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?

62 comments:

  1. I had just left a comment of the previous post, when this one popped up. I agree Tara, and applaud your stance. I've yet to receive an acceptance from WW but had hopes for a current story I subbed. I too will decline under these terms should it be accepted.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I haven't yet managed an acceptance from Woman's Weekly, but have a few stories to polish and then send to them. But I won't be submitting to them now or in the future while they want all rights for such a measly fee.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well done on making a stand, Tara. I'm shocked by what Woman's Weekly have done. I don't think they realise how close fiction writers are and how we all feel about this. I've written over eighty stories for women's magazines and to be honest I'll not be advising anyone to submit to them as what thy are doing is just not professional. My writing class have many people who write for publication action both in novels and shorter fiction. This month's class competition is to write a short story suitable to send to Woman;s Weekly. I've stopped the competition, giving the reason why, and will be telling ALL my students that until things change The Write Place Creative Writing School no longer recognises Woman's Weekly as a reputable publication.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've had a fair number of stories accepted by Woman's Weekly and still run round the room screaming with excitement every time but I absolutely will not accept 'All Rights' terms for the kind of money they offer. I find it gutting - and short sighted - that they have put us in such a position. I absolutely do not blame the current editorial team. I'm sure they have their hands tied on this - but such an offer makes fools of us all.

    SL

    ReplyDelete
  5. I suspect the other magazines will be watching this over a period of time and checking whether they can getaway with it themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  6. So are they going to actually tell those of us who have stories in their backlog that they have just thrown out our contract and the terms which we accepted when we sold to them six months (or more) ago?
    Because if it reaches the desknet stage and we all simply 'decline' then it will really mess up their schedule.
    J

    ReplyDelete
  7. 'J' the magazine cannot change the terms unless they issue you with a new contract. No court in the land would accept that.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @ Elaine, all future Desknet transactions will come with the new terms attached. If these aren't agreed to then the story won't be paid for. There are a large number of 'accepted' stories which haven't been through Desknet.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @PAtsy That's very naughty of them iF these stories were accepted at a time when the old contracts stood. Everything seems to be loaded against the writer.

    ReplyDelete
  10. They stand to lose some of their best writers and this will affect their magazine sales. Greed has raised its ugly head again. Writing is our craft and writing a good story takes time and effort - it’s a job for many - and these cuts are a step too far. Disappointing behaviour WW

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well done to Tara and Patsy for saying no to this. I'm going to do the same. Anne.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This puts m right off sending them any more stories. In my case it doesn't mean much because I've never sold them one, but I think I'll stop trying if they stick to this.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Disgraceful behaviour from WW and well done for all of those writers who are not accepting this situation. I honestly feel that this will see the magazine not issuing good quality stories as they lose a lot of excellent womag storytellers which could also have a knock-on effect on sales when that quality drops.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am a new short story writer and have just had my first acceptance from WW. I had no idea what pay scale was the norm, or what rights were the norm. I'd never heard of ALCS. I was therefore delighted to accept what I was offered (All Rights). I'm just pointing this out because I expect this is the case with all new writers without agents. It is only through this blog post and the FB group that I'm now aware that it has been different for established writers.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I applaud Tara and Patsy and everyone else who is standing up for what is right and saying NO. I think if WW stick to these terms then indeed, they are thinking money over quality and will lose out in the end. It is a sad day when such a well established staple of our world decides to sink to these depths. I have one story with them (which I haven't heard back on) but will say NO to full rights! If we all stand together and unite maybe we can change things for the better!

