Thursday, 29 October 2009

Latest Prima Wise Words subject

You know you're turning into your mother when...

Complete the sentence and email to remembering to include your postal address so they can send you a cheque for £25 if they use yours. They tend not to tell you they are using it, just send you the cheque.

I could give you all a teensy insight into latest developments chez Womag's Mum and complete the sentence with ...when you find yourself stuck in a wheelchair and surrounded by far too many clothes your bully of a daughter is trying to steal from you to take to charity shops.

But that's not particularly funny or poignant so is not what they are after. Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Sally Z on the short story

The talented and experienced Sally Zigmond has started a series of blog posts about the short story. This will be well worth following, and because she does this sort of thing far better than I ever could, all I can do is link to her blog and draw your attention to her posts.

First one is on story openings - here. Read it and learn!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Cally's Blog tour

Hope you're all following and enjoying Cally Taylor's virtual book tour of Blogland to promote her book! Today's interview with Sally Q is a gem not to be missed.

Cally will be stopping by this blog next week, with a guest post on her background in short story writing. So come back then to be inspired!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Weekly News - Jill's maternity leave

The fiction editor of The Weekly News, Jill Finlay, is off on maternity leave next month. While she's away, Billy Higgins will step in as fiction editor. So email subs to him instead of Jill at for the next six months.

Good luck to Jill for the birth of her baby!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Book by a Buddy now available to buy!

And another quick post to blow Cally Taylor's trumpet - her book Heaven Can Wait is now out! Cally will be a guest blogger here next month, as part of her tour of the blogosphere. She's a versatile writer, having won literary competitions and been published in women's magazines as well as publishing this novel, and another one's on the way. Well done Cally!

To celebrate publication Cally's running a writing competition - details on her website here. Winners get £100 and a one-to-one with a member of the Darley Anderson Literary Agency. Definitely one worth entering, I would say!

A My Weekly publication

Just a quick post to blow my own trumpet - I'm in the new My Weekly dated 17th October, on p10. This story is one of my favourites, written ages ago but I had such lovely comments on it when I sold it to My Weekly, I feel really fond of it now!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Blogging competition

News of this blogging competition reached me via the grapevine. Looks to be a great cause, so why not give it a go?

LOROS is a hospice in Leicestershire so your entry fees will go to a good cause.
Please distribute this notice freely.

Blogging for Britain Competition! Win £100!!!

Are you a keen writer? Do you enjoy blogging? Fancy winning £100? Then why not enter the LOROS 'Blogging for Britain ' Competition? Simply write up to a 500 word blog extract about a day in British Life.

Entry fee £2 per entry. All cheques made payable to 'LOROS'. Name and contact details on a seperate sheet to your entry(ies). Author's name must not appear on the entry.

Closing date 31st October 2009. For further information please call 0116 231 8431 or email fundraising@ uk

Entries to:
'Blogging for Britain ' Competition
c/0 Nancy Taylor
LOROS Fundraising
LOROS Groby Road
Leicester LE3 9QE

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Researching your market

Time I posted something useful on this blog, beyond just magazine guidelines! This will all be old hat to you experienced writers, but could be useful for some of the less experienced readers of this blog.

Well you'll all have heard the mantra of 'research your market'. But what exactly does that mean, and how do you go about it?

Firstly, and obviously, if at all possible get hold of a couple of issues of the magazine and read them. Cover to cover, and not just the fiction. You glean a lot from the types of articles published, the sorts of readers' letters and tips they publish (pictures of cute grandchildren, or tips on getting football kits sparkling clean?) You're trying to build up a picture of the kind of person who reads the magazine, therefore the kind of person your story needs to appeal to.

Google the magazine title, and find its website. Somewhere, probably, will be a link to an advertisers package. Take a detailed look at this - there should be details on the type of reader the magazine is aiming at, their age, demographic, etc, as well as the style of the magazine.

Then nick the advertisers' research. Whereas we writers have nothing to lose by sending stories everywhere (just the cost of a stamp and envelope), advertisers have to pay to advertise in the mag. So you can be sure they'll have researched and targetted the right magazine. You can borrow this research simply by noting what ads appear in each magazine. Stair lifts or follow-on milk? Health spas or lunch-box snacks? This all should help you build up a profile of the mag's readers.

It's not just typical reader age you need to know. Demographics are useful too. The Lady has a Situations Vacant column, in which you'll find people looking for butlers and Norland Nannies (Norland Nanny = very posh childcare, for my overseas readers!). You won't find that in Take A Break. Their readers are more likely to pay a local childminder than employ a Norland Nanny.

Now I don't mean that you absolutely could not sell a story involving a Norland Nanny to Take A Break. But your story must appeal to Take A Break readers, or it won't sell to them.

Don't ask me to define story appeal. It's undefinable, but the magazine editors know it when they see it, because they know their magazine so well and have years of experience. Our best bet as writers, is to also get to know the magazine well, and build up experience, until we too know by instinct when a story is likely to appeal to a given market.

OK, so once you think you understand the target readers, you write stories about those types of people, right? Sorry, it's not as simple as that. You won't see many stories about old people ailing in nursing homes in People's Friend, for example, even though such people make up a substantial part of their readership. But you put yourself in those readers' shoes, and think about what sort of story they would like to read. (Nostalgic 1950s first loves, or contemporary young family stories reminding PF readers of their grandchildren?)

Your readers must be able to relate to the characters you write about. And by knowing your readers, you should be able to build characters and storylines they can relate to.

Well, there you are, my tuppence worth for today. (And if you do sell a Norland Nanny story to Take A Break, do let me know!)