Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Over to you

This month's discussion topic – Which part of the world are you from? Does that have any impact on your womag writing?

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

Please share success (or otherwise!) report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, make womag related comments or observations and ask questions – and answer them too if you can help.

 (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.)

Monday, 18 March 2019

Changes at that's life!

A while back I heard there were to be changes at that's life! in Australia, but I've only just had it officially confirmed by fiction editor Judie Durrant.

No stories can now be considered from writers new to the that's life series of magazines.

The quartely Fast Fiction has been shelved, at least temporarily. The new Mega Monthly will carry some fiction, up to a max length of 1500 words. The weekly will continue as before with very short fiction 550-600 words.

There are no changes to the contract.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Guest post by womag fiction collector Jay Mackie

My Fiction Collection by Jay Mackie

Oh how I’d love to turn the clock back to the ‘golden age’ of fiction in British women’s weeklies! For me, this would be the late 80s to late 90s.

My name is Jay Mackie, I am 43 and I live in Nottingham where I am a composer and private music teacher. I have collected magazine fiction (and magazines) on and off since 1988, after looking forward to the Mini Mystery story in my mum’s copy of Bella each week. It’d be the first page I’d turn to. Looking back now and rereading my collection of these spanning some ten years since Bella’s 1987 launch date, these stories had it all; whodunnits, voodoo, unsettled ghosts, UFOs, an encounter with Old Nick himself and much more. These tales displayed varying literary styles and mystery content, but were always constructed with such skilful craft and elegance.

I even had a go at writing my own at the tender age of 14 and sending it to the then fiction editor, Linda O’ Byrne. I received a lovely reply from her stating her enjoyment on reading my tale, but she felt that the characters didn’t have enough ‘bite’ for her. Not bad for my first (and last!) ever story! I accepted this constructive criticism and her complimentary copies of a dozen older Mini Mysteries to add to my increasing collection.

My reason for collecting these was that someone’s careful literary toil and expert storytelling seemed too good to resign to the bin once finished. Plus, it was nice to enjoy again and compare to other stories. Over the years I have added other fiction pages to my collection too from weeklies such as Best, Take a Break and Chat mainly. The early days of Chat’s ‘4 Minute Fiction’ page from the early 90s was nice to compare with Bella, as quite a lot of the stories shared supernatural or similarly off the wall subject matter – and a few of the same writers.
Collecting vintage magazines for me is a lovely hobby if you’re nuts on nostalgia like me. Magazines provide a truly authentic and direct link to the past; the then current celeb news, advertising, vintage fashion and of course the abundance of weekly fiction. In Best’s early days some issues treated us to no less than three stories a week. Sadly as we’re all aware the world has moved on and gradually many weeklies have now ditched their fiction in favour of even MORE banal celebrity sensationalism in my view. The old content is something to be praised for its variety and enjoyed with fondness for the era.

As Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo says, only keep something if it ‘sparks joy’. That’s precisely what vintage magazines and their fiction pages do for me. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

I’d sincerely love to hear from anyone out there who either collects magazine fiction, or magazines in general. You may well have copies of stories which would complete my collection, and vice versa to swap or just chat about. You may have even written mysteries for Bella and the like back in the ‘golden’ days, do leave a comment or drop me an email (jayiguana@yahoo.co.uk) – it’d be super to hear from you!

Monday, 11 March 2019

Womag writing podcast

I was interviewed for a Write Club podcast . They're kind of a recorded writing group, with different features including a discussion on their work, word of the week and guest interviews.

My interview, which is about writing for the womag market, starts at 26 minutes in. It's followed by a group discussion on the subject.

The books I mention can all be found here.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Trouble in Womagland

Don't panic – there isn't a new problem. 'Trouble in Womagland' is the title of my short news piece, about recent rights issues, in Writing Magazine.

My thanks to Julie Day, Carrie Hewlett and S. Bee who allowed me to quote them as saying that due to Spirit & Destiny now taking all rights, they will no longer write for this publication. Unfortunately due to this piece being a very late addition to the magazine and needing to be cut to fit, it now reads as though they won't be submitting to TABFF. As no change to the contract terms of TABFF has been confirmed, these authors have not made such a decision. Let's hope they don't have to!

Thank you to Kathy for the photo.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Slight change at My Weekly

If you're on the list of writers who may submit to My Weekly then you should have already recieved their latest guidelines, but just in case you missed it, there is a slight change. Due to the lack of time and resources, authors will no longer recieve rejections with feedback. Instead, as with The Weekly News, if we've not heard back in three months we are to assume the story hasn't been accepted and we're free to submit it elsewhere.

