Monday, 16 July 2018

Over to You

Here's another monthly random photo for use as a story prompt. 

It's also your chance to share success (or otherwise) ask questions*, report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, or make womag related comments or observations. (If you have news or a question relating to a particular magazine, it's also fine to add it as a comment to the latest post for that magazine.)

*If you can answer these, please do.

Is there a particular womagwriting goal you're working towards?

Friday, 13 July 2018

My own clarification!

(Yes, I'm STILL banging on about Woman's Weekly!)

Just in case there is still any doubt – My feelings about the all rights contract have not changed. It's unfair, unnecessary and unacceptable. I won't sign it. If you wish to, that's your choice, but I haven't 'caved in'. I'd be delighted to submit work to WW in the future, but won't do so if the only option is to give up all rights.

I agree that, even ignoring the terrible terms, the entire matter has been handled very badly. All writers should have been fully and clearly informed at the same time, rather than information reaching many via groups, social media and this blog. It seems entirely possible there are some who still don't know.

I did ask for permission to report the fact that previously accepted stories would be published under the old terms, on this blog, but recieved no response. I did so anyway because as well as being informed personally, I heard from others who'd had similar emails, and saw it on social media, so felt it was in the public domain – despite the fact that some writers have still not yet recieved any 'clarification' directly from anyone at WW.

I'm doing my very best to keep everyone informed. Thank you to those who're passing on information, offering support and/or joining me in taking a stand on this issue. To those who've insulted my by assuming I've abandoned my principles (and bravely done so anonymously) ... I hope your comma key gets sticky and you have to press it really hard for it to work – maybe that'll vent some of your anger.

If anyone is at all unsure about the terms any of their stories have already been accepted under, or will be in future, or if they have any queries or comments regarding this issue, please do email Emma or Jane at Woman's Weekly.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

(A little bit of) good news from Woman's Weekly.

Several writers (myself included) have been told by Woman's Weekly that the 'old' contract terms, of first use plus extensions, will still apply to any stories which were accepted prior to the announcement that they now intend to take all rights.

This in no way changes my feelings or position regarding the all rights issue, but I'm extremely glad I'd misunderstood the situation slightly in thinking that these new terms were to apply to stories which had been accepted half a year ago.

They still state that any stories accepted from now on will be under the new terms – and that seems to be the case no matter when they were accepted. We will of course have the right to decline any such offer, should we wish.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

A good moment

A while ago I posted the guidelines to a new (to me) magazine. Of course I've sent them a couple of submissions since then. Although it's taken some time to get an acceptance, I'm delighted that my story Absolutely Nothing will be in issue 15 of In The Moment, which will be out on 24th July.

The process with this publication is that stories are acknowledged by email within a few days. The acknowledgement contains the warning that they receive a large number of submissions and the promise that someone will be in touch if the story is suitable. I've not had a rejection, so assume they don't send these.

When my story was accepted, around three months after submission, I was given details on invoicing (it's done after publication), asked to sign a contract for single use rights and invited to ask if I had any questions. There was one line in the contract I didn't fully understand, so I took them up on that and received a quick and clear response.

I was also asked by the production editor for my photo and a short bio. Once it was all put together I received a pdf proof and was invited to say if I felt any amendments were needed. The story had been edited; it's always interesting to see what has been changed and to attempt to work out why. In this case I think it was made slightly more gentle and a little shorter.

I made a couple of small suggestions, including using a capital N in the title. That wasn't done, because it's the house style not to, but the other change was made and I was sent a new pdf to confirm that. The images in this post were taken, with permission, from that pdf.

The story will be published in a pull out section, along with a drink recipe and a crossword, which I think is rather nice.

Do you find it helpful/interesting for me to post about my experiences with different magazines? If not, I'll spare you all the gory details in future.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Pocket novel guidelines

Pocket novels might not pay well, but friends who write them tell me they're fun to do and the editors of both publications are helpful and supportive.

You'd also get to see a book with your (writing) name on the cover in major retailers throughout the country.

As all rights are not taken on these, authors can claim ALCS with no special permission required! (I believe that generally amounts to more than the initial fee).

Several pocket novelists also later either self publish their pocket novels, and/or sell the large print rights. As well as the sales income, this also gives the potential to earn plr.

I'm not saying this justifies the initial low fee, but it's something to consider before dismissing the idea of writing a pocket novel as not worthwhile.

Although My Weekly currently only accept short stories from writers who're already known to them, anyone may submit a pocket novel.

If you have one of these accepted, they'll then know you and you'll be able to send short stories too, if you wish.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Bit of an update on the Woman's Weekly issue.

(If you're wondering what issue, please see the last three blog posts and comments. Make yourself a cup of tea first.)

The 'all rights' smallprint includes giving up our moral rights. Well of course it does, as all rights means absolutely ALL rights. That means they don't have to put our name in the byline. They probably would, but they'd be under no obligation to do so – in the magazine or anywhere else. In the admittedly unlikely scenario of it being made into a film, there would be no need for them to credit the author in any way.

