Poets & Writers, Jan/Feb 2013
It’s a bitch trying to advise writers these days, and P&W knows it. Ten years ago it was only necessary to offer tips on good writing and something here and there to clue aspiring or emerging writers in on support systems, such as conferences, workshops, markets, and the like. But with MFA programs spawning writers like cockroaches and a publishing industry that doesn’t know its ass from, well, some alternative aperture, where does a good writer’s magazine turn?
In one sense, P&W soldiers on with writerly advice, as in this issue, on highly effective writing habits (somewhat useful, I should think, to the undisciplined among us), and the physiology/psychology of writer’s block and putting emotion into description (the former probably not all that relevant to working writers, more so to academics).
Where P&W’s rubber is meeting reality’s road is in attempting to parse the realities of today’s publishing world, and here I’ll name names. An excellent article by Ron Tanner, The DIY Author Tour, tells how Tanner orchestrated a forty-state, sixty-city book tour on his own. As a writer anticipating something similar, this article was most welcome and revealing.
Another, similar article, is more for poets, Reality check – A Simple Self-Publishing Plan, by Reagan Upshaw. Upshaw nudges poets toward eschewing litmags and contests in order to self-publish their own work. Here, says Upshaw, publishing chapbooks can be done for the cost of a couple of contests or magazine subscriptions. What Upshaw doesn’t tell poets is how to market these publications – always a problem for all but a few well-known poets.