After 22 years, I am ending my relationship with Popular Woodworking Magazine. My contract runs out at the end of November 2018, and I have informed them I will not renew. Working at Popular Woodworking was the best job I ever had. So it was a difficult decision that took months of thought.
The internet being what it is, I decided to write this blog entry so that when the rumors begin, there is also this blog entry. Let’s structure it as a FAQ.
Why are you leaving?
There are several reasons. No. 1 is Lost Art Press. John and I have grown this business to the point where it is difficult to manage Lost Art Press in addition to writing six feature articles a year and (at minimum) 104 blog entries a year for Popular Woodworking.
No. 2 is that the magazine is changing. All magazines change; they have to in order to survive. Many of the changes I’ve observed are dismantling the things I fought for during my tenure there. It feels weird to be part of that, honestly. So I thought it best to step aside.
My leaving is not a condemnation of their work. I’m not asking you to cancel your subscription or write hate mail to the editor. Please don’t. Evaluate the magazine on its own merits and whether the articles are helpful to you – not whether or not my name is in the masthead.
Were you fired or pressured to leave?
No and no. The management there has only been supportive of my work at every turn. My contract comes up for renewal at the end of every calendar year. They asked me if I was going to renew, and I said no.
Did they try to tell you what to write?
Never. That’s why I’ve stayed with them for so long. My leaving is not the result of editorial pressure. Period.
Will you write for other magazines?
Maybe someday. After 22 years with a magazine that I adore, it would feel treasonous (or at least tacky) to jump in bed with another magazine. This change in my life has nothing to do with moving to another publication. My hope is to take a few years off before thinking about this topic.
What will you do instead?
I’ve bought a CNC machine, opened a YouTube channel and have secured sponsorships from a dozen makers of tools and fashionable workwear (no, I haven’t done any of these things). Instead, I plan to teach a few more classes per year at our storefront. And work on reducing my backlog of furniture commissions, which is at 12 months right now.
Won’t this hurt your career or reduce your exposure?
Probably. But that’s the price for reducing my workload.
Does this have anything to do with Megan Fitzpatrick or Brendan Gaffney?
To be certain, I wasn’t happy that they fired Megan and treated Brendan poorly. They’re good friends. But it wasn’t the primary or secondary reason (see the first question above).
What will happen to my blog at Popular Woodworking?
I don’t know. It’s their property. They can fold it into their main blog, delete it or hire another simian-looking guy named Christopher Schwarz to continue it. All that content (since 2005 for gosh sake) belongs to them and is theirs to use.
One last question. This one is for you: Could you do me a favor and not trash the magazine in the comments below? I personally hate reading those threads, no matter whose magazine is getting trashed. Otherwise, I’ll try to answer any non-ridiculous questions.
— Christopher Schwarz