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.)