Writers Digest

There was a time when Writer’s Digest offered useful tips on breaking into writing and sustaining a career in the biz… but over the years they have become a worthless shill for the vanity press industry. I’ve been getting countless emails from Writer’s Digest, hyping one vanity press or another as a way to break into publishing and get your book on the shelves which, of course, is bullshit. Here’s the latest "very special message" from Writer’s Digest pushing Outskirtspress, which makes iUniverse look like Random House by comparison.

Tired of rejection letters?
Disillusioned by the lack of marketing
Concerned about the out-of-control pricing of printers?

The publishing industry has come a long way
since the Gutenberg Press. New York publishers no longer call the shots. You
do! The future of book publishing is here…

* No minimum print
* Non-exclusive contracts!
* You keep all your rights!
* Your
book is published and available for sale in about 13 weeks!
* Online listings
with Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com are included!

Everyone wants a short-cut. This one will cost you from $199-1000 and get you nowhere.  If Writer’s Digest was a real magazine, they would publish articles exposing the pitfalls of vanity presses and warn writers against throwing their money away.  But Writers Digest sold out a long, long time ago and now exists to promote and legitimize an industry that preys on the desperation of aspiring writers. It’s not Writers Digest any more — it’s Vanity Press Digest.

48 thoughts on “Writers Digest”

  1. Yeah. I’ve been a subscriber for years and years and years. I’ve been getting tired of it lately, and a lot of it has to do with the fact a huge amount of their ad content is by pod publishers and they seem to be spending a lot of time focusing on a large chunk of the pod/vanity/self-publishing areas.

  2. I completely agree. I made the mistake of subscribing for a year sight-unseen because people kept telling me I should, and it was a total waste of money. Wall-to-wall vanity press ads, almost no market information and writing articles that never managed to say much more than ‘show, don’t tell’. Plus, when I didn’t re-up for the next year, they kept sending me bills and then reported me to a collection agency. Charming, no?

  3. I hate going to writing events and being handed a bag that contains, among other things a free copy of Writer’s Digest. That always makes me wonder about the event I’m attending.

  4. I bought a one-year subscription about 10 years ago and never renewed because of the huge percentage of vanity and scam ads in the magazine. It did have some useful articles back then, too, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to keep subscribing. The fact that they took advertising money from those known to prey on writers bothered me too much to give them any more of my dollars.

  5. Most libraries around here get it. I’ve found that skimming through a year’s issues will yield maybe two or three useful articles.
    Interestingly enough, they tried to get a magazine called Personal Journaling off the ground. The issue I picked up was actually far more helpful and interesting than any four issues of Writer’s Digest would be.
    Perhaps 90% of the readers of Writer’s Digest would be happier and more fulfilled people if they did personal journaling rather than trying to write for publication.
    But the fact that Personal Journaling is gone, and Writer’s Digest is pushing self-publication says a lot about aspiring writers.

  6. I’m glad you said this, Lee. WD used to be a good magazine and then the new editor took over. I’m not sure if the previous editor retired, or was forced out, but the new editor promised lots of changes for the better. This turned out to be, exactly as you said, more fodder for vanity presses.
    In fact, Almost everything I liked about it was changed or dropped.
    Very sad, as it used to be a great magazine.

  7. They were always overly optimistic about the ease of getting published, but the reason I dropped my subscription two years ago was the vanity/subsidy press ads seemed to take up the entire magazine, and even began to trickle into some articles.
    I still get The Writer, and I’m still impressed for the most part.

