Wednesday 29 November 2017

Back ... for now

The blog got a few unpleasant spam comments yesterday. I deleted them and then got a few more. It wasn't loads, but more than the number of genuine comments I'd got in the entire previous week, which was very disheartening.

Rather then spend what would otherwise have been writing time trying to keep the blog free of the spam, I took it down as a temporary measure. Hopefully that will be the end of it.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Joint ventures

My writing friend, the editing expert Anne Rainbow, and I are running a Writers’ Workshop Weekend at Hope Cove in Devon next March.

We hope (excuse the pun) some of you will be able to join us.

Another of my writer friends Rosemary J Kind and I have set up a Facebook group called From Story Idea to Reader as a companion to our book of the same name. We’ll be offering writing tips and support. 

Group members are invited to ask questions about any writing related subject (including womag fiction!). It will be nice to see some of you there.

And on Saturday 25th November I'll be at Elmore Angling Club's Christmas Fair (10-2 Lee-on-the-Solent seafront) with my husband Gary Davies, where we'll bot be selling our books (trying to at least.) It's free entry, so if you're in the area, do come in and say hi.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Bit of a shocker

Last week the editor of Australian magazine Yours contacted me to say they were making changes at the magazine and would be including longer fiction. She was particularly looking for serials and asked if I thought my blog readers might be interested in submitting these. As I thought some of you might, I invited her to write a guest post.

Lisa sent me details of what she was looking for both in serials and short fiction and I scheduled the post. Before it could go live, she emailed to say they were closing the magazine. Not dropping fiction, or reorganising a department, but completely closing it.

This magazine is owned by Bauer media - as are several other titles, some of which currently publish fiction.

Monday 20 November 2017

Guest Post by womagwriter Julie Day

My guest today is Julie Day, who has recently sold her first ever womag story.

Congratulations on becoming a womagwriter, Julie! Who bought your story?

You (S. Africa)

Can you tell us a bit about it? 

It's a 1,500 word Xmas ghost story, with humour, set around a panto.

That sounds fun. How did you feel when you got the news? Did you celebrate?

Couldn't believe it. At last! To celebrate I bought a few children's books I wanted.

Some writers have rituals to get them in the mood to write, lucky pens, or even wear particular clothes when writing. Do you do anything like that?

I like to write in silence or with the TV on low.  I have to write with pen and paper.

How long have you been submitting stories to womags?

2-3 years.

How many stories do you think you've sent to get that first acceptance?

About 20, including the same stories to different magazines.

You sent out fillers too, I believe. Did that help keep you motivated?

Yes, knowing that magazines do like my writing helped.

Do you have any advice for writers who've yet to have their first success?

Read and study the magazine and their guidelines. Keep writing. Find your voice. Find the magazine that likes that voice, and stick with them for a while.

Writers need fuel - what's your favourite snack when you're writing?

Kallo dark choc rice cakes, Houmous chips with Violife soft cheese. Or Tesco Free From plain crackers with Violife soft cheese.

I know you have Asperger's; how does that impact on your writing?

I can only write for 30-45 mins before my head goes fuzzy. I have to have an afternoon nap to recharge.

That must make things difficult for you, yet I understand you write books too? 

Yes. Magical realism for adults and children. Such as Billy and The Sparkling Socks and One Cood Turn. You can find all my other books here.

You also produce a newsletter, what's that about and how can people sign up?

I send out tips about writing and marketing esp for indies. Writing exercises. News about my books, events and other stuff. People can sign up here.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

If you like writing one genre, eg for me it's magical realism, then concentrate on that and do it well.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Guest post by womagwriter Maggie Cobbett

When I saw that one of Maggie Cobbet's short stories had been published in Love Sunday magazine, I invited her onto the blog to tell us about it.

Although by no means making my whole living at it – and how I envy those who do – I generally only write for paying markets. However, an opportunity occasionally comes along for some free publicity. One such occurred after I failed to win the Love Sunday (colour supplement of the Sunday People) short story competition this year, for which there was a decent prize. I was contacted to see if I’d allow my entry to be used in a future issue. Having enquired about a fee and been told with regret that no budget was available for fiction, I agreed but made it clear that this was definitely a one off as far as I was concerned. A nicely illustrated double page spread of ‘Crocodile Tears’ appeared on 12th November and included my name, website address and, as promised, a plug for my novel. 

Submissions of 1500 word stories on any subject are welcomed, so it’s up to you if you’d like to contribute one of yours on the same basis. If so, the person to contact is Flavia Bertolini. You can email her at

The novel Maggie plugged is Shadows of the Past.

