Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Take A Break Guidelines

Here's the latest guidelines for Take A Break and Fiction Feast. Note that the weekly magazine is quite strict on length, and particularly wants twist in the tail, whereas Fiction Feast will take a much wider variety of stories. Buy a couple of copies and you'll see what I mean. I love the variety of FF fiction!

FICTION FEAST - GUIDELINES FOR AUTHORS

Thank you for enquiring about submitting stories to us. We are happy to receive unsolicited manuscripts from authors, but for the present, request that these be no longer than 2,000 words. Should you wish to submit longer stories for consideration, I’ll drop you a line or telephone you. Please don’t be discouraged, as we are always on the lookout for new talent.

I enclose the Take a Break guidelines for your general assistance with presentation and plots to avoid. The basic requirements of a strong plot and a twist in the tail also hold good for Fiction Feast’s 1 page (700 words) and 2 page (1,200 words) stories. Stories of between 1200+ and 2000 max words needn’t be twist in the tail, but must have a compelling plot. Because Fiction Feast has so many stories, we’re looking for more variety in the type we publish; so, whatever the length, mystery, romance, crime, offbeat, macabre, science fiction, spooky tales - just about anything really - are welcome.

We can be flexible about story length, but as a guide our wordcounts and payment rates are:
1 Page (700 words) £200
2 Page (1200 words) £250
3-4 Pages (2,000 words) £325 to £400

All stories must be from an original idea, all your own work, not previously published in the UK and not currently on offer to any other magazine or publisher. We pay on publication.

Basic Requirements:

We are looking for contemporary stories aimed at women from their mid-twenties upwards. We require 1100 - 1200 words with a strong plot and a good twist in the tail. The twist should arise out of the story, rather than from a detail kept from the reader. To check your twist is a genuine twist - not simply a deception -imagine your story were being made into a film and ask yourself - would the surprise still work? If it wouldn't, I'm afraid it's not for us.


We do not have a monthly serial, so stories must be complete.

Subject Matter: We particularly like settings and situations which readers can recognise and relate to, rather than say, country house murders or stories about drugs rings or jewel thieves. It’s essential to read several issues of the magazine to get the flavour of the type of fiction we publish before writing a story aimed at Take a Break/Fiction Feast. Many writers waste a lot of time and effort because they haven’t done this. Please avoid straightforward romance i.e. boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. Also avoid historical backgrounds, science fiction and stories narrated by animals or small children. Take a Break is a family magazine so graphic murders or sex crimes are never acceptable.

Common plots to avoid:

* the heroine/narrator is revealed to be a cat, dog, fox, car (or tree…or whatever).
* the policeman/woman is really a strippogram/singing telegram
*a character’s mysterious arrangements turn out to be for a surprise party – not an aff
* a shifty antiques dealer dupes an old lady out of what he thinks is a priceless antique and it turns out she is making them by the dozen
* the woman discovers her husband’s secret lover is a man, or vice versa
* the murder victim ends up on a compost heap
* anything to do with poisonous mushrooms or tampering with car brakes
* anything to do with twins or nosy neighbours
* someone nervous about a first day at school turns out to be the teacher; or about a wedding, the vicar; or an interview, the interviewer
* anything to do with bumping off elderly elatives for the inheritance, in fact wills in general are best avoided
Because our stories are so short, a maximum of four characters is usually best with the main character - a woman.

Stories must be your own idea and original work, previously unpublished and not on offer to any other magazine or publisher at the time sent to us. Should your story be accepted we will probably have to edit it.

Presentation: Typed manuscripts are preferred, but if you can’t get your story typed, write clearly in double line spacing. Please ensure your name, address, e-mail address (if you have one) and telephone number are on the title page together with an accurate wordcount. Y our name and story title should also appear on all subsequent pages.

Please, please include a stamped addressed envelope large enough to hold your story. Self-seal envelopes are especially appreciated. It’s advisable to keep a copy your story to guard against the remote chance of loss. Features and articles should be sent directly to the Features Department with a covering letter. It can take 10-12 weeks before a decision is made concerning your manuscript, so please be patient. If your story has not been returned after ten weeks, please drop me a line giving me the story title, a brief synopsis of the plot and the date sent. I will get back to you ASAP. Should your story be rejected it may be we have already published or have in stock a similar story. More likely though, I feel it will not appeal to our readers. This does not necessarily mean I will not like another of your stories, so, don’t lose heart.

Seasonal Stories sent for specific issues, such as Christmas, Easter, Hallowe’en etc., must be sent at least four months in advance of the issue date.

