Showing posts with label Women's Magazines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Women's Magazines. Show all posts

Thursday 31 January 2019

The All Rights Issue is Spreading...

Just want to point everyone in the direction of the Womagwriter blog where further bad news on all rights fiction contracts have now spread to monthly magazine Spirit & Destiny.

The magazine was seen as a new market for short story writers even though it was only one story a month and obviously needed stories that would fit the magazine's profile.

I usually read the magazine on Readly and it's always good to see a story by writers I know. I doubt I will continue to read it now they're requiring all rights for their fiction.

More worrying for writers is that the magazine is a Bauer publication. They also produce Take A Break Fiction Feast; although that is a closed list so writers who aren't on the list can't submit anyway, but the implications, for those writers who are, is worrying.

When I wrote my article for Writing Magazine last summer (around the all rights situation at Woman's Weekly) I mentioned the potential for the other magazines to also move to an all rights contract.

Last year's
All Rights issue
I hoped I was wrong.

People's Friend have not gone the all rights route and are consequently receiving even more submissions, with writers waiting longer than before to hear the outcome for their stories.

So many newer writers cut their teeth on the womag fiction market and years later move on to writing novels for mainstream publishers.

If Bauer extend the all rights contract to their TAB Fiction Feast magazine I think a number of womag writers will stop submitting.

If that happens it won't just be the writers losing out...

Sunday 7 January 2018

Services for Writers...The Quick Crit...

I hope the New Year has been kind to you all so far.

Today I’m welcoming writer Linda Lewis to the blog. Linda is a very successful womag (woman’s magazines) writer, and she’s now branching out to give the benefit of her experience to others.

Welcome to Carol’s Corner, Linda.

For any readers who are unfamiliar with your numerous successes with the women’s magazine (womag) market, please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I live in Exeter, sharing my house with a lodger and some fish.

I sold my first story to Take A Break in 1998. Since then I have sold about 600 stories to a variety of magazines. It’s been my main source of income since 2003.
I switched to fiction after the death of my husband in 1997. I found I was quite good at it so I stuck with it. Before then, I had various ‘proper’ jobs and wrote, mostly non-fiction, in my spare time.

 You’ve recently co-launched a new website Vanda ‘N’ Linda’s Write Space, so how did this collaboration come about?

Vanda lives in Cornwall. We met when I won one of her short story competitions with the theme of a modern day fairy tale (my story was an updated version of Snow White, told in epistolary form). She called to say I’d won, we got chatting, and that was that.
Our partnership came to an end when I moved away, but now I am back in Devon, it made sense to start working together again. Vanda prefers the admin side to judging or giving feedback and critiques, while I love the judging process and find giving feedback, so we are a very good fit.

What will writers discover when they visit the Write Space?

As well as advertising our books and running prize competitions (some free to enter, others not) the website offers tips, advice, courses and feedback. We wanted to offer an affordable service, delivered by people who knew their trade.

I was a tutor for the Writers Bureau for a while and really enjoyed it. I have also run workshops and courses for organisations including Swanwick Writers Summer School and NAWG.

Now that I don’t go away so often, I wanted to continue teaching people. Vanda already offered courses so adding my own made sense.
The first course went live a few weeks ago and is about writing stories with twist endings which is one of my specialities.

If there are any areas people would like to see covered in courses, if they get in touch, I’ll  see what we can do.

Among the writing services you offer there’s a quick crit of short stories that have been rejected by the womags*; what will the writer gain from using this?

The website offers a general feedback service for writers of fiction. Prices vary according to word count, but the quick crit idea was mine.

Whenever I judge competitions, I hate it when a story misses out on a prize due to simple or basic errors and I can’t tell the writer what was wrong or how to fix it.

Apart from The People’s Friend who go out of their way to help writers by offering feedback, it’s rare for short story writers to find out why their story wasn’t accepted. The £5 quick crit tries to fill that gap.

Sometimes the author DOES know what’s wrong. A fiction editor may have told them that the plot was thin, or the characterisation wasn’t strong enough. I have a knack of being able to read other people’s stories and see how they can be improved.

