Monday, 26 December 2016

Were You On The List?

Have you been good this year? Were you on ‘the list’? No, I’m not talking about Santa’s list of good little children, but of Take A Break’s list of preferred good fiction writers?

Last Thursday some of us received an email advising us of changes being made at TAB Towers, where Fiction Feast is put together. There were two different emails issued, depending upon which list you were on: one to those who were lucky enough to be on TAB’s list of preferred fiction writers, and those, like me, who were not.

In the future, only those who are on that preferred list can submit short stories for consideration. The rest of us can go elsewhere. 

Unsurprisingly, social media and facebook groups erupted with dismay. It wasn’t great news for those of us who are not 'preferred'. Especially coming three days before Christmas.

I’ve also seen the email that the ‘preferred’ writers got, and it’s clear from that that there are staff changes at TAB Towers too, with the existing staff being ‘wished well’ for the future. Make what you will of that euphemism.

But this is the business of writing. Publishing fiction in magazines is expensive. Due to the volume of submissions received it is a labour intensive process. Magazine circulations are falling, advertising revenue is falling, magazines need to cut costs.

It’s clear that the preferred writers are those who’ve had numerous stories published in Fiction Feast in 2015 and 2016. I’ve had a few, but clearly not enough. Perhaps that was my fault for not targeting (or even writing more stories for) this publication.

It's frustrating that I've had a market taken away from me. But the future depends upon the actions I take in the future.

So there are two choices here: moan about how unfair the world is, or do something about it. Find a new market. Explore a new genre. (Who knows, you might find you enjoy writing non-fiction.) I know what I'm going to do.

Every so often in the publishing world there are reverberations from the slamming shut of the doors of opportunity (many of the women’s magazine’s have dropped their fiction slots, and My Weekly only uses previously published writers). These are all things we have no control over. So rather than waste energy trying to fight such decisions it is much better to channel that energy into things that you can change. (Perhaps now is the time to self-publish your short story anthology on Amazon?)

Congratulations to those on the preferred list. (And they have worked hard to get there through regular submissions - and only by doing that were they able to achieve regular acceptances - something they did without the knowledge of what was going to pass.)

Next week is a new year. For those of you disappointed by this decision - put it behind you. Enter more short story competitions instead. Start writing longer fiction. Take a moment to consider the opportunities.

Make 2017 a great creative year.

Good luck.

13 comments:

  1. Hi Simon,

    I don't write for any woman's magazines, and agree with you on moving on...
    I'm guessing though, that many will stop buying the magazine.

    It will be interesting to see what happens to Take A Break

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    1. I'm sure the weekly Take a Break wll be fine - it has one of the biggest circulation figures going. But when it comes to the Fiction Feast publication, these changes are being made to cut costs, which means they're trying to do what they can to keep it going.

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  2. Oh that is disappointing. Just this morning I was working on a story that I thought might suit this market if I could get it right. I'm so far off the radar, I'm not even on the unpreferred email list! That's a big market just dropped off the radar. :-( Onwards and upwards!

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    1. There are still other short story markets to try!

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    2. Yes, although I think FF took more diverse stuff than most womags, which made it attractive. I need to study the markets for fiction a bit more!

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  3. Thank you for sharing - I shan't be targeting that one now! I suppose it might change one day, otherwise their stable of writers would eventually fade away...

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    1. You're right, Jennifer. Things could quite easily change in the future. It still might be worth keeping an eye on this market, just in case.

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  4. I am on the list, but this news has been a reminder that we can't take things for granted. Markets change requirements or disappear altogether too frequently for us to rely on continuing sales to any one of them.

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    1. Yes, in some ways we should remember that the market is still there, albeit not for everybody. It could have disappeared completely. While it's still around there's always a chance things could change again (hopefully, for the better).

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  5. It's depressing for writers who hadn't yet submitted to them. But we have to submit elsewhere while there's still magazines to send stories too.

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    1. And it's a good reminder that we must continue submitting, as well as buying the magazines that we're trying to write for.

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  6. I was one of the lucky ones but it is a great shame for both those writers who'd already had a few published and the new writers hoping to break into the market. Times they are a changing.

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    1. That's great news, Wendy - but you're 'lucky' because you put the hard work and effort in of writing all those stories that you did, and submitted them - which is the only way they could have accepted them. Yes, times are a changing ... but they always have in the past too!

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