Saturday, 26 February 2011

History & sales of UK women's weeklies

This article is a bit out of date but is an interesting overview of the last couple of decades' history of UK women's magazines. The comparative sales figures (from 2006) at the end are interesting too - especially if you compare with these figures from August 2010.

Friday, 25 February 2011

The Nearly Sale

We seem to be enjoying our debates here on womagwriter. I wonder what you'll all have to say about this topic? Once again, I'm a little out of the loop here, having not written or submitted a short story for some time, but a writer who wishes to remain anonymous asked me to raise this topic. It seems some magazine editors are keeping writers dangling on a thread, telling them a story is 'almost certainly a sale' and they will get back to the writer soon. But months go by, and chasing emails leave the story still unconfirmed as a sale.

Here's what the writer had to say:

After years of writing and selling stories, 18 months ago I decided to take the plunge and see if I could make this my living. Well it paid off as I have now sold almost 100 stories etc and last year I sold an additional 41 stories, articles and serials to the mags both here and abroad.

However for the last 2 months I haven't earned a bean. This is despite having over 50 new stories submitted to mags around the world. I believe this is due to a worrying new trend. What I call THE ALMOST SALE.

This is worse than a rejection as it means the eds keep you hanging on indefinitely. It's happening here in the UK and abroad. I've been told my stories are almost certainly sales and that they will confirm shortly. But despite lots of 'nice' chasing emails from em, I haven't had a confirmation yet.

The dilemma is - do you ask for the stories back and try to re-sell knowing you've got at least another 3 month wait or hang on in there as you are so close.

I believe this is worse than a rejection as you can at least re-market then.
I'd be interested to hear other writers comments.

Have other writers had this experience? I realise for newer writers an 'almost sale' would be exciting and would be classed much better than a rejection, but for those who try to make a living from writing I can see it must be very frustrating. What do you think?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

My Weekly pocket novels - new guidelines

Maggie Seed, My Weekly's pocket novels editor, has issued a new set of guidelines which I've copied below. For all you pocket novel writers, the important things to note are the new longer length of 50,000 words, and the increased payment of £300.

Love! Romance! Passion! Adventure! Avid fans of romantic novels can get their fix from My Weekly Pocket Novels! A great read for lovers of good stories

PAYRISE RATE IS NOW £300 First Cheap Paperback Rights

We look for stories with a strong, developing romance between two identifiable characters.
We want to sweep the reader away in time and space to share and experience the breathless/breath-taking excitement of a growing relationship.

Do: Create characters our readers can identify with, rejoice with or grieve with. They can have flaws.
Do: Thrill and intrigue the reader. You have the time it takes to read the novel to take the reader through a gamut of emotions, thrills and dilemmas to resolve the mystery, pitfalls and obstacles.
Do: Include those heart-stopping moments! Key moments to consider: She realises she likes him; she thinks he is lost to her forever; that second-chance moment when happiness can be hers...THE KISS!
Some questions you might like to answer: How can she resist him? How did he misjudge her? What kind of a woman is she?
Do: Set our pulses racing (ooh la la!) BUT remember we want passion, not pornography!
Do: Use dialogue so the reader can participate in the story's development rather than being told in large chunks in straight narrative.

There can be a secondary plot to help develop the romance. For instance, there are often complications and misunderstandings between the hero and the heroine, or there is something vital at stake, such as a child, an inheritance, a relationship etc.
Crime and intrigue can feature, as long as they don't distract from the developing romance.
Who: Our heroines vary in age from their early twenties to middle-age and are compassionate and morally sound. They are more modern in their relationships, thoughts, feelings and experiences when the novel has a contemporary setting.
Where and When: Stories can be set anywhere in the world and can be contemporary or historical.
How: The story is usually told from the woman's point of view, although occasionally it is from the man's.

