Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Wanted - Pocket Novels!

My Weekly are actively seeking manuscripts for pocket novels. You don't have to have sold anything to them before. They've recently changed their guidelines and added categories Murder and Thriller. Perhaps you've got an unpublished MS around 50,000 words you could edit and send in? 

Here are their latest guidelines. Apologies for formatting - this is cut'n'paste from a PDF document. To see the guidelines in their full technicolour glory, email myweekly@dcthomson.co.uk  and ask for them. Or go to Sally Q's blog where she has a link to them. 

Pocket novels are exciting, thrilling reads that sweep the reader away for adventures and intrigue, drama and romance! The focus is on the developing relationship between our two main characters, which of course will end in love, but how will they get there? That’s where the adventures and intrigue come in – we want you to excite and thrill, charm and alarm the reader, and have her (or him) gripped, unable to stop reading until the very last page.
DO: Create real characters the reader can believe in – they can have flaws.
DO: Have a plot – it can be thrilling or chilling, puzzling or alarming – that brings our heroine and hero together. They must have a murder or a mystery to solve, or something precious to save (a child, an inheritance – even their pride and independence) that keeps them communicating, and builds a relationship.
DO: Keep the tension building, paying particular attention to drama in every chapter ending. Let’s make the story a real page-turner for the reader. 
DO: Set our pulses racing, BUT remember we want passion not pornography, (so no explicit descriptions of either physical details or intimate action).

PLOTTING: Keep the pace building and compel the reader to turn the page with cliff-hanging chapter endings.
PEOPLE: Characters are real people with real characteristics, dreams and hopes, virtues and failings. Make sure the villains get their come-uppance!
HOW: Get over the action and explain the plot through your characters talking and doing, rather than telling the reader (ratio: 60/40 talking/telling). Don’t tell the readers what to think!
WHO: Our heroines vary in age from their late teens to middle-age, and are compassionate and morally sound. They are modern in their relationships, thoughts, feelings and experiences. The story is usually told from the woman’s point of view, although occasionally it is from the man’s.
WHERE AND WHEN: Modern or historical, set in the UK and interesting, exotic or dangerous locations around the world.
ROMANCE  Traditional Modern Historical Medical
CRIME  Murder Thriller

SYNOPSIS: Please send a synopsis and the first three chapters via email. We will ask to see the rest of the
novel if we are interested.
WORDCOUNT: 50,000 words
PAY: £300
Please note: Double quotes, single space only between full stop and next sentence.
Please email to myweekly@dcthomson.co.uk

Sally Q tells me a friend of hers, who has only recently started writing, sent in a synopsis and 3 chapters as her first ever submission. And the editor, Maggie Seed, wants to see more! Well done that writer!
Remember, although £300 isn't much for 50,000 words, you can usually resell your novel to Ulverscroft as a large print novel, and earn Public Lending Rights payments for ever afterwards. 


Sally Quilford said...

Yes, it's important to stress here that Maggie doesn't care where you are in your writing career. Absolute beginner or old hack like me. She's eager to here from anyone.

I've also been told today that she's still interested in historical novels, particularly historical adventure stories.

Anonymous said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again - anyone who sells 50,000 words for £300 is an idiot - end of

Anonymous said...

I have to admit to agreeing with 'anonymous'. No wonder they want writers! And of course, there is no guarantee that it will be printed elsewhere. I bet she's eager to hear from anyone! But Sally is right I suppose if you have a novel hanging around...but you'd have to be a bit desperate and that certainly is a sign of the times!

Anonymous said...

I would not advise anyone to send in a novel they happen to have 'hanging around'. The pernicious side of these rates is that they undercut the rates for writers generally; it sends the message that writers value their work as little as some publications clearly do. A writer may have an alternative or private income and simply not care about such a low rate, but this is shortsighted – writing is about being paid for the number of words, NOT the amount of time spent doing it. Once you erode this principle, it's open season on offering writers a pittance.

Geoff said...

