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2015 Writer's Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published Paperback – Sep 2 2014
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But I still have ambivalent feelings about the value of this book. There are several reasons that this book is not the nirvana that you might think it would be. I mean, with thousands and thousands of markets listed, you'd think that any professional writer, or even any beginning writer, would be able to find new clients. But that's a deceptive point of view, trust me. First of all, I have learned after all these years that you have to be as selective about the people you write for as the people you choose as friends--maybe more so, because you depend on those clients to pay your bills and keep your life moving forward.
So the first thing I do when I sit down with WM is cross out (in red ink) any magazines or publishers that I would simply never work for. For example, a lot of magazine publishers list their per-word rates. Here's a tip if you're new to writing: if you are depending on earning a living from your writing, don't go bottom feeding in these listings. If you are good enough to get an assignment from a low-level magazine, you are probably good enough to work for a top-shelf magazine. So why waste your time working for a few pennies a word: don't do it. The first travel magazine I ever approached, when I was relatively new to writing was Travel & Leisure--a major magazine. I not only got my first assignment from them, in the first year I got three or four. So I cross out all of the magazines and other clients that pay less than I think I'm worth (which is a $1 word minimum, by the way). Would I work for less if I was just starting out? Yes, for a limited amount of time, I would. But I would not work for 2 cents a word, get real. I'd rather take bottles back to the grocery store and get a nickel a bottle. Cross them out.
Secondly, a lot of magazines say that they "pay on publication." Don't even think about writing for them. Just don't do it. Your kids need food when they need food--and you have to pay for it when you leave the store, not when they eat the peanut butter. Does your gas station let you pay them after you've used up the gas they gave you? I have been royally screwed by "payment on publication" magazines who, after they assigned a story, held it for a year, or two years, or forever--and never paid me a dime. Cross them out.
Also, the book publishing listings are often old, out of date and written by someone who doesn't want you to write for them. Cross them out. Today you can do far better with a good novel, for example, by self publishing it on Amazon. I have written more than 20 books and on average my royalty on a $30 book is about a buck. If you self pub a book on Amazon, you get a 70% royalty (go research it, you're already here on Amazon). Cross out the out-of-date listings.
Now, in between these awful listings, if you know what to look for (high rates, payment on acceptance, current listings) you can indeed find some good tips and good new clients. But it takes work and a lot of time alone with this book in your lap. Take it to the beach, take it to the park, and spend time with that red pen. Circle the good listings in green. Let's face it, if you sell one good article you'll get back 20x the price of the book. That's a good deal, yes?
I guess what I'm saying is that this book can be useful, even profitable, but you must be realistic and you must know how to use it. And stay away from those awful "payment on publication" magazines. Don't give them your blood, sweat and tears. This is a business, treat it like one. It took me 40 years to learn that. I honestly think that the publishers of this book owe it to their readers to start shrinking this book down and getting rid of the crap listings. Also, check out Jeff Herman's annual book--it's far better for book writers.
The Writer's Market Series is a valuable resource, but need to be looked at as one tool in the writing market instead of the definitive resource for writers. Worth buying, but don't expect it to keep up with some of the online resources out there. That said, if you purchase, be sure to take advantage of the Writer's Market online counterpart, which is more extensive.
Great book to use for any writer, especially someone trying to build contacts with publishers for the first time in their writing career.
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