Mark Winterton (Manging director at WW) has said that they will give permission for authors to claim ALCS – info courtesy of Jo Styles in the comments on the last post. She also provides contact details of members of the the TI management team, for those who wish to raise any concerns or queries.

I've heard from ALCS who are looking into whether this is indeed possible. If it is, this isn't giving us any rights back. It would just allow us to claim the money – and the permission could be withdrawn at any time. I'm not saying it would be, but it could. I imagine that when offers were made for our stories six months ago, that was done in good faith – but clearly changes have happened since and the terms we thought we'd submitted and been accepted under, no longer apply.

The Society of Authors are investigating the rights issue. I and other WW authors have forwarded as much information as we can.

If you accept the new terms, you will have given up your rights and won't be able to reverse that decision. If you wait then you could still agree to them later – but it's just possible they'll have a rethink and you won't have to.

Thanks to Carol Bevitt for copying this message from The Society of Authors ...

We’re already in touch with several authors who‘ve spoken out on this - keen to hear from others who are prepared to be named in any lobbying we do, particularly SoA members who have been published by the magazine - please drop a note to

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Bad news from Woman's Weekly – guest post by Tara Westgate

In response to my blog post earlier today, Tara Westgate made a comment about her experience with Woman’s Weekly, and offered to expand on that.

By Tara – I have been writing for womags for eleven years, but a sale to Woman’s Weekly is something that has always eluded me. For all that time, it’s been an ambition of mine to sell them a story. I wanted to appear in Woman’s Weekly because it’s a famous and long-established national magazine, with a reputation for publishing excellent fiction.

Yesterday, I thought I had achieved my ambition. I received an acceptance for a 2,000-word story. The offer made to me, though, was extremely disappointing - so disappointing that I turned it down.

Until recently, the rate of pay for a story of 2,000 words from an author new to Woman’s Weekly was £150. In the past, this rate could rise with further acceptances. The offer I received for my story was £100. There was no explanation for the sudden pay-cut.

Worse than this was the fact that they wanted to buy all rights to the story, which of course would make it impossible to sell elsewhere, and would mean that the story was not eligible for ALCS payments.

I said that I was not prepared to sell all rights for that amount of money, and asked if we could negotiate a better offer. The answer was No.

I also asked about the current pay scale. I wanted to know if it was still possible to work up to a better rate of pay with further acceptances. I would have been prepared to start writing for Woman’s Weekly at a rate of £100 for a first story, if I had known that it was possible to achieve a better rate of pay eventually. I was most disappointed not to receive an answer to this question. It was simply ignored. (I have absolutely no hard feelings towards the individual editor concerned, as I am quite sure that her hands are firmly tied, and that she is doing her job as she has been instructed to do it.)

This failure to answer my questions, especially the pay-scale question, shows that Woman’s Weekly is not prepared to put any effort whatsoever into the relationship with a potential new writer. If a writer is good enough to be published in the magazine, then surely that writer is worthy of being properly engaged with when he or she asks an important question? The answer to the pay-scale question was important enough to determine whether or not I became a Woman’s Weekly writer. They didn’t answer me, so they lost me.

I believe that they refuse to engage because they think there will always be another writer along who will accept the lower pay and total loss of rights. I would like us to prove them wrong. We need to stand up for ourselves, because if we don’t, writing for magazines will eventually become not economically worthwhile.

Please, don’t accept Woman’s Weekly’s new terms. Refuse to sell them stories for this massively reduced fee, and refuse to give up your rights.

By Patsy – I've been informed that they wish to take all rights for my stories too. I refuse to accept this. Like Tara I urge you to do the same. Taking all rights is unnecessary, unfair and unacceptable. Will you join us and say no?

Please, please, please!

I know it can seem boring, and I know I go on about it, but PLEASE ensure you fully understand and agree with any contract BEFORE you sign it. If there's anything you don't understand, ask for an explanation. No reputable business will want you to sign a contract you don't understand.

If there's anything you don't like, you can ask for it to be amended. In the case of a contract with the publishers of a womag, the chances of this being agreed to are slim, but you can ask – and if you don't get the response you want you can, and in my opinion should, refuse to sign.

Just a reminder 'All rights' doesn't just mean the magazine can use the story online or in another publication, as well as where it was submitted. Giving up all rights means exactly that. You can't submit the story elsewhere, enter it in a competition, offer it for a charity anthology, publish it eleswhere, not on your blog, or claim ALCS – because those things can only done by the copyright holder. If you've sold all rights, that isn't you. It's no longer your story.

Womags don't need to take all rights. They can offer contracts which give them the right to use the story when and where they wish, yet allowing the author to also re-use their story once it has been published and any exclusivity period has passed. This is what most of them currently do, at least for most of their authors. I've heard of new (to them) authors being offered only all rights contracts. You can imagine what might happen if some of those are signed.

UPDATE – I've had a response from ACLS. "If you don’t hold copyright, you need to have an agreement in place with your publisher in order to claim. ALCS does not pay out to publishers (they claim through ) so if they hold the rights, they can’t claim for the article through us."

