INTERVIEW: Robert Brewer

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketRobert Brewer has been the editor of the Writer’s Market (published by Writer’s Digest Books) for many years now. The Writer’s Market is a meaty, broad resource that not only provides general information about how to write a query letter and how to launch a freelance business, but gives detailed descriptions about where you–the nonfiction writer, the poet, the playwright, the screenwriter and the novelist–can place your work. The 2008 deluxe edition of the guide even includes a 1-year online subscription to–a site dedicated to updating market changes throughout the year, between editions of the tome.

We recently spoke with Robert Brewer about his role as editor, the Writer’s Market and Enjoy!

Interview with Robert Brewer

Q: We’ve interviewed two of your colleagues at Writer’s Digest Books: Alice Pope, the editor of the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, and Chuck Sambuchino, editor of Guide to Literary Agents. How does Writer’s Market differentiate itself from other books in the Writer’s Digest series?

RB: Writer’s Market gives a wide selection of paying markets for writers. Other market books specialize in specific fields. For instance, Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market tackles the children’s and young adult market, while Poet’s Market deals exclusively with poetry, and so on. Also, these more specific market guides offer paying and nonpaying (which are good for beginners trying to break in) markets; Writer’s Market lists only paying markets. If you hold Writer’s Market next to one of the other guides, it’s obvious that Writer’s Market contains more overall listings and publishing opportunities.

Q: What are the most popular markets listed in the WM (fiction and nonfiction)?

RB: The most popular markets are consumer magazines and book publishers. Literary agents and contests are fairly popular as well. These apply to both fiction and nonfiction. For nonfiction exclusively, trade magazines are also of interest.

Q: What, in your opinion, makes the WM such a valuable resource?

RB: First, it offers writers an authoritative resource for finding publishing opportunities. Second, our information is checked and approved by contacts for the actual listings, meaning we provide up-to-date and reliable information. Of course, experienced writers know they should always double-check Web sites before submitting. Third, the articles in the front of the book deal with business topics that serious writers appreciate. Lynn Wasnak’s “How Much Should I Charge?” freelance rates chart is one specific example of this.

Q: How is this year’s WM different from last year’s release? How has it evolved throughout the years?

RB: The 2008 Writer’s Market offers listings for newspapers, screenwriting markets, playwriting markets, and greeting cards, in addition to the previous offerings of book publishers, literary agents, magazines, and contests and awards. These four new market categories were requested by writers for the book and since we already offered them on, it only made sense to make this upgrade. We’ve also beefed up our regional magazines, which are good paying markets that are great for upcoming writers to get publishing credits and payment. Plus, we have interviews with bestselling authors Seth Godin (Purple Cow) and Erik Larson (Devil in the White City), and a “Selling My First Book” piece by Mary Roach, bestselling author of Stiff.

Q: You also manage the site for Writer’s Digest. How does this site handshake with the market guide? Can it be used as a replacement for the guide?

RB: Over the years, we’ve heard from writers who prefer the site to the book, who prefer the book to the site, and who like to use both together. The Web site offers more market listings, because it doesn’t have to fit within a specific page count. The book is better for reading the articles and doesn’t require online access. So, there are certain advantages to both. One exciting thing we plan on doing with that we’ll never be to replicate in the book is developing an exclusive “subscribers only” writers forum that will be included as part of a normal subscription. While I can’t give a date for when that will be up and running, it will be a great way for experienced writers to network and help each other increase sales.

Q: Tell me more about the website: how it can help writers, how you intend to grow it, etc…

RB: was originally envisioned as the book online that had an advantage over the book, because of being able to provide daily updates in the unlimited space of an online database. Over the years, we’ve improved search features and provide a record keeping submission tracker tool. And as mentioned above (for how we intend to grow the site), we’re really excited about some community features we hope to get in place in the near future. There are some other great things planned that should help us offer even more listings, but they’re tied to some backend, “techy” improvements. However, the great thing about is that it seems every year is more exciting than the previous one.

Q: Do you take into consideration the “predators” in the publishing world and keep those publishers off your lists, or would you recommend writers take the extra step to check them out through Preditors & Editors, etc… before submitting to anyone?

RB: We do try to stay on top of predators through online lists, reader feedback, and screening questions that appear on our questionnaires. Plus, we use our experience in the industry to spot red flags on their Web sites or in how they phrase their submission guidelines.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketQ: Are all of the market details listed in the book also listed on the site? Are the articles included as well?

RB: The listings from the book should be on the site–unless they were removed, went out of business, or something like that. The site is always more up-to-date on the listings end of things. The articles are not all on the site currently. We do include many articles, but that’s a part of the site that we have plans for upgrading in the near future to offer more dynamic content.

Q: I imagine it would be ideal to use these two resources together. Search for things online and highlight in the book. How much does a subscription to cost, and for how long does it last?

RB: Subscriptions cost $29.99 for a year and $3.99 for a month. The annual subscription requires renewal at the end of the year; the monthly subscription is auto-renew until cancellation. The Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition book includes a one-year subscription to and that edition of the Writer’s Market book. It retails for $49.99.

Q: What should people do to get the most out of the WM–and –when looking for a home for their story?

RB: Use Writer’s Market and to locate markets that align with your story. To do this, figure out what kind of story you’re writing. Is it fiction or nonfiction? Is it mystery or romance? Then, search for market listings that want those kind of stories. Some listings will feel like more of a stretch than others. Once, you’ve got a list of markets, check out their Web sites to see if they’ve changed any of their submission guidelines since their last update. It takes a little more time, but this extra step is what often separates the amateurs from the pros when it comes to submitting. If you follow the guidelines exactly, then you’ve done your part; whether you get accepted or rejected will now rest with your story. But remember: Rejection is part of being a successful writer. So keep at it.

Q: Have you been sent any success stories? People who’ve used the WM or the online site to great effect?

RB: Oh yes. We actually include many testimonials on Many successful writers, editors and agents have used the book and the Web site with success. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of editing the book and Web site, knowing that I’m helping other writers achieve success.

Q: What are some of the most common errors you see writers make when trying to get their stories published?

RB: Newer writers often try to get cute by not following the guidelines or apologize for not having credits. Newer writers often don’t handle suggestions well. Writers write; editors edit. If an editor offers suggested changes to a piece, this is a good thing. Try making the changes before sending the editor a nasty e-mail. You’ll usually find that you like your piece better with the edits.

Q: What do you recommend writers do between new publications of WM, to keep up with changes in the business?

RB: Of course, offers an advantage here, because we make updates to the site year round. But with any directory, I always advise getting online and checking the market listing’s Web site to look for any changes to a listing’s submission guidelines. As mentioned earlier, it’s what separates the amateurs from the pros.

Q: Is there anything I should’ve asked and didn’t, or is there anything you’d like to add?

RB: If possible to do a personal plug, poets should check out the poetry blog I’m currently co-blogging with Poet’s Market editor Nancy Breen at Poetic Asides. This was a fun interview. Thanks for the opportunity.

Thank you, Robert Brewer, for a great interview!


About Therese Walsh

Therese Walsh co-founded Writer Unboxed in 2006. Her second novel, The Moon Sisters, was named a Best Book of 2014 by Library Journal and BookRiot. Her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, sold to Random House in a two-book deal in 2008, was named one of January Magazine’s Best Books, and was a Target Breakout Book. She's never been published with a lit magazine, but LOST's Carlton Cuse liked her Twitter haiku best and that made her pretty happy.