It can take 10-12 weeks for a decision to be made on Fiction Feast stories, so please be patient. If you haven’t had a story returned after 12 weeks, please drop a line outlining the plot and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Please send stories to me, Norah McGrath (Fiction Editor), at the address below:

I look forward to reading your work.

Norah McGrath
Fiction Editor
Fiction Feast
4th Floor
Academic House
24-28 Oval Road
London
NW1 7DT



Interesting list of plots to avoid, isn't it? Some are pretty specific. I quite like the idea of the little old lady fabricating antiques to con the cons. Then perhaps she should get her comeuppance by way of poisonous mushrooms and end up on a compost heap...

76 comments:

Ali said...

Brilliant, thanks so much! :-)

womagwriter said...

You're welcome!

Helen said...

thank you so much for printing these. I have a short story I was targeting for TaB but didn't have any up-to-date guidelines.

womagwriter said...

Good luck, Helen!

Anonymous said...

This is such a useful site - thank you! Do you know how the magazines stand with respect to a story that's been put on an Internet critique site? Do they consider that as already having been published?

womagwriter said...

Anon - that's a question I've never asked a mag editor directly, but my advice would be not to put a story you intend submitting to any paying market on an open internet site. If your critique site is a closed, members only group (like one I belong to) then I'd think there's no problem - it's only the cyber-equivalent of passing the story around a writing circle, after all. But if it's an open site where anyone could google the story title and find it, well to my mind that counts as published.

But then I'm not an editor of a magazine, and they may think differently. Why not send an email to the magazine you're targetting and ask them directly?

Emerging Writer said...

I would have thought that if you change the title slightly, they would never know. It's not like you've stolen it from someone else. But I suppose, if your stories start getting accepted on a regular basis, you may want to reconsider submitting on open sites.

Pikkapen said...

I have enjoyed writing for many years, but am only now considering submitting some of my stories. I enjoy Take a Break, but never see Fiction Feast on the shelves. Why is this? Pikkapen.

womagwriter said...

Hi Pikkapen

FF certainly doesn't have as high a circulation rate as the core TAB (which is the biggest selling weekly mag in the UK, I believe). It comes out on a Thursday usually at the end of a month or the very beginning of a month.

I find it isn't always stocked in supermarkets and sells out in WHS, but is easier to find in local newsagents. You could always ask your local newsagent to keep a copy for you.

TAB and FF carry quite different stories so it is certainly worth getting hold of a copy of FF before submitting to it.

Good luck!

Abbie said...

Hi,

I enjoy reading the fiction stories in TAB and FF. The general consensus is that I'm not a bad writer so I'd love to have a go at writing a story or two to submit.

I think I'd be able to put my own spin on the popular format and write sories which would appeal to the target audience.

However, I'm only 17. Could that prove to be a problem?

womagwriter said...

Hi Abbie

No, your age shouldn't be a problem at all. You might have seen stories by A.Millward in the magazines - he was only about 14 when he sold his first story (his step-mum is Della Galton which presumably helped!)

The only thing to bear in mind is that the target audience of these magazines is older than you - 30s upwards. So while they certainly do take stories from teenage point of views, the story will need to appeal to an older readership. Test them on your mum!

Go for it, Abbie, and good luck.

Anonymous said...

The fiction guidelines for Take a Break state they do not want 'boy meets girl' type stories and yet only this week their published story was exactly that. It is very confusing!

womagwriter said...

Hi Anon
I didn't see this week's story in TAB. I think they don't want straightforward boy meets girl any more (though People's Friend might still like these) but if you can find an unusual angle that hasn't been done before, you might be on to a winner.

Anonymous said...

I find TAB stories so bland and banal. If only That's Life had not done away with their 1,000 word twists. They were great, you had spouses doing away with each other and characters behaving badly in general, much much more fun to write! I sold a few stories to them, but TAB's fiction is just too dull to attempt

womagwriter said...

Anon, I can't agree. Although I don't often read the weekly mag, if that's what you're referring to, I love the stories in Fiction Feast. Such a great variety.

Anonymous said...

Fiction Feast has a much wider range and therefore more interesting. It was the weekly story I was referring to. Unfortunately they don't pay as much for the Fiction Feast stories though!
I just wish they would include ghost and occasional murder stories in the weekly TAB.

Jumbly Girl said...

Just got my June 2008 copy of Fiction Feast and guess what - there's a story about poisonous muschrooms and tampering with car brakes! Either someone wasn't taking any notice of the guidelines or Norah's had this in mind since August and didn't want any duplicates!

Anonymous said...

