By Estelle Erasmus
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I did an interview with Tyler Moss, the Editor-in-Chief of Writer’s Digest for the podcast, ASJA Direct: Inside Intel on Getting Published and Paid Well. The podcast up on the site here, and you can check out existing podcasts here with other top editors, and an ASJA conference preview.
Here is his bio:
Tyler Moss is editor-in-chief of Writer’s Digest, a national magazine for professional and aspirational writers that has celebrated the “Writing Life” since 1920. While at WD, he’s interviewed such notable authors as George Saunders, Andy Weir, Scott Turow, Rainbow Rowell and Heather Graham.
Before WD, Tyler was the online editor of Family Tree Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Conde Nast Traveler, and his articles have been published by The Atlantic, New York, Outside, DRAFT, Salon, MentalFloss, Atlas Obscura, Paste, VICE, Playboy
In the podcast, Tyler covered:
Erasmus: How did you get your start in publishing?
Moss: After earning my master’s in journalism from Northwestern (with a concentration in magazine writing and editing), I began freelancing for online outfits and landed a few bylines with national magazines. I was hired to be the online editor of Family Tree Magazine—a niche national magazine for genealogy enthusiasts. After almost three years with Family Tree, I moved over to Writer’s Digest, where I became managing editor (both pubs are owned by the same parent company, F+W Media).
Erasmus: Did you have a mentor (or more in your career)? If so, who, and how did that help you?’
Moss: At Writer’s Digest, having former Editorial Director Jessica Strawser teach me the ins and outs of helming a national magazine was invaluable. When she left last September to pursue her own novel-writing career full time, I was sad to see her go, but also felt empowered by her years of mentorship. I aspire to hold WD to the same immaculate standard she did for the past decade.
Erasmus: How does your own personal writing inform your work as editor-in-chief?
Moss: I think with a magazine like Writer’s Digest, where we seek to play a pivotal role in the writing community—not just in print but on our website, on social media, through our events—it’s crucial that I as an editor am a part of that community and not just an outside observer. To understand the conversations your readers are having today, you have to be fully immersed in that audience. Too many editors today, I believe, think they know what their readers wants without ever getting out and actually interacting with them. Beyond that, writing is a passion and a release. It’s a way to attempt to satisfy my insatiable curiosity (through freelance writing), and to carry out the quirky plots tugging at my imagination (through fiction).
Erasmus: What book/s most influenced you and why?
Moss: I feel like Stephen King’s On Writing is a cliche choice, but it definitely holds a permanent spot on the bookshelf next to my desk for easy reference. The same with The Elements of Style. In terms of journalistic writing, I’ve always admired the classics like Hunter S. Thompson, Gay Talese, Hannah Arendt, Nora Ephron, Joan Didion and John McPhee. McPhee’s latest, Draft No. 4, is a masterclass for longform freelance writers.
Erasmus: What do you read every day (can be magazines, sites, newspapers)
Moss: I have digital subscriptions to both the Washington Post and New York Times. In term of magazines, sometimes I feel like I’m single-handedly keeping print alive. I have subscriptions to Esquire, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, BeerAdvocate, Conde Nast Traveler and New York, to name a few. I also enjoy Boston Magazine because I think city magazines still provide vital information to the communities they represent, and because the folks at Boston in particular do incredible work. (I also live in Cambridge, so don’t mind the restaurant recommendations.) Online, I spend most of my time on The Ringer, Atlas Obscura, Brainpickings, Columbia Journalism Review—and, of course, WritersDigest.com.
Erasmus: What do you like most about editing? What is your least favorite aspect?
Moss: There’s something immensely satisfying about guiding a story from initial conception to final fruition in print. Beyond that, formulating the creative identity of a publication by pacing out the editorial calendar, then assembling the proper spread of articles for each issue makes me feel a little bit like Nick Fury assembling the Avengers. I suppose the primary downside is—because I spend so much time acquiring, editing and revising these days—I don’t have as much time to dedicate to my own writing as I’d like. That said, being able to lead a historic magazine like Writer’s Digest is well worth the sacrifice.
Thanks, Tyler! You can find the podcast here.
See my other interviews here: