Saturday, 4 April 2015

Take a Break's Fiction Feast

The current guidelines are copied below (with permission)

Thank you for enquiring about submitting stories to us. We are happy to receive unsolicited manuscripts from authors but, for the present, request that these be no longer than 2,000 words. Should you wish to submit longer stories for consideration, Iʼll drop you a line or telephone you. Please donʼt be discouraged, as we are always on the lookout for new talent.
I enclose the Take a Break guidelines for your general assistance with presentation and plots to avoid. The basic requirements of a strong plot and a twist in the tail also hold good for Fiction Feastʼs 1 page (700 words) and 2 page (1200 words) stories. Stories of between 1200+ and 2000 max words neednʼt have a twist in the tail, but must have a compelling plot. Because Fiction Feast has so many stories, weʼre looking for more variety in the type we publish so, whatever the length, mystery, romance, crime, offbeat, macabre, science fiction, spooky tales — just about anything really — is welcome.
We can be flexible about story length, but, as a guide our wordcounts and payment rates are:
1 Page (700 words) £200 2 Page (1200 words) £250 3-4 Pages (2,000 words) £325 to £400
All stories must be from an original idea, all your own work, not previously published in the UK and not currently on offer to any other magazine or publisher. We pay on acceptance.
It can take 6-8 weeks for a decision to be made on Fiction Feast stories, so please be patient. If you havenʼt had a story returned after 10 weeks, please drop a line outlining the plot and Iʼll get back to you ASAP. I look forward to reading your work.

GUIDELINES FOR AUTHORS (Take a Break and Fiction Feast)
Basic Requirements: We are looking for contemporary stories aimed at women from their mid-twenties upwards. We require 1100 - 1200 words with a strong plot and a good twist in the tail. The twist should arise out of the story, rather than from a detail kept from the reader. To check your twist, imagine your story were being made into a film and ask yourself - would the surprise still work? We do not have a weekly serial, so stories must be complete.
Subject Matter: We particularly like settings and situations which readers can recognise and relate to, rather than say, country house murders or stories about drugs rings or jewel thieves. Itʼs essential to read several issues of the magazine to get the flavour of the type of fiction we publish before writing a story aimed at Take a Break. Many writers waste a lot of time and effort because they havenʼt done this. Please avoid straightforward romance ie, boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. Also avoid historical backgrounds, science fiction and stories narrated by animals or small children. Take a Break is a family magazine so graphic murders or sex crimes are never acceptable.
Common plots to avoid:
* the heroine/narrator is revealed to be a cat, dog, fox, car (or tree, u-bend...) * the policeman/woman is really a singing telegram
* a character
ʼs mysterious arrangements turn out to be for a surprise party
* the woman discovers her husband
ʼs secret lover is a man, or vice versa

* the murder victim ends up on a compost heap
* anything to do with poisonous mushrooms or tampering with car brakes

* a shifty antiques dealer dupes an old lady out of what he thinks is a priceless antique and it turns out she is making them by the dozen
* anything to do with twins or nosy neighbours
* someone nervous about a first day at school turns out to be the teacher; or about a wedding, the vicar; or an interview, the interviewer
Because our stories are so short, a maximum of four characters is usually best. The main character — a woman. Stories must be your own idea and original work, previously unpublished and not on offer to any other magazine or publisher at the time sent to us. Should your story be accepted we will probably have to edit it. Presentation: Typed manuscripts are preferred, but if you canʼt get your story typed, write clearly in double line spacing. Please ensure your name, addresss and

telephone number — and an accurate wordcount — are on the title page; and your name and story title on subsequent pages. Please, please include a stamped addressed envelope large enough to hold your story. Self-seal envelopes are especially appreciated. Itʼs advisable to keep a copy your story to guard against the remote chance of loss.
Features and articles should be sent directly to the Features Department with a covering letter. It can take 4-6 weeks before a decision is made concerning your manuscript, so please be patient. If your story has not been returned after six weeks, please drop me a line giving me the story title, a brief synopsis of the plot and the date sent. I will get back to you ASAP.
Should your story be rejected it may be we have already published or have in stock a similar story. More likely though, I feel it will not appeal to our readers. This does not necessarily mean I will not like another of your stories, so donʼt lose heart.
Stories sent for specific issues, such as Christmas, Easter, Halloweʼen etc., must be sent at least three months in advance of the issue date.
Please send stories to me, Norah McGrath (Fiction Editor), at the address below. I look forward to reading your work. Norah McGrath, Fiction Editor, Take a Breakʼs Fiction Feast Academic House, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DT

If I were able to persuade one of the TAB/FF editors onto the blog, what would you like to know?

I've heard some people have been sent new contracts - have you had one? And if you have, do you understand it?


Beatrice Charles said...

I notice the guidelines still include reference to fiction in the weekly magazine. Do they intend to reinstate weekly fiction or is it just that the guidelines have not been updated for a while?

Kitty said...

I've been sent a new contract and would really appreciate some clarification on it, Parsy. I believe we have until the end of the month to sign and return it. Thanks.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Thank you Patsy for these - I do love Take a Break and am freshly inspired now! (Just downloaded two of your own short story collections for added encouragement - feel success is imminent)!

Kate Jackson said...

Thanks for posting these guidelines. Have a lovely Easter weekend

Patsy said...

@Beatrice. Good question. Be nice if they included fiction in the weekly mag again, wouldn't it?

@Kitty. I'd advise everyone to hold off signing any contract until they're sure they understand it.

@Dolores I hope you enjoy the collections. Did you get Not a Drop to Drink? That's free at the moment.

@Kate. You're welcome.

Sue Blackburn said...