Those not 'on the list' can't submit short stories to My Weekly – but you can try a pocket novel, or non-fiction, and an acceptance for either of those would then allow you to send in short stories.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Alex has answered

On my other blog I offered the opportunity to ask Alex Gazzola for advice on breaking into writing non fiction for magazines. His answers have now been posted, plus the winner of the book has been announced.

If there's enough interest Alex might be persuaded to visit this blog with advice specifically on writing non-fiction for womags – would you find that useful?

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Womag fiction competitions – a few words of warning

You've probably gathered that I'm a fan of woman's magazine fiction. You may also be aware that I'm very keen on writing competitions (my other blog has regular links to all kinds of free to enter writing competitions). You'd think then that I'd be in favour of writing competitions run by woman's magazines, offering prizes and publication. In theory I am, but I do urge you to read all the terms and conditions very carefully – including those you have to go online to discover.

Many such competitions require you to give up all rights (search copyright on this blog if you're unsure what that is or why it might be a bad idea). Now you might be thinking that's fine, if you get published and win a prize then you're prepared to give up the rights in that story – but in some cases this condition applies to all entries. Just by submitting it you will have given the publishers the right to do whatever they like with that story, and deprived yourself of the right to ever use it again yourself. 

What are the rights to your story worth to you? I suggest they are at least as valuable as the fee you'd earn if the story was published in another magazine. Assume it's one of the lower payers – £40 – and ask yourself if the competition really justifies that as an entry fee. If not, perhaps you'd be better off submitting it directly to another publication, or entering a competition which is genuinely free.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The truth about rejection

If you send out stories to magazines you'll almost certainly get some rejections. You won't like them, nobody does, but you can get used to them and accept them as simply part of the process, rather than a series of crushing blows. If it's any consolation although I've had hundreds of stories published I too get some rejections.

This is what a rejection means –

That particular story wasn't right for that particular magazine at the time you submitted it.

What a rejection doesn't mean –

You are a rubbish writer.

The story is rubbish.

You won't ever be accepted by that magazine.

I'm not saying you're a great writer, or that your story was good; unless I've read it I can't possibly tell. I'm just pointing out that a standard rejection letter means only that the particular story wasn't right for that particular magazine at the time you submitted it.

Here is some information on rejections from The People's Friend. Although some things will apply to all markets, remember that different magazines have different requirements. What doesn't suit one might be just right for another.

Stories may be rejected because they're the wrong length for the publication, or the wrong style/genre/subject. They may be seasonal and have arrived too late. Perhaps the magazine already have enough stories of that length, or genre, or even enough of all kinds of story for now. Maybe they've recently accepted something similar in style, or with a theme or location in common.

If you receive a personal rejection, or any feedback on your work, especially if there's anything positive in it, or an invitation to submit further work, then you should be encouraged. Editors are far too busy to do this for everyone, so will only spend the time if your work shows real promise.

Have you received any rejections lately? What reasons have you been given for a piece being rejected? Any tips for geting over the sting of rejection?

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Over to you

This month's discussion topic – Do you write fillers? They can be a great way to boost your confidence and bank balance when short story sales aren't as high as we'd like. (Remember they usually have to be exclusive to the magazine, and that the rights they take may not be the same as for fiction. As always, do check the requirements and ensure you comply and are happy with them.)

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

Please share success (or otherwise!) report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, make womag related comments or observations and ask questions – and answer them too if you can help.

 (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.)

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Copyright poll results

A short while ago I set up a poll to ask if writers were happy to give all rights on their work. 70 people expressed an opinion (2 on the blog post, 68 on the Facebook poll). Of those 70, excactly 100% said they'd like to keep at least some rights.

What conclusions can we draw from that?

Monday, 11 February 2019

Non-fiction in women's magazines

Many of my womag writing friends have said that due to the shrinking market and/or changes to contracts, they're considering other types of writing. That sounds very sensible to me.

One possible option is to write non-fiction for the same magazines you submit fiction to. A quick glance through any magazine will show more pages devoted to non-fiction than to fiction – and every single word had to be written by somebody.

If you'd like to break into writing non-fiction for magazines, but don't know where to start, then getting personal advice from an expert in this area will be useful. Thanks to the generosity of Alex Gazzola, you can do exactly that on my other blog.  (Questions needn't be womag specific.)