  8. With all due respect, I wonder if everyone who’s slamming the magazine here because of the ads has actually taken the time to read the articles in the past few years. WD is by no means a shill for vanity presses; the articles try to point out the pros AND cons of all kinds of publishing opportunities, and the fact is, there are circumstances under which self-publishing makes sense (though not–as WD consistently says–as a means for getting on Oprah or becoming a bestseller). The magazine is extremely careful to be objective in its reporting.
    I would sincerely hope that if you read an article in WD and think that it’s factually incorrect or biased, you’d write a letter to the editor instead of attacking the magazine as a whole and its integrity in a public forum.
    You’re all entitled to your opinions, of course, and WD welcomes feedback on how we can improve the magazine to meet readers’ needs.
    Kristin Godsey
    Editor, Writer’s Digest

  9. Kristin,
    Coincidentally, this morning I received the latest “Tips and Updates from Writers Digest” email… and what is the big story? A pay-to-submit contest for people who’ve-paid-to-be-published.
    We’re now accepting entries for the “Writer’s Digest”‘s 14th Annual
    International Self-published Book Awards. The deadline for contest
    entries is May 1. More than $15,000 will be awarded in prizes,
    including the following:
    One grand-prize winner will be awarded $3,000 cash and promotion
    in “Writer’s Digest” and “Publishers Weekly.” Plus, the editors of
    “Writer’s Digest” will endorse and submit 10 copies of the grand-prize-
    winning book to major review houses such as “The New York Times”
    and “The Washington Post.”
    Nine first-place winners will receive $1,000 cash and promotion in
    “Writer’s Digest.” In addition, Book Marketing Works, LLC will provide
    a guaranteed review in “Midwest Book Review” and a copy of Fern
    Reiss’s book “The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days.”
    For guidelines, rules and an entry form visit the contest Web site:
    To enter this contest, people who have already been suckered by the POD advertisers your magazine endorses now have to cough up a $100 “judging fee” for the first entry, and $50 for each additional entry.
    You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  10. Our contest is absolutely legitimate, and I stand behind it. Obviously, though, where we differ is in the opinion of self-publishing in general. You think all self-published authors are getting ripped off, and we disagree. As long as writers know what they’re getting into–that they understand that self-publishing has some undeniable disadvantages in the marketplace–then it’s buyer beware. We check out our advertisers to make sure they offer the services they say they do and that they don’t make blatant promises they can’t keep. We also publish articles about how to critically determine whether self-publishing is right for you or if you should walk away (see our August 2005 pull-out guide to self-publishing, as well as the lead piece in the InkWell section of our February 2006 issue, which is just coming out). And the overwhelming majority of our articles offer advice for how to write better and get published through more traditional channels.
    I realize there’s a still a stigma attached to self-publishing, and in some cases, it may well be deserved. But some people choose that route and are so happy simply to have their books in print, that it’s ridiculous to tell them they’re wrong for feeling that way.

  11. I’ve got a ten-year collection of back issues (the entirety of the ’80’s, plus a few in the early ’90’s). Even back then, subsidy publishers and contest-anthology ads took up plenty of ad space (interspersed with all of the trademark-protection ads).

  12. Kristin,
    How can you argue that WD is objective about self-publishing while, at the same time, the magazine sponsors, and lends its name and repution to, a pay-to-enter self-publishing contest? Frankly, it’s astonishing to me.
    How it is possible that you, as the editor, can’t see the ethical problems with sponsoring and profiting from a self-publishing contest? Or how such a contest implies an endorsement of vanity presses, your primary advertisers? Or how sending WD readers “A Special Message” email pitching a vanity press program carries an implicit endorsement of the service being offered?
    Considering how closely aligned WD is with its vanity press advertisers, how can you seriously expect anyone to believe your claims of journalistic objectivity when it comes to the self-publishing industry?
    We’re talking Journalism 101 here…and WD is flunking.
    Instead of defending your publisher’s practices, you should be arguing that its wrong for WD to participate in pay-to-enter self-publishing contests and lending its name to “special messages” from vanity presses because it seriously undermines the magazine’s journalistic integrity and reputation.

