Tuesday, 16 March 2010

And Repeat After Me ... "Of Course I Can"

Some time ago, I had a rare success - I sold a short story to an Australian magazine. Now, if I've had a success with a piece in one country, I try to replicate it again in another country. So, I've been trying some of the British magazines with this story and last week an editor emailed saying they liked the story - in fact - it was just the sort of story they liked using in the publication. However, (there's always a 'but' isn't there?), the editor felt that there was an element of the story that wasn't quite right. More explanation was required to clarify part of the plot to the reader. If I was prepared to resolve this query, then the editor would be happy to consider the piece again.

So, guess what I'm doing at the moment? Yes, I'm rewriting the short story. The editor has asked and I have replied, "Of course I can."

(This is also an interesting point about the subjectivity of editors. Remember, this short story has already been published in Australia and the Australia editor clearly thought that the plot made sense. So, publication isn't always black and white.)

Yesterday, I received an email from an editor of a magazine concerning an article I had submitted. I'd targeted a 1,000-word slot, but the editor has emailed to say that this slot will be full for the foreseeable future. However, he needed a 500-word piece and felt that my subject matter could work well here. Would I be happy to cut and rewrite my 1,000-word article to 500 words? And so I have replied with, "Of course I can."

Sometimes publication does not come about as we envisage it to. But, as long as you are prepared to be flexible, your chances of success are that much greater. Show an editor that you accept they are the customer (because they are - and as we all know - the customer is always right) and you'll have lots of happy, returning customers in the future.

Before I go, I would just like to flag up a television programme you may find interesting, that is being aired this Thursday, 17th March on Channel 4 at 9pm. It's a documentary called "The Lady and the Revamp" and it's a behind the scenes look at the changes that have been taking place over the past year at The Lady magazine. It could be a great insight into how the magazine works and what they hope to plan for the future!

(If you miss it, or if you are based abroad, you may be able to watch it after Thursday on the Channel 4 On Demand website at:

Good luck.


  1. Good luck with the rewrites. I once had a twist end story returned because the editor had guessed what the twist was in the first few lines. The next editor said the twist came as too much of a surprise.
    Makes you wonder which customer was right!

  2. Cutting a piece by half is such good experience anyway. I've done it before, and realised how wordy I was to start with. If I'd written a 90,000 word epic and someone offered me enough money to reduce it to a text message, I think I probably would. Needs must.

  3. Hello, I cannot see anything about the programme mentioned on Ch4 at 9 this evening 'Lady and the Revamp...Does anyone know where it is...?

  4. I agree - it's nearly always best to change the piece than to lose a sale. The editor should know their readers and will have a reason for requesting the change.

    The weirdest request I've had is to make a story less orange.

  5. Hi Anonymous

    If you're looking at the Channel 4 website for the programme, it may not show until AFTER the show has been transmitted tonight. Alternatively, if you're looking at Channel 4 in Wales, the programmes may be different because Welsh Channel 4 carries different programmes to English & Scottish Channel 4! If that's the case, check out the Channel 4 website tomorrow an watch it on there.

    I have to record the programme anyway, because I'm out!