Problems with the Writer’s Market?

I go out of my way to make sure all my blogs encourage authors. However, I have a serious problem with the 2010 Writer’s Market. This should be a major resource for authors, especially those just starting out.

Instead, the 2010 Writer’s Market is littered with mistakes.

We keep the latest copy of the Writer’s Market on hand for several reasons:

* To assist authors in finding the best literary agent, publisher, and writers conference.

* To keep up with all those working in the publishing industry.

* To understand what literary agents and publishers are looking for, so I can pass that information on to other authors.

Here’s the first problem with the 2010 Writer’s Market: It has spelling and grammar errors on every page. Hundreds of them throughout the book! If an author sent in a query letter, synopsis, or manuscript with just one mistake, it could be refused. So why should the top selling resource in the publishing industry get away with hundreds of mistakes?

Second problem: Most of the agents and publishers are listed on the wrong page. For example, if you look under “Suspense” and want to find an agent or publisher that represents that genre, the page number of that agent/publisher is wrong. If any author made that mistake, their work would be rejected.

The “Manuscript Tips” and “Query Letter Clinic” has not been updated. Which means, authors are not getting the latest information. If the author provided “outdated” material to the publisher, I wonder if that would be a problem? Of course it would.

Jeff Yeager wrote an article in the Writers Market about “Building a Platform.” The entire article has spelling and grammar errors. Also, the information is pretty basic. Hey Jeff, authors these days are not basic

Finally, there is a problem with the literary agents and publishers who give “Tips” on what they are looking for. Here are a few examples:

“I do not take on work that is described as a bestseller.” (This is your big advice for authors? Sounds like you have some issues and I will not refer you as a literary agent.)

“Work needs to stand on its own. How much editing it has, should not be in the query letter.” (That is a good tip. Maybe the Writer’s Market should read that.)

 “Please do not call.” (My advice to authors, never call them.)

“Please send a polite and well-written query letter.” (As opposed to a rude, poorly written query letter. Thanks, that is a great tip.)

“Research agents using a variety of sources.” (So, do not trust the Writers Market? Authors need to make sure the agent is legit from another resource? That’s comforting.)

“Give it your best shot.” (Are you kidding me? The agent can write anything to help authors, and “Give it your best shot” is their advice…ugg.)

“At the moment, we are looking for good non-fiction.” (Whew. I thought you were looking for bad non-fiction.)

“Our audience is anyone who reads.” (If an author wrote this in a query letter, “My audience is anyone who reads,” he/she would be rejected. Authors need a Target Audience. So do publishers.)

“We publish for intelligent audiences.” (Once again, this is not a Target Audience. Can you imagine the publisher’s marketing campaign: “If you are an intelligent reader, we would like to sell you a book.”)

“Our audience is genealogy hobbyists.” (Okay, I’ll admit that they explained their target audience. So any of you authors who write about “Genealogy Hobbies,” might consider them.)

What is the point? I have made several:

* When established authors, literary agents, and publishers give “Tips,” it should be something that helps authors understand the industry. Very little thought was put into their advice.

* If literary agents and publishers are putting little thought into the author, then how can they be trusted? In fact, it sounds like they are complaining!

* If the Writer’s Market, which sells 5 million copies a year, cannot spellcheck, then the industry is doomed.

I stick up for literary agents and traditional publishers, but every year it gets a little tougher. e-Book sales are up 207% and now control 55% of the publishing industry. That’s because authors are looking at self-publishing and going their own way.

Writer’s Market was published by F+W Media. The publishing and editorial director is Jane Friedman. The managing editor is Alice Pope. If you have spent $30 or more on the Writer’s Market, please go to their web site: and demand a refund.

Publishers and literary agents expect that authors are talented, professional, and provide a service to others. Well, my fellow authors expect the same things.

Writer’s Market is an example of what is wrong with publishing today. The author’s are not the problem.

Ron Knight

Literary Manager: Melissa Link


Ron Knight

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  1. I just got my copy of Writer’s Market 2011 and found the same problem. Unbelievable!!!

  2. ann raite says:

    I was wondering what you think of their online service at Is it worth the money or do you feel like it is just a waste? I am thinking about joining but wanted to make sure it wasn’t a scam or just a waste of money.

  3. I would like to know that as well ^^