Monday, 23 May 2016

Such a shame

I was pleased to see two short stories in the UK That's Life Summer special. Don't get too excited though as I contacted them and was told by smeone in reader's services that they've had a change of policy and won't be continuing with the fiction. Sigh.

Who makes these decisions and why - and is there anything we can do to convince them that readers do want fiction in their magazines?

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The tears of an editor

This comment appears with my story 'Letting Go' in the 31st May issue of Woman's Weekly. The feedback I got from Clare (assistant fiction editor) was that it nearly made her and Gaynor Davies cry. Very shortly before I'd had a different story rejected for being too sad. It's hard to get the balance right, isn't it?

Do you like writing or reading tear-jerkers?

Got any thoughts on what makes a story a tear-jerker in a good way, rather than being depressing?

Monday, 2 May 2016


OK, this isn't strictly (or at all) womag, but I'm hoping that if I type really quietly, I'll get away with it ... My novel Paint Me A Picture is on sale this week for 99p / 99c.

It's one of those hard to describe, not really in any genre books. It's not historical, romance, erotica, fantasy or action. I could almost call it 'coming of age' except the lead character is 53. There are deaths, a police presence and inquest, but it's not exactly a crime story. I wish 'books with lots of food in' was a genre, because that'd fit all my novels.

Just to bring a hint of womag to this post, here's a link to another of my books which does contain a couple of womag stories and which is FREE.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Woman's Weekly new payment system

Those of you who write for Woman's Weekly will probably have had emails about their new 'comissioning' and payment system - desknet. I have and I think I managed to change my password correctly,  but as I haven't sold them anything since, I've not tried using the system.

Have you had the emails? Changed your password? Requested a payment?

(If you've not yet sold to WW so don't know what I'm on about, don't panic. I'm sure it'll be just fine once we all get the hang of it.)

Monday, 18 April 2016


Norah (aka Glenda) posted this in the 'got a question?' section -

Hi Patsy, could you please write a blog post outlining copyright and what we are entitled to do with our own copyrighted stories after they have been published in a UK woman's magazine?

I'm particularly interested to know how - and if - I can do the following:
1. Submit the story to an overseas magazine.
2. Publish it myself for Kindle or in paperback
3. Offer it to another UK magazine - is this a definite NO!? 

Firstly it depends on the rights you've sold the magazine. If for example the story has been sold to Yours in the UK, you'll have given up all rights and won't be able to do anything at all with it as it will no longer be your story. You could write another with a similar theme or idea, but you can't ever use that story again, even if you do change the names. 

Other magazines, such as Woman's Weekly, have an exclusivity period. You can't do anything with the story until that period is up, but afterwards most rights revert to the author. In other cases, such as Take a Break and DC Thomson, the publishers retain the right to reuse the story in other publications or formats, but these rights are non exclusive, meaning the author may also reuse their story.

It is the author's responsibility to read, understand and follow their own contracts and letters of agreement. If you don't understand then ask. If you don't accept the terms then don't sign. Contracts vary greatly from publisher to publisher and it's possible that different writers may have differing contracts with the same publisher, so don't rely solely on what other writers say or do.

I'll answer the different points, assuming you haven't sold, or otherwise given up your rights, and that any exclusivity period has passed.

1. Submit the story to an overseas magazine.

Yes. But check their guidelines first as some (many!) only accept stories which haven't been published elsewhere. Keep in mind that if the first magazine have the right to reuse the story in another publication, they can do so at any time and it might appear in the country in which the second magazine is based.

2. Publish it myself for Kindle or in paperback.

Yes*. Although if you've signed a DCT contract and the book will be entirely or mainly stories published with them, you'll need their permission first. (I've heard of people asking for, and being given, this permission.)

3. Offer it to another UK magazine - is this a definite NO!? 

You may offer it, but again you'll need to check that they accept previously published stories. I'm not aware of any UK magazines which do.

Finally contracts aren't retrospective. If you sold a story to a magazine before a contract was introduced or updated, then the previous terms will apply.

*I've done this myself with several collections, including this new one which is currently available for 99p (99c).

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The good old days.

Following on from my last post on Ursuala Bloom, here's her list of magazines which published fiction in the 1950s . I've deleted most of the address as sadly it's no use writing to any of these anymore, but I've left in the first part as I thought it was interesting to see how many seem to be separate businesses.

