Fiction Ed’s Update: Your Story Questions Answered

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Curious about our current story publishing process?

Here, we’ve gathered some FAQs you may find interesting!

I’m a published “Friend” author. Are you accepting coronavirus stories?

This is one of the most interesting questions we receive, because we’ve found stories featuring coronavirus to be very polarising – some readers have written in to say that they absolutely do NOT want to be reminded of what’s going on with the virus, and some have said they’re open to them.

If you’d like us to consider a coronavirus story, please bear in mind that it’s best to have the virus as the background to the story, rather than in the spotlight.

So for example, a story might be based around a hearing-impaired person finding it tricky to lipread because of masks; couples who are unable to see each other because of the restrictions; how being visually impaired affects social distancing; phobias around needles, related to the vaccine; getting to know your neighbours and your delivery men so much better because you’re always at home, etc – situations that have arisen due to the virus, and how people respond to them.

It’s worth noting that coronavirus stories will be well spaced out in the weekly issues, so as not to alarm or alienate readers who don’t want to read about it.

Stories should have an upbeat feel, with nothing unduly alarming or upsetting.

Are you still open to submissions?

Yes. If you’re a published author, please email your stories to your assigned editor.

If you’re new to the “Friend”, we are accepting postal USM submissions, although it’s worth noting that at present and since March of last year, our building has been closed and we’ve been unable to access the office.

Whether you’re a published author or not, waiting times for a response are going to be considerably longer than usual for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for your patience; we’re looking at ways we can move forward with USM submissions now.

What’s happening with submissions that have been posted into the office?

Our Mail Team are continuing to work (safely) on-site, keeping postal submissions safe and tidy in the office ready for our return.

When it’s safe for us to go back into the office, responding to postal submissions will be a priority.

I’m an unpublished overseas author. Have you read my emailed submission?

Prior to lockdown, the only stories we accepted by email were from overseas authors. Since lockdown, these have been safely stored by our Admin team and will be handled as soon as time allows.

How much longer will you be working from home?

We’re continuing to follow government guidelines on working from home.

Why haven’t I heard about my story?

If you submitted it by post, there’s a good chance it’s held up in the backlog in the office. We’re looking at ways we can deal with this now. Thanks for your patience in the meantime.

If you submit to an assigned editor by email and they have acknowledged receipt of your story, your submission will be going through the same process as it would in the office (being read by your editor, then by Fiction Ed Lucy, then going to Angela for final approval.

We’re finding that everything is taking that bit longer at the moment. We’re putting the fiction together, proofreading, illustrating, planning serials, and corresponding with contributors, all from home, so please do bear with us.

Are payments going through as normal?

Yes – if you have a story accepted, our Admin Team will put it forward for payment in exactly the same way as before.

How are contracts working?

If you’re a new author and haven’t yet signed a contract, we’ll send an electronic copy of our standard contributor’s contract for your perusal. We’ll then ask you to send us an email, stating clearly that you accept our terms and conditions, and are happy to agree to them.

When our Admin Team can safely access the office again, two paper contracts will be sent out. We’ll ask you to sign both, keeping one for your own reference and returning the other in the SAE which is provided.

I’m an unpublished author. Should I enclose an SAE with my submission?

Please do. We’d ask that from now on, if you’d like a response, your USM submission must include a SAE.

It’s the quickest way of getting your story back to you, should it be unsuccessful. As our Admin Team can’t access either the office or our full database at the moment, we’re unable to respond to USMs by email.

I’m a published “Friend” author. Is there anything I can do to speed things along from my end?

Yes – when you’re submitting, please include the word count in your story’s file name, plus anything else that may be relevant to when we might look to publish it, e.g. “Story Title 3000 Summer”.

This means that when we receive your story, we can pop it in the relevant folder straight away. It’s also quicker for Angela when she’s choosing which stories to consider, as the most-needed lengths and genres take priority.

How can you be publishing stories from debut authors if you can’t access the office?

These are stories which were sent in prior to lockdown.

Before the first lockdown, we had around five months of USM submissions waiting to be read.

I’m a published “Friend” author. Is there anything you’re looking for just now?

Weekly issues-wise, we’re looking for stories for our late spring and summer issues.

For the Specials, we’re now planning into July and August.

We always need 2000 and 3000 word stories, as we publish more of these than any other length.

Stories that fit around our Special template lengths are always welcome, as are special occasion or time-sensitive stories.

We allow 10% either way on all submission word counts.

For more from Fiction Ed Lucy, read her blog here.

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!