    ReplyDelete
  16. @Helen. Helen, it is not usual for agents to represent short story writers - there's not enough money in it for them as they take 15% plus VAT from our earnings. Those of us who do have agents have them for our novels. They don't touch our other writing work. My advice would be to read the writing magazines and join online writing groups/forums that specialise in writing professionally to pick up tips on what is required for those of us working as writers. x

    ReplyDelete
  17. @Helen ALCS is an important source of income for womag writers, and especially helpful as it appears as an annual lump sum. So to lose it is a huge blow. Well done on your sale to WW btw! I'm reasonably well established but don't have an agent, not sure how many womagwriters do, or what advantage there would be for short stories as we deal directly with the editors but someone else may answer that.
    The pay offered for new writers is a 50% cut on what has been offered now for many years, and we don't know yet if it will incrementally increase as it used to.
    These are massive changes for both new and established writers.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks Tara and Patsy for letting us know.
    Like others, I've submitted a fair few to WW but never had any success with them, and from now on I shan't even bother.
    Let's hope this doesn't become a race to the bottom with the rest of the Womags but it does seem to be very much a sign of the times.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Well as I said on Womagwriters & Co I was living in hopes that the time they'd had my latest submitted story meant a little bit of hope I was finally going to crack them, my goal for such a long time now.
    But I guess it would be a very mixed blessing now. I would be thrilled I had finally had an acceptance but certainly the terms would not be acceptable to me.
    What on earth are they thinking if they thinking at all? Surely the long term effects of this strategy can only damage the magazine?

    ReplyDelete
  20. I must admit that, after a handful of sales a couple of years ago, I'd more or less stopped submitting to WW anyway. There was no longer any feedback explaining why stories were rejected and it seemed that, even if you did get an acceptance, you might have to wait months to be paid and for the story to be published. I'd decided to stick to other magazines (two of them!) and this news has confirmed that decision, but I still find it sad that such a long-standing and respected magazine, well-known for its quality fiction, should treat the writers it used to nurture in such an off-hand manner. I hope people's reactions make those behind the decision think again.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is how to destroy a profession - writers work hard and make magazines a lot of money and are indeed, more important than they are given credit for. Thank you to Patsy, Tara for posting this, I won’t be submitting anything to them again - I won’t allow them to discredit us, they should be thoroughly ashamed - what would their readers think?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Well done for taking a stand Tara. I intend to do the same though it will be very upsetting to give up writing for WW after many years. For me, it is the principle - my work, my copyright, my moral rights.
    I am sorry to sound negative (and I love it that some people will do it anyway, on principle) but I have no doubt that this type of stand will have little impact on those in the now faceless corporation who have made the new rules. Those who might care and who understand that quality will suffer will have no power to change it.
    I would love to be proved wrong. I would love to see a picket line of writers protesting their rights with no one prepared to cross that line. But there will always be enough of those who want to be published to fill in any gaps left behind by those of us who do take a stand. I don't expect anything to change because of it. Which is sad.

    Tearful

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ Tearful – that's exactly how I feel. I'm really upset by this, but I feel very strongly that saying 'No' is the right thing to do.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Sophie Livingston27 June 2018 at 12:40

    I've just emailed Woman's Weekly to say I won't sell my stories on an 'All Rights' basis and so am having to withdraw the two they planned to publish. It's a really painful decision but I agree with Patsy, win or lose, sometimes you just have to stick up for the principle of the thing.

    I'm dreading the fact that this is probably the way the other magazines will go. it would be good to hear from some more of the many established writers who started out - or still do - write for women's magazines. A few really well know voices might help.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you for making us aware of this, Tara. It's totally disgraceful. I certainly won't be submitting any more stories to them while these conditions are in place and I'll spread the word.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Tara, have you submitted your excellent post to the Parliamentary All Party Writers Group at ALCS ? I think they would be very interested in reading it.


    https://www.alcs.co.uk/news/the-all-party-parliamentary-group-for-writers-launches-an-inquiry-on-authors-earnings?platform=hootsuite

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm not a womag writer, but I feel your pain and admire your staunch refusal to be used in this way, and, ultimately, get disrespected.

    I had no idea that giving up rights means no ALCS payment. I have done exactly that elsewhere knowing that I won't be able to use that writing again.

    ReplyDelete
  28. You did absolutely the right thing, Tara - well done to you for making this stand, and to others for intending to do so in the future. I've sent stories to WW in the past, though I've never had one accepted, but I won't be sending them any more.