They provide more information on copyright here.

Friday, 22 June 2018

When is a commission not a commission? by Simon Whaley

Today's guest is a womagwriter. He also writes books and articles on a range of subjects including writing, climbs hill (but not trees), takes photos, runs workshops... I'm exhausted just thinking about it all, so I'll swiftly hand over to Simon Whaley.

Commissioning Conundrum

When is a commission not a commission? Well, it all depends upon when in the writing process you make the sale.
Patsy asked me if I’d like to write a guest post about the latest confusion concerning some of the fiction markets using the word commission when accepting (or rejecting) a story.
Firstly, here’s the get-out clause: I’m not a solicitor, therefore this isn’t legal advice, your home is at risk and the share price can go up and down, etc, etc.
But here’s how I see the issue…
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word commission as:
  1. “an instruction, command, or role given to a person or group”
  2. “an order for something, especially a work of art, to be produced specially”
  3. “order or authorize the production of (something)”
Note how they all (in particular definitions 2 and 3) suggest that a commission instructs someone to produce a body of work that does not yet exist.
I never write an article and then send it unsolicited (which means the editor hasn’t asked to see it) to magazines. So I don’t come up with an idea, write up the complete article and then send it off to a magazine hoping the editor likes it and will buy it.
Instead, I think of the idea, pitch it to the editor and then ask if they’d like an article exploring that topic. Sometimes they say yes. When they do, that’s when they commission me to write the finished piece.
The commission becomes the contract. I’m tasked with writing an article on a specific subject, looking at a specific angle, to a specific number of words, with photos (sometimes detailing the sort of photos required) and whether any boxouts are needed. This is also the time when money and a payment schedule is mentioned.
So, technically, at the time of commission, the article does not yet exist, because I haven’t written it. But the commission means the editor wants me to do the work and they will pay me for it … as long as I deliver what they’ve asked me to deliver.
This works well because I know I’m not wasting my time writing something that may not sell, and the editor knows they’re getting what they asked for.
So in this scenario, I’ve sold my piece of writing, before I’ve written a single word of the finished piece. In many cases, I receive a contract that I have to sign and return, accepting the commission. That contract then becomes binding.
However, when it comes to fiction and short stories, rarely do editors commission work: ie commit to buy a story before it has been written. (Okay, if you’re a famous author and you’ve a new book coming out, you may be commissioned to write a short story for a magazine issue that coincides with your book’s publication date. But if that’s the case your literary agent is probably dealing with all of contract work for you.)
In other words, fiction has to be written first and then submitted on spec (unsolicited). You write the story and then submit it to the market you think it best fits. The sale is made AFTER the editor has read your finished piece and has decided that they’d like to buy it.
Editors rarely email short story writers and say, “Can you write me a 2,000 word story with a female protagonist called Helen struggling to come to terms with the death of her pet canary, Eustace, and let’s give it was a happy ending involving a taxidermist called Nigel? … more’s the pity.
Therefore, with fiction, the sale (hopefully!) comes after the writer has done all of the work.
In my opinion, if you submit a story to a magazine and they accept it for possible publication, the use of the word commission is incorrect. The story wasn’t commissioned, it has been accepted for possible publication.
When an article is commissioned, it is usual for the writer still to be paid (some, if not all, of the agreed payment) even if the publication decides not to print the piece. This recognises that the writer was tasked to do the job and was unable to work for anyone else (and earn money) while working on that specific commission.
But when a publication accepts an unsolicited submission for publication, it is not under any obligation to actually publish it.
And therefore, if there’s no commitment to publish, there’s no commitment to pay until it has been published either. (Even if they mention money, all they’re doing is telling you how much they pay if they publish it. They’re not committing to publishing it. In theory, you could withdraw your submission at that point, arguing that the story is worth more and wish to try another market … but, hey, that’s not how it works in Womagland, is it?)
This is why, after the story’s acceptance, an editor can ask the writer to make changes, or even change their mind and later reject the piece. There’s no contract in place for that specific piece of work. (You may have signed a contract in the past that clarifies which rights the publication is buying when they actually buy a story from you, but that doesn’t commit them to buying anything from you in the future.)
Writing on spec like this is risky. Nothing is guaranteed until the money is in your bank account. There is nothing stopping an editor accepting and holding on to a story for several years. At best, there’s still hope that the piece may be published by them, at worst, they’re stopping you from sending that story elsewhere. At least some customers, such as DC Thomson, pay on (or close to) acceptance. So even if they do buy a piece well in advance, the writer has been paid for the work they’ve undertaken. (And having made a financial commitment by buying the story, DC Thomson has a strong incentive to actually publish it.)
Fiction and non-fiction are different beasts, and not just in the short-form either. I’ve been commissioned to write non-fiction books, simply by selling an idea to a publisher. However, my agent can only sell my novel once I’ve written the whole darn thing in the first place.
So if you want to know whether you’ve really been commissioned think about when in the process your sale took place. If it was made before you’d written anything (and you’d signed a contract) then you have been commissioned. If, however, the sale was made after you’d submitted your finished piece then, technically, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it isn’t a commission.
Proportionately, magazine publishers buy far more non-fiction than they do fiction and, therefore, I wonder whether magazine staff (who are stretched and covering several roles on different publications in some cases) are simply using non-fiction terminology when dealing with fiction submissions.