Monday 13 November 2017

Your Go

Each month I'll be making a posting just like this one, so blog readers can ask any questions*, share any womag news, tips, advice they may have, or make womag related comments or observations.

*If you can answer these, please do!

Of course your comments are welcome on all the other posts too. It's these responses which let me know which kind of posts are of interest and value and therefore worth continuing with.

Btw, the libraries poll is still open.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Yours Magazine non-fiction guidelines

The current non-fiction guidelines for Yours magazine.

Every article is read with interest but the Features department receives more than 100 manuscripts a month, and is able to publish only one a fortnight. Due to the number of articles submitted we aren’t able to reply to everyone. If we are able
to use your article we will of course let you know. 

  • Any article submitted must not have been published elsewhere and, if published by us become exclusive to Yours magazine on an all-rights basis.
  • Yours magazine reserves the right to edit, alter or shorten any article submitted and it may not appear in its entirety and it may appear in any of our publications.
  • Although all reasonable care is taken, Yours magazine can assume no responsibility for the safety of unsolicited articles or photographs, so it is a good idea to send copies. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope if you would like your manuscript returned.
    Before submitting any articles, it is essential that you study at least six issues of Yours magazine. Most submissions are rejected because the subject matter and/or the style of writing is unsuitable for readers.

Submissions should be up to 300 words approx for a half-
page article. It is rare for Yours to read, or to publish any article of greater length than this.

Manuscripts must be typed on one side of the paper and the title page should include: an accurate word count and your full name, address and telephone number.
Please try to enclose relevant photographs to illustrate your article, marked with your name and address on the back
You should include a short CV of yourself, together with a clear, colour head and shoulder picture of yourself
All photographs should be marked with your name, address and telephone number
If you would like your manuscript return please state that and include an SAE.
page1image20944 page1image21104

Reading back issues will give you a good idea of the sort of person who reads YOURS and the general tone we use - which is informal and chatty.
We are currently looking for inspirational stories and adventures to inspire our readers.
Your article should grab the reader from the first sentence. Our style is friendly and warm - after all, your contributions are what makes YOURS the magazine it is! And 400,000 readers a fortnight can't be wrong.
Send your manuscript marked ‘Follow Your Dream’ to:
Non Fiction Submission Yours Magazine
Bauer London Lifestyle Media House
Peterborough Business Park Peterborough, PE2 6EA

Or by email to: (Subject: Non Fiction Submission)
*PLEASE NOTE: If you would like us to return your submission, please include an SAE with the correct postage amount on it. We regret that any submissions without an SAE will not be returned.
page2image9464 page2image9624 page2image9784

Saturday 11 November 2017

Change at YOU magazine

I've recieved a message from blog reader Chris - 

"... the new requirement at You magazine in S. Africa for a scan of overseas writers' passports before payment can be made on accepted stories. This is a new stipulation by the SA banks apparently and fiction editor Lynn Ely assures me that the information will only be shared with the bank in question. Still, I am very doubtful about the wisdom of sharing my passport details (showing photo, ID number, DOB, etc.) this way, given the growth in ID fraud. I've sold around twenty stories to You mag over the past few years and payment has always been promptly made by BACS transfer but this new requirement concerns me. Has anyone else had experience of this and what did you decide to do?"

I've not sold anything to YOU since this change came in, but have heard from others who've been asked to do this, and expressed concern. Have you been asked? What did you do? Can anyone reassure Chris?

Thursday 9 November 2017

Woman's Weekly update

Danni, the fiction editor at Woman’s Weekly has a request. She says 'it would be really handy if you don't mind - if you put the word count and also whether a story is seasonal - or even if it's cold weather/summer in the subject line.’

This would save her some precious time and therefore help her respond to our submissions slightly more quickly.

Note - WW are currently only taking submissions from those who've been published with them before. Hopefully that situation is temporary. See here for more details.

Tuesday 7 November 2017


Do you use your local library? If not, why not?

Some advantages are -

You can borrow books for free. OK, you probably knew that about books already on the shelves, but did you know you can 'suggest a purchase' of any book not in stock? There's no guarantee they'll buy it, but my local library has bought several of the books I suggested. You can also request any book that's in the library system (which includes most of mine). There's usually an admin fee of about 50p for this service.

You can read reference books. You might want to conduct story research or use to Writers' and Artists' Year book to find markets.

You can read or borrow magazines. The selection varies from branch to branch, but there will almost certainly be some which pay for fillers and the choice may include womags.

