Fiction Ed’s Blog: 40 Years Of Pocket Novels!

“Friend” pocket novels turn 40 this month, with our latest, “Verity’s Valentine”, by Philippa Carey (above), out today.

Let’s take a quick look at the history of our pocket novels.

In The Beginning

In 1901, “Aunt Kate’s Penny Stories” was launched as a monthly title, appearing every third Friday.

Later renamed “The People’s Penny Stories”, to stop readers confusing the title with a children’s title, it would become a weekly publication in 1906.

Parallels with the “Friend”, there – a monthly title becoming weekly to satisfy demand.

“The People’s Friend” Library

Around 1920, “The Penny Stories” become “The People’s Friend Library” – beginning and ending (555 issues later) with a story by Annie S. Swan.

The final issue was printed in 1941 – possibly related to wartime paper shortages.

“The People’s Friend Story Library”

June, 1983 saw the first “People’s Friend Story Library” – a reprint of a story from our archive, by “Friend” author, Jennie Cairns.

The story libraries would in turn become “People’s Friend” Pocket Novels, with one brand-new story published in this format every two weeks.

Pocket Novels Today

Today our pocket novels have a word count of between 37, 000 and 39, 000 words.

Pocket novel-wise, we’re looking for longer-length stories which mirror the tone and content of short stories in the weekly “People’s Friend”.

We welcome pocket novels with romance, mystery, cosy crime, thriller, family or general themes.

Submitting, Synopses And Payment

If you have an idea for a pocket novel, please submit a synopsis plus first three chapters to Tracey Steel –

We ask that you don’t send the complete novel at this stage, as we may have a similar story already scheduled.

Payment is £300 per novel. You can sell the novel on once we’ve published it.

The best way to gauge the type of stories we’re looking for is to read a few pocket novels, before you get started.

Good luck!

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!