I'd just like to say I agree with Anonymous, Anonymous and Anonymous. (Is it just me or does that sound like a rather secretive firm of solicitors?) Anyway, I'd love to get my teeth into a 50k word pocket novel - but for £300? No way.

Anonymous said...

It's not compulsory to submit to them. The information is there for those who want it. If it doesn't interest you, then move along. There's nothing to see here.

Geoff said...

Actually, Anonymous, there is plenty to see here.

Of course it's not compulsory to submit pocket novels. But following your argument to its logical conclusion, all work would go to those willing to do it for the least money, something we know eventually leads to extreme wealth for the few, extreme poverty for the many. If you want to graft over 50,000 words for £300 you are, of course, welcome to. However, I don't think it's wrong for others to point out you're cheapening our trade by doing so.

Anonymous said...

You might as well write two 1000 worders for WW and one and a half for TAB FF

Anonymous said...

...and spend 6 months trying to sell them too!

Anonymous said...

well said, that man Geoff. The point about waiting to hear back from Tab or WW, etc (and I've never waited six months or anything like) is that there is a salutary and very obvious difference in productive creativity and labour intensity between writing 1,000 and 50,000 words. The former is a punt worth taking for a few hundred quid, the second isn't.

womagwriter said...

Writing is not the easiest way to earn a living - that's a given. And if writing IS how you want to make your money, you are better off writing features and fillers which are far easier to write and sell.

With fiction, you are not paid by the word-count. Many 100,000 word novels get little or no advance. If they don't sell, there'll be no royalties either.

I agree that £300 for a 50,000 word novella isn't much. But it isn't ALL you'll make from that novella. As I put on the blog post, you can usually resell the novel to Ulverscroft for a further payment and future PLR payments. You could also self-publish it as an ebook.

I don't believe that accepting £300 for a pocket novel is 'undercutting the rates for writers generally' as Anon #3 said (people, why not sign your posts so we can have a proper discussion here!!!) though I agree no writer should give their work away for nothing. I think any payment recognises the effort a writer has put in.

Anonymous said...

Womagwriter, in the world of publishing (in which I have worked for over 20years), payment is by word count. Plus, I have never met a writer who would sign away a 100,000 word novel for 'little or nothing' in the way of an advance. It just would not happen. Yes, the option of ebook publishing is available - again with no promise of any return. With PLR, too, you have to sell an awful lot of books to see much of a return.
Finally, so what if people want to remain anonymous to make their point? As long as they are simply expressing their valid opinion, what objection can there be to people exercising their entitlement to one? I was not aware that it was an impediment to having a 'proper discussion'.

Flossie said...

Really anonymous? Payment is always by word count? I'm guessing you haven't had any short stories published by women's magazines lately. Because if you had, you'd know, as many of the visitors to womagwriter's blog will know, that the payment structure is as varied as the amount of magazines buying fiction. Take a Break pay by the page. Other magazines have a set rate per story. Advances for novels aren't paid by word count, but on how well the publishers think the novel will do in the marketplace.

I don't deny that some outlets pay by word count, and there are set rates which are considered professional payment. I think the Americans set it at around 6c a word. Not all publishing outlets work like that. Something you really should know with your 20 years experience in publishing.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how snide comments like this last one, help (apart from revealing a lot about the person making them).

The bottom line to this argument, far as I can see, as a humble novice writer, is that far too many people regard writing as a vanity activity, a need for self-validation, where being published at - literally – any price, is deemed the end goal in itself. This is why certain people take great exception to having ripoff rates pointed out to them.

But commercial fiction writing is exactly that - as with any other creative skill honed to a saleable level, you should expect fair remuneration for your commercially oriented endeavours.
As for 'Any payment recognises the effort a writer has put in,' I'm sorry, but if you substitute 'artist' for the word 'writer', you see what arrant nonsense that is. Or why not go further, and sub the word 'writer' with 'worker'?

If you still want to be paid peanuts, I refer you to the comment made by an Anon on 18 July.
The majority of people who've commented on this page appear to agree with its sentiments - that being ripped off is bad for everyone in the long run. I think the case is very much rested.

womagwriter said...