  13. Kristin,
    While we’re on the subject of that “Special Message”…here is how it’s presented to WD readers:

    Subject: Special message brought to you by Writer’s Digest
    Date: 1/5/2006 12:07:02 P.M. Pacific Standard Time
    From: writersdigest-newsletter@fwpubs.com
    As part of Writer’s Digest’s commitment to bring our e-newsletter
    subscribers useful information on new products, services,
    and educational programs, we want to share the following
    message from one of our marketing partners.
    Tired of rejection letters?
    Disillusioned by the lack of marketing help?
    Concerned about the out-of-control pricing of printers?
    The publishing industry has come a long way since the Gutenberg
    Press. New York publishers no longer call the shots. You do! The
    future of book publishing is here…
    * No minimum print runs!
    * Non-exclusive contracts!
    * You keep all your rights!
    * Your book is published and available for sale in about 13 weeks!
    * Online listings with Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com are included!
    It is time to reach your New Year’s Resolution. Get published in 2006.
    Outskirts Press turn-key publishing is as easy as it gets. You
    provide us with your manuscript as a word processor file and
    we do the rest. Sure, you can format your book if you want.
    Sure, you can design your cover if you want. Sure, you can
    use your own ISBN if you want, or use your own imprinting
    company if you want. But you do not have to. Whatever you
    want to leave up to the professionals, Outskirts Press does for
    you. Check out some of the options…
    * Unique ISBN assignment
    * EAN Barcoding
    * Book Design & Layout
    * Copyright Registration
    * Library of Congress Number
    * Copy Editing
    * Retail Returns Programs
    * Marketing Guidance
    * Publicity Tele-Seminars
    Publishing doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be easy and
    fun. Start the publishing process today for free and without
    any obligation by joining our Author Community.
    to get more free information.
    We will instantly send you our publishing guide with no obligation
    and you will see the easy 4-step submission process with the
    steps highlighted in yellow to make your publishing journey a vacation.

    The email is intentionally crafted to imply a direct relationship between WD and the advertiser (oh, excuse me, “marketing partner,” again implying that WD and outskirtspress are in this together).
    The message is from WD, the subject is “brought to you” by WD, and its part of WD’s “committment” to bring its readers useful information on new products, services and educational programs from one of their “partners.” Partnership, Kristin…that implies a relationship.
    Really, is learning about outskirtspress useful information? Is it worthy of a “special message” from a supposedly objective magazine for writers? Has anyone on the editorial side of your magazine checked this company out to see if it deserves WD’s implied recommendation?
    Don’t you see how this sort of email, along with your pay-to-submit vanity press contest, sends a clear and unmistakeable message about WD’s attitude towards vanity presses? How this “partnership” undermines your appearance of editorial objectivity?
    I think you’re being a bit disingenuous if you, as the editor, can’t see the problem here.

  14. Way back when, as a very green know nothing in this game I entered a WD short story contest. I paid to enter. I think I entered two stories. I never paid to enter a contest again. Here’s why:
    Writer’s Digest said when they would post the winners to the contest I entered. I went to the site on that day to see. Nothing. I went the next day and the next day. I went the next week, the week after that, the next month. Nothing.
    I’m sure that eventually they judged that contest and somebody won, but I felt suckered. I learned. I can get rejected for free, why pay to enter a contest?
    WD? If a great big magazine can’t do something as simple as keep to their own deadline…