Woman's Own
Mainly the love story, and no rules as to married or unmarried. Story must be suitable for lavish illustration, and highly emotional. They publish some ‘short shorts’ of about fifteen hundred words, but in the main their stories are in the region of four thousand. Address: Tower House.
WomanHere again the love story seems to predominate, and quite frequently it is the story of the married woman. It must be very well done. They consider work of a humorous nature, and some of the short stories produced are on very human lines. Number of words seems to vary from three to four thousand. Open market for the vigorous serial. Address: 189 High Holborn
Woman’s IllustratedAnd here the stories are not quite so long. The well-written highly probable story, possibly of the young married girl, is popular. Romance is the latch-key. Length 3,000-4,000 words at most. Address: The Fleetway House
Wife and HomeThis asks the married story suitable for provincial readers and with love of home and children. The plot must have a new twist and not be hoary. Stories dealing with children always get understanding here. Lengths about 3500 words. Address: The Fleetway House
Woman and BeautyNot now to be confused with its original guise, and largely dedicated to teenage problems. The frothy story, boy-meets-girl story, of about 2,500 words, but must be written in the up-to-the-moment manner. Address: The Fleetway House
Home JournalOnce Weldon's Ladies' Journal, this magazine has the interest of the home close to its heart. Stories likely to sell here are mainly the married story with arresting plot. Length 2,500-3,500 words. Address: The Fleetway House
HousewifePublishes one good short story in each issue, and seems to prefer them to be about a child. Modern angle necessary. Length over 3,000 words. Address: 43 Shoe Lane
SheStories of 5,000 words, highly dramatic and forthright, not the love story. Vigorous adventure acceptable. Address: 21 Ebury Street
The Lady
Published weekly, this seeks the thoughtful story with the woman’s interest, of about 2,000 words, or a shade over. Bear in mind that many of the readers are countrified people with pastoral interests. Articles are acceptable also, on multitudinous subjects, travel being apparently appreciated. Address: 39 Bedford Street
The True MagazineThis deals entirely with first-person stories, and they are all of them based on truth. They should have an arresting start, be both dramatic and swift-moving, and told very frankly. Emotionally arresting, superfluous wording is not invited. The stories can be up to 3,500 words in length. Address: Tower House
Woman's JournalThis is the more luxurious magazine with the unhurried story, and for leisurely people who still have the time to read it. Love of children appears to be predominant in many of the stories published. A romance in a country house is popular, and on occasions the historical story is favoured in this market. Address: The Fleetway House
Homes and GardensThe demands of this paper run along a similar line to the last. This is one of the glossies for ladies of leisure. Historical interest not frowned upon. Good, strong short stories required of length up to 4,500 words. Address: 2 Tavistock Street
Woman's CompanionThe homely story with the fresh angle if possible, suitable for suburban and provincial readers. Stories about children and animals are popular here. Lengths 2,500 to 3,500 words. Serials with the same interest considered. Address: The Fleetway House
Woman's WorldUsing much the same type of story and length and at the same address.
Woman's OutlookSeeking stories with the home interest. Unmarried romantic stories used on occasions. About 2,000 words. Address: Progress House, 
Home NotesThe love story, with a tense moment. Three thousand words required for short stories. And here also is an excellent serial market for stories with the strongly romantic flavour. Address: Tower House, 
True StoryStories in the first person written on fact with a sympathetic influence. There must be no exaggeration of events, it must be the straightforward confessional story. Length up to 4000 words. Address: 8-10 Temple Avenue,
Home ChatThis magazine seeks the love story, and can take the married story also. Interested in romantic serials.

Of those which take fiction now, I know The People's Friend and Woman's Weekly were in operation back then. Were any of the others?

Friday, 15 April 2016

Guest post by womagwriter Ursula Bloom

My 'guest' today is the late, record breaking author Ursula Bloom. She hasn't contacted me directly, but via Curazon Books who are reissuing some of her titles. I'm not sure if all 560 will become available - they're starting with her memoirs and a romance.

This snippet is from 'Wanting to be a Writer' and was written in 1958.

Tips for selling your short story to a magazineIn the writing of short stories today, work often sells because its backcloth is attractive, and more particularly when you come to the big serial. Set your serial in Eire, in the Scillies, or the Channel Islands, and it is far more interesting than in Manchester or Biggleswade. If you are in old St. Malo, or the Cotswolds, the editor will give it a second look. For, believe it or not, readers have to be attracted to the illustrations before they start reading the story, and every editor knows this.

When working on short stories, it is wise for the young writer to look ahead, for having thought before the others means that your work will get in first. If you are thinking of the end of May, remember that is when the Chelsea Flower Show takes place. A flower show is an excellent setting for a story. Articles on the growing of prize flowers, the showing of them, and disclosing how new varieties are invented, named, and placed in their proper forms, all invite interest. Along these lines think when the Tennis Tournament takes place at Wimbledon. Of Derby Day. Lord’s. Remember that the summer numbers exist only for seaside holidays, and all the romantic stories should have the sea as background all the time. Just as it is urgent to remember such occasions as Easter and Whitsuntide. One must be ready for Christmas before the summer has left us, and the story which has association with this occasion is then very saleable indeed.

