Posts Tagged People’s Friend
“Keeping On, Keeping On,” said Alan Bennett. But I’m wondering whether that is always the right thing to do? Should there come a point when it’s best to draw a line in the sand, say, “I tried my best”, and then move onto something else?
I’m going through a dry patch in my writing. You may remember me telling you that I had a second book on submission with my agent and was keeping my fingers crossed. As with the earlier novel, this one also failed to find a home with one of the big publishers. I suggested trying both books with the smaller, digital first publishers. My agent felt unable to add much to this process and therefore we agreed that I would proceed down this route un-agented. I have submitted to several places but, as of this moment, nothing has come of it.
I’ve put a lot of work into getting so near, but yet so far. People tell me that I did well to get taken on by one of the best agents in the country. I understand that and I learned a lot from the process. But it’s still very difficult to get re-enthused about starting all over again on another novel that might also never see the light of day.
I’ve considered returning to short stories and have managed to write two. One’s gone off to a competition and the other one is waiting for a final edit before I try it with The People’s Friend. However, the short story market has shrunk and shrunk and shrunk, so I’m not feeling optimistic.
And, at the moment, the article pitches seem to be landing on deaf ears after a good run of successes.
On a more positive note, I am two weeks into a free Zoom novel-writing course run by Jacci Turner. She’s running the course in the US at 10 am, which is a convenient 6 pm BST but there is an Australian in the cohort joining from a darkened house at 2:30 am! I’m hoping this course might re-ignite my passion and enthusiasm.
But in the meantime I’d love to hear your opinion/advice:
Should I continue ‘keeping on, keeping on’ as a writer or call it a day and find something else? How do you cope with dry patches like this?
For the greater part of this year I’ve been working with my wonderful agent, Juliet Mushens, to get my current manuscript into tip-top condition. She is now happy with it and last week it went out into the big wide world of publishers. My fingers are firmly crossed but, as I know from my experience two years ago, there is many slip between cup and lip. I’m not saying much about the actual story except there are no murders and it’s infinitely more cheerful than Bedsit Three or The Promise.
Juliet recently re-opened to submissions if you’re currently querying agents and think she might be a good fit for you.
I’ve also continued writing occasional articles for The People’s Friend and was asked to pitch ideas this week for Christmas 2022! As I’ve said before, finding the ideas is by far the hardest part of article writing. Correction: finding ideas that haven’t already been covered in some shape or form by a magazine with such a long history is the hardest part of article writing. The good part about writing for The People’s Friend is the quick response to most pitches – I usually get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ within a week to ten days and the ‘pitch black hole’ of many publications is non-existent.
There are submission guidelines on The People’s Friend website if you fancy having a go at writing features for them.
Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners was selected by Amazon as one of November’s Kindle Deals. Amazon have discounted the book to 99p and given it a little bit of a push. So far it has sold about three times more than in October which is good! And it’s currently got orange bestseller flags in both the Amazon Electronic Publishing and Digital Media categories. But at 99p my royalty rate drops to 30% so financially I won’t make any more money, however I’m hoping the boost the Deal has given me will generate a head start for December when the price returns to normal.
If you’d like to nominate any of your books for an Amazon Deal, go to your Amazon bookshelf and click the Marketing tab along the top of the page. Scroll down to see the option to nominate your e-books. It’s free of charge and so worth a try. There’s more information on the Amazon help pages.
Now I’ll stop typing so that I can cross my fingers again!
What’s been going on in my writing life recently?
At the end of June I completed the second round of agent edits on my current WIP and submitted the manuscript again. Over the last few weeks I’ve been biting my nails while I wait to hear if more work is needed or whether the novel has reached the standard for submission to publishers. You may remember that a previous manuscript went out to publishers a couple of years ago but failed to sell.
While I wait for the verdict I’ve found it difficult to get back into fiction (a new novel or short stories), so I’ve been doing bits and pieces of non-fiction writing.