This validates my earlier comment about 'Girl meets boy' stories. Practically every published TAB story has this theme despite Norah's Guidelines.

Jumbly Girl said...

Sorry- my comment was intended as a joke :o) I'm pretty sure she already had the mushroom and brakes story and knew she couldn't use another one on the same theme

Jumbly Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Is there anyone else reading these blogs who are attempting to write for TAB? It would be interesting to exchange comments, ideas etc.

womagwriter said...

Anon - I think a lot of readers of this blog submit stories to TAB.

Can I suggest you sign your posts? At the moment it is hard to tell if all the anonymous comments on this thread are from the same person or not. So I don't know if I'm having a conversation or making comments to a stream of different people.

Liz said...

I'm just curious. I'm an American writer (no novice here. I've been published in British magazines before as well as on the Internet and in some American newspapers). Is Take A Break anti American, because I've sent them stories that follow their requirements to the letter (and I have read the issues that i requested) and they've all be rejected. I'm thinking is it maybe they just don't like Yank writers for some reason?

Any thoughts or comments would be greatyly appreciated.
Thanks
LIZRWRITER@aol.com

womagwriter said...

Liz, I don't think TAB are anti-American, but must admit I can't remember any stories set in America, or with a particularly American slant to them.

I would say, though, you'd need to Anglicise your stories as much as possible to have a better chance.

However TAB is not the easiest magazine to get accepted by. They get a huge number of submissions, and I know brilliant writers who get hits everywhere else but struggle with TAB. I don't think there's any secret formula - it's (as with any mag) whatever floats the editor's boat, on the day.

Keep trying and good luck, let me know if you have a success.

Anonymous said...

thanks alot for the guidelines. i've recently started my course with the writers bureau, and was lookin for a mag to send a short stories to. i've particular interest in TAB, and recently read one of there issue, it was very interesting, definately a mag i would want to be accepted by, but i'm just doing abit of research. with me good luck, i just might need it. sammie

Anonymous said...

thanks alot for the guidelines. i've recently started my course with the writers bureau, and was lookin for a mag to send a short stories to. i've particular interest in TAB, and recently read one of there issue, it was very interesting, definately a mag i would want to be accepted by, but i'm just doing abit of research. with me good luck, i just might need it. sammie

Anonymous said...

thanks alot for the guidelines. i've recently started my course with the writers bureau, and was lookin for a mag to send a short stories to. i've particular interest in TAB, and recently read one of there issue, it was very interesting, definately a mag i would want to be accepted by, but i'm just doing abit of research. with me good luck, i just might need it. sammie

Anonymous said...

i meant wish me good luck. sammie

penandpaints said...

Hi there, new to this by the way, but the information on here is brilliant, it's so good to know I'm not the only one buried in a pile of rejection letters!
I just wanted to say about TAB, I sent a story almost ten months ago, and hadn't heard back, so I sent a polite letter, but haven't heard back from that either yet.
I have had rejections before which have taken five or six months, but I don't know what to think this time!
Oh well, there may be good news winging its way to me shortly,(if only) :)

Anonymous said...

Is that the adress that you post your story to, the one on the bottom?

Anonymous said...

oh, and do you have to put your phone number on? I'm very conscious about my privacy and I think we all should know that post isn't very private!

womagwriter said...

Anonymous - yes the address at the end of this post is the one to send your submissions to.

And as for phone numbers - Norah likes to contact writers by phone the first time she buys a story. So yes, I would always include a phone number with every submission. No need to give editors any more excuses to reject your story, is there?

Anonymous said...

Fiction Feast gives a word count of 700 words for a 1 page story but having done a word count (sad I know!), I see that some of them are 8-900 words. I'm confused. Can anyone clarify the word count thing for me. Fantastic site by the way womag, thank you.

womagwriter said...

Anon - FF aren't too fussy about word count. I think 700 is the minimum, but they will take any length up to 3000 and occasional longer ones. They'll put up to 1000 words, maybe a little more, on one page.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for much for clarifying that!

lb364 said...

Hey, does anyone know if/when FF is published nowadays? I'm meant to be writing a story intended for it as part of my course and can't find a copy anywhere :(

womagwriter said...

LB -

'if' - yes it is still published
'when' - monthly, usually out at the start of the month.

Why not ask your local newsagent to order you a copy if they don't regularly stock it?

Anonymous said...

hi, could you tell me if the details on this site for submitting stories to Tab fiction feast are up to date, in particular the name of the fiction editor. i rang them today but they gave me a completely different name but the women i spoke seemed a little unsure so just wanted to check with someone who was sending them stuff

Anonymous said...

