Friday, 13 May 2022

Do you (still) enjoy reading fiction in magazines?

I know many of my blog readers like writing short stories and hope to have them published in magazines – and wish there were more submission opportunities.

I've been wondering why there has been such a decline in the markets over the last few decades. Maybe there are only a few of us left who appreciate short stories?

I don't think that's the case, and apparently neither do DC Thomson as they've increased the amount of fiction in both The People's Friend and My Weekly. I'd love to know your thoughts.

Do you enjoy reading fiction in magazines?

Did you use to enjoy short stories, but now prefer celebrity gossip, adverts and whatever else has replaced the fiction in magazines which no longer publish it?

Does your like / dislike of fiction influence your decision on whether or not to read a particular magazine?

Responses (as comments on this blog please) are welcome from all who have an opinion, whether they're writers or not.


29 comments:

Anonymous said...

The cynic in me thinks that MW will carry more fiction because it’s a cheaper way to fill the pages than say an article or a celeb interview. On the flip side, one of the editors of WW used to say their readers loved the fiction and complained when it was cut. From what I’ve heard recently, PF blacklist anybody with an opinion so might be best not to talk about them under your own name if you’re a writer. Be careful peeps, they used to read this blog.

Lindsay said...

I'd much rather read well written stories than anything that mentions a celebrity (unless it's a good story!) Some articles are interesting but I enjoy the stories the most and usually only buy the fictions specials! It's quite difficult getting hold of PF here though.

Patsy said...

@ Anonymous – Thanks for your comment. I've no idea if articles and interviews cost more than fiction, but it's certainly a possibility.

I've frequently expressed opinions about The People's Friend both on this blog and in other places using my name - which in case anyone doesn't know is Patsy Collins. Those opinions have not always been totally positive. As I'm regularly published in the magazine I'm not convinced that expressing an opinion results in 'blacklisting'. I do however accept anonymous comments in case people wish, for whatever reason, to express an opinion without giving their name.

If your comment is anonymous, please give yourself a nickname, number or initials, to make it easier to reply.

Jenny Worstall said...

Wonderful news that DC Thomson are including more stories now! Let's hope this change results in more magazine sales (which will be good for the readers, the company and the writers). Would be amazing if this was part of a trend and other magazines started to follow suit...

Liz said...

I really enjoy reading short stories and quality features in magazines - I'm not keen on celebrity gossip, and I'm not into cooking or craft, but good features on interesting people or places always draw me in.

I wish more magazines carried fiction and hadn't gone down the celeb gossip road.

Patsy said...

I loved reading the short stories long before I ever considered writing one myself. Back then I particularly enjoyed the twist in the tale types, published in Take A Break and That's Life. They were, for me, the best part of the magazines and I've not bought either of them since they dropped the fiction slot.

I enjoy reading the stories in all the magazines I submit to. If I didn't, I'm not sure I'd be able to write them.

ados123 said...

I would avoid a magazine on the shelves that screamed celebrity interviews and stories on the front cover - for a start I've no idea who most of these people are. Much prefer a magazine that carries fiction and carefully worded articles about travel or issues. I don't even mind a bit of cookery (@Liz!) and have been known occasionally to pull out a recipe and try it out.
As a short story writer I love finding a story that makes me feel 'oh, I wish I'd written that!' but on the whole I confess I prefer reading novels...
Alyson

Elizabeth McGinty said...

Hi Patsy, I have to say I enjoy reading short stories in magazines, I also enjoy interesting articles, but loathe celebrity gossip or non-stories as I call them.

Good news that DC Thomson are increasing the amount of short stories in TPF and MW.

I also think it should be noted how many short story writers, particularly TPF writers comment on how they read the magazine as a child. I wonder if that still applies these days? Food for thought perhaps, and another very good reason for increasing short story fiction in magazines!


ChrisC said...

I enjoy reading fiction stories and cookery slots but wouldn't entertain buying any celeb Goss mags. Half the time I've never heard of them. I like to be transported in a fiction story. So pleased TPF and MW are increasing the amount of fiction.

Bendywriter said...

The current Rooney/Vardy trial highlights the nasty aspects of celebrity gossip, the insincerities and the acquisition. Like Liz, I prefer magazines that feature satisfying stories, whatever length - stories that can leave you feeling that you've spent quality time with a friend rather than as some satellite in an unreal world.

