Saturday 25 February 2017

Top tips

Take a Break magazine use 'brainwave' tips as fillers and pay £50 for those with a photo and £25 without.

Some are more useful than others. As an example, "To stop cakes going stale, eat the whole thing in one go."

Or there's one in the current issue advising people to smear peanut butter on their campervan.

Hmmm, odd people these campervanners, especially if they also happen to be red headed writers.

If you know of any opportunities to write fillers and would like to write a guest post about one of them, please contact me.

Wednesday 22 February 2017

New windows, love?

Annalisa gives some tips for submitting any written work, in which she describes the writer as a cold caller offering double glazing. I think that sums up the submission of unsolicited fiction to womags very well.

Just as everyone needs windows, the editors do need our stories. And just as we would, they'll only buy as many as they need, when they need them. They're also more likely to buy from those with a good reputation, or who at least seem as though they understand the business they're in.

It's our job to offer our product when there are gaps to be filled and to ensure what we're providing is a good fit - no massive Georgian bays to a sleek, modern flat. We also need to convince the buyer that our windows are as described and that we haven't also fitted them to their rival just across the road.

Are the windows you're trying to sell exactly right for the establishment you're offering them to?

Saturday 18 February 2017

Your Cat Magazine

Your Cat Magazine will consider unsolicited features or articles. You may pitch the idea, or submit the finished piece.

"The magazine’s style is relaxed and chatty, yet informative." Most womag stories are relaxed and chatty and everyone knows female writers are cat owners*, so maybe some of you will be able to create "Articles relating to everyday life with a cat, a story about a very special cat, or how to deal with problems in cat ownership."

*Mine is fictitious, but I do have one.

Your Cat also publish short stories – about cats, obviously. They're not overly encouraging about the submission of these. "We do carry monthly fictional short stories, but these are written by established novelists and tend to be planned 12 months in advance."

Are you interested in non-fiction writing opportunities about cats – or any other subject?

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Guest post by Womagwriter Sharon Boothroyd

Today's guest is Sharon Bothroyd.

When I began writing seriously in 2010, I began to focus on the fiction market for women's magazines. 

As I became more involved in it, I discovered that several of these short story writers had also enjoyed publishing success with letters in national magazines. More importantly, they'd been paid a small fee for their efforts. If there was no fee, a prize was offered instead. I thought, Why don't I have a go a that?

So I did, and eagerly began to send letters in. My spirits were high. Surely I'd see my name and piece in print somewhere? But no. Sadly, I didn't get anywhere at all! 

After a few months, I felt ready to try again. However this time, I carried out research first. I studied the tone and style of the magazine I intended to submit to, and what type of letter was likely to be picked for publication, plus the subject of it eg: I learnt that positive feedback about a previous feature was popular.

I kept my submission short and snappy - and my hard work paid off. I was absolutely thrilled to see my letter published in What's on TV magazine. I was delighted to receive a payment of £10 for little more than a paragraph.

Since then, I've had lots of letters published in magazines such as Woman's Weekly, The People's Friend, Yours, My Weekly, WebUser, Vegetarian Living, Take a Break and Your Cat. 

How do I find ideas for letters? It's easy – you need to think of what could appeal to readers. For Woman's Weekly, I once wrote about the tests I undertook for breast cancer. I urged readers not to ignore any call- ups. (Thankfully, I was okay).
I've also been featured with several opinion pieces for the 'You're Telling us' page in Take a Break magazine. They pay £50 for each one published. 

The ' You're telling us' question can be found on the TAB facebook page. They request a photo of yourself and your age, too. TAB also post requests for true- life reader experience type of articles. I've had 'A letter to your younger self' piece published and a 'Christmas cringes' one too. These can pay more - up to £100.

Some publications offer a prize to the star letter only. I attempt it, and often I don't win the prize, yet I'm still pleased to see my piece published.

I've won a small beauty prize for my star letter in the free TESCO magazine and being selected for Your Cat's star letter scooped me a range of cat toys and biscuits.UPDATE: The Tesco mag now offers a swanky kitchen mixer for their star prize letter!

My prize letters in another monthly magazine netted me a free one year magazine subscription – twice! (A fantastic saving of around £80).
If you have a hobby, eg computers, cooking - pick a suitable magazine that accompanies it. For instance, my hubby is a very good cook and baker. He's had several recipes published in Take a Break's My Favourite Recipe magazine. (He scooped £25 per recipe).

It's not just letters. Some magazines also publish short poems. I've had several poems published in Yours and The People's Friend. They like rhyming, upbeat material.
Yours paid me £10 in gift vouchers per poem. The vouchers can be spent practically anywhere. They pay £10 gift voucher for a published letter too.

Don't forget that fillers such as top tips, funny photos, a 'pet of the week' type of feature, puzzles, jokes, beauty queries and 'items to be valued' pieces are high in demand, too. 

I've had my childhood teddy valued in Real People magazine (I earned £25) my cat has been featured in My Weekly (Another £25) and I've had beauty questions featured in Take a Break. (They pay £50 for this). 

I've also made it to the TAB letters page too, with their 'What a laugh!' slot. I was £50 richer for just a few lines of text. A writer friend of mine likes to create her own word puzzles (not necessarily crosswords) and she has these published regularly in Real People magazine. If published, the fee for this is either £30 or £50.

Although you won't be able to earn mega bucks with letters etc, the odd £10 here and there soon adds up. Bear in mind that no matter how many letters you submit, you won't be chosen every week. Consider the fact that the editor or team will become familiar with your name. However, saying that, I think they do appreciate regular contributors - just don't swamp them!

Publications are always looking for well- written, entertaining, intelligent letters that fit in well with the editorial style of the magazine. Always be cheerful and polite and don't waffle, and make sure you follow the magazine's submission instructions. It's all mainly done via email now. 