Anon - I don't mind people remaining anonymous on this blog. If I did, I'd amend the settings so everyone would have to sign in. What I meant above was, if you just write a name or initials (any initials!) at the end of a comment it makes it easier to address responses to points made.

Flossie's right - in the world of UK womag story writing payment is rarely or never by the word.

And I think you are right in that we've all said all there is to say on this subject now.

Becky said...

Sorry to add as perhaps this 'argument' (a very one sided one) is over and Sally (excuse me for saying) is very much in the minority, but if writers showed some solidarity (like they are here) and stuck together then such terrible underpayment would not occur. Honestly Sally, it really isn't surprising that Maggie is 'eager' to hear from anyone and if you wrote a novel for just £300 you are letting down other writers whose only income is writing. You wouldn't pay a builder peanuts to build your house so why accept peanuts for a novel? I think writing is dying as a 'career'. There are creative writing graduates giving away features for nothing! Says it all really. The first poster was concise and correct...'anyone who sells 50,000 words for £300 is an idiot'. Couldn't agree more.

womagwriter said...

Becky, Anon, out of interest, what would you consider to be a reasonable payment for a 50,000 word pocket novel?

Anonymous said...

I was the Anon who mentioned TAB and WW earlier, and then I thought about it again and added the six months! To be honest I think £1,000 would be more reasonable, but even that is low. However, if Maggie were to admit that by paying that much profits would be so low that it wouldn't be worth it, then maybe people would think differently and would welcome an outlet that would be prepared to take thier work. Personally, £300 is very little and I've earned enough in the last 6 months to pay for a holiday for my husband and I from writing short stories. I'd have to write 5 My Weekly novels to come close. Please don't shout at me, it's only my opinion. And, like Anon before, I think it's really good that this discussion is open to everyone.

womagwriter said...

Thanks Leo. No one is going to shout. (If they do I'll delete them.)

Yes, £1000 would be a more reasonable payment. But would the figures stack up for MW at that cost? I don't know. What I do know is that the average print run for a MW pocket novel is 15,000 and the average sales is just over 4,000. Cover price is £1.99. So an average issue brings in £8000. Out of that has to come the cost of publication and distribution, staff costs - ie Maggie's salary, as well as payment to the writer. There'll be a small income from advertising - but it's tiny. (MW charge £150 for ads on the back cover of a pocket novel.)

I have no idea what the costs to publish pocket novels actually is. But from the above figures (which you can check here http://www.dcthomson.co.uk/viewMediaPack.aspx?pdf=my_weekly.pdf) I suspect there's not a lot of scope to pay writers much more than they currently do.

Michelle Mackenzie said...

Hello fellow writers,
I have been a writer for a few years now and I am definately considering sending in my manuscript as soon as i have done writing and editing it. All my books are all ready available as an ebook; and I have no problem recieving three hundred pounds if my book is good enough. I'm not writing as a main income- i am writing because I enjoy it. So, publishing with this site- and enquire about self publishing with kindle- ive got no issues. If you don't agree with the policy, dont publish your work here- simple as that. It's not as if they are vanity publishers- and i hear vanity publishers are much worse. Am i right?

Kathy said...

The first and last comments on here say it all really: the first 'old hack'is 'eager to "here" from anyone 'who will accept a pittance; and the last is '"definately" considering sending in' her manuscript.
Presumably the cost of editing the shoddy work these so-called writers produce would explain the poor remuneration.
I agree with others who have said that this sort of thing undermines the professionalism and talent of genuine writers and would advise good writers to leave this sort of work to those with little talent and delusions of grandeur!

womagwriter said...

Kathy - any writer who can write a 50,000 word novella in a month and then sell it, as the 'old hack' who commented here frequently does, is most certainly NOT a writer of 'little talent'. I know her personally, and neither does she have 'delusions of grandeur'. She is completely professional at all times, and would never insult or undermine other writers by posting comments such as yours on an open site.