I’ve taken the opportunity to update Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. The book was first published back in 2014 and has consistently been one of my best-sellers. Every year or so, I’ve re-read it and made changes/additions/deletions to reflect the ever changing landscape of self-publishing on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback format. It contains lots of useful information if you’re thinking of self-publishing for the first time.
I’ve also written a few articles for The People’s Friend. The hardest part of this (like any writing, I think) is generating ideas that are appropriate to the readership and haven’t already been covered in the magazine before. The magazine holds weekly editorial meetings and so I usually get a ‘yes’ or, more likely, a ‘no’ on ideas quickly. The downside is it’s no longer possible to earn any ALCS money on articles or short stories published in the magazine.
In June I had my first post-lockdown holiday. My husband and I walked the first five stages of the Cost to Coast. We started at St Bees and finished at Kirkby Stephen five days later. Physically it was much more difficult than we’d envisaged but great to finally get away. I took notes along the way and am currently turning those notes into a short e-book. It will be partly a personal experience narrative and partly resources for those planning to do the walk themselves. If you enjoy walking (or are just nosy about what other people get up to on their holidays) watch this space!
Finally I’ve recently got into the crime novels of Jane Harper. Jane was born in the UK but now lives in Australia. Her novels are set in the Australian outback which gives them quite a different feel to more urban murder stories. I started with The Lost Man and am now half-way through The Dry. In 2014 a short story submitted by Jane was included in the Big Issue’s annual Fiction Edition. This inspired her to pursue creative writing more seriously. Big things from little acorns grow!
I’ve been rather quiet about my own literary endeavours of late, so here’s a quick update.
At the beginning of February the first three chapters and synopsis of last year’s NaNoWriMo manuscript generated a call for the full manuscript from my agent. Since then I’ve been working on bringing the rest of the manuscript up to scratch. Today I pressed ‘send’ and now have around six weeks to wait for the verdict.
I’ve also completed a training course (via Zoom) to become a Shared Reading Group Leader. I’m looking forward to the end of restrictions and the opportunity to get a real-life group started.
So what do I do while I wait for the above two things to come to fruition? I’ve made a little list of possibilities. They won’t all get done but, hopefully, the list will mean I don’t waste too much time procrastinating:
- Complete article commissioned by The People’s Friend
- Chase up pitches outstanding with other publications.
- Attempt to win my way to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School by entering their short story competition.
- Publish my short story collections on Kobo when the relevant KDP Select enrolments end. This will involve sourcing new covers. Kobo cited the existing covers as a factor in stopping the books being accepted into their promotions.
- Investigate whether I have enough short stories to publish another collection.
- Revisit the categories/keywords on my existing KDP publications.
- Update Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners.
Watch this space to find out how I get on!
What’s everyone else working on? Are you a list-person or do you just go where the whim takes you?
Just back from my ‘white badger’ week at Swanwick (first time visitors are given a white name badge and everyone else gets a yellow one).
There was a packed program plus lots of friendly people to meet. After all that ‘busyness’ and chatter the following points stick in my mind:
- Three great talks from People’s Friend fiction editor, Shirley Blair. She told us a lot about the magazine’s requirements and how to improve our chances of success, including the fact that 3,000 to 4,000 word stories are particularly needed and that the magazine is willing to ‘push the boundaries’ on some of their previously taboo subjects.
- Tips on novel editing from David Hough, including the advice to get the novel printed as a proof paperback at Lulu.com for the final read through – seeing the manuscript in this different format should make the errors jump out.
- Meeting some of my virtual acquaintances ‘in the flesh’ for the first time and re-establishing contact with people I’ve met at other writing events and courses in the past.
- The stress of creating an improvised play for public performance with only a few hours to prepare it.
- The peace of morning meditation around the lake.
- Never sit at the end of a table in the dining-room because you’ll have to serve the meal (and make sure everyone gets equal portions!)
Bead Roberts (who writes for the womags and is also a creative writing tutor) was one of my ‘re-establishing contact people’. She’s a lovely lady with a wealth of experience to pass on and is tutoring a weekend short story writing course in Leeds on the 26th to 28th September at Weetwood Hall (a great venue – I went there last year). Details can be found on the Relax and Write website.
