I might just put up a whole post regarding WordHustler, if I get time.

I've had a very quick look at your site and consequently, do find your post here somewhat misleading: while membership might be free, the submissions service that you offer is not. There's a price for that. And when I clicked the link to have a look at some of the markets you submit to, the deadline had already passed on many of the competitions which you detailed, which implies that many submissions you send out are going to be wasted.

I'm doubtful, too, of the value of such a service. Targeted, personalised queries are always more effective than scatter-gun queries, and I'm afraid your service can only provide the latter.

Consequently, I'm afraid I'll not be suggesting to anyone that they sign up with you.

Jane Smith said...

Anne, following your comment-spam here earlier today I started a thread about WordHustler over at Absolute Write, which you can find here:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=114794

I'm not alone in feeling that the service you provide is of doubtful value. Do please drop in there and give your view, though: it would be useful.