Simon Whaley writes the Business of Writing column in Writing Magazine. He’s the author of over a dozen books, including The Positively Productive Writer, Photography for Writers, The Complete Article Writer, and the Business of Writing (Vol 1) - a collection of article from his Writing Magazine column. For more information visit or

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Scribble Magazine

Is it just me, or are things a bit subdued in the world of womagwriters?

As there's not much else to report, and a comment left on my last post asked about Scribble Magazine, I thought I'd do a post about that. (Just to be clear, the picture here is one of my scribbles, not a sample page of the magazine!)

Scribble will accept womag fiction, but consider themselves "an alternative to the mainstream 'women's magazines' " and are equally happy to see other genres. Submission requirements here.

They have an unusual way of operating. It's run as a competition, rather than the more usual submissions process. Writers pay to submit their work, some of these entries will be published. I'm not sure if they'll all be paid for, but some authors will recieve payments between £75 and £10.

If you wish, you may opt for feedback on your work, which costs £5. Not having seen any, I can't say if it's worth the price, but that does seem good value – particularly if you intend to make further submissions to the magazine.

It seems the magazine is only available by subscription (subscribers get free entry). I can't help wondering if there are any readers who aren't also people submitting to the magazine, but perhaps I'm being overly cynical there?

I'll be very interested to hear from anyone who has been published by the magazine, read it, recieved feedback from them or is involved with it in any way. Please leave a comment, or contact me, if you'd like to write a guest post.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Over to You

Here's another monthly random photo for use as a story prompt. 

It's also your chance to share success (or otherwise) ask questions*, report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, or make womag related comments or observations. (If you have news or a question relating to a particular magazine, it's also fine to add it as a comment to the latest post for that magazine.)

*If you can answer these, please do.

Can you remember the first story you ever wrote? Was it any good?

Monday, 11 June 2018

Allas newsletter

Some of you may have recieved an email from Aller media (publishers of Allas magazine) written in Swedish. I've put mine through Google translate. It seems to be about GDPR, freelance agreements (text and images - I guess it's non-fiction) something which sounds like Desknet and news of what might be a new publication, or publishing development.

I've emailed asking if there's anything fiction writers need to do differently, or any action we should take. I'll let you know when I hear back.

UPDATE – I've had a reply stating the information will be resent in English – so hopefully you'll all be getting that soon.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Guest post by womagwriter Carrie Hewlett.

My guest today is my critique buddy and womagwriter Carrie Hewlett.


I’ve been lucky enough to have had a number of short stories published in the Womag world here in England, Sweden, Australia and in Ireland. But I seem to have had the greatest success in getting quite a few children’s stories published. Most especially with the lovely magazine, Ireland’s Own. (Submission guidelines here.)

If someone asks me how I do it, I’m not sure how to answer. I suppose to start off you have to think like a child. Let your imagination sky rocket and the most mundane things can take on a world of their own.
Like a cow living on the moon eating bowls of custard every day! (That gives me an idea!) Something that couldn’t necessarily happen in real life!

My childhood revolved around making up imaginary tales. Leaping across the lounge furniture imagining the floor was molten lava. Or pretending my dolls were swimming across the hall floor in high seas! I just loved making up amazing stories in a fantasy world.

Ireland’s Own prefer children’s stories to be 750 words, and have a beginning, a middle and an end. Much like a womag story to a degree. But children’s stories have to have a happy ending. After all, if you were a six-year-old child being read a bedtime story, would you want it to end miserably? No! You’d want them to all live happily ever after!
But after that one can just let ones’ imagination soar.

Do include lots of dialogue rather then just description, so that the story shows rather then tells. And Ireland’s Own love you to bring an Irish flavour into stories too. They also have wonderful illustrations to accompany each story which I love.

My first children’s story sale to them was about a squirrel who got tempted by the smell of nuts and didn’t do as her mother told her. The morale being one should always listen to your mammy.

Another time I happened to be staring off into the garden one day and a squirrel caught my eye. He suddenly whipped his tail around very, very fast – that gave birth to my story about Sam Squirrel who was much in demand by the other animals as he was able do housework and dry clothes by whizzing his tail around in circles like it was on a washing machine drier setting!

I’ve even written a story that was included in a Valentine’s issue about how much pigs love chocolate – occasionally! – and one should never forget loved ones at special times of the year.

I tend to split my time with writing normal womag stories and writing children’s stories – and I’m even trying to work on a children’s book though that IS taking a bit longer than a quick 750- word tale!

So, I think the best advice is to think outside of the box. Make the story fun, entertaining and different. And above all else, remember what you yourself enjoyed reading as a child, take yourself back to that era, then write from the heart.

