Woman's Own are running a short story competition, and the prize - the only prize -will be publication in their summer special. No payment.
I think, as do many other women's mag writers - see the facebook debate here (you'll need to scroll down to find the post that begins 'Calling all budding writers') - that this is appalling. How can a commercial magazine with a readership as large as WO has, expect to fill their pages for free? It's disgusting. I'll give away my work to charity anthologies, but other than that I never work for free. WO will make a pile of money from their summer special, and some of that should go to the writers whose work they publish.
In no other profession are people expected to work for free. WO think the kudos of having your story published by them is enough of a prize. Well, as Sally Q wrote in a brilliant recent article in The New Writer, kudos does not pay the bills.
Someone posting for Woman's Own on the facebook discussion, said: "This is intended as an opportunity for our readers – not professional writers – to potentially see their story in the magazine." Well they are certainly going the right way about putting off the regular short story writers. Any of their readers who can write a decent story, will be able to sell their story to another magazine for a decent payment. So WO are likely to only get rubbish stories in their competition. That will put readers off buying WO, and will also (and this is where I get really angry) put readers off magazine fiction in general. They might think it's all as bad as that.
I urge you all to take a look at the facebook discussion and perhaps post something yourself. And please, boycott the WO competition. Your work is worth much more than they are offering.
What do you all think? Feel free to rant here, anonymously if you like.