Posts Tagged Non-Fiction
Many years ago when I was starting out on my writing career I did a correspondence course with The Writers’ Bureau. For one of my first assignments I wrote a short article about Birmingham Botanical Gardens and my tutor suggested I send it to This England. I did and they published it in their Cornucopia section. I got paid and felt like a real writer.
This is a good market to aim for if you want to have a go at non-fiction writing.
This England is a glossy, quarterly magazine for “all who love our green and pleasant land.” It contains illustrated articles on English history, traditions and towns and is “read by two million patriots all over the world”.
The Cornucopia section consists of several short pieces, some written in house and some supplied by freelances. They range in length from around 250 to 400 words and cover topics such as the centenary of a Brighton cinema, Digswell Lake near Welwyn Garden City and recyling at Chatsworth House. I’ve found that the easiest pieces to get accepted are those based on an anniversary of some kind, e.g. 50 years since the birth of X, 75 years since building Y was opened.
The magazine’s Guide for Contributors states that articles should be “about our country’s people and places – its natural beauty, towns and villages, traditions, odd customs, legends, folklore, surviving crafts, etc. ” Short poems (6 to 24 lines) that are meaningful rather than clever are also accepted.
The best way of getting a feel for the style and content of the magazine is get hold of a copy (it is available in WH Smith and other good newsagents).
Submit your article (with an SAE) to:
The Editor (MSS)
P.O. Box 52
Material related to a particular date or season should be sent at least 6 months in advance. A decision on work submitted can take up to 3 months and be warned if you chase the fate of your piece before the full 3 months has elapsed, the Guide says “Material is invariably returned without further consideration to an over-zealous contributor.”
Payment is £25 per 1,000 words plus a contributor’s copy of the magazine.
In 2007 I was the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust Letter Writer of the Year (unfortunately this particular award is no more). To win I had to provide a portfolio of letters that I’d had published over the previous 12 months and in the course of putting this together I picked up several tips for getting in to print:
- Be concise – usually the shorter the letter the better
- Study the publication – look at the letters already chosen for publication and use these as your template. Mimic their language and sentence structure. Take note of their subject matter – are they funny family anecdotes or intelligent comments on past features in the magazine.
- Say thank you – magazines like positive feedback so tell them if an article they published has helped or inspired you in some way
- Include a photograph – women’s magazines in particular use pictures of their readers, so including one will increase your chance of publication
- Don’t duplicate your letters – as with short stories and features, don’t send the same letter to two different publications. Letters must be ‘exclusive’.
- Target a variety of magazines – if you write too often to the same publication your name may go on a ‘banned’ list because readers complain if the same name continually appears. Once a letter is accepted, leave a gap before writing again.
- Be quick off the mark – if you’re commenting on something that’s appeared in the magazine, email your letter ASAP so that it can be printed in the next or second issue.
- Keep records – if a letter hasn’t appeared in print after several months and it’s content is not magazine specific, try sending it somewhere else.
There is a ‘How To’ article of mine covering this topic here.
Today’s writing prompt follows on from the theme of letters and is:
A sealed envelope