Thanks, Carrie – you've made it sound so much fun than I intend to have a go myself.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Just A Job

My latest collection of short stories, most of them previously published in womags, is Just A Job.

BLURB: Work is a huge part of our lives; from the first time someone asks us what we'll be when we grow up, until we're drawing our pension and looking back with relief or regret. Through training for and obtaining them, travelling to and actually being there, to winding down at the end of a busy day, our jobs take up much of our time.

Whether full time, part time, or can't wait for home time, working from home, working away, carer or career, paid or volunteer, we all have a job to do. Most people have friends at our place of work, and perhaps there are rivals. It's where many of us meet our partners. Love or hate it, like almost everything else in life, our job is what we make it.

Bosses, employees and colleagues all have a story to tell. Just A Job contains 25 of them.

If you've had stories published and are wondering if you can reuse them elsewhere, take a look at this post.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Remember To Write

Remember To Write is the title of my story in the current issue of The People's Friend. (If you'd like to write for this magazine, click here 
for the guidelines and on their name just below this post for more information.) The setting for my story is a writing workshop. I'm co presenting one of those in Devon next March and making arrangements to run one in Cornwall this winter. (I'm not restricting myself to the West Country – that they're both close together is pure coincidence.)

Remember to write would also be good advice for me to follow at the moment. I'm currently away in the mobile writing retreat and let's just say I'm doing much more of the collecting inspiration part of the job than the getting words down part. Perhaps you can see why?

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Over to you

Here's another monthly random photo for use as a story prompt. 

It's also your chance to share success (or otherwise) ask questions*, report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, or make womag related comments or observations. (If you have news or a question relating to a particular magazine, it's also fine to add it as a comment to the latest post for that magazine.)

*If you can answer these, please do.

What do you think of the illustrations used by the different womags? Got any favourites?

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

When Patsy met Adam

My story 'Always Adamant' is in the current (May 12th) issue of The People's Friend. Isn't the illustration nice?

I met Adam Ant once, which was rather nice as I was a big fan more years ago than I can believe have actually passed since then. He was totally charming, and I like to think I hardly blushed or giggled at all.

We discussed Georgian medicine, which is one of his many interests and was part of the day job I had at the time. Afterwards he invited me to his concert later that week, as his guest. Obviously I went.

That story is true. It's not the inspiration for the one in The People's Friend. There is a connection though, honest.

The People's Friend magazine will consider submissions from all writers, whether or not they've been previously published. You can find their guidelines here. You can also click on the magazine name below this post, or in the magazine quick links over on the left, to read other posts about this publication, including advice to improve your chances of success, including some comments from the fiction editor.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

A slight change

Just to say that I've set up comment moderation on the blog. That's not because I wish to restrict or censor comments here – quite the opposite. It's just because I've been getting a lot of spam; far more than the number of genuine comments. It's time consuming and extremely disheatrening to click on what I hope is a message to do with womagwriting and discovering it's an advert for viagra, or link to a scam or offensive site, which I need to delete as quickly as possible.

Please be assured that any genuine comments will be approved, whether or not they reflect my personal views. In taking over this blog it was my intention to provide a resource to benefit and support all womagwriters and I very much appreciate those people who support this blog in return by leaving comments, providing information or contributing guest posts.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Other submission opportunities

In case you didn't know ... I run another writing related blog. On there, I regularly post details of free to enter writing competitions (short stories, poetry, novels, non-fiction, plays etc), many of which have reasonable cash prizes, and links to publication opportunities in non womag markets.

There's also a monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group post, Wednesday word of the week – and as many of my garden and travel pictures as I think I can get away with.

Do you just write for womags, or are you interested in other genres and formats too?

Monday, 23 April 2018

Your Go

Here's another monthly random photo for use as a story prompt. 

It's also your chance to share success (or otherwise) ask questions*, report any womag news**, tips, advice you may have, or make womag related comments or observations. (If you have news or a question relating to a particular magazine, it's also fine to add it as a comment to the latest post for that magazine.)

* If you can answer these, please do.

** Or you can email me with the details, particularly if you feel it deserves its own post, or you'd like to create a guest post on the subject.

Is anyone trying anything new? Targetting a different magazine, attempting a serial, or story in a genre they don't generally write?

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Weekly News – another update!

I've just had an email from Shirley Blair (head of fiction at the People's Friend and therefore also responsible for fiction at The Weekly News). She's given permission for me to reproduce it here ...

"Hi, Patsy. As you know I pop into the Womagwriter’s blog fairly regularly, and I picked up on the concerns about there being no auto-acknowledgement from the Weekly News email address when there had been in the past. It’s fixed now.  Just to prove we do listen and act where possible. J

I think that's great news – both that writers concerns are taken note of, and that we'll get the acknowledgements from TWN. I'm guessing I'm not the only person who feels frustrated about waiting for replies when I'm not even sure my submission was received.