One of the people who ask a question on that blog will be awarded their choice of either Alex Gazzola's book 50 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make or 50 More Mistakes Beginner Writers Make, which he'll post to them.

Click here to take part.

Are you thinking of writing non-fiction, or is it something you already do?

Friday, 8 February 2019

Not bad news!

I thought this blog was in serious need of some good news – any good news. Fortunately a copy of Ireland's Own arrived today with one of my stories in, which is good news for me. I did know it would be used, but somehow got the impression there would be a long wait, so I'm pleased it's been published so quickly.

Writing friend S. Bee has a really sweet story in the same issue. It's always nice to share an issue with someone I know.

Ireland's Own are generous in that as well as sending authors a copy of the issue their story is in, they also include another issue. Coincidentaly another friend, and member of the same critique group I and S. Bee are in, has a story in the one I got. Carrie Hewlett's story is in the children's section.

I've had replies from people at TAB and Bauer, with regards to the all rights issues I've mentioned in recent posts. So far these have just been to say they'll find out and let me know – which I'm sure they will. Of course I don't know if we'll like the answers, but they should leave us better informed.

Does anyone else have good news to share?

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

YOU magazine temporarily closed to submissions

Fiction submissions to YOU magazine in South Africa are currently closed. No story submissions will be accepted until the 1st of July.

The fiction editor Lynn tells me  –

"It’s because I have more stories than I know what to do with and want to make sure I don’t keep writers waiting indefinitely to see their stories in print."

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Care about copyright?

I've set up a Facebook poll to ask people's opinions on copyright. I'd have liked to do it here but Blogger no longer offers that option, so if you want to take part please go to my Facebook author page. (You're very welcome to 'like' it while you're there, but that's not required to vote.)

The post is copied below in case you prefer to express your opinion in a comment. I'll collate all the votes into a blog post in about a week from now.

How do you feel about giving up copyright on your short stories?
If, once you've sold a story, you're happy for the publishers to do whatever they like with it, then select 'all rights are fine'. 
Giving up all rights includes losing the right to reuse the story yourself in any way or ever profit from it in the future eg claiming ALCS and royalties in the unlikely event it's turned into a Hollywood blockbuster. Although publishers usually will put the authors name in by line they won't be obliged to they could even use someone else's.
If you'd like to retain some rights yourself, such as the moral right to be identified as the author, and to profit from further use of the story other than by the publisher you sold it to, select 'Want to keep some rights'.

Talking of voting, I have a 100 word story in this competition. The winner is decided by votes, so if you like mine I'd very much appreciate you voting for it. (Yes I know that's cheeky, but it isn't cheating – the organisers have asked entrants to share the link to their story and ask for votes.)

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Bauer taking all rights

I have nothing positive to say about this, so I'll just copy today's email correspondence between myself and Tracie Couper who is the Features editor Spirit & Destiny and then go for a very long walk.

Hi Tracie, 
I run the Womagwriter blog (https://womagwriter.blogspot.com) which passes on information to those wishing to submit fiction to the various women’s magazines. Today I’ve been contacted by several people telling me that you now require all rights to the stories you buy – and that in some cases this is being imposed after acceptance. I’m sure that last bit can’t be correct, but would very much welcome a clarification about the rights you now require – and any other information you feel may be of use to writers who’d like to submit to your magazine.
Best wishes,
Patsy Collins

Dear Patsy
The current situation is that any article appearing in the magazine will require the writer/contributor to sign an agreement, giving us all rights to the article/story/feature. This is because Spirit & Destiny is now syndicated in other countries, including Australia and New Zealand.
Tracie Couper
Features editor Spirit & Destiny 

Hi Tracie,
Thanks for your reply. 
Can you explain why it’s ‘all rights’ and not ‘first rights with extensions’ as is the case with many other magazines in the same position? 
Best wishes,

Hi Patsy
This is the agreement that has been drawn up by our legal team and applies to all Bauer publications.

Another magazine taking all rights!

I've heard from several sources that Spirit and Destiny magazine now require all rights to any stories they publish.

'irrevocably and unconditionally assign to us in perpetuity by way of present assignment of present and future copyright, the entire copyright and all other rights and title of any kind that you have in the Commissioned Works throughout the world (including any amendments and extensions to that copyright). You hereby irrevocably waive any and all moral rights you have in the Commissioned Works to the fullest extent possible throughout the world.'

I've also heard that authors have been asked to sign these new contracts AFTER stories have been accepted for publication! I'm contacting the magazine to ask for clarification and will let you know their response – if any.


