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?