  15. Kristen sent me a link to a blog interview she did, where she shares her views on self-publishing:
    I wrote her this note:
    I read the interview and I agree with your comments — though I might quibble with one. You said “There are also quite a few success stories from self-published authors who’ve sold tens of thousands of copies of their books and gone on to land traditional publishing deals as a result.” It’s more like “very few” rather “quite a few,” but again, that’s a quibble. You and I appear to share the same view on vanity presses.
    But your personal views on self-publishing does not change the fact that the lines between editorial and advertising at WD appear to have been crossed. The “special message” mailings from WD, which create the appearance of an endorsement of their vanity press “partners,” hand-in-hand with the WD pay-to-enter self-publishing contest, undermines whatever journalistic objectivity you believe you have.
    I come from a family of journalists…my father was a TV anchorman and news director. My mother was a reporter. My grandmother was a reporter. My great-Uncle was a magazine editor and writer. My uncle writes true-crime books. And I’ve worked as a reporter for Newsweek, UPI, and Lesher Newspapers (as well as freelanced 100s of articles for many others). Journalistic ethics have been pounded into me from birth. The importance of objectivity, and establishing the appearance of impartiality, are of critical importance to any journalist or publication.
    I believe the relationship WD has with their vanity press advertisers has hopelessly blurred the line between editorial and advertising in the public eye (if not in the “newsroom.”) As an editor, and a journalist, I am surprised you aren’t deeply troubled by this and how it undermines the effectiveness, and perceived impartiality, of your magazine and its reporting.

  16. As a wannabe writer (albeit one too lazy to actually do that writing stuff)(and so the prime market of POD/Vanity publishers) I used to pick up Writer’s Digest. I’d get some information out of an issue, and half a ton of advertising.
    Being in Australia, the cover price for WD has become more and more over the years, and I certainly won’t be buying more copies of what appears to be a catalogue of vanity presses wrapped in a few articles on plotting and the importance of characterisation. I can get more, better and certainly cheaper, on the web.

  17. Whew. Haven’t read WD in a dog’s age. Used to subscribe back in late 70s when I was trying to break into this biz. So I was unaware of the issues you raise, Lee. But as a former journalist (23 years) myself, I agree that when the line between editorial and advertising gets this blurry, something’s rotten. As prez of Mystery Writers of America’s Florida chapter, I help spearhead our conference SleuthFest. It is a writer’s con where we focus on teaching. We have always included copies of WDs in our tote bags. Gonna have to rethink this one real quick.

  18. Let’s all remember too that WD accepted paid advertising from scam artist literary agents for years. It was how those scam artists found their prey.
    The editors said it took some time to verify these “agents” were not legitimate. (The ads kept running of course while they considered this)
    Given that no legitimate literary agent pays to advertise, that response leads one to conclude WD is obviously more interested in revenue than being accurate.
    This current post and comment trail substantiates that.
    From a financial standpoint however, there is no reason for WD to clean up its act and I wouldn’t hold my breath hoping “should be ashamed of themselves” will make an impact…even though they should be.
    What price profit when you must say “let the buyer beware” about services you are paid to tout.

  19. Does anyone here understand how the magazine industry works?
    I may be deluded, but I’m under the impression that magazines need ad dollars to stay afloat. And some very respected lit mags have pay-to-enter contests.
    Publishing is a business. It’s not a free public service announcement geared toward helping the world.
    I grew up reading Writer’s Digest. Larry Block’s articles helped me through a lot of doubt and angst during the years I was unpublished. But perhaps Larry is simply another corporate shill…
    I’m proud to have written several articles for WD. Helpful articles. I know, because I received hundreds of emails from new authors, thanking me for those articles. It was a humbling, but enthralling, experience.
    Then again, maybe I’m a shill too…
    I’m getting the vibe that you believe, because WD allows ads and has contests, every issue is worthless? There can be no good articles, good advice, inspirational and motivational pieces contained within, because they’re also trying to make a profit?
    When I spend $10 to see a movie, I have to watch commercials beforehand, and them I’m bombarded with product placements during. TV has commercials. Magazines and newspapers have ads. This is how capitalism works.
    And we all know how effective ads are. I can’t leave my house anymore, because I may come across a billboard and then be compelled to rush right out and buy what it was advertising. I use 18 different brands of shampoo, based on what the TV tells me. If the NYT has a full page book ad, doesn’t everyone here immediately go on Amazon and order 17 copies? Because we’re all mindless gullible sheep?
    Everyone knows my stance on writers paying for any kind of publishing services–I say don’t do it. But that doesn’t mean I have a zero tolerance for those who do.
    This isn’t black and white. Gray abounds.
    Integrity is a wonderful thing. Thank goodness we writers never have to compromise it, when we’re working on books or movies or TV series. Thank goodness we never lower ourselves by changing our words according to the whims of Those Who Pay Us.

