100 Years of Writer’s Digest (#WritersDigest100): Some Thoughts

Writer’s Digest is celebrating its 100th anniversary, which is pretty epic. At the same time, the parent company of F&W is also declaring bankruptcy. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

I’ve been at the writing game since the early 1990s. I was a teenager when I first mailed off a money order to Writer’s Digest to subscribe to the magazine to get an insight into how to become a writer. Back then, I knew next to nothing, and the articles about agents and writing novels were actually really intimidating to a 9th grader just trying to figure out how to finish a story. But it was cool to read interviews with the authors and see how they worked.

When Paolo Bacigalupi and I had an article run in Writer’s Digest about how we collaborated on The Tangled Lands not too long ago, for me it was one of those really cool full circle moments.

By the end of high school, I had gotten my hands on a few books about writing. Nancy Kress’s Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint, Orson Scott Card’s How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy and Nancy Kress’s Beginnings, Middles, and Ends helped me get my start in writing. Each of those books came out of Writers Digest Books.

It always seemed like whether I was trying to work on craft, or business, there was something that ended up being from Writers Digest in my library.

When I started submitting short stories, I used the Novel and Short Story Writer’s Guide (though back then, with the length of time it took to get printed and my habit of buying an older copy because I was broke, there were a lot of already dead markets!).

My memories of Writer’s Digest are very tied up in the early days of my path to being a writer.

So, disclosure: I’m also a huge fan of Guy LeCharles Gonzales. I first met him while in New York talking about digital strategies and the future of publishing. Guy is the publisher of Writers Digest, now, just promoted a few months ago, and when I heard this I was excited to see what his vision could bring to the leadership there. Guy’s thoughts on twitter about branding and the future meant I had some high hopes for the next evolution of Writer’s Digest.

So, I really hope someone is able to rescue Writer’s Digest from this bankruptcy. Because I’d hate to see this big part of my journey as a writer drift away into memories.

I did a keynote for Writer Digest conference in Cincinnati not too long ago. I really tried to kick my keynoting abilities up to a new level, and I think I was able to deliver. But while there, I met quite a few staff from Writers Digest. I really hope this ends well for them, as they were all excited about helping writers and celebrating books.

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