How to Write for Writer’s Digest (… Even if You’ve Never Written for Magazines Before)

Yesterday we updated the Submission Guidelines for Writer’s Digest magazine (just some routine tidying—adjusting links, adding a couple sections, overanalytically tweaking a word here and there, then immediately changing it back, etc.).

Which got me thinking. A few years back I did what I wish more editors would do—I wrote about how to break into our magazine.

So, since we’re doing some updating: Here are four ways to land your work in Writer’s Digest.

(And, of course, for the finer print of how to pitch us—and how to pitch longer articles, such as craft features, etc.—check out our shiny new submission guidelines.)

1. Inkwell
This upfront section of the magazine is the best place for new writers to break in. Each Inkwell features an 800-900–word lead story that kicks off the magazine. The article ranges in style and tone every issue, but often takes the form of an opinion-based piece, weaving a narrative and drawing out tips for readers. It can be a great place to discuss theoretical or timely concepts. Inkwell also features short pieces of 300–600 words (how-tos, trends, humor, insight on news that will still be relevant when our next issue hits stores, weird and intriguing tidbits about the writing world).
How to Pitch: Traditional queries are accepted for Inkwell, but on-spec submissions are preferred. Send to Include “Inkwell:” and the name of your piece in the subject line of your query.

2. 5-Minute Memoir
This recurring column features 600-word essay reflections on the writing life. While 5-Minute Memoir is a diverse spot in which we want a writer’s individual style and voice to come through, the essays we love most are those with a strong narrative element, relaying an experience and its subsequent wisdoms and takeaways for writers. This is, secretly, my favorite spot in the magazine.
How to Pitch: We accept on-spec submissions only. Send to Include “5-Minute Memoir:” and the name of your piece in the subject line of your submission.

3. Reject a Hit
This back-page feature is a humorous fake rejection letter of 300 words or fewer, spoof-rejecting a classic or beloved book. As the intro to the feature goes, “Let’s step once again into the role of the unconvinced, perhaps even curmudgeonly or fool-hearted editor: What harsh rejection letters might the authors of some or our favorite hit books have had to endure?” Winning submissions generally focus on books a broad base of readers would instantly recognize, and poke fun at a short-sighted or absurd editor—not the original author of the featured book, etc.
How to Pitch: We accept on-spec submissions only. Please include “Reject a Hit:” and the title of the book you’re rejecting in the subject line of your submission.

4. Poetic Asides’ WD Poetic Form Challenge
Per Robert Lee Brewer’s popular Poetic Asides blog and magazine column, every issue we publish a poem by one of his readers in response to a poetic form challenge issued on the blog.
How to Submit: The poetic form varies every issue; click here to see what Robert’s latest challenge is. After, simply post your poem in the Comments section of Robert’s blog.
For an Example: Check out the latest on Robert’s blog.

The secret to breaking into these sections of WD—we’re not looking for high-end clips or mind-blowing bios. We’re just looking for a fantastic piece of writing.

Happy Friday.

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zp7Zachary Petit (@ZacharyPetit) is the senior managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. Check out the latest issue of Writer’s Digest—which features an exclusive dual interview with Anne Rice and Christopher Rice, and a feature package on how to improve your craft in simple, effective ways—in print, or on your favorite tablet.



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2 thoughts on “How to Write for Writer’s Digest (… Even if You’ve Never Written for Magazines Before)

    1. Zachary Petit Post author

      Hi Terry, apologies on the confusion — should have clarified this above! In magazine jargon, “on-spec” means “on speculation” — meaning the writer should send a completed piece for consideration, versus just a query.


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