Last August, something pretty amazing happened, but the timing and context was terrible. After a round of layoffs and restructuring—one of a series of unfortunate events that eventually led to F+W Media’s recent announcement of bankruptcy—I became the publisher of Writer’s Digest. Not just the magazine and website, but the entire brand!
“Mixed emotions” would be an understatement as it’s a brand I have a long history with—both personally in my teenage years as an aspiring writer, and professionally over two stints as its Ad Sales Representative and Ad Sales Director the first time around, and Director of Marketing this time. Even though it’s primarily based in Cincinnati, some of my original colleagues remained good friends after I moved on the first time, and my newest colleagues have proven to be a great team and, more importantly, good people.
There was no announcement back in August because celebrating a new gig in that context felt wrong, and as subsequent events would confirm, it honestly wasn’t all that clear how long it would last. WD is and always has been a strong brand, but when your parent company is headed towards bankruptcy, the path forward is anything but clear.
Nevertheless, we worked hard planning for 2019, formulating a strategy and establishing the roadmap that would lead to our celebrating an amazing milestone later this year: Writer’s Digest’s 100th Anniversary!
I’ve seen a lot in my 25-year career in media—I either have a knack for gravitating towards “challenged” companies, or the entire industry truly is challenged—but bankruptcy is a whole other ballgame, a weird combination of “business as usual” and “end of the road.”
We’ve been heartened by the support from our authors, instructors, contributors, and industry partners, and seeing readers share their stories of how Writer’s Digest has helped them along their own writing journeys has helped us keep focused on achieving our goals for this year and beyond.
(Side note: I never fully appreciated Slack until the past few weeks, but it’s really helped our dispersed team stay connected, supporting each other through the coping process: surprise, anger, depression, re-framing, and re-commitment.)
On the verge of celebrating its 100th anniversary, Writer’s Digest’s core mission remains unchanged—writers helping writers. Even the remote possibility of WD not being able to celebrate that milestone is incredibly disappointing to me, both professionally and personally, and our small team is doing everything we can to ensure that celebration stays on schedule, hoping a worthy buyer emerges from this unfortunate process. With a strong foundation and diversified revenue mix, it would be a smart acquisition for anyone in vertical media, or with a stake in the overall publishing industry.
(If that sounds like you, get in touch with F+W quickly because the process is underway!)
So, in that context—I’m excited to belatedly announce that I’m the new(ish) publisher of Writer’s Digest, thrilled to have the privilege to work with such a great team, and hopeful that WD’s 100th anniversary is the first of many we get to celebrate together under new ownership!