  20. I’m so pleased this magazine is taking some flak. A few years ago I clicked on a “free sample issue” offer on their website.
    I was billed for a full years’ subscription BEFORE I received a sample issue, and the bill was an opt-out; in other words, I now had to *cancel* “my subscription.”
    I really hate opt-out schemes.
    In addition, also well before I received any free issue, I began to get a sort of mail I’d never gotten before. How to make $100,000 as a marketing copywriter from home. Buy the course now! Writing correspondence courses. Conferences I’d never heard of. And vanity press literature.
    Before that, I’d diligently scrubbed myself from every mailing list I could. I’m an obsessive recycler and am sick of paper waste.
    I emailed WD and told them they were billing me for a subscription I never agreeed to and using a fake “free issue” come-on to fatten up the mailing list they obviously sell to all comers.
    Thanks for hosting this rant.

  21. I’m getting the vibe that you believe, because WD allows ads and has contests, every issue is worthless?
    Read the thread again. Read it better.

  22. Joe, no one is saying that a magazine is bad because it takes advertising or offers contests…WD is bad because it takes the advertising of scam agents and publishers while supposedly serving as a resource for writers. Many of the writers who read WD ARE mindless, gullible sheep and see those ads for fee charging scam agents in WD as a tacit approval. I know this because I’ve met dozens of writers who ended up spending 100s or 1000s of dollars on fee-charging agents they met through WD. Are there good articles periodically? I’m sure there probably are, but does the good advice on how to create conflict, or the scintillating 100 best websites, make up for the amount of people who’ve been snookered by the people WD opts to do business with?

  23. “…over the years they have become a worthless shill for the vanity press industry.”
    Is that the part I need to read better? Or was it this part:
    “It’s not Writers Digest any more — it’s Vanity Press Digest.”
    I’ve read that several times, but it isn’t revealing any secret hidden meanings.
    As for the whole topic of ‘journalism,’ surely Lee can’t compare WD with the NYT. Writer’s Digest publishes advice on how to become published, not unbiased accounts of real life events. It has no staff of reporters, pounding the pavement, getting the facts. It has a staff of writers explaining how they became writers. Lots of opinions. Lots of differing and sometimes conflicting advice.
    There are many roads to Rome–including a few bad ones.
    Muscle mags promote fitness crap. Women’s mags promte diet and health crap. Men’s mags promote sex crap. Writer’s mags promote writer crap. Welcome to capitalism.
    Now let’s talk about endorsements. Does Quentin Tarrantino doing car commercials somehow make his movies not as good? Did the Mickey Spillaine beer commercials and the Stephen King Amex commercials make their writing suddenly worthless?
    Let’s get even more specific. Will Michael Jordan’s Nikes allow you to slam dunk? Will Emeril’s cookware turn you into a master chef? Do people really believe that? And did both Mike and Mick suddenly become “worthless” for endorsing these things?
    Like most magazines, WD exists to make money. They have a specific demographic–new writers. They provide a service to these writers–information–in order to sell magazines. But they can’t offer this service and stay in business without advertising dollars. Just like movie product placement, and TV commercials.
    I’m not alone when I say that this is one of the best blogs on the Internet. Lee not only shares his worthwhile publishing and media experience, but he offers a public forum for pros and newbies to discuss topics such as this one.
    And alongside the right hand column of his blog, Lee has Amazon.com links to all of his books available for sale.
    I don’t believe that Lee selling his books on the same page he offers advice makes his advice worthless.
    (For the record, I also believe his books are damn good, and if you regularly read his blog you should be ashamed of yourself if you’ve never clicked on a link and bought a few.)
    I don’t believe that the advertising, contests, or newsletter endorsements negate the worth of the articles Writer’s Digest publishes, even though I’m personally against POD and paid contests.
    Don’t hate the playa. Hate the game. And as long as there are newbie writers looking for an easy way to publication, there will always be a game.