Now, how do we convince Take A Break and Ireland's Own to reinstate the auto-reponses they once had and persuade the other magazines which accept emailed submissions, and don't yet auto-acknowledge, to introduce this system? 

Friday, 13 April 2018

Re-using previously published stories

Several people have asked me what, if anything, they can do with stories after they've been published.  The answer is – it depends!

You'll need to check which rights (copyright) you've sold. This information will be in your contract if you have one, or will have been included in the guidelines (or competition rules) or on the letter or email of acceptance. If, as is the case with Yours magazine, you've sold all rights then you no longer own the copyright – you can't do anything at all as it's no longer your story. You can't sell it, put it on your blog, enter it in a competition. Nothing.

If, as is far more usual, you've sold first rights, or first rights with extensions, then you can offer the story elsewhere after it has been used by the first publication. There may be a time period before you are permitted to do that. Again, this information will be in your contract. (This is one reason it's so important to read and understand contracts before signing them.)

When submitting a previously published piece of work, you must also take into account the requirements of the publication you hope will accept it. Some will consider reprints without restrictions, but more usually they won't want work which has already been published wherever their publication is on sale. You may think that because you've only sold to a UK publication that the story will only have been published in the UK. That may not be the case. Depending on the terms of your contract, the buyer may have the rights to print it in other magazines within their group (at no extra cost to them) – and if they do, it's unlikely you'll be informed.

If the publication you hope to sell to only publishes work on a first use, first rights, or all rights basis, then you'll have to write something new. That doesn't just mean changing the title and character names!

Depending on the terms of the contracts, it may be possible to sell the same story multiple times. I do that whenever I can.

Assuming you haven't sold all rights, the buying publication have used the story and any exclusivity period has passed, then you may also publish the stories yourself.

I've just put together another collection of my short stories. The stories in With Love And Kisses originally appeared in My Weekly, YOU (South Africa), Allas (Sweden), Woman's Weekly,  Woman's Weekly Fiction Special, That's Life (Australia), The Lady, Pages of Stories (Canada), Stories That Lift (U.S.) Cafelit, Ireland's Own, Take A Break's Fiction Feast, The Weekly News, or were placed in competitions.

Buy it (or read free with kindle unlimited) here.

See my other blog to discover how one of these stories was written at the instruction of Norah McGrath (former fiction editor for Take a Break's Fiction Feast), and to see my wearing a peculiar hat.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Weekly News – update

I have a story in the current (7th April) issue of The weekly News (TWN). Of course I'm always pleased to have a story accepted, but a TWN acceptance brought me the greatest joy as it was my first ever. That was back in 2005. (And today sees my very first publication in The People's Friend!)

TWN is open to submissions of 1,200 to 1,500 word stories, from all writers, whether or not they've sold stories previously. They usually publish two each week, but ocassionally use a few more. The publication is actually a newspaper, not a womag, which is important in several ways – the stories aren't always aimed at women and don't always feel typically womaggy, no ALCS is paid on published stories, and you'll need to look for it amongst the papers in most newsagents.

If you click on 'The Weekly News' immediately below this post, you'll find lots more information on TWN and the type of stories they're looking for, but I also strongly suggest reading a few current issues. You may need to ask your newsagent to reserve copies for you (a good thing to do as anything which prompts more sales is in the best interests of all womag writers).

Submissions are not acknowledged (a shame as at one time an automated response was sent after each submission – I do wish that would be reinstated). There isn't a dedicated fiction editor for TWN; submissions read by the fiction team for The People's Friend (PF).  For more detail on this, see the response by Shirley Blair (head of PF fiction team) to this post.

If no response is recieved within three months, the story has not been accepted and you're free to submit it elsewhere.

Occasionally a rewrite will be requested. In this case, you'll be told which changes are wanted and it's your choice whether you make them or withdraw the story. There's no guarantee the rewrite will be accepted, but there's a good chance of that happening.

If/when the story is accepted, you'll be emailed with that information, plus the intended publication date. If you've not previously signed a contract with DC Thomson then you'll be requested to do so. (As with every contract, please do read it and be sure you understand and agree before signing!). You'll also need to provide your bank details (nothing confidential – just what they need to make payment).

No complimentary copies are sent (very few publishers now have the resources to do this).

Payment is made soon after publication. You'll be emailed a 'self billed PO' and a 'remittance advice' with the details shortly before the money arives in your bank account. (I don't post payment rates for any markets on this blog unless the publishers make them public knowledge as in some cases rates vary and/or our contracts prohibit this.)

Whilst searching for information online, I came across this history of The weekly News, which you might find interesting.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Updates – TAB, TABFF, TWN and Clare Cooper

Ex-Woman’s Weekly legend Clare Cooper is joining a panel discussing how to write short stories, and will also be critiquing stories, at the Sidmouth Literary Festival this year. This event runs from 15th–17th June. Details of guest speakers and other events are still being finalised. Updates will be posted on

Clare has written some fascinating/funny/useful (or all three!) posts for this blog. To read them, click on her name under this posts. Clare now writes her own blog, which is currently listing a humorous A-Z of magazine life (as she remembers it!) and can be found on  

TAB and TAB FF (Take a Break and Take a Break's Fiction Feast) – Following yet more staff changes, there was a period where replies to submissions and queries seemed to have stopped, which was creating some concern. Although I've heard nothing myself recently, over the last couple of days I have heard about people who've received replies. That includes at least one acceptance. I'm hoping this means the problem is now resolved and things will soon be back to normal.

