Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Help for New Writers

Wouldn't it be great if all you had to do was sit down and write your short stories? I have realised that, for most of us, to write for a particular market there is more to it than this - you have to learn the ropes.

This post is to help other new writers who are considering trying to break into the Women's Magazine market by hopefully answering some of the questions that I felt I needed to ask before I could start.

Linda's great book of ideas

Over the last few months, since writing more seriously, I have been very lucky to have been in contact with Linda Lewis Linda has written hundreds of short stories for Women's Magazines and as such, has been the perfect person to answer my, possibly very naive, questions. Linda also writes a very interesting column in Writer's Forum magazine called Short Story Success, which has a wealth of information for new writers for this market. Some of my questions and answers were included in a recent issue.
Thank you, Linda for your patience over the last few months and your useful advice.
These are Linda's answers to 
The Questions All New Writers Should Ask
Question:  How many stories should I send at one time?
Answer:    A maximum of two
Question:  I have had a letter back with a comment rather than the standard rejection letter - is this a good sign?
Answer:    Any comments received from an editor is a sign of encouragement. They're swamped with stories and if they take the time to comment on yours it means you're 'almost there'.
Question:   I have 12 stories 'out there' is this enough?
Answer:     12 stories are commendable - but the trick is to have even more.
Question:  Do magazines let you know by post or email if they want to buy your story?
Answer:    The People's Friend lets you know by post, Fiction Feast and The Weekly News by email and Yours sometimes by phone.
Question:  If you have a story accepted, do you mention it in your next covering letter?
Answer:    Not unless you want to say that having an acceptance has spurred you on to write more - keep covering letters as short as possible.
Question:   Should you round up the word count or give the exact number of words?
Answer:     Give as exact a word count as you can. My margin for a 1000 word story would be 960 -1030.
Question:   I sent a story 13 weeks ago and haven't heard anything. What is the average timescale for a reply? The guidelines say 10 - 12 weeks - should contact the magazine or leave it a while?
Answer:    The long turn around might mean that your story has gone to a second or third reading (for a sale there might 3 readings then the editor will read it). If you haven't heard in 20 weeks, you can write a short letter including the date submitted and the title. Don't worry too much about the old stories - write some more!
 When I told Linda about my first sale to Fiction Feast, her response was 'Well done! Now go and write another dozen!'
The Writer's Treasury of Ideas by Linda Lewis is £12 plus p&p. If you buy direct from her website you will receive a free mini guide to short story competitions.


  1. This is really helpful for those writers wanting to break into the magazine market. Thanks for sharing it :)

  2. Great advice! Linda is always a woman worth listening to.

  3. Yes Linda has been a great help with all those silly questions you don't like to ask!