Monday 30 July 2018

Womag – a genre?

"How would you define womag fiction?" is a question I was asked recently.

The simple, although perhaps not very helpful, answer is, "It's any fiction which is published in a magazine aimed at women."

They do have other things in common. Usually they'll be an easy read – no overly complicated sentences or words requiring use of the dictionary and Google searches in order to follow the plot. There are exceptions, but generally they won't be shocking, or seriously disturbing – though they might surprise you and make a reader think. They'll be intended to appeal to women – but not just women. Many womags have male readers and are a keen to encourage more. Usually the stories have a happy ending, and generally the main character will have brought this about themselves, rather than relying on a handsome man to save her (often, but not always, the main character is a woman.)

Perhaps it's easier to say what they're not? They aren't all the same. They're not all written to a standard formula. They don't comprise just one genre or style. You're as likely to read a tearjerker as something which makes you laugh, a modern ghost story might well be in the same issue as a historical romance.

The lengths are different – anything from around 500 words to 25,000 for some serials. Then there are pocket novels, at twice that length, which are still often considered womag, despite not actually being printed within the pages of a magazine. Word length is the easiest thing to know you've got right. Simply get your computer to count the words in your document and compare it to the guidelines (found in the quick links in the right hand column of this blog.) A few words out will usually be fine, but the closer you can get your story to the required length, the easier it will be for the editor to fit it on the page(s).

Sometimes editors will also give guidance on the type of stories they'd like and subjects they do, or don't, want covered. Again the guidelines might help. Sometimes editors send newsletters, or write blog posts (Shirley Blair of The People's Friend has her own blog) with this information, or you may get clues from editorials or even rejections.

Reading the fiction in a particular magazine is, I think, the best way to get a feel for the genres and subjects they're likely to publish. If you can, do read several issues – and make sure they're current ones, not those your great-granny bought when she was courting!

Reading the magazines also helps with what I think is the hardest aspect to get right – the tone. With some the stories will all be warm, maybe even quite gentle. Others will feature some with a bit of edge or darkness to them. Some editors prefer traditional stories, with a single POV and linear layout. Others like twist endings, or something a little more experimental, even quirky.

Relationships are always a popular topic for womag stories. These can be romances, friendships or  stories about families. Keep It In The Family is my latest collection of 25 short stories, all in this latter category.  Most of them have previously been published in womags.

Do you agree with my description of womag fiction? Do you have anything to add? Can you think of any genre or category of story which couldn't be adapted to suit a womag?

Thursday 26 July 2018

That's Life and Fast Fiction (Australia) submissions process.

That's Life in Australia is a weekly magazine. It seems similar in style to the UK magazine of the same name, except that it carries fiction as well as the 'real life' and lifestyle articles, puzzles and recipes. There's also a quarterly fiction special, called Fast fiction.

Anyone may submit previously unpublished fiction, via email. This will be automatically acknowledged (wouldn't it be lovely if all those magazines which aren't able to send individual acknowledgements were to do this?)

No rejections are sent. They say if you've not heard back in six months it's 'unlikely' your story has been selected for publication. Personally I'd wait a little longer before submitting elsewhere as I have had acceptances up to eight months after submission. 

If a story isn't accepted you may resubmit it as 'A story that's unsuitable, in length or theme, for one issue, may be perfect for another'. I'd be interested to know if anyone has been successful with a resubmission to them. (This policy is unusual – generally if a story is rejected the editor won't want to see it again unless they've actually asked for a rewrite, or for you to submit it again at a later date.)

If a story is accepted, you'll be emailed, may be asked to confirm that it hasn't been published before, and if it's your first with them, asked to sign the contract and complete a form with payment details. You'll be told which issue it has been accepted for and the amount due 9in Australian dollars). You'll also be invited to submit an invoice. You can do that straight away, but payment won't be made until around publication date.

Unfortunately, unless you live in Australia or have a friend who does, it's very difficult to see your stories as the magazines aren't on sale elsewhere, even by subscription. 

I have one in the next spring issue – which will of course be out this autumn!

Monday 23 July 2018

Submission's process

As several people have said they found it useful, I'll be posting details about my experience of submitting to each of the magazines and adding that as a new label and as a category in the 'quick links' so it's easy to find.

I've already done this for In The Moment and The Weekly News and to some extent with The People's Friend. I'll be adding to these and updating them as things change.

I won't be doing them for any magazines which take all rights, currently that's Yours, Your Cat and Woman's Weekly, as I won't personally submit under those terms and don't recommend anyone else to either. (I'm hoping there will be something to report re WW soon, but don't have any definite information yet.)

Of course it's absolutely your choice where you submit and which terms you accept, but please ALWAYS read contracts carefully and be very sure you understand what the terms mean and that you're willing to accept them BEFORE signing.

I've included a cooling picture of a beach, as I think that's likely to be useful for a lot of you at the moment, and I do try to be useful!

Thursday 19 July 2018

Reassurance from The People's Friend

If you're concerned about other magazines attempting to bring in all rights contracts, and haven't yet read Shirley Blair's blog, do have a read.

As she says, their contracts allow them to use our stories in multiple ways, yet still leave us with some rights, including being able to say they are our stories. As DCT also own My Weekly and The weekly News, and use the same contracts, I think we should be safe with them too.

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.