Clare Cooper said...

I read so many stories in my time on WW, I think that's put me off reading them elsewhere. I know I'm going to spot errors, because there are always errors, and I also know I'll have read them before, in a manner of speaking! I don't read women's magazines any more, in any case. They are so repetitive! I can remember the days when just about every weekly, and some monthlies, published fiction. On WW, the fiction was a hugely popular and important part of the magazine. I hope it still is.

Kath Dews said...

I too have enjoyed magazine fiction since I was about 10 and read my mum's Woman and Woman's Own. It would be interesting to know how the costs of fiction and celebrity interviews compare.





compares with the cost of


celebrity interviews.



publishing celebrity interviews - presumably the celebrities aren't paid

Kath Dews said...

Sorry about the messy comment above, was trying to add it using my phone and it didn't work very well!

Cathy Cade said...

It's the celebrity gossip and ads that put me off magazines in general.
And time. During lockdown I subscribed to the Friend, but I struggled to read all the stories and still write my own. (And I do like the immersive experience of picking up a good novel when I have time to relax.)
However, the Friend is publishing my first successful submission next week, so I need to take some time to think up another suitable tale.

Marguerite said...

I can just about remember Woman's Realm and the Susan King recipes :) Recipes, well written articles and those short stories, as ados123, 'I wish I'd written that' as well as 'Where do they get all these original ideas from? I would never have thought of that.' ANYTHING (can't shout loud enough) with 'celebrity' in gets short shrift.

Bubble said...

No, is the simple answer. I don't read much short fiction at all, though, never have. Even in the days when I used to buy magazines, it was rare that I read a story I enjoyed. I think it's better now - there are some really fab writers out there. But I think the content of magazines has been going downhill for years - I stopped buying BBC goodfood mag maybe 20, 30 years ago when they stopped doing long in depth articles eg about food security and switched to the typical more digest format.
The problem is now that magazines are competing with a lot of free online content. And of course kindle on your phone!

Lol Barnes said...

I buy and read My Weekly, Woman's Weekly and People's Friend specifically for the fiction! I do find the articles in those magazines interesting, but it is the fiction l enjoy most! I probably would not buy them were it not for the fiction. The individual stories are very enjoyable and are just the right length for a tea/coffee break read, whilst the serials keep one hooked andcoming back for more. I used to particularly enjoy the ongoing saga of 'Life and the Wadhams' in My Weekly

New girl on the block said...

I don't actually read magazines (other than for research for writing my own stories), although I love the challenge of writing for them. I also much prefer to read a novel.

Julie Day said...

I did try to writing for womags but got rejected. I now realise that my writing isn't for them but other type of magazines. I only read one womag that a neighbour buys and passes onto me, and I subscribe to a small press one.

Diane Wordsworth said...

Before I was a writer I was a reader and I used to really enjoy reading magazine fiction. Then the short story magazines started to disappear and were replaced with the celebrity gossip-led red-top variety, which I didn't like as much. I'd still read the single story that some of these still carried, until eventually they stopped, and so I stopped buying the magazine.

Every time a reader questionnaire was included in a magazine I'd tick the box against the 'do you enjoy the fiction' questions, and in the 'what would you like to see more of?' box I always wrote 'more fiction'. I used to save up the serials and read them all in one go, sometimes cutting out the pages so the rest of the magazine could be discarded. This was because I'd get really annoyed if I missed an issue of the magazine and I was halfway through reading a serial.

When the rights grabs and reduced fees for writers started to happen, I stopped buying those magazines, so perhaps I'm one of the minions who have caused the demise of such markets. I won't support something that goes against my beliefs.

For me, the women's weekly magazines were for fiction and the monthly magazines were for features and hobbies. I still can't get my head around the likes of 'Woman and Home' or 'Your Cat' carrying a short story. Even 'The Lady' was a 'newspaper' for women, so it felt odd to me when they suddenly started to include fiction. (Do they still run fiction?)

I was a published feature writer before I was a published short story writer, and now I find I write more short stories because there aren't as many for me to read as there once were.

Incidentally, I know that the DCT mags are upping their fiction again (yay!), but does anyone remember 'Annabel'? That was one of my favourite monthly magazines and yet it was pulled for no apparent reason. I've yet to find a replacement for that one.