Please do mention it in the comments if you've heard anything from TAB over the last few days.

I've requested that the automatic acknowledgement of submissions be resumed, as I'm sure I wasn't alone in finding those reassuring. Update – Someone has reported recieving one of these from TAB on Friday 23rd March, but others including myself have made submissions and not had one.

This market is still currently closed to unsolicited submissions (meaning you need to be 'on the list' to have your work considered.)

If any of the above changes, I'll update the update!

TWN The Weekly News – As reported on this blog (click the magazine title below this post to see all the posts about it) Jill Finlay left TWN and her role was taken or by the PF (People's Friend) fiction team. 

Shirley Blair (fiction editor at PF) reported on her blog that some stories submitted to PF might be used in TWN. That happened (and may continue). This and a few teething issues regarding communication again caused concern. (I'm not surprised writers are feeling unsettled – there have been a huge number of changes amongst the womags recently.)

I can report that the PF team are accepting stories submitted to TWN directly, as I've sold some myself. The acceptances included a publication date, something I feel is very useful and hope will continue. 

Payment will be made on publication, as has always been the case for TWN. Also continuing is the 'if you've not heard in three months then it's a no and you may submit elsewhere' system. This market is open to anyone. You're strongly advised not to send multiple stories at once. The guidelines remain unchanged.

I've had some queries about re-using previously published stories and will write a post about that soon.

As always, your questions and comments are welcome either as a reply to the monthly 'Your Go' posts, or to a recent post about the magazine or topic in question.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

At the risk ...

... of sounding grumpy ... 

From now on, I'm only going to answer womag qustions which are raised via this blog, and the replies will only be posted here. I get asked quite a lot of questions each week, via email, twitter and Facebook, often asking the same thing, or concerning something I've already posted about. I want to help, but answering takes up time and is only seen by the individual. Any questions posted here will be seen by others, who may be able to contribute useful information and/or may benefit from the replies.

You can ask questions, anonymously if you wish, either as a comment on any posting about the magazine in question, or on the monthly 'Your Go' post. Although I can't guarantee I'll be able to answer every questions, I'll always try to help.

Yesterday morning, I put up just such a post, inviting questions and comments. Following that I had five questions/suggestions – none of which were posted on the blog. I've had two more today. I'm finding this situation frustrating ... and yes, it is making me slightly grumpy.

If you're unsure how to post a comment to this blog, please see these instructions. 

Monday, 19 March 2018

Over to you

Here's another monthly random photo for use as a story prompt. 

It's also your chance to share success (or otherwise) ask questions*, report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, or make womag related comments or observations. (If you have news or a question relating to a particular magazine, it's also fine to add it as a comment to the latest post for that magazine.)

*If you can answer these, please do.

How have you been getting on? Sent any stories in? Had any replies?

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Look, cute dog!

I'm hoping that as I'm posting a really cute illustration, you're going to let me get away with a bit of bragging ...

Currently I gave a story in Woman's Weekly, The Weekly News and Take A Break's Fiction Feast, plus two in both Woman's Weekly Fiction Special and Allas.

I promise not to irritate the heck out of you by mentioning every story I get published, but this week has been exceptional and I just couldn't resist.

The illustration is from Allas. I almost always like the illustrations and photos selected to go with my stories in the various magazines, but there's something about the Allas ones which particularly appeals to me.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Update on YOU magazine

I've had two short stories accepted by South African magazine YOU. Two at once is something that's never happened to me before, so I was extra pleased to get that bit of good news.

Response times and procedures vary greatly from magazine to magazine. Personally I find it helpful to know what's usual for each – there's no point getting anxious after three days if the editor usually takes a couple of months to reply!

The process with YOU magazine is generally that there will be some kind of response very quickly. If the editor, Lynn Ely, is away from her office there will be an automatic response saying so, otherwise she acknowledges receipt personally and quickly – often by the next day.

Once the story has been read, there are three possible outcomes. This might be an acceptance or rejection. Lynn may also ask if she can 'hang onto' the story. Again this notification will come through fairly quickly; two to three weeks is common.

If she hangs onto a story, the wait for further news could be much longer. There is hope though – both of my recent acceptances were stories she'd held onto. Think of it as being shortlisted.

If a story is rejected, this is usually done without any reasons or feedback.

If a story is accepted, you will be asked to send in an invoice (don't get too excited by the huge sum mentioned as there are a lot of rand to the pound). You'll also need to send a scan of the photo page of your passport, due to their bank rules about overseas payments. The money will be paid directly into your bank, generally after one to two months.