If I can, I will suggest different endings or extra plot strands, in short, anything that might help the writer improve their chances of making a sale.

Stories can also be rejected when there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them. For example, it might simply be that all the Christmas slots have been filled; that kind of thing. Again, it helps to know that it’s not the fault of the story - it’s just bad luck.

Too many writers get ONE rejection and give up with a story. Our attitude to rejection affects our success. Rejections, and I must have had thousands, still hurt me, but I get over it.  I have another look at the story, Can I change it? Maybe I can lengthen or shorten it and send it elsewhere? And if I’m lucky enough to get feedback, I will almost always rewrite and re-sub.

When there were a lot more magazines taking fiction, I could send a story out five or six times before I gave up with it. Even then I might reuse the basic idea.

* I have been fortunate enough to have a one off trial of Linda's quick crit service and it's good value. Linda identified the main issues with my rejected short story- sent to Woman's Weekly a couple of years ago- and suggested possible routes I could consider when I rewrite. And I will rewrite it and submit it again.

Thank you for answering my questions Linda. I'm sure the website and quick crit service will be a success...

You can find Linda's books on the website, and via Amazon where you can discover them on her author page.

If you're interested in any of the competitions, books or the new critique service then pop along to

If you're on Twitter you can follow Linda @writingiseasy

Thursday 15 December 2016

Guess What I Won?

Well it's the day after the night before and I can now reveal what I've been keeping quiet about since late October...

I won one of the annual competitions at Nottingham Writers' Club, the Rosemary Robb trophy for a ghost story titled, 'The Wishful Spirit'.

Winning the Rosemary
Robb Ghost Story
Writers are told to persevere and never throw anything away. Well the story that won this competition proves that statement...

In 2008 it was the first year the ghost story trophy competition ran; it was for a 1,000 word story (that year). I'd never written a ghost story before, but I tried anyway, and received some useful comments from the judge- the writer whom the trophy was named after, and who died a few years later.

The story was filed away and over the years I'd revised it and then put it away again. You see my ghost wasn't the scary type and most markets wanted the creepy sort...

In 2013 I rewrote it and entered it into a national competition, but didn't get anywhere again. Honestly I think it was really just the wrong competition for it.

So back in the box it went until late 2015 when I began to rewrite it yet again making some major changes and eventually submitting it to Woman's Weekly, as they mentioned in their guidelines at that time, 'quirky', and my ghost certainly fitted that description.

Sadly it was rejected.

Meanwhile, as Prose Secretary for the writers' club, I'd asked writer Wendy Clark to judge this year's Rosemary Robb Competition this autumn ( after reading her blog post about writing ghost stories) and she agreed. 

Having received the story back from the magazine I decided I'd enter it into our club competition to get some feedback, and hopefully find out what wasn't working.

I'd already decided a couple of things needed a slight adjustment, and one bit removed. As the maximum word count was 2,000 words I needed to lose about 500 words while still making the changes I needed. After a number of intense revisions I reached the maximum word count and entered it into the club competition.

As writers can have lots of contacts both online and off, the club has always asked members to use a pseudonym on their entry's cover sheet. 
We know our judges would never be influenced by already knowing an entrant, and as Prose Secretary I'm careful not to inadvertently write or say something that one of our judges might see- if I know them, and I intend entering.

So I was absolutely amazed when the results were returned. I'd won! I actually read the email twice to ensure I hadn't misread it.

One of the comments in the judge's feedback that made me smile was, "I found myself chuckling at the phantom, Bold Jack's, asides and imagined him dressed in full 'Captain Jack Sparrow' pirate regalia!" 

That wasn't too far off my mental image of 'Bold Jack' too, although older than the movie pirate... :D

So there we are full circle; the story first written for this trophy competition in 2008, finally won it in 2016. Even though it had rejections and all those revisions, the core of the story never changed.

Have you ever had any stories which took a long time to succeed?


Sunday 23 November 2014

Workshops and Festivals in 2015...

As I missed this year's Festival of Romance in September- it was the same weekend as my son was moving into halls at university- I was hoping that I'll be able to attend next year.

