Monday, 25 August 2014

Rejection Is Part Of The Job

Nobody likes being rejected. But all writers are rejected. Rejection is part of the job. And this means that rejection is actually a Good Thing. I know that may come as a shock, but here’s why:
  • If you’ve been rejected, it means you’ve actually written something in the first place!
  • It also means that you’ve had the courage to send it off.
  • You’ll appreciate the acceptance even more, when you receive it.

Ask anyone in a sales job if they have a 100% acceptance rate, and they’ll say no. (If they say yes then they’re lying!) As writers, that’s what we are, in a sales job, because we’re trying to sell our words to somebody else. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that rejection is a business decision. It’s not a personal one. A rejection is merely someone saying that those particular words are not right for that particular market at this particular time. I have experience of successfully selling the same article to a magazine editor ten years after he’d originally rejected it. The timing wasn’t right the first time. That's all.

Rejection is also subjective. I’ve sold articles to publications where previous editors have rejected them. It was the same article, targeting the same readership. All that had changed was the editor.

Yes, rejection hurts. Especially when you’ve put so much time and effort into creating your masterpiece - whether it be a letter to a readers’ letter page, or your latest novel. (And admittedly, having a novel rejected does hurt more because of how much time you’ve spent on the project.) But that hurt is only temporary. It’s not the end of the world. Just the end of that particular journey. One of the reasons rejections hurt is because we already have it mapped out in our minds how that journey will go - submission, acceptance, publication, payment - yay! A rejection puts a spanner in the works of that journey. It means the road ahead is closed, but they may be a diversion we can take. But, if you accept that rejection is part of the journey to publication, you can still arrive at your destination, even if the route turns out to be a little more circuitous than you originally planned.

It’s okay to feel despondent and annoyed when you’re rejected. But don’t let it cloud your judgment. There’s always hope in a new market. So the sooner you accept rejection as part of the job, the sooner you’ll be able to get back to writing something else.

Good luck.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Circulation Figures

The circulation figures for the first six months of 2014 are out (, and surprise, surprise, people are buying fewer magazines, although some still have a healthy readership. What may come as a surprise is that the top three highest selling magazines are TV listings mags!

The reason circulation figures are important is because the more readers a publication has, the more it can charge its advertisers. So, you might think that Take A Break magazine pays a lot of money out for its letter pages and real life stories, but that’s because, with a circulation of 657,282 issues EVERY WEEK, they can charge their advertisers a lot of money. (Especially when Take A Break also claim that every single copy is read by three people.)

Why should writers consider circulation figures? Well, we shouldn’t get hung up on them, but they can be a useful pointer when it comes to payment. The higher the circulation figures, the more money it can afford to pay its writers (in theory). When I’ve sold short stories to Take A Break, they’ve paid several hundred pounds, but The Weekly News pays a lot less (less than a hundred), but when you see it has a circulation figure of 26,486, that’s a lot less than Take A Break’s circulation. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.

They can also make interesting reading. For example, more people buy The People’s Friend than Psychologies, Harpers Bazaar, delicious and Tatler added together.

And it’s interesting to note that digital versions of magazines aren’t really taking off just at the moment, although some publications, such as the Economist, seem to be generating a regular electronic readership.

Mind you - I wonder how these circulation figures are influenced by writers buying copies for analysis and market research purposes!

Some magazine quote their latest ABC (Audit of the Bureau of Circulation) figures on their contents pages. It’s worth looking out for it, so you have an idea as to how many people might read your article, should you succeed in getting it published in the publication.

Good luck!

Monday, 11 August 2014


Don’t know what a Noops is? It’s quite straightforward really … it’s what  I call a Nearly Oops moment! 

I had an idea for a short 500-word piece that I thought would fit the Backchat column in Amateur Photographer magazine (which I’ve successfully sold a few pieces to in the past). So, I let my pen scribble across my notebook, as I captured my initial thoughts, and then over the last couple of days I edited and refined my text to get it to the right 500-word word length. Satisfied with the piece, I searched my Contacts for the relevant email address for this submission contact and was about to start drafting my submission email when I suddenly thought about checking that the Backchat column still existed.

The following day, while in my local newsagents, I found a copy of Amateur Photographer magazine and flicked through the pages, but couldn't find anything. Not sited next to the letters page where it usually was, I realised that something had changed and so bought the magazine for a closer analysis.

Back at home I was able to give the magazine a thorough market analysis. Since the last time I’d looked at a copy of AP, the editor has changed and there’s been a few other changes too - one of which is the dropping of the Backchat column! Now that would have a been a faux pas had I submitted it!

Still, I had this idea and I thought it would work somewhere, and I found a current slot in Outdoor Photography magazine, but I needed to extend the text to 700 words, which I did, When happy with this, I submitted it and the editor replied within a couple of days. He liked it and wants to use it. Even better, what he was paying was, proportionately, better than I would have got through the Backchat column, had that still been going!

So this little tale is just a reminder that if you haven’t looked at a magazine for a while, you should refresh your memory, because magazines do change over time. And if your intended market has disappeared - don’t panic. There could be a better-paying one just around the corner!

As I say, that was nearly an oops moment - or a Noops, as I call them.

Good luck!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Sticking Up For Yourself

One of the drawbacks of being a freelance writer is that you’re on your own. Whenever a problem arises you have to be the one who sorts it out. Sometimes this can be a little disheartening, but also frustrating. But don’t let this put you off standing up for what’s right. I’ll give you two examples:

Author Liability
I received a royalty statement showing my latest books sales, and on one section there were some deductions. I queried this with the publisher who told me that, as per my contract, the deductions were a contribution towards the cost of converting my book text into eBook format. I thought this strange, because I knew I wouldn't have signed a contract with such a clause in it, and when I went back to my contract I was heartened to see I was right! My contract clearly stated I was not liable for these costs. It took me 48 hours to get the publisher to see where they’d made their mistake, but the point was I was contractually entitled to that money, and therefore I wanted it. Of course, it wasn’t a huge sum, and if I calculate the amount of time it took me to get it sorted out, it works out at an hourly rate of £1.95! However, this just shows how publishers can make mistakes. It’s down to you to spot those mistakes and take action.

Contract Payment
Another example was with a royalty statement (it’s always royalty statements, it seems!). One of my publishers had been taken over by a new publisher, so this was the first statement issued by that new publisher. The book in question is quite old now, so I was surprised to see a royalty payment of £10.68 due. However, the new publisher had printed at the foot of the royalty statement that balances of less than £25 are carried forward to the next royalty statement. This figure didn’t sit right with me, so I went back to my original contract and found the clause in question, and the original publisher only held onto balances of less than £10. Therefore, contractually, I felt I was entitled to my £10.68 royalty payment!

So I got in touch, and the new publisher accepted that my contract terms still stood and told me that the payment would be with me in a few days. Suffice to say that it wasn’t, and I had to chase up for it, but I did get it in the end.

So, if something is not right, make sure you bring it to the attention of the publisher/magazine. Stand up for yourself. In most cases, these situations can be sorted out amicably, which is the best situation, although members of various societies, such as the Society of Authors and the NUJ can get support for really troublesome queries. It’s rare for a problem to escalate to that situation though.

Good luck!