    There are new writers who don't appreciate what giving away 'All Rights' will mean to them, so a big thank you to you and Patsy for highlighting this issue.

    New writers, be warned!

    Kate

    ReplyDelete
  29. Sophie Livingston27 June 2018 at 19:34

    Is anyone Tweeting ? ( I don't have an account) - I feel sure there will be romantic novelists as well as short story writers who will feel the injustice and offer their support - it may not have any impact - but it would be great to think that there was a sort of romantic sisterhood in all this - Della, Sophie, Katie, Jenny - what do you all think?

    ReplyDelete
  30. That's a good idea, Geraldine. Thank you.

    Tara

    ReplyDelete
  31. I am so sorry to hear this news. I have had a break from writing womag stories for the past couple of years but previous to that, was reasonably successful with Woman's Weekly. To have a short story published in the magazine always felt like the pinnacle of my achievement. I feel very sad that such a prestigious publication is treating its writers in this way. There is no way I would (or will) sell them a story under such conditions.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I've never had a story published by any womag (I've submitted, perhaps, half a dozen over the past two years). As a new writer, Woman's Weekly was one of my few remaining options, but even I'm not desperate enough to accept this; I recently decided against entering a competition that offered massive publicity but no control.
    My most recent WW rejection was after the editorial changes. Having bought copies to check for any change in style, I've decided the stories in them aren't something I could emulate. It may be I'd chosen a bad week - author related to the editor perhaps - or maybe it's just sour grapes. I have to confess that Womags aren't my usual reading material. (What is, these days? Where does the time go?).
    But, given the reduction in opportunities over the past couple of years, this smacks of bullying to me.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Let’s not forget the other things they do now. They don’t buy stories anymore they ‘reserve’ them and they can seemingly do so for as long as they like. You may not see your story in print for years and years and that’s exactly how long you’ll have to wait for your money too because they now pay on publication. They also no longer offer any feedback on rejects so new writers ( and regulars) might be floundering about forever never knowing they’re making the same mistake over and over again.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Sophie Livingstone a few of us have been tweeting about it for a couple of days now.

    I created a hashtag writers can use for this, if it helps anyone. #WomagWritersNeedRights

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thank you Tara and Patsy for two excellent posts. I am still trying to break into womagwriting and have had my eye on WW for years. I feel gutted that it is treating writers this way and admire all who are making a stand. I no longer wish to write for such a magazine, it may be prestigious but the price paid is now far too high - the magazine clearly has no respect for it's writers and does not value them at all. It is important that writers act together and show WW that their behaviour is unacceptable, least they set a new precedent. If this becomes the norm we have only ourselves to blame for we will have willingly co-operated in our own undermining.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Just catching up with this terrible news about WW. Thanks for highlighting it, Patsy, and for this post, Tara. Like you, Tara, I had always wanted a story in WW (had many stories published elsewhere) and finally had one published in Woman's Weekly last year. I was super delighted and very happy with the payment at that time...


    Then the long-time editors were all changed, they stopped taking stories from newbies for a while, and now this. I'm very glad I never submitted any further stories and certainly won't ever do so again if they're now taking all rights.


    I suspect WW will lose many readers of the magazine from the writing world. That happened to the Lady when they stopped taking short stories and the popular Viewpoint (which I'd been published in several times). Most writers simply stopped buying the magazine as it was no longer any use for research.

    ReplyDelete
  37. When did all this start? I have a 'commission' letter dated 1st June 2018 and it clearly says 'First Use with Extensions' and has a re-use delay of 90 days. And the pay is my usual for a longer story.
    Don't like the sound of any of this carry-on at all. Bad enough when FF decided they wanted 'All rights' (do they still?) But WW? Horrified.
    Pondering.
    RahRah Peeps Amigo (People's Friend) which has never treated any of us (from the first time tryer to its top writers) in any other than courteous old-fashioned NICE manner!
    Still pondering. Did our lovely 'old' team know of this, is that partly why they all vanished? Even the first wave 'new' editor (Danni) only stayed a few months. I pity the latest (note they don't call her an editor - why?) incumbent with all the flak she's going to have to take on TimeInc's behalf.
    I don't do FaceBook or Twitter or any such, so will have to rely on you, dear Tosh, to let me follow this Blog and keep in touch!