Authors earn money when their books are borrowed. It's not a huge amount and the books have to be in the right libraries to qualify and there's a cap on how much each can earn. (If you have a book available in libraries, make sure you're registered for ply.)

You can use computers for free. This includes internet access. Some libraries also allow you to print out your work for a small charge - very handy if you can't do that at home for any reason.

You can ask for help and advice. Library staff will, on request, help you find a book to suit you, help with research and assist you using their facilities and services.

There will often be talks and educational courses - including writing courses and meet the author events. Prices are usually very reasonable (I've been to a few free workshops which were excellent.)

You can borrow audiobooks, DVDs, large print, even ebooks in some cases.

The disadvantages are ...

The only one I can think of is that some of our taxes go to pay for libraries (about 6% of council tax goes on 'arts and leisure' library funding is in there somewhere). Personally I think it's great value and as we're paying anyway, we might as well use the service.

Have you voted in my poll? (up there on the right) Can you think of any other advantages of libraries, or any disadvantages?

Saturday 4 November 2017

Woman's Weekly workshops

In a comment following her recent post for this blog, on how it's possible to earn a living as a writer, Della Galton mentioned teaching at a Woman's Weekly writing workshop. Currently these are full, but they've proved so popular I think they're likely to run more in the future. (If you can't get on a course and would like some help with your writing, you might find this book useful.)

Of course they include inspiring teaching and the chance to meet other writers, but there's a benefit you may not be aware of. Della tells me that attending one of the workshops allows the writer to submit their fiction to Woman's Weekly. Currently, unless you're already on the list of approved contributors (you'll know if you are) this is the only way to have your fiction considered for Woman's Weekly.

See here for details of magazines which consider work by writers, whether or not they've had previous publishing success.

Thursday 2 November 2017

Guest post by womagwriter Della Galton

Today, my guest is Della Galton.

Is it possible to make a full time living writing for magazines? If so, how?
I started writing for womags after joining an Adult Education class called Writing for Profit and Pleasure. The teacher was Jean Dynes (she writes as Barbara Dynes – see her column in Writers’ Forum.) In that first class, back in September 1987, Jean asked if there was any news.
A girl in the row in front, put up her hand and said, ‘I’ve just sold my 27th story this year to Loving Magazine.’
Wow, I thought. I want to sell a story. Just one would do. (ho ho, little did I know how addictive it was). But how was it done?
By researching the markets, I learned, which meant reading the magazine. So off I went to buy a copy of Loving, which I read from cover to cover, several times. They bought the 3rd story I sent. Then the 4th, then the 5th. I was on the verge of giving up the day job when they rejected the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th.
We all know how it works. There are far more rejections in this business than successes
It’s always been like that for me. It still is. And blimey the market is much harder than it was. Back in 1987 there were 100 plus womags that carried fiction. In 2000, which was when I did finally give up the day job to write full time, there were 21 markets. Everyone said it was impossible to write short stories for a living.
It wasn’t! But back to my original question.
Is it impossible now? When there are a handful of magazines that still take stories from writers (who aren’t on their list). I think sadly that it may be. There are just too many of us out here. I know so many fabulous writers who get their stories rejected because there are only so many slots. So can we still follow the dream of being a full time writer?
I once heard a brilliant quote from Linda O Byrne, who at the time was fiction editor of Bella magazine. She said, ‘Don’t give up. There is always a market for excellence.’
The truth is, I came on to Womag today, thank you, Patsy, to talk about my novel, The Reading Group, which is out in paperback, audio and kindle on 2nd November. But I find myself being sidetracked because I feel so passionately about writing.
I’ve been a full time writer for 17 years. Here’s how I do it. I write short stories for the remaining markets. I am the agony aunt for Writers’ Forum. I have several self published books on Amazon which earn me £200 plus a month. I do some journalism. I do the odd spot of teaching. The Reading Group is coming out with a huge publisher (Quercus is part of the Hachette Group) but I wasn’t paid a living wage (advance) to write it. In short, I diversify. My income is made up of lots of bits of writing related work.
I live in hope of having a best selling novel that will mean I don’t have to worry about money so much.
The bottom line is that I love writing. I can’t stop. I won’t stop. I think Linda O Byrne’s advice still holds true. Don’t give up. There is always a market for excellence. I don’t think I’ve quite reached excellence yet – but I shall never, ever give up aiming for it.

The Reading Group is published by Quercus. Click here to buy/find out more.

£7.99 (paperback) £3.99 (kindle)