  24. KDG wrote: “We check out our advertisers to make sure they offer the services they say they do and that they don’t make blatant promises they can’t keep.”
    I have to disagree with this statement based on my experience with an advertiser in Writer’s Digest.
    Before I was published, WD was the only writing magazine I subscribed to, and the only source of info I had on the publishing industry. I queried a literary agent who advertised in the back of WD, who subsequently praised my work but recommended that I send my ms. to a book doctor to “get it into shape for publication.”
    As it happened, the book doctor was Edit Ink (http://www.sfwa.org/beware/Editink.html.)
    I talked to Bill Appel at EI, and he was an excellent salesman. After our conversation I seriously considered paying him to doctor my book. After much agonizing, at the last minute I kept my promise to myself that I would not to pay anyone to get published. In a subsequent phone call Bill tried to hard sell me, warning me I might never get published, offering to set me up on payments, etc. which only made me feel worse, but I stuck to my resolution.
    The agent who advertised in WD was one of Bill Appel’s many fake agents. Setting up people for EI was the extent of his involvement in the publishing industry. And if I had fallen for this scam, the agent and EI would have ripped me off for a minimum of $1500.00.
    I am hoping the screening process for WD advertisers is a little better than it was when I subscribed to the magazine.

  25. Tod said, “does the good advice on how to create conflict, or the scintillating 100 best websites, make up for the amount of people who’ve been snookered by the people WD opts to do business with?”
    Yes. If you’ve got an uncle who is caring, always there to help you out, and paid to put you through college, and then later you find out he’s a mafia enforcer, that doesn’t negate the good he’s done for you.
    I don’t think POD is a smart option for folks. In fact, I think that in almost all cases, it’s a terrible waste of money.
    But I really don’t have a lot of sympathy for someone who plunks down $499 and then suddenly realizes their book looks like crap and they can’t get into bookstores.
    POD isn’t a grift or a con. It’s not a bait and switch. Which is why it is (unfortunately) still around.
    Does it prey upon the gullibility of newbie writers? Sure it does. But the contract spells out what you’re getting. Read before you sign.
    Do POD companies try to make subtly mislead writers into thinking their product is better than it actually is? Of course. Name a product that doesn’t do that. Even prescription drug commercials, forced by the FDA to voice-over every side-effect, concentrate on the happy, cured people, not the 3% having heart attacks and vomiting.
    There are a lot of products marketed to the gullible. It can be argued that all products are marketed to the gullible. Watch late night TV when the infomercials get on. Get rich quick, lose weight, gain muscle, see without glasses, cure your disease—all of these prey on the stupid.
    I spent 12 years busting my butt to get published. I’m supposed to have sympathy for someone who thinks they can plunk down some money and have success handed to them?
    Sorry. Back when I was a kid, I cut out the Johnson Smith coupon for X-Ray specs in the back of a Spiderman comic and paid my $1.99. The specs didn’t let me see through girls’ clothing. They just gave me a headache. And I didn’t blame Spiderman or Marvel or Stan Lee or Johnson Smith or whoever manufactured the damn things–I blamed myself for being gullible.
    And though I am against POD, I will say this in POD’s defense, something that Lee and Tod haven’t mentioned as far as I’m aware of:
    POD is the ONLY way many authors will ever get into print.
    I won’t begrudge people that. And later, when they realize their book hasn’t been edited, the cover is awful, the binding is crap, it’s way too expensive, and they can’t get into any bookstores, it’s no one’s fault but their own.
    BTW Lee, what is up with the moderated comments? Are you being cyber-stalked?

