Friday, 10 February 2012

Woman's Own - Opportunity or Free Copy?

There's a lot of writers commenting on the Woman's Own (WO) Facebook page. If I was signed up to Facebook, I'd have commented too.

They are offering 'budding authors' the chance to submit a story and the best entries will appear in their Summer Special. The piece clearly says 'There is no fee for publication'.

Now this is not a small magazine, it is part of a big company, so why not pay for those chosen stories?

WO stopped their regular fiction slots many years ago when they moved toward the real-life story market- and probably to compete with the flurry of new magazines opening (and selling in high numbers) that concentrated on real-life, celebrities and fashion.

I bought Woman and Woman's Own for years (before the changes) and loved reading the fiction pages. In fact I grew up with them both, along with Woman's Realm...

Many writers, who have left comments on WO's Facebook page, have expressed dismay and have mentioned that the editor and staff expect to be paid for their work, so why not the writers?

WO have not headlined it as a competition with a prize. And their response to criticism has been that readers have asked about writing short stories for them, and that it's not for professional writers...

I don't mean this unkindly, but (sadly) we all know people who think they can write a short story, but don't even know the basics.

(I speak from experience here (a few years ago) when I was the phone contact for the writers club, someone rang me up and it was clear from their remarks that they hadn't checked guidelines, and expected the well-known magazine they were asking about, to automatically accept their story.)

And then there are the inexperienced new writers who see it as an opportunity to be published and don't yet understand about payments and rights- if they understand about these things and want to enter knowing that, then fine, they aren't entering blindfolded.

I'm not against writing for free sometimes. Usually the writer is doing it for a particular reason and are happy to do so, and that's fine too. I've done it myself.

But if a story is good enough to be published in a magazine with a wide circulation, available to buy in major and chain newsagents and corner-shops, then it's good enough for the short story writer to be paid...

So, an opportunity or free copy for the magazine?


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more, Carol. There's an award waiting for you over on my blog.

Maxi said...

Totally agree, Carol. I hadn't seen it until Patsy pointed it out (not being a FB member either). As you say, WO is not some tiny little emerging company who can't afford to pay for fiction at present. They pay enough for the 'real life' and so-called-celebrity pieces so why should the fiction writer be left out in the cold.
Like you, I'm not against writing for free in certain circumstances, but not for a well established magazine like this.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

It has certainly generated some furious disapproval! Agree with everything you and others have said, Carol. On the other hand, it might just kickstart a new writer's career - and we shall all be boycotting the mag no doubt!

Carolb said...

Thank you, Gail. :-)

I think the fact that they are a commercial operation is what really annoyed me, Maxi, as they pay the editor and other staff, and the magazine the stories will appear in is not free.

I agree it has certainly garnered a lot of negative responses, Rosemary.