I’m delighted to bring you this guest blog post, today by short story author, book review blogger and writing magazine columnist (and writing friend so I asked her to do this for me :)) interviewee Helen M Hunt.
Writing Short Stories For Women’s Magazines
The women’s magazine short story market remains one of the most competitive out there. Sadly, it is a shrinking market and because competition is so fierce, only the very best stories will make it to publication. There are still opportunities for those determined to succeed though, and in this post I’ve gathered together what I think is the most helpful advice for anyone who wants to make their mark!
Patience is the key – don’t expect your first story to be accepted for publication, or your second or third. It can be a long process. Check submission guidelines for specific magazines carefully: there’s no point in sending a story that doesn’t fit the magazine’s requirements. I strongly recommend Womagwriter’s blog which has all the guidelines and contact details for the magazines you might want to submit to.
Initially you should concentrate on targeting one or two magazines – pick the ones that appeal to you most as a reader. If you try to research all the magazines in one go you’ll be overwhelmed. Remember that magazines are looking for stories that are similar in style and tone to the ones they are currently using, but at the same time they need to be different enough to catch an editor’s eye. That’s why you need to study the magazines really carefully and ask yourself why the stories in them work. Then ask yourself how you can bring something different to it!
Magazines aimed at writers – Writers’ Forum and Writing Magazine are the big names – often have advice for beginner writers and also for short story writers. I’m writing some articles for Writing Magazine at the moment that cover different aspects of short story writing, so look out for those over the next few months.
For those with a bit more experience
Write as many stories as you can and keep sending them out. It’s helpful if you can set yourself a quota – but make sure it’s realistic. Once you are writing to a publishable standard, the more stories you have out there, the greater your chance of acceptance.
Never give up on a story! If one magazine rejects it, look at it again, revise it if necessary and send it somewhere else. Different editors have different tastes and I’ve sold a story on its seventh outing before.
Join a critique group if you haven’t already, either online or in the real world. Make sure that at least some people in the group are being published in the area you are aiming for. Ideally join a group that are just writing short stories as, although general creative writing groups are great for encouragement and inspiration, short story writing skills are very different from novel or poetry writing skills. If this isn’t possible you could use a critique service instead.
Women’s magazine writers are a friendly lot and always generous with their advice. There’s lots of online support out there for people who are aiming at this market.
For anyone who prefers a book to refer to, Della Galton’s ‘How To Write And Sell Short Stories’ is the best book out there on this subject and I highly recommend it.
You might also be interested to know that I run workshops for people who are interested in writing for the women’s magazine market. You can find full details here. I also offer email short story critiques.
Thank you Helen! :)
Helen Hunt writes short stories and features for magazines. Her short stories have appeared in Woman’s Weekly, My Weekly, The Weekly News, People’s Friend and Take A Break Fiction Feast in the UK, and That’s Life Fast Fiction in Australia. She also writes articles for Writers’ Forum and Writing Magazine. Helen is also a contributor to the ‘Tears and Laughter…‘ anthology.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about – take a look here for the list of current topics and dates. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).