Traditional Publishing

With no new edition of Writer's Market, writers are flooding to The Writers' Handbook – Wednesday April 14, 2021

In 2019, the publisher of Writer's Market, F+W Media, filed for bankruptcy. The last edition of Writer's Market was published the same year. It was called the "2020" edition, but in reality no edition was published in 2020, or since. 

In the absence of this long-standing stalwart (had an edition been published in 2020, it would have the 100th annual edition), writers have been flooding in their droves to try the new kid on the block, The Writers' Handbook, which claims to offer an improved level of data by using technology similar to that used by Google to constantly monitor the activities of publishers, magazines, and literary agents. But is this new book a worthy successor to the old Writer's Market?

"Well, it's not intended to be a copy," says editor, J. Paul Dyson. "I don't think copying the gameplan of a bankrupt company is necessarily the best idea! Of course, everyone respects what was achieved by The Writer's Market -- nearly 100 annual editions is nothing to be sneezed at -- but it was a bit of a dinosaur and hadn't really adapted to the realities of modern technology. It had also become a bit of a jack of all trades and master of none. There are much better how-to books on writing, often tailored to specific genres (like G. Miki Hayden's Writing the Mystery for mystery writers), and the listings were poorly researched and out of date. With our book, we made a conscious decision to leave the how-to material to the specialist books already publishing in those areas, and instead focused on offering quality listings data powered by 21st century technology."

The technology Dyson refers to is an automated program called a web crawler, or "spider", like that employed by Google to build its search results. This program monitors thousands of pages of contact details and submission guidelines, and when changes are detected to key pieces of information these are immediately flagged for the attention of researchers, who then amend and update the listings as necessary.

"I know how Writer's Market operated," continues Dyson. "They used to list our magazine and competitions -- and once you'd submitted your information they'd just republish it over and over again. Every few years you might get asked to review and update your information, but if you didn't respond they'd just assume nothing had changed and republish it anyway. They wouldn't take your failure to respond as a red flag, or bother to visit your website to see what was going on. They carried on listing our competitions and magazine years after they'd stopped running! We're much more hands on than that -- much more pro-active about seeking out information without having to rely on someone else telling us."

So far, the approach seems to be working. The 2021 edition of The Writers' Handbook is enjoying record sales this year, and has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon. It has been available to buy in print since November, and is now also available as an ebook from various online retailers. To order your copy in digital format or in print, click here