Woman’s Weekly – Letter to Writers

As a ‘regular contributor’ to Woman’s Weekly’s fiction pages (well, 6 stories accepted so far!), I’ve just received an email from the magazine’s Fiction Editor, Gaynor Davies and Assistant Fiction Editor, Clare Cooper, with some useful tips and advice, which I found motivating and I thought you might too, if you are submitting to the UK women’s magazine market.

I have a half-written short story which I was worried had too ‘strong’ a theme for WW but I think, in the light of this email, I think I’m going to try it on them.

The underlying message seems to be: we needs lots of fiction – but it needs to be GOOD!

So, if you think you’ve got what they’re looking for – give it a go! But read the guidelines carefully, here first.

And by the way, if you’ve got the latest issue of Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special (pictured above), there’s a very clever story on page 43, by Patsy Collins, called ‘Holiday Temptation’. One-pagers are tricky to pull off, as you haven’t got much time or space for character development. This one is impressive (I won’t spoil it by telling you why – you’ll have to read it for yourself) and it’s also, interestingly, written in the rarely-used ‘second person’ ie: the narrator speaks directly to the reader – ‘I’m aware of you and your friends…’ and so on. Thank you Patsy, I will be using your story to demonstrate ‘second person narration’ in future writing classes!

Anyway, I digress. Here’s the message from the fiction editor of WW:

Dear Regular Writer,
A very happy new year to you. I am writing once again to encourage you to “keep writing” (as Bruce Forsyth might say were he to pick up his quill pen). We REALLY need lots and lots of good, fresh stories to fill Fiction Special and the main weekly.

I’ve been delighted with the success of both titles in the last year or two. They are holding their own very nicely and this is thanks to the efforts of our contributors. However, over the last few months we’ve noticed a slight “softening” in the quality of many of the stories we are getting in and we are rejecting far more than we (and possibly you!) would like. A lot of these are much too “safe” and predictable and some veer towards downright soppy and dated! We’re also having to reject too many one-pagers because the endings are weak or flippant, reading more like the punchlines of jokes.

It really is important to have the confidence to write in your own voice and to take a chance on being fresh and original. This doesn’t mean crazy sci-fi plots or themes which you know aren’t suitable for WW readers. It means being subtle. Show don’t tell. Remember, too, that humour is always welcome, and that way you can use old themes in a way that still feel new. However, there are some themes we don’t need at the moment. No more “retired/redundant hubby getting under my feet”; adopted children being reunited with their mothers and brides with cold feet until further notice, please.

Clare and I hope you are now fired with enthusiasm. We very much look forward to hearing from you.

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24 Responses to Woman’s Weekly – Letter to Writers

  1. Lunar Hine says:

    Thank you. Very timely for me, and just the inspiration I needed. Was resistant to writing something slushy, so delighted to learn I don’t have to.

    • Glad you found it useful and thanks very much for taking the time to leave a comment! It`s nice to know someone out there in `blogland` is reading this stuff! And good luck with your story. Helen

  2. Laurster says:

    I heard that Woman’s Weekly aren’t accepting submissions from new writers, and are only using writers who they have previously published before.
    Do you know if this is true? If so, what do you think about it?

    • No, it’s not Woman’s Weekly – it’s ‘My Weekly’. I think the reason they’re not taking on any new writers is that they were getting swamped with submissions and they just didn’t have the staff to cope with it all. It’s disappointing but there are other magazines you can try your stories on – including Woman’s Weekly. See this blog for lots more information about writing for the women’s magazines: http://www.womagwriter.blogspot.com

  3. I’m so glad you liked my story!

  4. Mandi A says:

    Useful – used this for research for OU Creative Writing module – we talk a lot on the OU forum about how to get into writing for women’s magazines. So thanks.

  5. julieadexter says:

    I am going to send a story to WW.
    To whom shall I address it?
    Shall I do it electronically or, snail mail enclosing an SAE?

    Many thanks,

    • Julie
      You can’t send it electronically, you’ll need to send it by post, enclosing an sae. Be prepared for a long wait for a reply (they can take up to 4 months) – so get writing another one as soon as you’ve sent your story off! Have a look at this website for all the magazine guidelines, for WW and other magazines – and good luck! http://www.womagwriter.blogspot.com

  6. julieadexter says:


    …thanks for this!
    Should I address directly to Maureen by e mail or Royal Mail?
    Should I describe my story briefly in the covering letter or, just attach/ enclose it?

    • Address it to Clare Cooper (the Assistant Fiction Editor) and you’ll need to send it by post. I’d put in a covering letter but there’s no need to describe the story – let it stand for itself.

      In the covering letter I usually just put something like “Please find enclosed my 1000 word short story ‘[title’], which has not been published before and which I hope you will find suitable for publication in Woman’s Weekly. I enclose an sae and look forward to hearing from you.” Make sure you put all your contact details on there (address, phone and email)!



      • Linda Holmes says:

        Do you have any information about who is the best person for me to submit an article to? I intend to send short stories in the future but as part of my writing course I am focusing on features and articles on the subject of health and wellbeing. I would very much appreciate a contact name as I know how important it is to reach the right person. I am very much enjoying your blog and look forward to future posts.

      • Linda, no sorry I can’t help you with a contact name for articles. Why don’t you give Woman’s Weekly offices a call and ask who you should submit a pitch to for an article on health/well-being matters? (I would send a pitch rather than writing the whole article first, because otherwise you might have wasted your time). They will probably give you a name and email address. If you want some really good advice on article/non-fiction writing, I can really recommend Alex Gazzola’s blog, by the way – it’s called ‘Mistakes Writers Make’ http://www.mistakeswritersmake.blogspot.co.uk/ Good luck!

      • Linda Holmes says:

        Thank you so much, the information is very useful and I will certainly follow your advice.

  7. Debbie Thomas says:

    Hi Helen, Just stumbled on your site whilst looking for some guidance on submitting stories to women’s magazines – very impressed! Really helpful – thanks!

  8. Linda says:

    Hi Helen. Blogland is all new to me but I have found your information very informative and supportive. I look forward to reading more and following your work in WW. Linda Jane

  9. Hi Helen, your information and advice is great. Would it be possible for me to put some of it on our web site for our members. We are the Scarborough Writers Circle. regards valerie

  10. Thanks Helen, will do the link ,much appreciated.

  11. Kathryn says:

    Hello, and thanks for this information. I’m having a hard time finding out if Women’s Weekly pay their fiction writers – does anyone know anything about this?

  12. In my experience, they start at around £150 and go up from that, depending on length of story and how many you have printed with them (they tend to pay more, the more they accept from you). For serials, they pay around £500 per episode.

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