Well the dates and location have been announced.

6th to the 8th November 2015 at Stratford upon Avon in Warwickshire.

I spent many summers there going to the theatre- a whole week to visit places during the day, and in the audience at the RSC performances in the evening.

It's been a very long time since I last visited...

You can keep a watch for future details on the Festival of Romance website, here.

2015's date is in my diary already. :D

*   *   *

If you're in the UK and within travelling distance of London, then you might be interested in the dates for the Women's Weekly fiction workshops being held in 2015.

I know a number of writers who have attended them and enjoyed the day- they always fill up quickly, so if you're interested get booking.

Each one day workshop costs £75, and starts with coffee and biscuits at 10 am and finishes at 4.30 pm, with an hour for lunch. 

It's held at the Blue Fin Building, in London, which readers may recognise from the magazine address.


Serial writing is running: February 9, April 20, July 3, and October 9.

Short Story: March 2, August 24, October 5, and November 9.

Crime Writing: March 23, October 2.

Twist in the Tail Short Story: April 13, September 7.

You can find out more details by clicking on the workshop date you're interested in, here. You can also book your place and pay online there too.

I'd like to go to one of the short story workshops, but then I'd also be interested in attending one of the serial writing sessions too.

Choices, choices...

Wednesday 22 May 2013

More on the Contract Issue...

Following on from the concerns raised by writers on the new DC Thomson contracts- which I mentioned in my last post- Womag has received a response with clarification from Shirley Blair, who is the fiction editor at People's Friend.

You can read it on Womag's latest post, here.

I don't think it acceptable to re-use a writers work without further payment- unless the fee you're paid initially is increased to reflect that fact.

Interestingly the new contract has a much wider reach:

"Our legal department decided that it was necessary to develop new contributor terms that apply right across our publishing business and are relevant to magazines, newspapers and digital publishing."

So this will effect not only the Scottish newspapers they produce, but also The Weekly News, The People's Friend, My Weekly, Beano, The Official Jacqueline Wilson Mag, teen magazine Shout, and Dandy Extreme, The Scots Magazine, and Animals and You- aimed at the younger market.

There's been an explanation of the Clause 8 concern. But saying there will be an" additional payment" if a collection is done, which suggests it will be a one-off payment and not royalties.

And the Joint Contributions aspect will certainly have a knock-on effect. The large print publishers who print previously published pocket novels (that are often in libraries and earn PLR) will now find they can't just use them as before, because they can only have the writers original, not the edited for publication version...

They will answer questions and concerns about the new contracts, which is good.

But, the new contracts are not negotiable, so if you don't sign it, they won't buy your work.

So it will now be down to individual writers to decide whether they sign the contract and continue to be paid for their work, or they don't sign and lose an income source...

Friday 28 September 2012

Magazine Fillers...

All writers eventually get to a stage when they feel they are good enough to make some money from their writing. Sadly that isn't as easy to do nowadays.

While I continue to get on with the fiction, I thought I'd start looking at fillers-writer friends had earned varying sums over the years, so I decided to see what was out there that I might be able to submit to...

But it looks, like unsolicited fiction, that the opportunities are reducing (as far as the regular weekly magazines are concerned).

I've yet to look at the specialist magazines, so there may be some openings there.

Just like book publishers' imprints, the best known magazines that you'll see on the newsagent shelves will be part of a big group and produce a variety of magazines.

Bauer, for example, produce 'Take A Break', 'TV Choice' and 'Spirit and Destiny' alongside 'Take A Break's Take A Puzzle' magazine.

IPC Media have 76 different magazines from 'Chat' to 'Horse and Hound' and even the 'Woman's Weekly Fiction Special'.

Every year magazines start up, and unless they've got a lot of financial support to back them, they will struggle, and many will close.

So it's not surprising that in tough financial times magazines have cut back.

Previously employed journalists have lost their jobs and moved to freelancing.

The magazines have glossy websites with loyal readers that can contribute to online forums for those who sign up- be it fashion, cookery or life, there will be free content.