I just contacted Take a break for some updated guidelines. They remain the same - except that the word limit for coffee break fiction is now 1000 words, not 1100.

The contact name is Norah McGrath, Fiction Editor, Take a Break 24-28 Oval Road, NW1 7DT

womagwriter said...

Thanks Anonymous, no change there then.

Kate said...

Hi,
I'm 16 years old and am about to start college in Septemeber. I'm really passionate about writing and I'm taking a lot of courses at college to do with English and Story writing, as I'm really interested in being a writer or a journalist when I'm older. I thought that TAB or FF would be a great way to start getting my stories out in the open early, and I'm seriously looking into it. My only problem, that I can see, is the length of my stories. I can never cut them down, and I'm worried that this may be a problem. Is there more of a chance of my story not getting published because of the length, or is it pretty much the same, either way?
I ask, because if there is a chance that it'll reduce my chances I will try REALLY hard to make them as short as possible!
Thanks for any help,
Kate

womagwriter said...

Hi Kate

Length is really important for most magazines. They only have a limited space for stories. TAB weekly takes around 1000 words, to fit on 1 page.

Your best bet for longer stories would be Fiction Feast. To maximise your chances, keep to under 2500 words. They do take a few longer ones but usually only from more established writers.

Generally speaking the more you cut and tighten a story the better it gets. And it is excellent practise at writing concisely. If you do go for a career in journalism you will need to be able to write to tight word-count limits.

Magazines will definitely reject stories if they don't fit their guidelines, and that does include length. So get cutting and good luck!

MJ said...

First off, this blog has been a great help, many thanks for that!

So, I've done my research into TABFF and have also followed all the advice read here, and I'm now ready to submit...

One question: this being my first submission to the magazine, should I include a covering letter with my story?

Cheers, MJ.

womagwriter said...

Hi MJ

Yes, I would. In fact I always include a covering letter, even though it doesn't say very much beyond 'here's a story, x words, hope you like it' (or slightly more formal words to that effect!)

Keep it short and to the point.

Good luck!

Kathryn said...

Hi, I may be being dim here, but I just bought my first copy of Take a Break and Fiction Feast to do some market research. I can't find any fiction stories in Take a Break, am I missing something?

womagwriter said...

Hi Kathryn

The weekly Take A Break magazine usually has just one short story in it, a one-pager.

Fiction Feast is the monthly fiction mag and is all stories.

Kathryn said...

Thanks very much for that. There are so many different Take a Break magazines on the shelf I was starting to get confused.

the bijou raconteur said...

thank you so much! I'm just preparing my first "Fiction Feast" story, I hope to have it in the post by Monday and this has been incredibly useful xx

Anonymous said...

if take a break does agree to your story does that mean once they pay you that they own your story and you cannot use the publication again?

womagwriter said...

Hi Anonymous

When TAB buy your story they will buy 'First British Serial Rights'. Your story and its copyright will still belong to you, but those First British Rights are gone.

That means if you try to sell it again in Britain, all you can offer are Second Rights, and generally speaking the women's mags won't buy second rights.

However, you could try to sell the story again in another country - eg if you sell it to That's Life (Australia) they will buy First Australian Serial Rights.

And as you still own the copyright, you can still publish the story again maybe in book form as part of an anthology such as the Sexy Shorts books which came out a few years ago. Most of those stories had previously been published in British magazines, and their original publications were acknowledged in the back of the book.

Hope this helps. I should do a full post on rights I suppose...

Kath said...

Hi there, this blog is fantastic, so useful! I've never submitted before, but have been working on some stories - I have one I've edited several times, thinking of sending it to TAB, but it's still 1260 words. Having read these guidelines, I'm thinking that it really needs to be 1200 to fit as a 2 page story - do you think that's the case?
Many Thanks!

womagwriter said...

Hi Kath
TAB are less fussy about length than some of the other magazines, so if you are happy with the story as it is, send it now!

CuriousKat said...

"I just contacted Take a break for some updated guidelines. They remain the same - except that the word limit for coffee break fiction is now 1000 words, not 1100.

The contact name is Norah McGrath, Fiction Editor, Take a Break 24-28 Oval Road, NW1 7DT"
-----------
Is this still true? I sent for fiction guidelines a few weeks ago but haven't heard back.
Also what does word limit 1000 in stead of 1100 mean? The above guide said between 1100 and 1200, so is it now 1000 to 1200 or a maximum of 1000 words?

womagwriter said...