So yes, I do (still) enjoy reading fiction in magazines, or I would if there was more of it.

Eirin Thompson said...

What an enthusiastic response! You're onto something, Patsy. Like many of those posting above, I have zero interest in celebrity gossip and much prefer quality fiction, as well as human interest features. I have subscriptions to the magazines to which I submit, and regard these as excellent value for money. I enjoy the mix of trusted favourite authors and also new voices. I was lucky enough to be bought a weekly comic, as a child, and later a magazine (all the way from Bimbo, when I was a pre-schooler, to Jackie, Blue Jeans and NME when I was a teenager) - this was not unusual for my generation and I wonder if the loss of this tradition has hurt magazine sales on the basis that a newer crop of potential readers have not grown up with their Thursday/Friday comic/mag. Like Alyson and New Girl, I do love a novel. Wishing Patsy and everyone a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

Clare Cooper
To my knowledge, WW never paid for any celebrity interviews. They were always geared around the person wanting to plug or tie in with something. They wanted the publicity. Weeklies generally don't have the budgets of the glossies. Perhaps the latter pay, but I have no idea. Possibly not, if they can help it!

Sharon boothroyd said...

I suspect the celeb gossip is aimed at a younger readership because like others, I've never heard of most of the reality tv stars they feature.
Fiction is the best part of the mags, and I enjoy reading the stories in them.
I find short stories inspiring and uplifting, and they act as an escape from everyday life
(We all need that, with all the grim news at the moment).
Not all of us are into mindfullness, meditation and yoga, so it's my way of relaxing and being in another character's world and seeing how they resolve the problems they have!
I often admire the imagination of the writers.

Linda CASPER said...

I only read paper mags at the hairdresser's but they are full of ads and celebrity gossip (who cares what their house interiors look like?) and read the rest on line, as I read most novels. I know that many people still like to curl up with their favourite mag or book but I do like a clever short story but just not on paper.

Marian said...

I too can remember reading the stories in my mum's magazines when I was I child and I've never stopped! I agree with Sharon that in these current times they provide a much-needed break, so I'm not at all surprised to see an increase in fiction content in some magazines. I've got subscriptions for magazines that run include fiction and not only the ones I submit to.

Anonymous said...

I’ve been reading short fiction since the late 90’s, and even tried writing a few at the time but without success. I used to think I wasn’t good enough and didn’t write anything for quite a few years, but I still continued to read them. My first published work in 2020 was actually the rewrite of a story I wrote in the late 80’s! I find short fiction is uplifting, satisfying and sometimes funny. I do read some that are predictable, but I think perhaps that’s my writer’s inner mind working overtime.

Like others have mentioned, I also have no interest in celebratory gossip. Most of it’s just for publicity, I feel.

I do think it’s good that TPF and MW are going to publish more fiction. It might encourage magazines that dropped fiction slots to reintroduce them. It might also encourage those with closed lists to open them up again, even if it was just temporary.
Michael D

Anonymous said...

Bendywriter - I really love your comment about the difference in the feeling you’re left with after reading fiction vs reading celeb gossip. It describes exactly the value in it for me.
Cam

Liz said...

I agree with Eirin about the demise of girls' comics and magazines having a flow-on effect to the current women's magazine market.

Like Eirin, I grew up with comics and magazines, and went from reading Bunty to Jackie to Cosmo. Later on I read a variety of mags. But those comics and magazines largely disappeared in the 1990s, so anyone aged around 40 and under won't have grown up enjoying reading them. So they won't have 'moved on' to women's mags in the way we did.

I can relate to what Clare says too. I used to work as a book editor, and it really impacts on my enjoyment of books. I had a couple of years where I couldn't read books at all, and I still struggle to truly immerse myself in a novel despite not having edited a book for a long time now.

Sheelagh said...

Love reading whether it is a novel or a short story I don't mind, I usually have a novel on the go but still read women's fiction & love the lighter short stories as they are great to read in bed or with a cuppa for relaxation. I too grew up with Twinkle, Bunty,Jackie etc but even then my mother always got the Women's Weekly and I use to love the robin family & remember my mother reading it to me by the fire and I quickly graduated onto reading the rest of her magazine so when she passed away my sister and I carried on the tradition & we both love reading the stories in the Peoples Friend as well. We usually buy one each and swop.