Some people are understandably cautious about giving out bank and passport details. The choice is entirely yours, but if you're not happy to do that, then you'll have to forego this market.

Is this kind of information of interest/use to you? If I get lots of comments saying it is, then I'll continue to provide it for other magazines as I get responses. Otherwise I'll assume you'd rather not know and will stay tactfully quiet!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Short story lengths

Shirley Blair has written a useful and interesting post on story lengths. Naturally it deals with the
requirements for The People's Friend as that's where she works, but I feel the advice applies to all womags.

To paraphrase and add my tupenny worth ...

1. Find out the word length requirements of the magazines you wish to submit to, and stick as closely to them as possible. (The magazine guideline quick links on this blog may help.) You won't be rejected because you've sent 2,003 words when they asked for 2,000, but if you send 500 or 4,000 then the magazine editor is very unlikely to be able to use your story, even if she loves it.

2. If you do send the 'wrong' length, accept that it will be edited to fit the space. This could involve cutting something you felt was important, or adding something you'd rather wasn't included. Such changes can happen anyway, but if your story doesn't fit as it is, the editor has no option but to either alter or reject it.

Remember editors are busy people. They may prefer to accept a story they can use as it is, over one which requires a considerable amount of extra work.

3. If you write stories in the lengths which are used most frequently, you increase your chances both of it being accepted at the first try and of being able to submit it elsewhere, should that prove unsuccessful.

4. If you need to add words then don't just pad it out with long winded phrases which will weaken the story. Instead add something of value and interest – an extra twist or touch of humour are often welcomed by editors.

5. When cutting words, double check you haven't removed something the reader needs to know in order to understand the story.  (This book contains useful information, including advice on writing to a word count.)

Do you find it easy to stick to word counts? If you ever struggle, do you tend to go over or under the requested figure?

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Dash it

On the last your go post, Patricia G replied...

"I'd be interested to find out what other Womag writers feel about the use of the m-dash used as a punctuation mark.
I often use it for dramatic effect but most writers published in PF and WW seem to avoid it. Is its use seen as 'sloppy' writing?"

One thing to keep in mind is the house style of the magazine. It could be that authors use them and editors take them out (or vice versa). I doubt any story would be rejected for use or lack of dashes, but if you've notced an editor has a strong preference it's something to consider during your final edit.

For those not quite sure of the difference between the dashes and how to use them...

An em dash (sometimes called m dash) is like this — . It takes up the same space as a letter m, hence the name. It can be used in place of commas, parenthesis (brackets) or colons. In this case it will have a space either side of it. Em dashes are generally considered more emphatic and less formal than the punctuation they replace.

Another use for an em dash is to show that letters or words have been deliberately left out, for example to avoid naming individuals or quoting swear words.

The en dash (or n dash) is smaller. The same space as a letter n. It looks like this – . An en dash is used to seperate a range of numbers. Eg The required word count is 800–1,000 words. It can also be use to form some compound adjectives.

Although they're different, it's becoming more common to use the same size dash for both situations. That's probably because, with most keyboards, one is much easier to use than the other. Remembering which one we should be using, and which key combination produces it can seem like an awful lot of effort for something most people won't notice anyway.

The hyphen is the smallest and looks like this -. Unsurprisingly, they're used in hyphenated words and names. Eg This post on dashes and hyphens was an eye-opener for twenty-six-year-old Lucy Barrington-Smythe.

What do you think about the use of dashes? Do you use them yourself? If you do, is it always the right one?

(If you're in the mood to read more of my writing tips and advice, take a look here.)

Friday, 23 February 2018

Woman's Weekly payments.

I've been asked about payments from Woman's Weekly as for some people these haven't arrived when expected. Don't panic! It's simply that these are now being made on publication, not acceptance as used to be the case.

Once your story has been scheduled (which might be quite a while after acceptance) you should get something through from Desknet and this will give the publication date. Payment will be made in the usual way shortly afterwards.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Want to talk about writing?

On #writingchat tonight we're discussing what stops us writing and how to get over it.

#writingchat is a weekly twitter event, with a different topic each time.  It's on Wednesdays, 8-9pm UK time. Everyone with an interest in writing is welcome to join in.

Please remember to use the #writingchat hashtag, so we can find your tweets and respond.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

There's just time ...

Today is the last chance to get All That Love Stuff, my collection of romantic short stories, for 99p (99c) as it goes back up to £1.99 ($2.99) tomorrow. Still, in my biased opinion either price is a bargain for 24 lovely stories.

There's also still time to book a place on the Writers' Weekend Workshop, run by myself and Anne Rainbow in Devon, 9th to 11th of March.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Over to you

Each month I'll be making a posting just like this one, so blog readers can share their success (or otherwise) ask  questions*, report any womag news, tips, advice they may have, or make womag related comments or observations. (If you have news or a question relating to a particular magazine, it's also fine to add it as a comment to the latest post for that magazine.)

*If you can answer these, please do.

I've decided to include a picture each month which you may, if you like, use as a story prompt. Do you like that idea? Have you ever written a story using a picture prompt?