  26. I’ve been hit with a hundreds of spam comments — mostly porn links (that’s what I get for the “Lindsay Lohan’s Nipples” jokes). Now that I hold comments for approval, I am able to capture and delete all the spam so it doesn’t get posted.

  27. Tod Wrote: “Joe, no one is saying that a magazine is bad because it takes advertising or offers contests…WD is bad because it takes the advertising of scam agents and publishers while supposedly serving as a resource for writers. Many of the writers who read WD ARE mindless, gullible sheep and see those ads for fee charging scam agents in WD as a tacit approval. I know this because I’ve met dozens of writers who ended up spending 100s or 1000s of dollars on fee-charging agents they met through WD. Are there good articles periodically? I’m sure there probably are, but does the good advice on how to create conflict, or the scintillating 100 best websites, make up for the amount of people who’ve been snookered by the people WD opts to do business with?”
    It’s worse than that. By sending out “a special message” to their readers from their “market partners” touting individual vanity presses, WD creates the implication that they are endorsing their services.
    On top of that, by sponsoring a pay-to-enter vanity press contest, WD is tacitly endorsing vanity presses as a legitimate and viable opportunity for writers trying to break into publishing…which we all know they aren’t.
    The magazine, through its advertising and by lending its name to pay-to-enter selfpublishing contests and direct mailing vanity press solicitations, is sending a clear message to their gullible, newbie readers. The message is that it’s a good idea for aspiring writers to send their money and their manuscripts to vanity presses.
    I have nothing against WD running ads for products and services that might appeal to writers. But if they are going to bill themselves as a writer’s resource, they have a responsibility to their readers not to support products or services that take advantage of writers, or lend their name to their advertisers for marketing purposes, or profit from contests that encourage (and require) readers to pay for their advertiser’s services.
    There’s a big difference between Maxim taking ads for men’s cologne and clothing and Writer’s Digest recommending self-publishing offers to newbie writers. A magazine that wants to be THE resource for writers should have some journalistic integrity. Sadly, that integrity is clearly missing from WD…

  28. Just joining the mourning for what once was. Even in the early 80s, when I last read WD regularly, it was pretty obvious the ads were a joke. However, the articles were far more substantial that what’s being offered now. The biggest problem in WD and other “resources” is that so many people are including vanity press/POD/money-gets-you-in/self-publishing, etc. in the definition of “published.” If WD exists to support authors in their efforts to become published, then why are they including information about any self-publishing effort? BY DEFINITION, SELF-PUBLISHING IS NOT “GETTING PUBLISHED.”
    I swear, I’ve had an easier time getting rid of roaches. They’re everywhere, and they don’t know how to take [deleted] for an answer!
    Personally, I’m hoping the FTC will get involved and establish a definition of “published” that specifically excludes all forms of self-publishing (yes, including POD, or any other editor/screen-free scam).
    Kristin said, “But some people choose that route and are so happy simply to have their books in print, that it’s ridiculous to tell them they’re wrong for feeling that way.”
    They are wrong for feeling that way. Being happy over having a book “in print” when all that’s happened is some overpriced photocopying is amazingly moronic, stupid, dense, braindead, just plain DUMB. Not only is the whole “self-publishing” infestation leading to a lot of people getting royally ripped off, it’s also contributing to the overall dumbing down of the country.

  29. A bit of research paid off! I was contemplating whether I should enter the Writing contest held by WD. The same week I received the e-mail about the Writers Online Workshops, which are presented by WD and will run you anywhere from $150 + for a few week course. I came within minutes of signing up, but wanted to do some last minute investigation. I have worked too hard and put an excessive amount of valuable time into my work, and cannot afford to jeopardize it by submitting it to a Company I’m not too sure about. As I venture into the realm of publishing and submission of original work, I want to try to stay clear of “Vanity Press”
    Thanks Lee
    Since you have given your audience an unveiling of what to me seems like a fraud, maybe you can jot a few tips for new authors on the correct way of submission.