Magazines that were once very conventional moved toward the celebrity obsessed end of the market, and also embraced real life stories - 'my husband was an alien bigamist' (I know this example is daft but I don't want to offend people) but you know the sort of stories I mean.

So today I bought a 'bundled' magazine- this is where more than one magazine is sold with another, and cheaper than if you bought both separately.

I got 'Prima' with 'Best' and a 2013 Calendar with seasonal bakes each month, and a booklet of money-saving vouchers ( a number requiring you to spend money to get the 20% discount). Plus free eye gel which you have to send off for by post and pay postage for it to be sent to you...

In Prima Extra, a section at the back of the magazine you can find a few money making fillers. Wise Words can win you £25, but you need to visit the Prima Facebook page for the latest Wise Words question.

If you're good at puzzles there's a whole section including a number which could earn you £100 to £500 if you're the lucky entrant drawn.

And if you have any useful tips and it's published you win £25 too. I'll need something original...
I haven't got anything vaguely antique or collectable that I could send a picture of that might get the highest value item shown and win £50.

Now here's something I might be okay with, a 300 word story that can be e-mailed, but sadly no cash for the winning story writer-you can win a Kobo eReader, and the runner- up will get a year's subscription to the magazine. Neither prize to be sniffed at, and your winning story will get read by lots of people.

Letter pages seem to offer prizes for the star letter now.

Well that's only one magazine, there are a lot more out there, and the next one I pick up may be perfect. So next Friday I will be found perusing the shelves of WH Smith, looking for opportunities...

Monday 21 May 2012

My Short Story has Left Home...

It's been quite a few years since I last submitted a short story to a woman's magazine, so I have to admit to a few last minute jitters before I put the envelope in the post box...

I mentioned a few posts back that the story (I've been working on) was originally created in 2007 and had had quite a few revisions since then.

By last week I was finally happy and left it for a final reading this week, and to check for anything I'd missed.

Plus an objective writer/reader read through it to give me an honest opinion; they highlighted a bit of a dialogue/description issue for a minor character that needed looking at, but otherwise enjoyed it and didn't see any spelling or grammar errors.

I even gave it to one of my sons this morning to ask him what he thought- I don't usually ask family members to read my work- but he's the really creative one on my sons, so wouldn't need explanations of why I'd done such and such in the text. He said it was okay- which is as good a response as it will get...

I had the stamps and envelopes but I wasn't too sure of the final weight, as I didn't want it underpaid I went to the nearest post office and checked- 90g, so it was 10g within the large letter weight and I could use the stamps I'd bought before the late April price rise.
It was only 2,000 words, but a story with 3,000 words could probably be in the next price band.

So it's now on its way to Woman's Weekly.

I know it will now be a long wait, but my previous attempts have all been rejected by three months, even when the quoted time was four months.

I really feel confident about this story, so if it gets rejected, I think it won't be because it's a bad story, or lousy grammar and spelling. And if it is a no, it will then be winging its way to Alfie Dog Ltd, the short story download site, for their consideration.

I'm determined it will find a home.

Now I can get back to my longer projects...

Thursday 26 April 2012

The History and Future of my Short Story ...

This month I've been revising one of my short stories.

It was originally written as a 1,000 word story for a (new) annual competition at the writers' club back in late 2007. It didn't get anywhere, but I'd had to cut it to get it to the required length, and honestly it lost something.

So I decided to rewrite it and the total went up to about 1,500 words.

It got put aside and didn't reappear for a couple of years, until I decided to enter it in a sort of competition that Writers Forum was running with a few of the weekly women's magazines. I knew it wasn't good enough to be selected for publication- entry was free, but for a few pound you could get a critique from the judge.

The one page crit was really worthwhile and showed me how much I had right and what the niggles were- that I hadn't been able to pin down myself because I was too close to it, and inexperienced.

More time passed and after doing a workshop on short story writing for women's magazines, the tutor agreed to read and critique a story up to 2,000 words. She herself had sold lots of short stories to the women's magazine markets, and I'd read a couple of hers not long before the event and enjoyed them.

It was reassuring that the comments I received were more good news than bad. My story was almost up to a publishable standard, it just had a few minor areas that needed work.