Please send in a synopsis and the first three chapters in manuscript form or via email.
If we wish to proceed, we will ask you to send in the full novel electronically.
Wordcount: around 50,000 words, no more than 52,000.
Double spacing, double quotes, single space only between full stop and next sentence.
If accepted for publication the completed novel must be presented electronically in a format compatible with ours (ie, Word or rich text format)
Payment: We pay £300 for First Cheap Paperback Rights

Please send to: My Weekly Pocket Novels D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd., 80 Kingsway East Dundee DD4 8SL

Sunday, 20 February 2011

A competition and a new market and a bit more about payment

Can't remember if I've already mentioned this competition but with just 8 days to go before the closing date it's probably about the right time to remind you of it! The latest competition run by Della Galton and Vanda Inman has the theme: Moving On. Deadline is 28th February. First prize is £150 and the entry fee is £5. See here for more details and how to enter.

Those of you who like writing non-fiction might want to take a look at this new market which is looking for articles about people juggling family life and running a business from home. Thanks to Lydia for forwarding me this link.

Finally - please go and look at this link on Diane Parkin's blog. It's a very good follow-up with some excellent advice on what we were talking about here a couple of weeks ago about late paying magazines.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


1. A while back I posted an appeal from Sharon who wanted to find writers to set up an email group swapping feedback on short stories. Well, she's now set up the group with a few writers but there's room for more. Doing a crit of a short story benefits both the writer and the person giving feedback, so if you feel you'd like to join this group do contact Sharon on sbee.poetry (at)

2. Take A Break are looking for 'summery' stories right now - why not put your shorts and shades on to put yourself in the mood, and get writing!

3. If you're looking for maximum payment per word, don't forget about the letters pages in magazines. Blog reader Lydia reminded me of this market, and says she has sold hundreds of letters over the years. Some mags give prizes rather than payment for letters these days but often the special interest mags will pay £25 or so for a letter. Go spend an hour browsing in WHSmith and jot down the contact details on the letters page!

4. Finally, if you've bought and enjoyed Diamonds and Pearls, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. Preferably a good one! If you haven't yet bought it, remember it's sold in aid of a breast cancer charity, so not only is it a great read but a worthy cause too.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Weekly News - new guidelines

Jill Finlay, the fiction editor of The Weekly News, left the following comments and new guidelines below one of the old TWN posts, so I've copied them here to be sure you all see them. Many thanks, Jill!

Please find below a copy of the latest guidelines for TWN.
They're a bit more detailed than before so, hopefully, a bit more helpful!
Many thanks for the continued interest in the paper, and the supply of quality fiction for me to read.
Things stalled a little over November/December thanks to Christmas and a technical hitch, but I'm just about back on top of thing now.
Please do nudge if you're bored waiting - nudging is good!
Best Wishes,

Here come the guidelines . . .

Weekly News Short Story Guidelines

Thank you for your interest in The Weekly News fiction section. I hope you find these guidelines useful.

The Weekly News has a largely older readership which is evenly split between the sexes, so we are looking for general interest tales — crime, humour (especially), ghost stories (although we’ve had plenty of these recently), or “coffee break” dramas which wouldn’t be out of place in any popular TV soap.

At the moment, I’m also interested in stories with a bit more “edge” that are slightly darker.

Although an old-fashioned love story may occasionally be appropriate, I’m not looking for “slushy” romantic fiction, or anything “twee”. And although it’s a popular style, I don’t generally take “chick-lit”.
Similarly, I don’t want anything too racy or gory. As The Weekly News is a family paper, I wouldn’t use anything with any sexual content.

Many stories we publish have an interesting twist to surprise the reader, as these seem to be popular. But if your twist is “it was all a dream” or “he/she/it was a ghost”, or the main character is actually a pet, it won’t get through!

• Aim for something light-hearted, perhaps centred around family life or a recognisable situation.
• If your main character is strong enough, you can have them carry the whole story.
• A positive outcome is favoured, but this can be reached by a good bit of double-crossing, or the comeuppance of the “baddie”.
• Be playful – have some fun with your characters at their expense ie in embarrassing social situations.
• I also like sensitive stories which may involve a death, an illness a fear etc. If the situation doesn’t come across as too dark and depressing and has an uplifting end, then it may make it through.