So choose your favourite caffeine fix – latte, cappuccino, mocha ….
And which cake do you fancy? Lemon drizzle, chocolate fudge or fruit cake?
If you’re sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin.
Or I would if this was a ‘real’ instead of a virtual book launch. Then I could have the pleasure of meeting you all in the flesh and thanking you for all the support and positive comments about my first e-anthology. Plus I could read you one or two stories from the newly released Old Friends.
Instead I’ll just tell you about my second book and then you can visit Amazon and ‘Look Inside’ or download the sample to get a real flavour of it…
Old Friends contains 13 short stories that have previously appeared in My Weekly, People’s Friend and The Weekly News. I’ve included tales with a twist, stories about the ups and downs of family life plus, of course, a little romance.
I hope this collection will bring a little escapism to your coffee break!
Or find it on all other Amazon sites by searching for ASIN B00BJIKIBI.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
The museum contains exhibits that each recall the breakup of a relationship. Each object is accompanied by a narrative telling its story such as:
- A lover’s mobile phone, given to the girlfriend he’d just broken up with, so that she couldn’t call him anymore
- An axe that was used on the furniture of an unfaithful partner
- A garden dwarf that was thrown at an ex’s windscreen on divorce day
The place sounds like a building full of writing prompts with a whole wealth of relationship stories, just waiting to be written. There’s a cafe there too – so somewhere to sit and jot down notes whilst enjoying mulled wine and pepper cookies (the house specialities according to the website).
The museum also accepts new exhibits from people wishing to get rid of stuff that reminds them of a painful breakup. What would your hero or heroine donate?
Look out for the museum’s touring exhibitions, there was one in Lincolnshire earlier this year and one in London in 2011 – if only I’d known I could’ve collected enough ideas to last a lifetime! Instead I’ll have to save up for a flight to Zagreb …
P.S. I had an acceptance from People’s Friend this week – hurrah, a great way to end the year!
I had a lovely email from People’s Friend this week accepting a story.
The story was one of my favourites (you know how you get those sometimes – no matter how many rejections a story attracts, you keep tweaking and re-submitting because you think there’s something special about it and all you need to do is find the right market). This one started life as a competition entry and has been almost completely rewritten on its journey via Woman’s Weekly and My Weekly. Finally, People’s Friend asked for two lots of changes to make it fit their readership.
The acceptance email said it now had ‘the perfect balance of romance and emotion’. So all that remains is to recreate that same balancing act in another story!
I’ve no idea when it will appear in print – it’s gone into the magazine’s ‘story stock drawer’.
Most of us have ‘favourite’ stories, poems or articles that for some reason have never made it into print. For some
reason we particularly like these pieces but it seems no-one else does! Recently I resurrected a couple of stories which had unsuccessfully done the rounds but which I thought had a strong idea behind them.
The first was a ‘twist in the tail’ about a fortune-teller and was based on an anecdote that a work colleague told me. It was rejected by both Take a Break Fiction Feast and The Weekly News. I managed to distill the essence of the story down into just 60 words and emailed it off to Real People, which publishes a 60 word story each week and pays £25. And finally my fortune-teller tale found a home! It was published a couple of weeks ago and now I feel that I can stop fretting over that ‘favourite’ and move on.
Similarly, another story, set partly in the early 1980s and partly in the present day, had flopped in a couple of competitions and had been rejected by Woman’s Weekly. It then also got turned down by My Weekly – but this time with a few words about why it wasn’t quite right. I took notice of the comments, reworked the story and sent it off yet again – this time to People’s Friend. This week I had an email from one of the People’s Friend fiction team saying that they liked the story, but also listing a number of changes that would be necessary before it could be considered for the magazine. So now I’m editing the story yet again and crossing my fingers that when I re-submit it, People’s Friend will say ‘Yes’ and finally give my story a home.
So if you’ve written something you really love but can’t seem to get it accepted anywhere – keep trying. Persistance can pay!