  30. Thanks for lending your credibility to this issue, Lee. Back in the 1980s, I was an intern with a major literary organization that had, through oversight, allowed one of these scam publishers to have membership. (The type who runs poetry contests, pockets the entry fees, then allows all the “winners” to buy copies of the overpriced anthology.) He used the name of the organization all over his ads, and always threatened to sue if the organization tried to remove him as a member. (Part of my job as an intern was to screen his ranting phone calls for the director.) Guess where he advertized?
    Ads for scam publishers in WD aren’t comparable to cologne ads in GQ. They’re more like ads for unproven herbal supplements in the New England Journal of Medicine.
    The problem, though, is that WD isn’t really a magazine about breaking in to publishing. It’s an aspirational publication. They’re not selling information so much as they’re selling fantasy.

  31. Now, I am going to have to think about entering the WD self-published book awards contest.
    Over a year ago I went with an online POD. The price and online reviews were good. However, I experienced dishonesty – promised date of publication, costs; and incompetency – they listed the book in the wrong category. For my next book, I decided to cut out the middleman – and be – legitimately – my own publisher. This works for me – in am in control (not a POD).
    I believe, in a legitimate contest, my book would have a shot at winning. But have doubts about the contest. Who does the judging? Anybody have more info or thoughts?

  32. WOW! I’m basically just trying to get started in writing and have a subscription to WD, but you guys just scared the bajezus out of me.Am I going to get ripped off even before I start or what? DO I write and pay to enter contests or just keep plugging away and hope someone is honest out there? Maybe time to rethink a dream.

  33. Keep the dream…just use your common sense. Don’t let your eagerness and desire cloud your judgement. There are hucksters and conmen in every field.
    Some simple rules: publishers PAY you, not the other way around. Any anthology that ask you to pay to have your short story or poem included is making its money of the writers, not the readers. Don’t ever pay to be published.
    Agents take their fee from a percentage of what you earn — that is their incentive to find you work. Any agent that asks you for a check or a fee is a crook.

  34. Writer’s Digest isn’t for Writers Anymore

    I’ve written here before about the unethically close relationship between Writer’s Digest and it’s vanity press advertisers. Now whatever blurry line there might have been between the magazine and the vanity press industry has been completely erased. T…

  35. Iam looking for a sponsor to help me get my book published. It is important so people will know where incest came from.

  36. I think I know where incest came from. It came from blood relatives, like a brother and sister or mother and son, fucking each other.
    What do I win?

  37. Lots of interesting information and opinions here. I was doing a bit of research about WD’s writing contests (I subscribed a few months ago and saw the Short Short contest), and dang if I didn’t give the sponsor a second glance. Possible innapropriate relations aside, is the contest legit? I have to investigate to find out who the judges are, etc. Thanks for the dose of caution.

  38. Even Random House Publishers has its own POD business called Xlibris. Granted, it’s a separate entity. But when they use the same printing houses, why not branch out for the dough that comes in from the frustrated wanndbees?
    Sometimes, it just gets really, really old that so many agents claim they want ABC, but when you correspond exactly as they ask, you get LMNOPee back. How many of you out there are still looking for that agent. Or have gotten to the agent but found that no one wants to publish.
    I read WD, and I love it. I have a Master’s in English Ed., so I am one who can bandy the words around. But….
    I found a POD publisher to be a step toward holding my own book. I knew that it would never get me to publication or be a valid point in a query, but everyone find my book a great read and I have sold 115 copies.
    It’s was just nice to have my story out there, and those who have read it say the same thing. The book looks fabulous, the print is clear, and the binding is strong and clean…for the same price as printing copies at Staples. Believe me, people would rather read a book than copies from Staples.
    I find it a little odd that WD puts so much stock in the POD advertisers, too, but the articles are pretty slick at times.

  39. I am looking for publishing options and have heard so many terrible things about Publish America so I went to the web site…for kicks go to the site and click on the BBB(better business bureau) link pretty funny…


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