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.  The transformation of WD into a shill for the vanity press industry is complete. I got this email from WD today:

The 6th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection. This exclusive collection published by Trafford Publishing contains the top twenty-five winning entries of the 6th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition, including the  First-Place winner "Brown Pride," by Jeff McElroy. Don’t miss your chance to see these shorts! Visit http://www.writersdigest.com/specialoffers.asp?DMshbklt051806
to reserve your copy of the 6th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection today!

Trafford Publishing is a print-on-demand, self-publishing company. WD can’t claim any journalastic integrity, or that they objectively represent the best interests of writers, while at the same time they are in business with (and lend their name to) a vanity press, which preys on the desperation and naivete of aspiring authors.  Clearly, the purpose of the magazine now is to steer writers to these self-publishing companies…and to make the writers think that all it takes to become a successful author is a credit card.

10 thoughts on “Writer’s Digest isn’t for Writers Anymore”

  1. I’d already let my subscriptions run out a couple years ago when all they seemed to offer was more of themselves in more ways for writers to spend money. Glad to see, I suppose, in a silver-lining sort of way, that at least they’re diverting some advertising to someone other than themselves.

  2. Lee.
    As far as I’m concerned. Let POD exist. Let authors use them. If you believe POD is a good thing, then that’s that. But if you believe it’s a bad thing… then let the sheep go to the shearer.
    So many agents and editors say their slushpiles are filled with crap worse than slush. If these people turn to Trafford for their Diamond Publishing Package… well, that’s one less person trying to get over the transom.

  3. POD with ethical guidelines is different than POD with no ethical guidelines or public awareness of their practices. While I believe Lee is rigid on his stance on POD, I thank him for the awareness he continues to bring to this topic.
    A POD author, but not a fan of many POD practices.
    John Meade

  4. WD takes it in the gut, not all well in B5 land

    On another front, I marvel at just how small I am in the writing business compared to other people. It doesn’t take a genius, and I harbor no illusions about this, but the kind of attention you can attract when you’re a big name compared to everyone …

  5. I have no problem with POD as a printing technology. I have a big problem with a magazine, ostensibly dedicated to helping writers hone their craft and become published, steering aspiring authors towards POD pay-to-be-published operations as a means to achieve financial success and/or professional status.

  6. I hear what you’re saying… but someone’s gotta give them money to continue operating, right!?
    I mean, they’ve had that same tired screenwriting ad on their back page full bleed since the printing press was invented.
    From a commercial business perspective (i dont work in such a company, but i work for a handful) I understand the hardspot they are in.
    They needed a sponsor, Trafford handed out the most dough. They don’t make their cash from subscriptions… they do from advertising.
    It’s a necessary demon. Not a pretty one, but one that exists, for sure.

  7. Unfortunately, though I’m not sure why it is unfortunate, POD is the central backbone of the vanity press because it requires no presale costs for the publisher. It’s a sign of a non-publisher except in the legal sense for purposes of defamation as we’ve seen of late.

  8. This post made me think about WD’s sponsorship of the Maui Writers Conference which has always been about sucking as much money as it could from writers, although it does provide some valuable, overpriced, services along the way in addition to questionable ones. Now it’s created a class system for the conference in which writers can pay larger sums (but must be booked in the $200+ a night hotel for a 3 night minimum) for one of two tiers of VIP treatment. The VIPs get priority seating near presenters at a banquet ($95 ticket separate for lower-level “VIPs”, priority sign ups for the consultations, with some free ones at certain levels, etc. My favorite one was priority seating in the front rows at all conference panels held in the ballroom.
    So there it is. The first writer’s conference ever with first, business and steerage–uh, coach class–seating.
    (And the total number of VIPs is limited to 350–quite a select group!)

  9. When I was in high school, WD seemed like “the magazine” for writers. (I was in high school a very long time ago.) It offers nothing for the professional writer. I thought, though, that it was nice for beginners. Encouraging, heart-warming, a few interesting articles or how-tos here and there. But now they’re leading that flock astray. I haven’t looked at a WD in at least five years, and that was only when I took a peek at one at the library.
    This is, after, the magazine of Lee Shore and Vantage Press. Although at least Vantage Press has always been honest about what it is.


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