Hi CuriousKat

The contact address is correct, yes. I think that comment re the word count refers to the stories printed in the weekly TAB magazine, which are printed on 1 page only and yes I believe 1000 words is the maximum for that now. But longer stories are considered for Fiction Feast. Send to the same address - they will decide which magazine the story is more suitable for.

Deborah Rickard said...

Great Site! I learnt about it via Sue Moorcroft's blog. Can anyone tell me if TAB/Fiction Feast return acknowledgement cards enclosed with submissions? I sent in a couple of stories a couple of weeks ago and haven't had my stamped and addressed acknowledgement of receipt cards back yet. Thanks.

womagwriter said...

Hi Deborah

I don't know I'm afraid - I have never sent an acknowledgement card. I suspect they don't open submissions as soon as they arrive, but I'd hope they'd post the cards as soon as they do open your submission envelope.

I find 4 weeks is about the minimum response time from TAB, so it could be that your submission sits in a pile unopened for about that long before they even find your acknowledgement card.

Caroline Storer said...

Great site! Thanks you so much. I'm about to wing off my 1st short story *ever* to TAB. Fingers crossed, and all that.

Anonymous said...

Is TAB very difficult to get published in? I for one am having great difficulty.

womagwriter said...

Hi Anonymous

Yes, I think like all the women's magazines, TAB is very difficult to get published in.

Kath Cat said...

Hi, I'm the Kath that left a comment/question on December 10th - just wanted to say that I've had my first story accepted by TaB, only the second one I've written and I'm very grateful for the info and advice on here - thankyou womag.
Some people have commented about struggling to find Fiction Feast - I often find it stocked by petrol stations for some reason!
PS,
I'm calling myself Kath Cat now to avoid confusion as there are other "Kath"'s on here.

womagwriter said...

Wow well done Kath Cat! To sell the second story you've written and to such a tough market, is brilliant! Buy yourself something special with your first writing earnings, won't you?

scrappy'smum said...

Does anyone know how long Take A Break usually take to publish a story after acceptance and also, if they send contributor copies?

womagwriter said...

They vary, but usually 2-3 months, and they never send contributor copies.

Tony said...

You bloomin' star! I largely write sci-fi + noir, but do have the odd 'lighter' tale + haven't found the old Writers + Artists yearbook as helpful + comprehensive as the number of possible Women's mags which you list. Muchly appreciated,
Big "T"

Anonymous said...

hi is fiction feast still available to enter?

womagwriter said...

Fiction Feast is still published and takes about 15 stories a month, yes.

Sandy said...

Does anyone have any views on how frequently to submit stories? I write about two a week and wonder if I should send them off as soon as they're written. And regarding the few names which crop up again and again in TAB and WW - I was wondering if they subimit tons of stories to get that many accepted, or whether experienced writers just have a higher 'hit rate'? Sorry for such a long post! Great blog. Thanks!

womagwriter said...

Sandy, send them off as soon as you think they are ready, though I would space them out a little and not swamp the editors.

The regular names in the magazines certainly submit a very high quantity of stories but they also have a higher hit rate than others, because they've spent years learning how to get their stories just right. However, even for the likes of Della Galton and Teresa Ashby an acceptance is not a certainty - they do receive their share of rejections too.

A couple of years back Della Galton sold 90 stories in a year. Which meant she wrote and submitted at least two a week...

Sandy said...

Many thanks, Womagwriter.

Prue said...

Does Norah accept subs by email now? I note this sub address is from many years back :) Cheers.

Peter said...

I am writing on behalf of Ben Wood.
Ben has recently started his own fiction story site called Army of Puppets.
http://www.armyofpuppets.com

evilpixie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Madeleine Swann said...

Very useful information! I quoted you and put a link to my writer's site, thank you!
http://madeleineswann.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/submission-guidelines-for-take-a-break-and-fiction-feast/

Ellen M Johns said...

Is it best to avoid sending off the same manuscript to several magazines at the same time, and are there any zines that accept e-mail submissions. Thanks for your help.

womagwriter said...

Ellen, it is an absolute no-no to submit the same story to more than one magazine at once. They all want first rights, so imagine what would happen if two mags wanted the same story? You'd have to withdraw the story from one, and you can then bet your pension that mag would never buy from you again. Definitely submit to one mag at a time. However if one turns the story down, you can resubmit elsewhere. You can also send more than one story to a magazine at a time.

Some of the magazines accept email submissions. This is stated in their guidelines on this blog.

leesa said...

I know you said here that your readers wouldn't be interested in a story that's written from a child narrator - is that a definate 'no' or would you consider? I have a story similar to that but it's about family and I think maybe it would suit. For your fiction part.
Leesa.