    ReplyDelete
  38. FF don't take all rights - just UK, Aus and NZ (unless I have completely misunderstood and have been flouting a contract I don't remember getting!)

    ReplyDelete
  39. You're probably right, because it's so long ago I can't remember the exact wording, but I know I didn't like it at the time and wouldn't agree and simply stopped writing for them. There was quite a fuss at that time too, Patsy may remember exactly what happened. Maybe they backed down and reset it at UK, Aus and NZ???

    ReplyDelete

  40. This from Ti Media who now own WW . You might find it interesting.


    https://www.ti-media.com/modern-slavery-act-statement/

    ReplyDelete
  41. !!!!!
    You're right. Very interesting. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  42. No one providing creative input is even listed in that statement.

    ReplyDelete
  43. It's about the company's ethics and how they supposedly respect people's rights.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Not the point Elaine, they can't claim to be ethical then take away freedom. They have made us their slaves.

    ReplyDelete
  45. No, they haven't because we can say no.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Okay then, they're trying to make us their slaves. Is that better?

    ReplyDelete
  47. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Perhaps the 'anonymous' could leave name in their box to make this easier to follow?

    I think it best we watch what we say here as anyone from WW could be reading so best to keep it intelligent.
    W are all freelance womag writers so we take our work elsewhere - simple. However, Please keep writing to people like the Society of Authors as they seem to be on the case.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Lost for words! Can't believe writers are seen as pretty much worthless - not even entitled to the rights on our own work. Is this poor treatment because Womagwriter's are predominately women! I won't be agreeing to give up all rights and accept half pay. Time to hang up the quill, I think. Kate

    ReplyDelete
  50. Is there any more info on what this actually means. "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 @PLSlicensing) so if they hold the rights, they can’t claim for the article through us."

    Could we still claim at ALCS or not?

    ReplyDelete
  51. We would only be able to claim at ALCS if Woman's Weekly (or Time Inc) agreed that we could. I personally think it is unlikely that they would do this. They have not responded to queries about whether they actually want to keep these rights to use them themselves.

    Anon99

    ReplyDelete
  52. No, we cannot claim ALCS under the new contract. We sell ALL RIGHTS.

    ReplyDelete
  53. We now have somewhere to write to, sent to me by WW. Please everybody send an email. Fill their inboxes. Please CC to both.

    Managing Director at WW and I assume others - Mark Winterton. mark.winterton@ti-media.com


    CEO. Marcus Rich - Marcus.Rich@ti-media.com.



    posted by Jo Styles.



    ReplyDelete

  54. Have now been informed ALCS claims can continue. They have confirmed they will give permission.

    JS.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Not PLR though if you can't sell serials on.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Geraldine - why is PLR affected? Who would you sell a (say) 5-part serial to after it being in WW? I'd never thought of reselling such a niche-length serial!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Celia, if you retained your copyright to a serial you could perhaps self-publish it as an ebook novella, or use it with other stories as a collection? Or turn it into a film script ...?

    ReplyDelete
  58. Thank you Linda - but PLR? Isn't that the library rate?

    ReplyDelete
  59. Thank you for those email addresses, Jo.

    Celia, lots of writers sell their serials on to large-print publishers.

    Tara

    ReplyDelete
  60. @Celia Regarding PLR, once copyright has reverted to me I can do what I want with my serials. I choose to hang on to them till I have a collection of 3 and then I sell them on to Ulverscroft, who then make one paperback volume for their Linford Mystery Library imprint.

    ReplyDelete



If you are commenting anonymously PLEASE give yourself a nickname, number or initials. With so many people unwilling to use their own name it gets really confusing if there isn't some way to differentiate between you all.