Saturday, 24 September 2016

That's Life! (Australia) guidelines

The fiction editor at That's Life has kindly sent their latest guidelines for the blog -

that's life! Fast Fiction Guidelines
that's life! Fiction Guidelines
There are two ways we publish fiction:
- A one-page story in the weekly edition of that's life! magazine
- A range of one, two, three and four page stories in our quarterly Fast Fiction magazine, released seasonally (Summer/Spring/Autumn/Winter)
Sending us a story
We accept only emailed submissions. Posted hard-copy stories will no longer be considered. Email your story, for both the weekly magazine and quarterly magazine, to
If possible, please send your stories in Microsoft Word format, as an attachment to the email. Please do not paste/write your story into the body of the email.
Send one attachment per email - please do not attach multiple stories.
Please do not heavily format the story with tabs or headings, and use single spacing between sentences and single quote marks.
Include your name and contact details.
Include the following in the subject and body of the email:
- Story Name
- Theme
- Word Count
For example: The Magician, Spooky, 650 words
Writer's Agreement
We have a new Writer's Agreement in place and you MUST complete and sign it for your story to be published with us.
If we don't have an agreement from you and we'd like to use one of your stories, we will email it to you, when a story is commissioned, for it to be completed, signed and returned.
In the weekly magazine, we run a wide range of stories and do not publish them with strict themes, except for the annual events below. Please note for these themes we will need to receive submissions around two months before the event.
- Australia Day (Jan)
- Back to School (Jan/Feb)
- Valentine's Day (Feb)
- Easter (April)
- Anzac Day (April)
- Christmas In July (July)
- Mother's/Father's Day (May/Sept)
- Halloween (Oct)
- Melbourne Cup Day (Nov)
- Christmas (Dec)
- New Year's Eve (Dec/Jan)
For the quarterly Fast Fiction, we have SIX themes, so your story should fall into one of the following categories:
- Romance (All things love)
- Heartwarmer (Sweet stories/happy endings)
- Thriller (Keeps you guessing until the end)
- Revenge (Someone gets their just desserts)
- Sixth Sense (Spooky/Scary/Spiritual/Mystic/Fate and Fortune)
- Light Bite (Everything else! A fun, easy read)
Word Counts
1 page = 600 – 650 words
2 pages = 1200-1400 words
3 pages = 1600-1800 words
These are approximate and the final word count printed will depend on the design of the page/s. You don't need to overly cut or edit your story to fit the word counts.
Rights and Exclusivity
We will now accept stories that have either:
- Never been published anywhere previously worldwide.
- Not been published in an English speaking publication. If it's been published in English, in the UK or USA for example, unfortunately we can no longer consider your story, so please do not submit.
If you have not heard anything from us in 90 days, it is unlikely your story will be used at this time. You are welcome to resubmit stories six months after your first submission.
Please understand that due to the bulk of emails we receive, we are unable to reply individually to submissions, nor can we reply to follow up correspondence asking if stories have been received, read or accepted.
If there's a story of yours we'd like to use, you will receive an email indicating that:
- We'd like to publish your story in an upcoming issue of that's life! weekly magazine OR we would like to publish your story in the next edition of the Fast Fiction quarterly
- We will ask if the story is still available to purchase and let you know the amount to invoice for if this is the case
All invoices will be submitted to the finance department when the issue is sent to print.
Please note the payment is for how many pages are published, not the pages/word count of your unedited original submission.
The payment rates are as follows but may vary for special publications:
that's life! weekly magazine (one-page story) = $300
Fast Fiction quarterly
1 page = $200
2 pages = $300
3 pages = $400
Subject Matter
We are looking for humorous, clever, positive, contemporary stories with a strong and easy-to-follow plot. It's a good idea to read several issues of the magazines to get the flavour of the type of fiction we publish.
Avoid straightforward romance - boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. Also avoid stories narrated by animals or babies, and it can be confusing if you have too many characters. A maximum of four is usually best.
If the story has a twist it should arise from the story, rather than from a detail kept from the reader. To check your twist, imagine your story were being made into a film - would the surprise still work?
Please remember that that's life! is a family magazine so graphic murders, sex crimes and domestic violence are not acceptable.
We normally write in chronological order, so please keep events in sequence and avoid 'jumping' around time slots, as this can be confusing.
Common twists to avoid:
  • The heroine/narrator is revealed to be a cat, dog, car, possum, tree or ghost!
  • A partner's mysterious arrangements turn out to be for a surprise party
  • The perpetrator's murder plan backfires and s/he eats the poison
  • A woman meets up with a handsome "stranger" for a steamy rendezvous and it turns out to be her husband
  • 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.
  • A woman spots her boyfriend/man of her dreams with a beautiful blonde lady - who turns out to be his sister
  • Anything involving twins
  • A murder/death actually turns out to be part of a play rehearsal
It's not that we would never use a story with these plot lines, but bear in mind we do get a lot of them. So your story would need a fresh angle to stand out.
If you don't hear from us...
If your story isn't accepted it can be for any number of reasons. Sometimes we have already published, or have in stock, a similar story. Or we may feel it will not appeal to our readers. But this does not mean we will not like another of your stories, so don't lose heart. Keep writing and sending them in!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. It's so hard to find guidelines for them. I went to their magazine site, but couldn't find the writer's agreement to print out and look at. Are their stories more like the People's Friend than Woman's World? I wish they would put a few sample stories online so we could all read them. I'm not good with knowing the correct words to use since I'm not an Aussie. Do you know if they convert your words so they sound Aussie? Or doesn it matter? Thanks!

Anonymous #1

parlance said...

I keep track of any of my submissions via the website Duotrope and they no longer list That's life! because there's no easily viewable website for potential submitters to visit. So many thanks for this post. I couldn't find their current information anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for replying to my initial query and getting on this, Patsy. I'll be sending them a story this week!

Shane Telford said...

Thanks for this Patsy! Interesting that they've dropped their word limit for one page stories to 600-650 when it used to be 600-900... and just after I'd subbed a few 700ish worders!

*shakes fist*

Anonymous said...

Can't you file and track them yourself?

Patsy said...

If you mean submissions, Anonymous then yes everyone should keep their own records.