Thanks Patsy. Really useful x

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting, Patsy. I've received a contract from TAB. I’ve been searching the net all day and all the advice seems to suggest that paragraph 4 is not good unless I am misunderstanding the terms. I'm not very happy with the request to assign all moral and intellectual rights which would mean that in some cases the authors name would not necessarily be included in the work and would also mean, I think, that the stories could be published by Bauer in collections without author acknowledgement or payment. It would be good if someone out there could clarify. Many thanks.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Yes thank you greatly, Patsy - already started that and particularly love the splendidly sinister `Don`t Touch the Water`!

Up the Garden Path was my other download yesterday - terrific titles too!

Patsy said...

@ Anonymous I'm not happy with a request for all rights either!

I'll do my best to find out if that is indeed what they're asking for.

Geraldine Ryan said...

I have two stories in this month and haven't been asked to sign a new contract. Are the people who have posted about them new writers to FF? Or writers who have made a sale to FF after a break of a few years when the old contract was in place? I signed a contract a few years ago now and there was a hoo-ha about that because of its implications, but it's been fine and I've noticed no change.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patsy & Geraldine

I've had a few stories in TAB so I'm not new to them. Did your old contract contain a clause about waiving all intellectual and moral rights?

Patsy said...

@ Geraldine, I've heard of several writers who're currently selling to FF quite regularly who've had the contract. It does seem to be very different from the previous one - and also very confusing.

Anonymous said...

Anon here, thanks, Patsy.

Geraldine Ryan said...

Hi, further update - this new contract arrived in my inbox this morning - possibly they're doing them in alphabetical order. I noticed there was an email address for if you have queries. I have a couple so might send them and get back to you with the answers, Patsy.

Patsy said...

I imagine they'll get a lot of queries. That's a good thing though - much better anyway than for people to sign (or not) without fully understanding what it means.

Not been sent one yet, but from what others have said it's not an easy read.

sharon Boothroyd said...

I like the way they say 6-8 weeks response time. I've been waiting 6-8 months from them for a decision on a story!

Bernadette said...

I had my contract today too - looks the same as the last one apart from the inclusion of non-exclusive Aus and NZ rights and the removal of the clause offering addition payments if they syndicate.
Although the wording looks scary, Norah reassured me last time regarding ability to resell etc and hopefully will do the same again.

Sharon - 6-8 months is not normal - worth a chase, as they do sometimes get mislaid.

Patsy said...

@ Sharon - I'd send Norah an email to ask. Sometimes it does take longer than 8 weeks but not 8 months.

Geraldine Ryan said...

Sadly there is no Union for womagwriters. To fail to offer extra payment if they syndicate the stories is pretty shoddy. They will get away with it because they know they can. If people write as individuals to express they feel the same as me about how shoddy this is, then Norah can pass it on to the publishers.

Geraldine Ryan said...

From what I understand, all it is doing is the same as is done by the other British mags. I can't sell stories I've sold to WW to Australia, either, because they get the magazine there. You can still sell second rights to other countries though, on this new FF contract - provided other countries want them, of course.

Anonymous said...

Hi All - good to hear others are receiving the same contract. I think clarity on the key terms of waiving moral and intellectual rights is quite important as in all my reading this type of clause means that if you resell the work or reproduce in a collection it would the story would have to be substantially different. Did the previous contact include the same clause in terms of key terms. Am I missing something here? Thanks

Patsy said...

@ Geraldine & @Anonymous - I'm not sure whether or not we can try to sell on our stories anywhere at all after FF buy them.

What does giving up intellectual and moral rights actually mean? I'm guessing it's more than the FBSR and Aus/NZ rights as it's in a separete clause but in that case it contradicts the suggestion that these rights are all they want.

Anonymous said...

Anon here - I'm not sure what the intellectual and oral rights waiver means as it's in a separate clause, either. Also, do syndication rights mean they can sell on to other magazines outside the Bauer group? I've contacted a few people for advice but no-one has come back to me yet. Is anyone on the blog a member of the Society of Authors who would ask them to take a look at the contract. There is currently a briefing paper being put forward by the Society of Authors and ALCS regarding unfair contract terms. Bloggers could have a look at this on

Anonymous said...

PS I meant Moral rights not oral!

Anonymous said...

Good evening,

Is it possible for overseas authors to submit via email?

Thank you for your help.

Patsy said...

Hi, Anonymous.

As far as I know, they don't allow anyone to submit by email.

Heather Simpson said...

Hi there, I know this is an older post but just wondered if anyone could answer a question for me. I have had a story accepted 9not yet published) and have signed my contract etc. If I wish to submit further stories for consideration would I email them to the editor I have dealt with or do you still send the manuscript through the post?

Patsy said...

Congratulations, Heather!

For this market we still have to submit by post even after having something accepted - at least that's what I was told when I asked. That was a while ago now though.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I'm due to sign a contract for TAB too. Has there been any clarification or update on this? I'm presuming it can't be a bad deal as people still write for them. Do you really hold no rights at all on the works? Do the rights come back after x amount of years?

Patsy said...

Anonymous, you can't judge by what others do - some people are perfectly happy with terms which others would never consider. It's important to make up your own mind.

TAB don't take all rights, so there is the possibility of offering it elsewhere (although not many places will take previously published work) or self publishing the work yourself later.

All rights means just that. You no longer own the story you wrote and have no control over it. With those magazines which do take all rights, that will last until 75 years after the author's death (which is how long copyright lasts).

Raverinretreat said...

I'm flummoxed: that they would not accept email submissions in the 21st century; that they would not make it easier to find out information on how to submit on their website; that they wouldn't make it clear what rights they wish to claim if they publish your piece. No way am I handing over perpetual rights to a magazine! That's totally unreasonable.

Keep your £200/400 -- I'd look elsewhere to sell it.