Behind The Scenes: We Read Everything

Behind the scenes at People's Friend HQ.

The first of our autumn writing workshops takes place today, here at our Dundee HQ. Encouraging new writers has always been very important to “The People’s Friend”. We never lose sight of the plain truth that every single one of our writers, no matter how many of their stories we’ve now published, simply turned up one day in our pile of unsolicited manuscripts.

And we still read every single one of those unsolicited manuscripts.

No, wait. Two exceptions.

One is if the manuscript is hand-written, because we simple don’t have time to decipher sometimes difficult handwriting, nor to then transcribe it into a digital format for production purposes.

The other is if a writer for whatever reason requests the return of their story.

This may be because they’re fed up waiting to hear about it, always possible when our reading process stretches from the target 12 weeks to the less ideal 16 weeks at busy times of the year. That’s especially relevant when it’s a season-specific story; naturally they’d rather seize the moment and try it with another magazine for publication sooner rather than later.

It may be that they submitted it to another magazine at the same time as us and hear good news from them first.

My view is that it is always the writer’s prerogative to request the return of their story, which we do if an SAE is provided. If not, we simply tell them we’ll record it as returned on our database, and that we’ll dispose of it securely, meaning we’ll drop it into our confidential waste cabinet for secure shredding.

But back to all the other stories that we do read, from new writers and old hands…

As I said, our target response time is up to 12 weeks, but sometimes that stretches to 16 if, say, it’s annual leave time within the fiction team, or if, as now, I’m out of the office with our workshops. I freely admit that I can be the bottleneck.

But again there’s an exception to this target time and it’s to do with stock, story lengths and seasons.

But I’ll leave explaining that for my next Behind The Scenes blogpost…

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.