Saturday, 14 January 2012

My Weekly

Now that I'm back writing short stories for a while, I realised I needed to get myself up to speed with the kind of story the magazines are currently publishing. You can't rely on your memory of what they were buying a couple of years ago - magazines change all the time. Subtly, perhaps, but even so, the more you are acquainted with the type of story an editor likes, the more likely you'll sell to them.

So I bought a copy of the current My Weekly, dated Jan 10-16, and have just finished reading it, cover to cover. It was always one of my favourite mags, and still is.

There are five short stories in this issue, and a few thoughts struck me as I read them.

It's My Choice by Trixie Nisbet. Louise has moved in with new boyfriend Ben, who seems like a much better choice than her last boyfriend, though her mum doesn't think he's good enough for her. But things aren't going too well - Ben was a bachelor for too long and is set in his ways.
What surprised me here was the ending. It's not quite the traditional upbeat ending you expect to find in women's magazines. It's a realistic ending though, and refreshing, as it was unexpected.

Special Night Out by Helen Hunt. A 'moment in time' one-page story, following a woman making herself look as good as possible for a night out. Beautifully descriptive (Helen is so good at this kind of story!) and leaves you with a smile on your face, wholly approving of the main character's actions. I wanted to high-five her at the end!

There's Something About The Willows by Stella Whitelaw. A young couple buy a neglected old house after its previous elderly occupants died. They often find books left open, as though someone had been reading and has just left the room. This is a beautiful gentle ghost story, though we never 'see' the ghosts. What struck me here is that in the past, My Weekly would only take ghost stories if there was an alternative, rational explanation. There's none such in this story, and if there was, it would only spoil it.

You'll Never Guess by Hayley Johnson-Mack. Unusual and satisfying twist in the tail story. If this had been mine, I'd probably have tried it at Take A Break first, as it felt more like their territory than MW.

Off To See The World by Elizabeth McKay. Written in the second person, this reads like an open letter from a mother to her daughter who's just about to set off on her gap year travels. Second person?! I think this may be the first time I've seen this in a women's mag, but it's perfect for this story.

All great stories. Well done to the authors! And so good to see My Weekly branching out and taking a wider variety of stories than before.

I received My Weekly's latest writers' guidelines the other day. They're still not able to accept fiction submissions from writers they've not published before, sadly (though this doesn't apply to features or pocket novel submissions). And only one submission per author per month.

They're currently looking for Jubilee, Olympic and Wimbledon themes.
- 700 word coffee break stories (no twists please in this category)
- 1400 word light-hearted twist in the tail
- 2500 emotionally engaging stories
- Light-hearted romances in all the lengths

Fiction editor Liz Smith is aiming to give writers constructive criticism, coupled with a faster turnaround, this year (as reported in February's Writers' Forum). Which is all good news. I do wish she'd open up submissions to new writers again, however. Thankfully, other fiction editors such as Jill Finlay of The Weekly News, are actively looking to publish as many new writers as possible this year.

Right, well, I must get my January submission to My Weekly sent! I've a 1400-word light-hearted romance which might just hit the spot...


Old Kitty said...

I absolutely loved You'll Never Guess! That was my favourite of this week's My Weekly mag! But all the stories were fab and kept me awake during my work commute - which is always a good sign!

Good luck with your story submission - I look forward to reading it - I won't know it's you as I don't know your name but I do look forward to it! Take care

Patsy said...

I do agree about reading the magazines. It's still difficult to judge what they want even though I do this, but it does give a few clues.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Womag. As always a very helpful post for us writers. I have to say I do think MW do publish some lovely stories so despite the fact that I've had an awful lot of rejections I think Liz and Sarah are doing a great job. Good luck with your submission. You mention that Jill Finley is looking to publish more new writers this year. I've never been published in the Weekly News although I continue to email a submission now and again. However, just lately I'm not receiving the response email or a response to a story related query I've made either. It would be good to know if Jill is or isn't responding to other writers too. So if anyone can comment on this blog I'd be grateful. Thanks.

DeniseCovey_L'Aussie said...

Good luck with your story. Thanks for the overview of the stories published. It's good to relook at these mags as yes they certainly change over time. Pity they're not taking new writers.


Rena George said...

Thanks Womag for another of your brilliantly helpful posts.

Anonymous - I've had a similar experience with Jill. I had a story accepted way back last August but emails requesting a publication date go unanswered It's so unlike Jill not to respond. I hope she's OK.
Does anyone know if WN still send out contributors' copies prior to publication?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rena. I hope she's OK too. Maybe if any other contributers have any idea about what's happening at the Weekly News they could let us know. Thanks again for your response.

Susan Wright said...

I think Jill F is OK everybody. She's just snowed under with work, I think.
She didn't respond to an email I sent her about a story of mine which she bought in July and hasn't published yet, but it's just because she's got too much to do, I believe.
She's still reading July submissions too, but she said in Writer's Forum that she was going to catch up so hopefully she will do soon!
Oh, and no, they don't send out contributor's copies anymore.

Suzanne Jones said...

Sadly I'm not allowed to sub to MW, so I stopped buying the weekly magazine :0( These stories sound great, though, so I'll look out for this week's copy.


Rena George said...

Thanks Susan, that's really helpful to know.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Susan. Good of you to keep us informed. Ta.

Anonymous said...

Yes, i noticed i hadn't been getting my contributor's copies from TWN anymore. I am waiting to hear back from a story i subbed last August.

Jill never seems to have caught up from the computer problems she had in the autumn 2010. She is a lovely lady and could probably do with an assitant to help her out. Hope she catches up soon.


Nan Sheppard said...

Well hello and happy new year!! Thank you for the reminder... I'm not writing stories, but I just added "Buy Magazines" to my list of things to do tomorrow. I need to find more article markets! I'm back to work with a vengeance, and your site is always so inspiring!

HelenMHunt said...

Thanks Womag!

I'm glad you liked my story. It's one of my favourites, so I was really pleased when Liz decided she wanted it for MW.

Anonymous said...

Just to let you all know I received a lovely email from Jill at TWN a few days ago. She apologised for the delay in responding to my first submission in July. She admitted she is incredibly snowed under. I think it's a matter of waiting until she catches up, which she promised to do. So, query emails may just add to her ever growing pile!

Alison said...

I have a quick query about My Weekly. If they accept a Pocket Novel from a writer they haven't published before, does this then open up the magazine for that writer?

Anyone happen to know?



Anonymous said...

Alas, from the five featured stories it appears men need not submit to MW. Perhaps some of the ladies here could point this out to the editor - those that are allowed to submit, that is.

As for the Weekly News, why the over-politeness? How long does it take to email two or three writers every week to tell them their story is appearing in the next issue?

womagwriter said...

Alison - I would say that if you sell a pocket novel to MW it would definitely be worth trying them with a short story, mentioning in your covering email that they've bought a pocket novel from you. That proves you can definitely write!

Anon - men can and do sub to My Weekly, and do get published in there. Della Galton's stepson Adam Millward springs to mind - he has sold them dozens of stories. It's a fact that there are far more women writing women's magazine short fiction than men, but the market is definitely open to all.

Alison said...

Thanks for the reply, Womag!

I had a feeling that might be the case. It's nice to know the market may not be totally closed to us up-and-coming writers.