Why Every Writer Needs A Writer’s Market Book

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“The Writer’s Bible.” What a badass nickname. So why don’t you have this on your coffee table or in your bookshelf yet? Better yet, why don’t you have this bad boy in your lap taking full advantage of it?

The Writer’s Market books are created by Writer’s Digest, one of the leading authorities in the writing industry today. These ludicrously useful books are about the size of a standard textbook, but thanks to thin pages and a paperback cover, they aren’t as much of a pain to lug around. They are so big because they are your ultimate tool to getting published, whether you are wanting to make freelance writing for magazines your career or if you want to finally get that novel or horde of short stories out into the world.

What You Find in Every Writer’s Market Book:

  1. First, and most importantly, these books are a giant listing of pretty much all of the publications and literary agents out there looking for writers and their work. There are five main categories: literary agents, book publishers, consumer magazines, trade journals, and contests/awards.The literary agent section is in alphabetical order. Each entry lists whether the agent covers nonfiction, fiction, or both, and then breaks it down even further with the sorts of genres the agent prefers. Most importantly, you can easily find the agent’s contact information in each listing.

    The book publisher section is the same way. Alphabetical order, the types of books they represent, and the contact information of the appropriate editor. This is invaluable. By knowing the name of the right editor and addressing them directly, you soar above half the competition instantaneously. These listings also tell you how many titles the publisher handles per year, whether they allow unsolicited proposals or whether you need an agent, and tips from the publishers themselves on how to stand out.

    The consumer and trade magazine categories are broken down by subject such as juvenile, home and garden, literary, and women’s. They list how much the magazines pay for articles, how long your article should be, how much of the magazine is written by freelancers, how long they take to respond to queries, and deadlines and reading periods for the magazine. This is all in addition to that oh-so-vital contact information and name of the appropriate editor.

    The contests and awards category is split into sections like fiction, nonfiction, and general, and lists what you need to qualify, deadlines, and prize amounts/benefits.

  2. The back of Writer’s Market contains resources like professional writing organizations and a glossary that defines all of those insider terms you may find in listings like imprint, byline, galleys, and frontlist.
  3. The front of Writer’s Market has a collection of articles written by successful writers, editors, and publishers giving you tips on finding work, managing your work, and promoting your work. You can find articles on how to write a stellar query, the necessary elements of a book proposal, and how to build your author platform all in one place.

Dying to find a publisher for your book, but not really so hot on the idea of constantly querying editors and writing for magazines?  There are specialized versions of Writer’s Market as well. You can buy the Guide to Literary Agents or the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. You can narrow things down even further to Poet’s Market or Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market. Each book will have articles tailored to that specific subject.

I own the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market book in addition to the original because I wanted both sets of articles and a faster way to search specifically for an agent and short story markets. I like it because it has a category index in the back that lets you find publishers and agents by genre like science fiction, mainstream, and mystery. It also has a very interesting genre glossary that defines genres in general and then breaks them down into defined subcategories so you can better market your work and define your target audience. For instance, mystery is broken down into cozy, police procedurals, and classic mystery (whodunit), among many others. Fantasy is broken down into Arthurian, high fantasy, dark fantasy, etc.

There are new editions of every type of Writer’s Market book every single year. Personally, I don’t think you need to buy the new edition every year, but maybe that’s just because I’m on a budget. The advantage of buying the new one is that magazines, agents, and publishers go out of business all the time and new ones pop up to take their place. Also, sometimes the submission procedure of a publication changes. However, I have been using the 2015 version this year, and I have only run into one publication so far that ended up being nonexistent and one that had changed their submission guidelines to include and online option. I would suggest buying the 2016 version if you don’t already own one of these books to get yourself up to date, and then hold onto that one for at least a year or two. Just make sure that if you are working with last year’s version that you use the book to find the publications and agents you are interested in and then search them online to make sure they still exist and their guidelines are still the same.

When used correctly, a Writer’s Market book becomes one of the most important tools in a writer’s arsenal, probably coming second only to an ability to actually write.

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