Stories can vary in length from about 750 to 2000 words at most, though we reserve the right to edit them as appropriate.

Also, I rarely accept stories written in the first person or present tense.

Please note that, at present, I use three fiction items at each week and, even if an item is accepted, it could be some time before it is published.
I always have plenty of stories to read through, so it could be six to eight weeks before I can respond to submissions.
I’m acutely aware there is always someone waiting to hear from me, so thank you for your continued patience – I will always get back to you!

Here are some DOs:
• Use strong, identifiable characters – but remember they don’t always have to be likeable.
• Use natural-sounding speech. I tend to avoid dialect, as we like to be a bit “geographically vague” to add to the universality of the stories.
• Check your historical facts fit your time-frame and characters.
• Be thought-provoking if you want – be topical.
• Read and check your punctuation and paragraphing. The easier your work is on the eye, the easier it is to make an informed decision.
• Work within reality – this is fiction, but it does have to be believable.
• Do include your email address, postal address and phone number on your story.
• Full stories, please. I can’t get enough detail or “feel” for a piece from a pitch or synopsis.

And some specific DON’Ts:
• No murdered spouses, dreams, ghosts or pet twists.
• No first person or present-tense stories.
• No relationship-centred stories.
• No hard copy.

E-mail is now our only method of delivery. Please send to:
You’ll receive an auto-reply from this address, so you know I’ve definitely received your email.


Sunday, 6 February 2011

New Love Stories - apparently out of business

Looks like the New Love Stories magazine is no more. The website is gone and submissions come back with an auto-reply saying they are no longer accepting submissions.

Another market lost. :-( I've removed them from the guidelines links on the right.

Does anyone know what happened to them? I know quite a few of this blog's readers sold several stories to them.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

What does 'we pay on publication' actually mean?

This post is intended as a discussion topic.

Some magazines, for instance Take A Break, state that they pay writers on publication, as included in their writers' guidelines copied here. Now, it's been a while since I submitted anything to any womag, so I don't have recent personal experience of how quickly or otherwise TAB are getting payments out, but I have heard that lately they are frequently not paying writers until two months after publication.

I understand about month-end payments processing, but what I've heard is that TAB seem unable to state when a writer will be paid for any given story. Surely any company should be able to get a decent payments system in place, so that cheques are printed or payment credited to accounts on regular dates. Is it too much to expect that you should get your money by the end of the month in which your story was published? That gives Bauer four weeks to pay writers, as Fiction Feast comes out at the beginning of each month.

Another issue writers have with TAB payments, is that they have to guess how much they are likely to get for each story. TAB pay by the page, and until the magazine layout is finalised they can't say what you'll be paid. Lucky you if they decide to use lots of pictures and spread your story across more pages, but it's annoying for writers who rely on payments from magazines, and are unable to budget because not only do they not know when they'll be paid, they don't know how much they'll get either!

Have you had problems getting paid by TAB, or indeed any magazine? Let's air our grievances here on this blog. Remember, I accept anonymous comments, so please don't go worrying you'll be blacklisted for speaking out, though of course you should always be professional and courteous as you don't know who might be reading this.

In fact, worrying about blacklisting is a daft attitude to have. I know we all feel we are barely worthy to lick the stiletto heels of fiction editors, but actually the relationship is a symbiotic one. You know those birds which sit on hippos' backs? The hippos tolerate the birds because they get their hides kept free of insects and bugs. The birds get an easy lunch.

Fiction magazines would not survive without fiction to publish, therefore fiction editors would be out of a job without writers. To ensure they get the type and quality of stories they want, they have to pay for the stories they publish. We earn that money, we have the right to be paid on time, and we should most certainly chase payment if it is not forthcoming. Don't undervalue yourselves!

So come on, have your say, all comments welcome.