Monday 30 August 2021

Guest post by writer and magazine editor Jo Derrick

You may have heard that The Yellow Room magazine has reopened for submissions. I've invited the editor, Jo Derrick onto the blog to tell us more.

Thanks for joining me today, Jo. Can you tell me why you've decided to relaunch the Yellow Room?

It was really a snap decision I made following the death of a very good friend and fellow writer, Jane Wenham-Jones last week. We first met through Quality Women's Fiction Magazine (QWF), which I launched in 1994. I published some of Jane's first short stories and she was a huge supporter of the magazine, as well as of my future endeavours in both publishing and writing. I realised how much I missed being part of a community of women writers and publishing their work. I also need something to keep me busy, as my daughter is off to university in September and I'm finding I have more time on my hands. I'm also having a break from writing, and editing a small press magazine will fill the gap nicely. 

It's great news for writers when any market opens or reopens, as we seem to be losing more than we gain. Do you have submission guidelines?

I have published very basic guidelines for now. Prospective contributors will have more of an idea of what I'm looking for once they have read a copy of the magazine. Unfortunately, I don't have any back issues left. 

The Yellow Room is a place where women writers can gather together for support, encouragement, inspiration and friendship. Editor Jo Derrick is always on the look out for new talent as well as short fiction by more established writers. Female writers are invited to send in short stories of between 800 and 3000 words in length. Please only submit one story at a time and the story should not have been previously published elsewhere either in print or online. Jo will consider stories in any genre, but is particularly looking for those which highlight the female experience and psyche. Please send stories as an attachment (preferably Word or docx) with a title page stating the word count and that First British Serial Rights are offered. Double spacing on the manuscript, please. 

Send to:

What kind of style are you looking for? The sort of story which might be published in a woman's magazine, or something darker, more literary?

This is a difficult one to answer. I don't want anything too dark. Edgy might be a better description. I do enjoy literary short stories, but they must be accessible to the reader and not too experimental. I'm not keen when writers start to mess around with structure or language, for example. In some ways I'm a bit of a traditionalist and believe a good story comes from character. I enjoy reading womag fiction, but some of the stories don't have enough oomph for my taste. Having said that, some of my favourite short story writers are regular contributors to magazines such as Woman's Weekly, Take A Break Fiction Feast and The People's Friend. The Yellow Room Magazine will feature stories that are slightly quirkier, allowing the writer to take more risks. I have received five submissions so far and have accepted one of those. The story I've accepted highlights the issues surrounding the murder of Sarah Everard, but in a very subtle way. I don't want the reader to be preached at. I am looking for stories which resonate.

Do you have a top tip (or tops tips!) for those submitting to you?

I've kind of answered that question above. I would say read a current copy of The Yellow Room before submitting. That won't be possible until Issue 10 is published, but potential contributors may email me for a pdf of a back issue to give them an idea of the sort of thing I’ll be publishing. Read the guidelines carefully. I do state a minimum word count and someone has already send a story of fewer than 800 words. I would also encourage those hoping to submit to 'Like' The Yellow Room Magazine Facebook page to see regular updates of what I'm looking for, to follow me on Twitter (@yellowjo) and read The Yellow Room Editor Blog: The Yellow Room Editor If you scroll through older blog posts, then there are some good tips for writers and I think the blog posts give a good idea of who I am. I hope to get a website back up and running before too long, simply because this will allow people to subscribe and order copies of the magazine more easily. I would also encourage writers to email me with any queries or suggestions. I assume that potential contributors are avid readers of all kinds of fiction. Most importantly I want stories which haven't previously been published online or in print.

How long should writers expect to wait for a response, and will you reply to everyone or operate the policy of 'if you've not hear within X months it's a no' which some other magazines have adopted?

I think it's very important to respond to a submission as soon as possible. I can't stand having a backlog of submissions waiting to be read. I got back to those first five submissions in a matter of days, as there were so few. I can't always promise I'll do that. If I'm inundated, then it will take me longer to read the stories. I will reply to everyone who sends in a story and I do try to give very brief feedback. If I reject a story, it's not a reflection of how that person writes. It will simply be a question of what is right for that particular issue of the magazine and my personal taste. 

Do you take all rights?

Certainly not!! I abhor magazines that do this. It shouldn't be allowed. A writer should always be entitled to own the rights to their stories. I take First British Serial Rights. 

Will you be offering payment?

We hope to make a small payment to writers whose stories are included in the magazine. This will depend on subscription take up. Contributors will always be sent a copy of the magazine in which they feature. Sometimes I offer a free subscription instead of cash payment. As anyone who has ever published a literary magazine will know, cash flow is one of the main obstacles. 

It's always a good idea for writers to read the publications they hope to submit to – how can we do that?

Keep an eye out on The Yellow Room Facebook page as to whether I can find a pdf of a back issue to email to potential subscribers. There will also be news of when the next issue will be available to buy. 

And now for the tricky question – why yellow?

That's an interesting question! I guess it's partly to do with that famous short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper. It's mainly to do with the fact that when I started QWF Magazine back in 1994, the room I worked in was painted yellow. Several years later when I moved to our current house, the office I wanted to use was painted yellow. What a strange coincidence, I thought. It was as though it was meant to be. And yellow is such a pretty colour, isn't it? Great for magazine covers! 


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great interview - thanks Patsy and Jo. So pleased to hear about the rebirth of The Yellow Room, Jo, as I remember it well! Don't think I ever managed to get a story in it but I did enjoy the type of stories published. All the very best with it.

ados123 said...

Great to have another market, especially one that takes slightly edgier works. Thank you, Pasty and Jo for posting.

Sheelagh said...

Thanks Patsy, that's great information not sure if Jo accepts submissions from Ireland or not, says UK so sounds like a not but interesting none the less. Always great to see and read new stuff.

New girl on the block said...

This is such good news. Very exciting to have a new outlet, and I agree with Alyson that it's good to have a publication which is a little different from the traditional womags.

Penny A said...

I remember very helpful advice from Jo in my early days of writing. Will look forward to seeing the revived magazine in print once again. With best wishes!

Marian said...

I loved reading this interview. Thank you so much. What good news to read about something new happening, especially at the moment.

Kate Blackadder said...

All the best with The Yellow Room, Jo. Hope to submit at some point!

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the relaunch, Jo. So sad to hear the lovely Jane Wenham Jones, your friend, has passed to spirit. Always enjoyed her writing and her family tales. Sending loving thoughts, to you and all her family and friends. Good wishes Kate Hogan.

Marguerite said...

Thank you, Jo - this seems to be the stories missing from the women's market - looking forward to getting a copy when I can and maybe sumbitting...,. Yes, so sorry to hear about Jane Wenham Jones - it is the first I heard - so enjoyed her columns and books.
Good luck with The Yellow Room :)

Jenny Worstall said...

Inspirational article! Thank you for opening up another opportunity for writers.

:-) said...

Very excited to read about this new magazine and look forward to both subscribing and submitting. Thanks for this article Patsy and Jo.

Anonymous said...

The gender-oriented submission guidelines mean that, as a male, no new market has opened up to me. How fair is that?

Sheelagh said...

Sorry to read that the Yellow Room relaunch has had to be delayed/postponed hopefully it will happen in the future.