In solving the first lot of weak points I'd created other small issues, but I was quite capable of solving them.

Since then it's gone through a couple of versions, but with time away from it and developing my writing and editing skills, I decided now was the time to make a final push at getting it finished and sent off, hopefully to be bought and published...

There were elements that I needed from three different versions of the story, so began the slow task of cutting and pasting the appropriate sections from each version. The plot was still the one I started with, but my characters had developed, and I'd discovered facts about them which I hadn't known all those years ago.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I finally completed the combining/rewriting as I went along stage. My story has now reached a length of 2, 040.

Now if I can just lose those forty words somehow, I'll be happy. So a final edit beckons.

The womag short story market has changed so much over the time I've been rewriting. The magazine it would have worked best for, no longer accepts submissions from new writers, and it's 50/50 for the second target market.

The other potential home may be the Alfie Dog Ltd short story download website. It's open for submissions and I know the editor won't accept substandard stories.

The writer earns money from their stories being purchased by readers- read the outline of how it works here, and royalty details here. The submission process is all online, so no postal costs are involved.

Whatever eventually happens to my short story, good news or bad, I'll let you know...

Thursday 22 March 2012

Editing and Motherhood...

You may wonder what editing has to do with motherhood, but for me they're interchangeable at the moment.

I'm having a short break from the novel to work on a short story-it's been waiting for me to get back to it for over a year. I knew it wasn't quite right, and I think I was lacking confidence in my ability to produce a saleable story, so the more I tried, the more the story went into reverse or that was how it felt. So I left it, believing it was never going to work.

I've also felt like that whenever I've gone to the parents consultation evenings at school. But yesterday (Wednesday) the milestone of the last ever consultation evening was reached. Never again will I have to go with my long list of teachers to talk to (would I ever get through them all), with my notebook and pen to record the comments from each one, so I could then report back the (correct) details to the appropriate son...

(This is the one aspect of multiple birth families that never gets mentioned in books- parents evenings post primary school are long, tiring and require a lot of brain energy.)

In a few months the GCSE exams will be in full spate- in fact next week it's the art exam. With all the revision classes coming up, stress is building, but there is, as they say, light at the end of the tunnel...

I'm making the most of any calm spells to concentrate on shorter projects, hence the short story editing.

I can now see the light in the story too. The structure problems that I couldn't solve previously are resolving themselves as I change sentences, choose a different word here, adjust a description there, and take lines out- or put them back in.

I'm finally starting to gain that confidence I previously lacked.

I know I'm competing in a tough market with a high standard, so my story will have to be as good as I can make it.

Then it will be up to the sifting readers/editor whether it's a yes or no.

My previous attempts have always received the standard rejection letter, so I can either improve or get the same rejection letter again.

I'll let you know when I finally send it out, and no matter how long I have to wait- and I know it will be months-which type of reply I get. :-)

Monday 13 February 2012

Update on Woman's Own Issue...

Just seen good news on Womag's blog that Woman's Own have sensibly decided to award their proposed short story winner, for their Summer Special,  a monetary prize.

Hopefully the publicity that this incident received will put off any other magazines or organisations considering going down this route- well we can hope...

Friday 4 November 2011

A Magazine Must-Have...

This week the centenary issue of Woman's Weekly is in the shops- you can't miss the blue and pink cover with 100 across the front. (It's dated 8th November 2011.)

It's brilliant for enthusiasts of nostalgia, or anyone interested in researching any decade of the 20th Century.

There are a couple of pages of front covers showing how they've changed and I certainly remember the pink background header title from the 70's and 80's- and the knitting patterns...

The beauty and health sections from the past were certainly an eye opener. Obviously science has brought many discoveries over one hundred years, but all I will say is I'm glad I wasn't a baby in 1916!!!

The reproduction of the first issue that's included is about A5 size and the print is small, so I'm not going to try reading the articles and stories without a magnifying glass handy. But the adverts of 1911 do make their 21st century counterparts seem quite tame...

I'm sure there will be lots of inspiration for stories from this centenary issue...

