Thursday, 18 February 2010

Contact details

This is the tale of a wannabe writer, a editor and the internet.

Once upon a time the writer sent her best story off to her favourite magazine. It was a really good story, and the editor liked it so much she decided to buy it. Unfortunately, the cover sheet had become detached from the story, and the editor couldn't find any way of contacting the writer.
The editor decided to spread the word, and see if the power of the internet could track down the elusive writer. The internet was only too glad to help, and within hours had found someone who knew the writer, and was able to put the writer and editor in touch with each other.
They were all very happy and celebrated with some Chardonnay (at least, the internet did...) and they all lived happily ever after.

Lesson to be learned from this story - put contact details on every page of every submission!

Personally I put full contact details on both the cover sheet and covering letter or email, and I put my email address in the footer of every page of the story. I've had an editor contact me by post because my postal address was all she could find. Not all editors would bother - there are plenty more stories in the pipeline and you can't blame them for taking the easier option of just choosing another story.

But I'm delighted to have been able to help the lovely editor get in contact with the writer - it was the writer's first sale and she's reportedly over the moon. And rightly so!


Jenzarina said...

Ah, but if she'd put her contact details on it wouldn't have been such a good story ;)

Geraldine Ryan said...

That's true Jenzarina!

Rena George said...

Couldn’t agree more, Womag. In fact, I go one better and put my name, address and email in footer of every page of the MS.

I know it’s belt and braces, but I suspect not every editor is as diligent as My Weekly’s Liz Smith.

I can’t imagine a worse scenario for a writer than having an acceptable story binned because the editor couldn’t contact them.

…But you’re right, Jenzarina. It was a good story, wasn’t it?

Old Kitty said...


Wasn't this such a nailbiter of a story though??!!

I loved every moment of it - brilliant stuff and so, so, so happy for Brenda Carter - I can't wait to read her story.

Well done everyone!

Take care

Geraldine Ryan said...

Come on, Bren! Drop by and say hello!

Joanne Fox said...

Gosh - congratulations Brenda Carter, wherever you are!

Patsy said...

I love a happy ending!

Simon Whaley said...

Yes, I always put my email address in the footer of every page - I think most editors will contact by email these days anyway.

What I can say is that at tomorrow's meeting of Wrekin Writers, of which Brenda is a member, there will be lots of celebrations!

(And jealousy too I should think, because this now means that Brenda can continue submitting to My Weekly, whereas those of us who have never been accepted by the mag are now barred from submitting!)

Simon Whaley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quillers said...

Ah, but Simon, Brenda got a story accepted even though she hasn't had one accepted before now.

So if I were you, I'd just keep sending them in, because it's clear Liz doesn't mind if the story is good enough :-)

BigFatLion said...

I told the lovely Liz how impressed we all were by her efforts to find Brenda, this was her reply:

Thank you for those words, they mean a lot.

And let me tell you how impressed I am by your “grapevine”. I realise all you My Weekly writers out there have had to make huge changes to the way you work, and have had to be extra patient with me as I know you wait even longer for my decisions. The changes have hit everyone hard, myself included, so it’s lovely to be all working together to the one end and for such a positive reason.

Big thank you to everyone.



Debs said...

I'm so relieved it all ended up well in the end.

womagwriter said...

Lion, that is such a lovely message from Liz I am going to have to put it in a post of its own to ensure everyone sees it.

Thanks for passing it on!

Julie P said...

But Brenda sent her story in many months ago before the new writer subs ban from My Weekly came in to force, Quillers. That's why she was so surprised and delighted that her story had been accepted - she'd assumed it had been binned!

I won't be wasting my stamps any time soon! If My Weekly say no new writers then they should mean no. So if people are subbing to My Weekly and they haven't been published in that mag before and they are getting published - it's hardly fair on the rest of us who accept Liz's decision (with a heavy heart!)

It shouldn't be one rule for one writer and another rule for another writer - but maybe I'm being niave?

Julie xx

Quillers said...

Ah, I see.

Even as one of the lucky ones who managed to get work accepted before the new rules, I think it's sad that newer writers aren't getting that chance now. We all needed that first break to set us on the path.

With any luck things will change. I know that the editor who used to deal with my work left MW, along with many others, I presume due to the credit crunch, leaving Liz to have to do it all on her own, which I imagine is where the new rules come in.

Paula Williams said...

When I started out writing short stories, Julie, I made a point of listing all my successes on my covering letter (it didn't take that long!). I'm sure once your portfolio of acceptances builds up, as it's bound to do given your undoubted talent and determination, Liz Smith would be only too happy to look at your work - or anyone else's with a proven track record. Don't write MW off - they're such lovely people to work with.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Paula, MW do seem to distinguish between writers who have been published by them and those who have only been published elsewhere - even other DC Thomson publications.

Despite having had many stories published by other mags over a number of years I'm still a 'new' writer according to MW and don't get to mark my stories for Liz's attention. So I don't know whether they are even being read or not at the moment - I'm still sending them though!

Paula Williams said...

That seems a bit short sighted of them, anonymous. Good luck with your submissions anyway!

Quillers said...

I'm not sure it's worth putting a resume in with ones work. I've always been led to believe that magazine editors aren't interested in what you've done before, and that it's best not to put in a resume.

Funnily enough, I've had more luck selling stories since I stopped using a cover letter at all (unless the mag asks for it as with MW asking for a summary), only putting a cover sheet with my name and address details.

I'd be interested to hear what others do.

Geraldine Ryan said...

I've never put a cover letter personally.

Paula Williams said...

Isn't that interesting? I suppose I always do a covering letter because when I started out I read in a book that was what you had to do!
As for the resume, that was a tip given to me by a far more successful writer than me - what she called her 'bragging list' - just a couple of lines in the footer. Most recently published, that sort of thing.
I don't do it now because I have a website and always put the link to it after my name so they can check me out for themselves if they're interested - which they're probably not!

Quillers said...

My guess is that with so little time at their disposal, editors of magazines don't read cover letters, and go straight to the stories. But I could be wrong. I'm sure they all have their own way of doing things.

It's different, I imagine, when submitting a novel, because in that instance you are selling yourself as much as the book you're submitting. A resume in that instance is appropriate, so they can see you've got a proven track record of delivering the goods.

womagwriter said...

I always send a covering letter as well as the cover sheet. Some mags, I believe, will pull off the cover sheet and send that to the accounts department to deal with payment. So if there's a covering letter as well then there's still something for the fiction dept to keep with all your details on.

Having said that, the most successful writer I know (Della Galton) doesn't ever send a covering letter, and puts her contact details on page 1 of the story, starting the actual story half way down the page. Mind you, the mags probably know her contact details off by heart anyway!

But as this little episode with Brenda tells us, however you format your submission, by far the most important thing is the quality of your writing. Just make sure the editor CAN contact you when she needs to!

Anonymous said...

A similar thing happened to me a year ago, though the tracking down was via a fellow writer I met ion the internet. It was my first fiction sale too. I really apreciated the tracking down.

I put my email address in the footer now. I'd stopped doing it because it looked distracting, but after that experience I thought I'd better be safe than sorry.

Now all I have to worry about is useless envelopes which fall apart...