Behind The Scenes: What Not To Say

All sorts of odd queries pop in to the PF Fiction Team each week.

The usual scenario is that an aspiring writer is emailing/phoning/writing about submitting their work and has just a question or two. And we’re happy to deal with each and all.

But sometimes the things they ask or say do make me wonder a bit….

“No, I’ve never read The People’s Friend”.

“No, I’ve not seen your guidelines.”

To me, it’s very difficult to write for a magazine that you’re not familiar with. How does a writer have any idea of the types of story we publish, their tone, their length, how we illustrate them? But more than that, the magazine itself and its wider content inform as to the types of people our readers are, their expectations of us, and what they actually like to read.

Similarly our guidelines tell the aspiring writer what our requirements are in terms of word counts, story genres, themes and storylines, and, importantly, what won’t suit us. They also give all the info needed on how to submit work.

“Don’t let the title put you off.”

Why would you want to put a negative thought in our heads right from your introductory letter? Far better to choose a title that will compel us to read your story.

“My story is 650 words long.”

“My story is 11,500 words long.”

“I’ve written my life story and I thought you’d like to publish it as a series.”

Our guidelines clearly state that the shortest story we’ll consider is 1000 words, the longest a 9500-word long read. So this tells us that the writer hasn’t read our guidelines, or studied the magazine.

Similarly, when in recent years have we ever published a true-life series?

“Hello, is that Woman’s Weekly?”

Just this week we took that call. All I’ll say is, know who it is you want to write for.  I hope it’s The People’s Friend!



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.