Monday 27 July 2015

Guest post from Womagwriter Noreen Wainwright

When Noreen Wainwright mentioned that she'd had a story accepted by The People's Friend after a zillion attempts, I invited her over to share that experience.

The two voices

When you’re plodding away, desperately trying to get that elusive acceptance for one of your stories you may find that you have two voices in your head...then again, I hope I’m not the only one to experience this? One voice says - or shouts - that it is really time to give this up as a bad job and to express your creativity in an easier way, such as cobweb-knitting. The other voice, of course, tells you that you will get there in the end that it’s persistence that marks out the pro from the dilettante. I was glad that I listened to the second voice when I finally got an acceptance from Shirley Blair at People’s Friend. It was a great feeling – a true buzz.

I don’t know how many of you identify with this but I have found it much easier to be published and earn money in other areas of writing. Actually, I think it probably is easier to have non-fiction pieces accepted. What am I saying – it was even easier to get a publisher for my first crime novel than it was to wriggle my way in though the almost impenetrable fortress of People’s Friend. But, you know, we are writers; we are compelled to do it and there’s nothing like a challenge. I’m already thinking about  my next submission to People’s Friend and I’m also working on a humorous story because I keep reading how much editors love it when a story makes them smile. I hope that sparks off lots of ideas in you all, oh and listen to the second voice, the one that tells you the acceptance will eventually come.

You can get Noreen's latest book here.

Saturday 25 July 2015

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Not the Best News

Sadly Best magazine have again dropped their fiction slot. (The associate editor who dealt with fiction has promised to let me know if this changes and I'll pass on any news I get.)

Presumably they don't think the readers are interested in fiction. If that's not the case we need to let the editors know. We can do that by buying magazines which carry fiction and by contacting them to praise any stories we particularly enjoy, or any increase in the amount of fiction carried and to protest if fiction is reduced or dropped.

Monday 13 July 2015

Are you up to date?

I won't mention names, but I recently came across someone who, from her comments, was clearly using very old copies of magazines for her research. It might seem like a money saving idea to use the copies you found in the cupboard under the 1973 tax paperwork but it'll cost you in other ways.

There's no point crafting the perfect story for a magazine which no longer prints fiction, or which now has very different requirements in terms of length and/or style.

Most of us can't read every issue of every magazine, but it makes sense to read several current issues of whichever ones we're targeting.

Check any notes, lists or spreadsheets you've made for yourself too. Are all the details correct or are you saboutaging your chances by submitting work the editor simply can't use?

Sunday 5 July 2015

Guest post by Womagwriter Carmen Walton

My guest today is Carmen Walton.

A question I ask at the beginning of my writing workshops is what is preventing your stories from selling to magazines? There are many answers to this but they all tend to lead to one main obstacle that prevents us from selling fiction to magazine editors. Focus.

Let me put it like this. If a passing stranger was asked out of the blue to suggest a gift idea they might suggest this.

Some thorough questioning, consideration, research and effort might reveal enough details about the recipient of this gift to reveal that what they really want is this.

Without focus being applied to the writing and sending of stories fiction editors are likely to be faced with drills when what they wanted was a decent bag.
So how do we focus?
Time is precious and often there doesn’t seem to be enough of it to go round. However, it’s important to invest the time to consider the needs of the magazines and their readers to make the most of your writing efforts.
Look inside the magazines.
Visual clues exist on every single page and in the tone and content of articles and features. It’s up to us to interpret those clues and give the editor the story they want and not the story we wanted to send. From reading a magazine you might
  • Determine the age group of the reader. Some topics are universal and others are more relevant to certain age groups than others. Have someone in mind when you write.
  • Consider the magazine’s content. Are there lots of diet and fashion articles or is emphasis on homemaking? What are readers interested in?
  • Read the stories in the magazine on a regular basis to determine what is chosen. Does the magazine use the first person point of view or the third? Are the endings twist in the tale or happy ever after?  Has a story similar to one of yours already been used?
  • Do the advertising pages promote expensive or inexpensive products? Does your reader enjoy a lavish lifestyle or are they budgeting? Write about a world that your reader is comfortable in.
Like the business of gift giving, sending stories should be personal and meaningful.
  • Don’t recycle old stories without thoroughly editing and shaping them to suit.
  • Don’t send stories that are thinly veiled vessels for your rants and gripes.
  • Do read the fiction guidelines that are readily available via this blog and all the magazine websites.
  • Do respect word counts and the advice given about what not to send.
The ideas you gather as writers can be used to create stories covering a wide range of topics and genres and can be placed in a variety of historical settings. Guidelines let you know what isn’t desirable but the people who manage the magazine spend time and money making sure they know who their customers are and what they want. It’s a business after all. With so many possibilities the main thing all the magazines ask you to do is entertain their readers. Have them cheered up, moved reassured or uplifted.
It’s a case of making sure you cheer the editor up when you give her the equivalent of this.

Instead of depressing her by giving her this.

Remember, it’s all about focus.

Carmen Walton is a freelance writer and creative writing tutor who, when she takes her own advice, sells short stories to women’s magazines. She will be running a day long workshop on writing fiction for women’s magazines on Saturday 26th September at Waterside Arts in Sale, near Manchester.

Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, Manchester. M33 7ZF