But the editor himself is the barrier you have to pass if you are to get your work into his paper. For this reason it is very wise to take the trouble to learn something about him, for the better you know his likes and dislikes, his strengths and his weaknesses, then the more likely you are to arrive at the kind of contribution for which he is in search. He will never buy something that he does not like; it is your job to find the subject which he does like.

It is wise to discover first of all the part of the world that he comes from. Whatever we say about it all of us are influenced by our early surroundings, even if we loathed them; there is a certain nostalgic longing for that place where our cradle once rocked, and that lies deep in the heart of each one of us.

It is wise to discover something about editorial antipathies. I learnt this lesson to my own disadvantage when I offered a short story about a cat to a woman editor, who returned it immediately with an insulting letter. She herself detested cats and had a ‘thing’ about them, so she said; for this reason she would never permit any story about them in the paper. It seemed to me to be an extremely bigoted outlook, because in this world of ours there are lots of people who adore cats, many of whom find their pet cat their only real friend in lonely old age. This view, however, did not satisfy the angry lady.

I published the story elsewhere, and got quite a quantity of letters from the people who had enjoyed it, which in my mind proved the woman editor to be in the wrong. Later I discovered that this same woman had a keen adoration for carnations, so I changed a short story that I had written (with her market in view), and transferred the whole situation into a carnation nursery in Nice, and sold it to her the first time out.

To understand editorial reaction to a situation is something it is wise to try and learn. The man who adores his own children may be intrigued by the idea of a child story. The ardent traveller looks twice at the story of a journey. He is attracted by something about life abroad, and although he may insist that why he likes it is because it will illustrate well, really it is because he at heart feels it to be on his own subject.

It pays to discover those little points which may make your work more acceptable to him, and if you are an able writer then there is no complication about changing your backcloth, or your main subject in the story.

Unfortunately not all writers get to know personally the men and women for whom they work. What happens then? The answer is to read the paper strenuously, piercing into the details and discovering from what he produces how he thinks! You have always to allow a certain licence for the lords of Fleet Street, but watch for the small pointers which show how the man himself is really feeling. He does this. He does that. If he constantly refers to Wales, is he a Welshman ? It is easy to discover if he is attracted to old churches, or to modern decorations. To babies or bikinis. Read your paper from a new angle, accepting it as a shop window into which you want to place your goods.

It is something that you will not regret.

Ursula Bloom

Interesting to see what's changed and what hasn't. Will you be following Ursula's advice, or are you already plotting something set in Biggleswade?

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Through The Garden Gate

I have another book out - and it's on special offer at 99p/99c until 19th April.

Through The Garden Gate is a collection of 24 short stories. Some have been published in womags and some are new.

If you can share the news on Twitter, Facebook or with strangers on the bus, I'll be very grateful.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Finding your way around ...

I've had a couple of people asking where to find certain information on the blog. For every person who asks such a question there are usually a dozen more who were wondering but didn't like to say anything, so here's what I hope is a simple explanation ...

To find all the information and guidelines for a particular magazine, either click on the title in 'labels' under any blog post where it's mentioned or scroll down the page until you see 'magazine guidelines - quick links' on the left and click the title there. You'll get all the posts mentioning that magazine, with the most current at the top. All guidelines have recently been updated, so should be easy to find.

For more reading on the subject of womags, scroll down the page until you see 'blogs and websites of interest to womagwriters' and click on those which sound interesting.

To be featured on the blog, look under 'contact' at the top of the page.

To buy my books click on either 'about Patsy' or 'Patsy Collin's website' at the top of the page. (Well, it was worth a try!)

To ask a question, or to help out by answering them, click on 'Ask a question' at the top of the page. You can also ask, and answer, questions on any post - including this one. (I don't promise to know the answer, but either myself, or another writer, may.)

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Fiction Addiction

Sharom Boothroyd, editor at Kishboo magazine, runs an online critique group for people who write womag stories. The group is currently open to new members. Sharon says ...

"Do you enjoy writing short stories for women's magazines?
Would you like to receive constructive feedback on your work?
Then Fiction Addiction is the place for you!
Fiction Addition is an on-line writing circle. We are a warm, welcoming group and membership is completely FREE.
Work and feedback are sent via email.
For more information, please visit my website:
We're looking forward to hearing from you!
Sharon Boothroyd, the co-odinator."

If you know of other similar groups (virtual or otherwise) which are open to new members, please let me know and I'll give them a mention too.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Changes at You

Cecilia van Zyl, the editor at South African magazine You is taking early retirement. I'd like to wish her well for the future.

Lynn Ely, sub editor at the magazine is taking over the role. Lynn is one of those who currently works on the final edits of fiction used in the magazine.

Stories should be submitted to Those previously sent to Cecilia and not used may be resubmitted to Lynn. The guidelines remain the same.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Request from TAB editors.