There are some links for the website given in the magazine but they don't seem to be working at the moment, but meanwhile the website can be found here.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Short Stories and Women's Magazines...

The petition begun (last week) by the Society of Authors against the cuts being planned by Radio 4 to short story slots from spring 2012, has reached over 5,000 signatures and will be presented to the Radio 4 Controller Gwyneth Williams on Thursday afternoon at Broadcasting House. It will be accompanied by a number of authors and the director of the National Short Story week too, read the article about it, here.

As to Women's magazines...

Best magazine (that stopped their story slot last year) are running a short story competition for which you need to collect tokens- the first one is in the 2nd August issue out now, so you'll need the following three August issues for the remaining tokens. The entry form will be in the 6th September issue.

At the moment the terms and conditions they refer to at the back of the magazine don't give any information on required length or any rules of entry, nor what rights are involved. Hopefully they will reveal that soon.

I read and buy the magazines that do fiction, I don't buy the magazines that are full of supposed real-life stories. I want to be entertained and those type of stories don't do that.
Sadly many of the women's magazines when they revamp seem to consider these as essential. And with that goes the celebrity/soap items. (Okay many do like these slots, personally I don't.)

I like fashion and make-up, but please, affordable, available and not just suited to young and skinny women please.

Am I the only older (okay, I admit I'm 50+) but still young, woman, who feels the weekly women's magazine market is not catering adequately to my age group?

Compared to my mother's generation, the fifty plus women of today are very different, we lead much more active lives and many of us still have children/teenagers going through the education system.

And short stories please...

So magazine editors start considering us. There is a gap in the market that you are missing out on, and we all know that when it comes to the head honchos in the magazine business world, sales matter...

Monday 13 June 2011

Why Are Women's Magazines Stopping Short-Story Slots?

If you're a regular reader of the Womag blog you'll already know that many short story markets have gone and others have restricted submissions to writers who have previously sold to that magazine.

(I know I'm not the only who has yet to make that first womag sale, and now our options have been further limited by these changes.)

There are overseas markets, but when you're still trying to get that  first sale, or further sales after that first acceptance, submitting to those other markets can be a little intimidating and daunting.

So what is the reason for the decline in fiction slots? I would like to hear your views on this too.

Personally I don't think it is just one thing...

Look on any magazine shelf  stocking the weeklies and you'll see a good proportion with sometimes bizarre straplines- basically revealing the dirty laundry of  numerous women, who slept with their brother-in-law/ran off with their mother's boyfriend and so on.

Then there are the celebrity gossip magazines spilling the latest on Cheryl Cole, or a television personality undergoing a trauma in their personal lives. Let's not even mention unfaithful footballers' illicit love-interests.

Fact: Sex and celebrity sells.

Publishers want their magazines to sell well, otherwise there's no point in employing all those people and with the increasing printing costs it would be cheaper to shut them down.

So they must make money.

Editors are under pressure to give the reader what they want; be it the latest miracle face cream, that must have accessory or outfit. The latest news on Eastenders or Coronation Street, or any other popular soap.
And to keep up with the above mentioned gossip and 'real-life' stories.

(Do you think these supposed real-life stories are there to make the reader feel better about their own lives?)

Demographics- Many of the young aren't interested in reading the traditional end of the women's magazine market- they want the celebrity culture that they (perhaps) aspire to.

So where will the future readers of short fiction come from?

As a young woman I read Cosmopolitan, but I also read Woman and Woman's Own, and Woman's Realm (I think it became part of Woman's Weekly) not only for the articles but especially for the fiction.
I could afford to buy that fiction at a time when there was less choice in book genre and the prices of those books available was  fixed.

But today the choices for the young spending their money is immense, film releases, music and digital downloads, nightclubs, mobile phones that access the web and send e-mails and so much more.

They aren't going to suddenly start picking up women's weeklies just because they (will eventually) hit 40...

This may be a battle that writers cannot win.

But if you're willing to try, pop over to Patsy Collins blog and follow her suggestion on her 11th June posting.

There is news of a Facebook crusade on both Patsy's and Womag's blog, so follow the links above.