I've had a reply from Tracie Couper at Spririt and Destiny.

'The current situation is that any article appearing in the magazine will require the writer/contributor to sign an agreement, giving us all rights to the article/story/feature. This is because Spirit & Destiny is now syndicated in other countries, including Australia and New Zealand.'

There's been another update – please see the more recent post.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Over to You

This month's discussion topic – Do you write your first drafts with a pen, on a computer, or in some other way?

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

Please share success (or otherwise!) report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, make womag related comments or observations and ask questions – and answer them too if you can help.

 (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.)

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Good start to the year

I have a story in the current (February) edition of Woman's Weekly. It was accepted over a year ago under the old terms. Voodoo Val is about a change of management upsetting all the workers, and someone deciding to release tension by sticking pins into an image of the new boss. There's a happy ending not because of any black magic, but because everyone stuck together.
In other news, I've had acceptances so far from three different womags. Two more editors are either holding onto stories for possible use, or have passed them on to the senior team for consideration. 
Thanks to Sharon Boothroyd's guest post I've also had a story accepted by Love Sunday magazine (it comes with the Sunday People newspaper.) I gave it a try for research purposes and as a result will have a story in the 20th January issue. I'm hoping it might encourage more people to take a look at my books.
Guest posts, relevant to womag writing, are always welcome. If you'd like to share information or an experience, pass on tips or news, even just ask a question do get in touch. (Auto correct keeps trying to change womag to wombat – if you do happen to be a wombat who writes fiction, I'd be delighted to hear from you too!)
There's a People's Friend special, due out on 23rd January which will contain one of my stories. That's a 1,200 word one. It seems they still get a good supply of these and that longer stories may stand a better chance.
How are you getting on so far this year? Have you submitted anything, had replies, or are you expecting work to be published soon?

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The other side of the desk

I'm sure many of you will remember Clare Cooper from her time on the fiction team of Woman's Weekly. Today she's sharing her experiences of life on the other side of the submissions desk.

Wanted: Writers to fill pages in magazines. Must have thick skins and be prepared to take criticism, rejection and incredibly long waiting times on the chin. Must learn to bite their tongues and not get stroppy, or they will be sent to the naughty desk. Must accept that not everything they write is going to see the light of day but must put their keen disappointment to one side, keep the faith and carry on regardless. Is there anybody out there mad enough to take on such a seemingly thankless job?

As I have mentioned before on here, the best part of my previous job as Deputy Fiction Editor on Woman’s Weekly was reading and selecting the short stories that appeared in the magazine each week and also in our monthly Fiction Special. The second-best bit was contacting the writers to let them know we wanted to buy their story. We always marvelled at how our brilliant band of writers continued to rise to the challenge and provide us with a never-ending supply of great fiction.

Fast-forward a year (and a bit more) since I left my job. Let’s face it, my previous role sounds quite cushy from where I’m sitting now, not doing a great deal and spending unhealthy amounts of time on social media. I have an idea for a novel but I’m stuck on it at the moment. I don’t feel motivated. How do people get inspired? Where do their ideas come from? Where do all those thousands of words come from? Do they feel like failures if they haven’t kept to their self-imposed deadlines, while others are getting on with it and producing their third novel in the same amount of time? It feels as though the world and his wife are writing books and social media is full of them promoting their work and plugging their friends’ work, to boot.

It’s all rather daunting and disheartening and, while I am struggling to get my novel idea off the starting block, I have been mulling over something I wrote on this website at the beginning of 2018, about getting writing fit for the coming year. Inspired by some kind comments, I thought I would try and see if anyone would like to publish it. I have never had to put myself “out there” and sell something to anybody, other than within my old company and to people I already knew, so it took a lot of nerve and effort to write the email and send my feature off into the ether – well, to Jonathan Telfer at Writing Magazine, anyway. To my relief, he liked it and it’s going into the February issue. Then, blow me if he didn’t get in touch to ask me to write about something else – for the same issue, as it turns out. Typical! You wait a year, and then two come along at once…

Yes, the view from the other side of the desk is more than a bit scary and it’s very early days, but I’d like to think there will be more literary gems dropping from my computer keyboard at some point. If not, and I’ve peaked too soon, at least I now have a much better understanding of what it’s like for everyone else – and I respect and salute you all! I feel I have an awful long way to go. Now, where did I put the application for that seemingly thankless job?

The February issue of Writing Magazine containing Clare's article is available from newsagents now. You might also like to visit her blog Hampton Caught.