Writer’s Market UK 2009 – Review

writers-market-ukIt’s that time of year again when I have to cough up for a writing market yearbook. I started buying these books six years ago with The Writer’s Handbook being my tome of choice. But in those days I was focused on fiction writing and writing for magazines. About three years ago I switched to the The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook when I broadened my writing to include stage, screen and radio. I felt that it offered more for scriptwriters than the Writers’ Handbook. As I also write for and teach writing for children, I started buying the Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook as well – all tax deductable, of course! This year, I’ve been asked to review the Writer’s Market UK.

US vs UK version

I first encountered Writer’s Market through the US version in 2004 when I was trying to break in across the pond. I was very impressed with the layout and the depth of information given, particularly in the magazine section (as this was what I was targeting). Of particular help, was the ‘inside info’ and ‘tips’. They also gave an indication of what rights the mags bought and, with the help of dollar icons, how well the outlet paid.

The British version has the same clean, accessible layout, the inside info and tips, but doesn’t have an equivalent ‘pound’ icon or info on rights bought. This doesn’t matter as much in the UK though as British publications rarely demand ‘world rights’ like the US mags.

Fresh new articles

The other two British writers’ yearbooks intersperse helpful articles from established writers in between the market listings according to media. Writer’s Market UK groups them all at the beginning. I quite like this as I actually sat down and read the articles (123 pp) like an overview of the writing market. ‘Big’ names like Joanne Harris and new writers whom the average up-and-comer will be able to identify with, share their respective wisdom and insight into the writing industry.

As a teacher of writing for children, I’ve pretty much read everything out there on the subject, yet Elizabeth Kay’s ‘Gallons of lemonade …’ was something fresh. Another goodie was ‘Why not turn to crime?’ by Simon Brett and ‘The publishing house’ by Writer’s Market editor, Caroline Taggart. Yet-to-be-published writer Sara Crowley wrote a realistic and informative piece on ‘Notes from my living room – one writer’s journey so far.’

I must say, I was getting a bit bored with reading the same writers in the other two yearbooks – Eoin Colfer, for example (I’m a great fan of his Artemis Fowl series, but his articles were just repeated year on year). So this batch of articles was quite refreshing – I hope Caroline Taggart will change them regularly though if I’m going to buy it in the future.

As an eclectic writer of fiction, non-fiction, magazine writing, children’s writing, screen and scriptwriting, as well as a writing teacher, I use yearbooks extensively. Let’s see how Writer’s Market UK has helped me so far:

What I found helpful

  • In my monthly Arts Council-sponsored Writing For Children workshop I was able to recommend Elizabeth Kay’s article to my students. They’ve been with me four years, so it’s a challenge to find something new.
  • Some of them are busy approaching agents and the agent listing was helpful. However, it’s not as extensive, for obvious reasons, as the dedicated Children’s Writer’s and Artists’ Yearbook. There is also a Children’s Market UK, but I haven’t seen it yet.
  • I also teach a weekly non-fiction course. Last week we looked at doing market research of magazines – we used Writer’s Market UK mag listing and found the insider info very helpful.
  • I host a monthly writer’s circle supporting poets and prose writers. I will be sharing the articles on finding markets for poetry and short stories there.
  • As far as my own writing goes, I’m currently on the look-out for an agent for a young adult novel, a children’s picture book and a screen and stage play. Writer’s Market UK has a list of literary agents and the insider info on who is currently taking on new clients is very helpful.
  • Like the other two yearbooks, Writers’ Market UK has gone online – you can find them at www.writersmarket.co.uk. There is a dedicated Children’s Market section of the site which I look forward to using. The ‘communities’ section is not yet up and running but overall, I like the look of the site. It is user-friendly and easy to navigate – and of course, it’s free!

What I didn’t find helpful

  • In my non-fiction course not all the magazines my students are researching were listed eg Cat Magazine, North East Life and the Northumbrian. However, neither of the other two yearbooks are fully comprehensive either.
  • It was hard to find dedicated script agents in the general literary listing. However, the other two yearbooks are the same. It would be useful – and a good USP – if there was a separate listing.
  • Apart from writing for radio, there were no articles on writing for stage or screen which I found very disappointing.

So would I buy it?

If they expand their scriptwriting coverage next year, then yes, I would buy it. If not, I’ll probably stay with Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook (although, as I’ve already hinted, I’ll probably end up getting both anyway).

If you have any questions or comments about the content of Writer’s Market UK, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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6 comments on “Writer’s Market UK 2009 – Review

  1. Andrew Philip on said:

    Would you recommend it for poetry? Or, perhaps a better question, which of the three would you recommend for poetry?

  2. Fiona on said:

    There’s an excellent article on poetry outlets for beginners, but probably nothing a more experienced poet like you doesn’t know about already. What would be useful for you is a 17-page directory listing of UK&Irish poetry publishers. Some very good insider info and tips, as far as I can tell. I don’t have a copy of Writers’ Handbook to hand, but the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2008 has two articles on poetry – ‘Getting Poetry Published’ and ‘Approaching a Poetry Publisher’followed by a 7 page list of poetry support organisations, competitions etc. Their list of poetry publishers however, is simply that, a list of names with no other info. You’re supposed to refer back to the general listings for further info, but this is no way as user friendly as Writer’s Market, nor does it provide as much information. So out of the two, definitely Writer’s Market. Hope that helps 🙂

  3. Andrew Philip on said:

    Thanks, Fiona, that’s very useful. The other two are on the reference shelf at the Scottish Poetry Library, but I was thinking of buying one (or more) this year anyway. It hadn’t occurred to me they’d be tax deductable (maybe I need the one with the chapter on tax).

  4. Fiona on said:

    They’ve all got chapters on tax 🙂

  5. Andrew Philip on said:

    Even better, then.

  6. sara on said:

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I’ve replied to you there, but thought I’d pop over to say thank you!

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