Margaret Nicholls, editor at Take A Break's Fiction Feast, would like me to 'ask authors to prioritise 1 and 2-page stories over longer as she is keen to get a good stock of the shorter ones.' (These are 700 and 1,200 words)

Norah McGrath, the fiction editor, tells me, 'I get soooooo many at 2,000' and ' I think my need for 1 and 2-pagers is now constant' so she's going to amend the guidelines to reflect this.

These shorter stories are to be posted in the normal way.

(For guidelines for each magazine, click on it's name directly under any post where it's mentioned, or scroll down a little and find it in the 'Magazine guidelines - quick links' on the left.)

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Interview with womagwriter Kate Willoughby

My guest today is Kate Willoughby.

1. When and why did you start writing, Kate ?

I started seriously writing in 1999. I’ve always wanted to have a book on a shelf somewhere, ever since I was a little girl. I had toyed with the idea of majoring in English in college, but got discouraged in a creative writing class where my attempts to write genre fiction were met with derision.

2. Are you a disciplined writer producing a steady stream of stories, or do you wait until you're in the mood?

I’m not the most disciplined writer in the world. I do write almost everyday on my novels, but the Woman’s World stories come as inspiration strikes.

3. I know you have a particular interest in romance stories for Woman's World. What do you particularly enjoy about their fiction?

I enjoy how quick and simple they are. You can always count on a happy ending. There’s also a feeling that you’re entering a safe world. You’re not going to encounter any gritty issues or violence or abuse or anything that might cause you to feel anxious. In a way, reading these stories is like taking a literary bubble bath—they let you relax, enjoy, and escape reality for a little while.

4. On your blog you analyse the Woman's World fiction and you also offer online workshops for those interested in writing for this market - can I persuade you to share a few observations and tips? 

My best tip for those who want to sell a romance story to Woman’s World is to either subscribe or regularly buy the magazine. This is the best way to absorb the tone, rhythm and content that they gravitate towards. At the very least, read 4-5 of the romances. If the magazine isn’t available where you live (it’s usually on the stands at the grocery checkout,) maybe you have an American friend who could purchase issues for you and send you a photo of the romance story.

5. The right writing snacks are very important - what's your fuel of choice?

Snacking is my downfall. I’m trying very hard to eat four fruits and veggies a day, which for some reason is easier for me to do than “avoid bad snacks.” So, my go-to snacks will be apples, carrots, cucumber, tiny tomatoes with ranch or hummus.

6. You write novels too. Are these in a similar style to your Woman's World stories?

My novels are not similar at all. I write sexy hockey romance—romance in which the heroes are professional hockey players. (Yes, it’s really a thing!) There is graphic sex inside those books and a lot of swearing, because, hey, they’re hockey players. One thing you will find in both my Woman’s World Stories and my novels is humor and (hopefully) well-developed, likable characters.

(On the Surface is the first in Kate's hockey romance series. US readers can get it for 99c at the moment.)

7. What has been your happiest or proudest writing moment so far?

You know, I was pretty proud of that very first sale to Woman’s World. At the time, they paid $1000 for 1100 words. I had heard that the Woman’s World market was very difficult to break into, and I had submitted five stories to them before the third story I sent got accepted. Every sale since then has been cause to celebrate in my house. It’s always a great excuse for me not to have to cook. LOL

8. What is it Americans have against the letter U? Flavor, color, neighbor - it's all so wrong!

Efficiency? Laziness? I don’t know. LOL

9. There don't seem to be many other U.S. women's magazines which publish short stories - is that the case? If so, is short fiction unpopular in the U.S. or is it accessed in other ways?

It saddens me that there isn’t more short fiction published in the United States. I suspect that younger generations of women are more interested in other things. I also think that “being busy” is a badge of honor these days and that if you have time to read, it probably is an indication that you’re “not busy,” which is not something people admire, unfortunately.

10. What advice would you give to someone considering submitting to womags?

Study the market. Give yourself permission and the time to improve. Professional musicians don’t get gigs the first time they pick up an instrument. Persevere. Unlike being busy, getting a rejection from a publisher is a badge of honor—it proves that you had the guts to put your writing out there. It’s always hard to get a rejection, but it does get easier, especially if you remember that the rejection is not a reflection of your writing ability. It is a judgment on that particular piece of writing. Furthermore, it is not saying that piece of writing is bad. It is just not right for that publication/publisher at that time.  

Friday, 11 March 2016

The People's Friend Fiction (and other) guidelines.

The People's Friend have just updated their guidelines. You can find them all here.

Hope you'll forgive me for illustrating this post with a logo from a rejection letter. There aren't any acceptance letters with my name on, nor copies of the magazine with one of my stories in. I'm just not on their wavelength. Ah well, can't win 'em all!

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

In case you were wondering ...

I don't just write about womags - I also write stories for them.

I have one each in the current issues of TABFF, WWFS and MW.