Lucy Crichton, fiction editor at The People's Friend, has kindly agreed to answer questions raised as comments on this blog about their fiction competition and general submissions –
Your short story competition has attracted a lot of interest. Is it open to absolutely all writers – those who've never submitted stories to you, and those who have been published in The Friend?
Our Short Story Writing Competition celebrates “Scotland’s Year Of Stories 2022”, and is open to all authors who have not yet been published in “The People’s Friend - as stated in the rules, published in our May 14, 2022 issue.
Since its inception in 1869, “The People’s Friend” has aimed to encourage and inspire new authors from all backgrounds. That ethos continues today.
We’re committed to ensuring that new authors come through to complement existing writers, and to replace those who’ve moved on to other projects.
I see from the terms and conditions that by entering the competition entrants will assign all rights to D C Thomson. That's not your usual policy – can you tell me why it applies to this competition?
As a one-off competition, it is being run in accordance with DC Thomson’s standard competition Ts & Cs.
These differ from the standard terms that we agree with regular contributors to the magazine to give flexibility around promoting and publicising the competition and its winning entry.
Are you planning any changes to the current contract for regular submissions?
Might you publish any competition entries other than the winner, and if so under what terms?
The judging panel will make a decision on this after the closing date.
It's excellent that you're increasing the amount of fiction in the magazines.
Can we hope that this, combined with a return to the office, will eventually reduce response times for your regular writers?
We aim to read and respond to every submission in a way that’s fair and transparent.
Returning to the office won't impact on response times.
Avenues for women’s short fiction are disappearing.
This means that we receive an increased volume of submissions, especially compared to pre-Covid days.
Communication is key. If you’re an established author and have been waiting for a response for longer than 12 weeks, please do email your assigned editor, and we can chase it up for you.
As well as reading submissions, the Team are busy with many other day-to-day tasks such as proofreading and blogging; we aim to be efficient in all areas, prioritising where necessary.
New (to you) writers are reporting very fast rejections – sometimes within 24 hours and some find it disconcerting. Can you reassure them that the speed with which replies are sent out is no reflection on the quality of work, or the amount of attention you've paid the piece? I assume it's just that, due to the high number of submissions, you've had to learn to assess whether a story might suit the magazine during a single reading.
This situation applies to new-to-the "Friend" authors only.
Our vastly experienced Team are able to assess a story for suitability within minutes.
We no longer have a backlog of manuscripts to get through, and our Team go into the inbox every day.
So expect response times for unpublished authors to remain speedy at the moment.
Is it still the longer length stories which are most in demand?
The stories which we need most of are 2000 and 3000 word stories which are suitable for any issue.
The stories we receive most of are 1200 words. We only use one of these per issue.
Thank you, Lucy. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions and clarify the situation for us.