Tuesday 31 May 2022

The People's Friend – our questions answered.

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?

No. There are no plans to change our current contracts at this time. Details of our contracts are available here - https://www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/2020/06/19/writers-rights-at-the-peoples-friend/

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.


Marian said...

Thank you very much to you both for taking the time to do this, when you are both so busy.

Sheelagh said...

That's great information, thanks Lucy and Patsy. Sadly I received another swift rejection from TPF yesterday but knowing that each one is carefully considered does help and makes me determined to keep submitting (& reading TPF) until I crack the code. Here's hoping! Ps Happy travels Patsy

Sharon boothroyd said...

Many thanks Lucy for clarifying.
It's good that there are no changes to the current contract for TPF story writers.
To add- just because a story is speedily rejected by TPF, it doesn't mean it's rubbish - it means that this piece work doesn't suit TPF.
It may suit another mag perfectly well, so try not to lose heart!

Bubble said...

Thanks Patsy and Lucy.


ChrisC said...

Thanks Patsy and Lucy, useful information. Personally I would appreciate a quick turn around for rejections, gives you the opportunity to submit elsewhere. I took Lucy's advise and chased up some stories I'd had with them for a while. I had some rejected but I appreciated the time my editor took to chase them up as it means I can look for another home for them, and get on with writing some more stories for TPF!

Anonymous said...

Many thanks, Patsy, for bringing this info to us. And to Lucy for her valuable time. I’m going to have another go at TPF with a story I wrote for a competition recently. Hope you’re enjoying your travels, Patsy.
Michael D

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this info, Patsy, and to Lucy for giving her valuable time. I might have another go at TPF with a story I wrote for a recent competition. Hope you’re enjoying your travels, Patsy.
Michael D

Anonymous said...

Thanks for getting this info to us, Patsy, and to Lucy for her time. I might try TPF again with a story I wrote for a recent competition. Hope you’re enjoying your travels, Patsy.
Michael D

ChrisC said...

Thanks Patsy and lucy, useful information. Personally I would welcome a quick turn around rejection as it allows you to submit elsewhere. I took Lucy's advise and chased up some stories I've had in with them for some time. Although some were rejected I appreciated my editor taking the time to chase them up, so now I csn try and find a home for them somewhere else!

Marguerite said...

Thank you, Lucy and Patsy, for this post. Like Sheelagh, I will continue trying to crack the code.

:-) Lexi said...

Very useful to read all the answers from Lucy! I've submitted poetry to TPF both last year and this year, does anyone know if TPF send rejections for poetry or how long is usual to wait?
ps. Thanks to whoever pointed out Sylvia Magazine as a potential paid publication recently, just had a poem accepted!

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the duplicate messages. I thought the first one hadn't gone through.
Michael D

Eirin Thompson said...

While I understand the concerns over the Ts and Cs, it is worth noting that The People's Friend has a proven track record of launching and supporting new writers. I was reading just a few days ago an old newspaper interview with Kate Atkinson, where I learned that she first found publication via a popular weekly magazine short story competition, and began honing her craft writing for that market - and she went on to...well, to be Kate Atkinson!

Cathy Cade said...

I have no argument with swift rejections. As ChrisC said up there, it means I can submit it elsewhere. The fact that my recent (and, so far, only) acceptance wasn't swiftly rejected gave me hope that it might be in with a chance.
Pre-covid, my rejections came quite soon after sending out (by snail mail, back then) and often came with a word of encouragement. Then a submission got stuck in the office when everyone was suddenly working from home :(
I have every respect for the Friend, maintaining its support for aspiring writers in the face of magazine trends elsewhere. Long may it live!

New girl on the block said...

I'm one of those who has been demoralised by the 24 hour turnaround for rejections. It's reassuring to know that the stories have at least been read. Thank you very much to Patsy and Lucy for this informative post.

Anonymous said...

I have decided not to send anything else to my editor at TPF, I’ve had one story published by them but doesn’t mean they will publish more - Story after story rejected - despite rewrites and waiting over a year for a decision, kept getting to Angela (top editor, final decision) then it’s a no. One word of encouragement those stories did go on to find homes elsewhere - there’s more magazines out there and just because TPF doesn’t think these stories were good enough for their magazine others will disagree - keep writing everyone and good luck.

Elizabeth McGinty said...

Thanks Patsy and Lucy for taking the time to ask and answer questions, it's very much appreciated.

Patsy said...

Thanks for your comments everyone. (Well, except for the anonymous rant which I deleted!)

I agree with Sharon Boothroyd and anonymous that a rejection from TPF doesn't necessarily mean a story isn't good enough for publication. Each magazine has their own style and requirements and what's wrong for one might well be a good fit everywhere.