Your subject heading should be: 'Letter for consideration. 'Work can be edited, changed or even added to – to me, this doesn't matter as I want to be published and I want to be paid. 

Some magazines let you know beforehand if your letter has been selected, and some don't. If you sub regularly, this means a weekly scan of the magazines in shops to check if your piece is in. Yet some prizes arrive completely out of the blue.

One Christmas, I won a prize of a large jigsaw puzzle, yet I hadn't a clue who had sent it or what publication my letter was in. All I had was a snail mail letter saying 'Congratulations!' from the makers of the jigsaw, which didn't really help. 

Later, I realised I must have been awarded star letter in 'Down your way', a Yorkshire based nostalgic magazine. I quickly emailed the Ed and he confirmed it. (UPDATE: I've won this prize a second time with a piece about phone boxes. As it was approaching Christmas, it came in very handy as a gift for a jigsaw lover).

So, what's stopping you from having a go? If I can do it, so can you! Get writing and good luck!

Sunday 12 February 2017

Double Swedish

I have two stories in this week's edition of Allas Magazine.

One involves a girl and a female estate agent.

The other is a twist ending story which, as soon as it was accepted, I wondered how they'd illustrate. Sadly, because I love their illustrations, they've decided not to. I really can't blame them for that.

How is your Swedish coming along? I reckon that after all my mentions of this magazine, you'll be able to translate this title.

Friday 10 February 2017

Is your man a softee?

As I mentioned a few days ago, many magazines offer the chance to submit 'fillers' and there are
plenty of reasons to write them.

One such opportunity is in That's Life! (the UK version). They want amusing stories about your man, which could earn him the title of 'soft lad of the week'. Poor Gary has been featured a few times, but in my defence I did share the £50 fee with him. (It's £50 for the best and £25 for the rest).

I'll leave him out of it this time and use myself as an example of a soft lass. This photo could be sent with something along the lines of, "Patsy was told it would be windy on the deck of the ship, so I don't know why she looks so surprised."

You can include up to four photos, but one is generally enough. With all fillers, if photos are accepted then it's always a good idea to send one. That not only increases the chance of your piece being used, but may earn you a higher fee.

If you know of any opportunities to write fillers (even for non womag publications) and would like to write a guest post about one of them, please contact me.

I'm down in Devon this weekend - do come in and say hello if you're in the area.

Wednesday 8 February 2017

What's in a name?

I have a story in the current (March) issue of Take A Break's Fiction Feast. My original title of Daisy Chains has been changed to They're Just Flowers.

Magazine editors quite often change story titles and I'm never surprised when it happens. There are several reasons they might do this - perhaps the original was similar to something they've used recently, it may be to fit a house style (some favour short titles and some longer) or so it fits neatly on the page or even in the contents list.

With this story the main character's name has also be changed. That is a surprise as it's never happened to me before. (I once had a boy turned into a girl, which I think may have been to suit an illustration, but the name stayed the same.)

No doubt there's a very good reason for Angus to now be called Archie, but I can't think what it might be. Can you?

Have you ever had story titles or character names changed? How do (or would) you feel about that?

Monday 6 February 2017

All That Love Stuff

This book is a collection of 24 of my romantic short stories. Most were previously published in a variety of women's magazines around the world, but there some totally new ones too.

The ebook is £1.99, paperback £6.60, or you can read it free with kindle unlimited. Hopefully it will be also be available in libraries quite soon too.

I think this must be my cutest cover yet - what do you think?

Thursday 2 February 2017

Guest post by womagwriter Beatrice Charles

My guest today is Beatrice Charles, with a summary of why she finds a subscription to Readly a useful resource for her writing.

All submission guidelines say the same thing: "we recommend you read several issues of the magazine before submitting to us".
I used to buy regular issues of many different magazines. Before long I was knee deep in paper and several pounds lighter in my pocket. Digital subscriptions to the various magazines helped reduce the bulk but did little to reduce the cost. 

Then I won a month's free subscription to, found it a really useful resource and have continued with a paid subscription. It is a digital subscription service providing access to many and varied publications around the world.
Benefits of Readly:

I pay £7.99 per month for access to hundreds of magazines.
The cost allows five different people to access Readly at the same time and on different devices, so I can share this resource with my family.

Each user can compile a list of favourites - mine are the womags and other magazines which pay for readers' letters; my mother chooses household, knitting and cookery; my brother reads up about his hobbies of woodworking, clocks, etc; my niece parenting magazines. (Never realised my family is so stereotyped.)

Magazines from many different countries are available, which would be of more use if I were able to understand the language, but at least I can look at the illustrations in Allas and see who has been published there.

I can bookmark particular pages - narcissistic as I am I have marked my own published writing.
There is a search facility, which isn't always reliable, but helpful when I want to focus on one particular writer to research what it is about their style that makes them so successful with a particular publication. I also found a couple of my letters that had been published but had missed.

I can research a large number of non-fiction markets, as well as checking they haven't recently published something which I am seeking to pitch.
I can access back copies of magazines to when they began partnering Readly - WW and PF this was January 2014.
Once downloaded (up to 500 issues if your device has the memory capacity), they can be read anytime and anywhere. My brother found this useful on a recent 16 hour flight to Argentina.

Downsides to Readly:
It doesn't publish Take a Break Fiction Feast but it does include the TAB Specials which usually print a story or two, nor does it publish The Weekly News, Ireland's Own, or Woman's World (USA). It doesn't publish anything from Australia or South Africa. Readly claim that new editions are being added regularly so I do update my list from time to time.

The magazines don't earn as much through Readly as they will from direct sales, but they won't incur printing and distribution costs, and each time an issue is downloaded they will receive a payment.