Magazine Madness Part 10: October

In October I wrote to: Woman magazine, The Radio Times, My Weekly and The Lady

1. Woman (92p weekly)
I hadn’t read Woman for years and I was disappointed. It all seemed a bit ‘lightweight’ and I struggled to find an article to comment on. *Sigh* Eventually, I sent in an email commenting on an article about finding friends in unusual places.
And this turned out to be another of those letters with an unexpected response: I got a phone call from the magazine (ooh, exciting).

They ‘loved’ one aspect of my letter (I told them that I categorized my friendships as ‘Reason, Season, Life’ – that’s not strictly true – my friend Sue does that, not me, but there you go, I nicked the idea!).

Anyway, they wanted to turn it into a feature. They asked if I’d like to be included (photographed and interviewed, with some of my friends). At first, I was excited and pleased that my letter clearly had an ‘article-worthy’ idea in it but on reflection, although it might have been fun, it would also probably involve a lot of time (unpaid!) and I might even upset some of my friends (if I could persuade any of them to even be involved), so I said, thanks but no thanks but gave my ‘blessing’ (how kind) to the feature ‘sans moi’. (I only wanted them to print my letter and send me a prize! Is that too much to ask?!)

The letters’ page ‘Let’s Talk’ invites readers to ‘Have a Conversation with Us’. I can’t imagine that they get many letters, as they’d included something that had been sent to their Facebook page and there were only 3 letters published. Most letters go unrewarded but the Letter of The Week gets a prize (in the 17th October issue it was a bottle of perfume).

Email: woman@ipcmedia.com or write to: Woman, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 OSU.

2. Radio Times (£1.20 weekly)
Again, it was years since I’d bought the Radio Times (mainly because I don’t watch much tele’) but I was tempted by its chunkiness and the promise of free tickets to see the film ‘The Help’.

The letters page ‘Feedback’ was pretty full and it turned out they’d had over 1000 letters in response to the threatened cuts to BBC4. Soooo, it’s unusual for me to say this, but I reckon Radio Times gets quite a lot of post!

They give one prize for the Star Letter (in the 15 – 21 October issue it was a radio worth £150) and then another ‘ad hoc’ prize for another letter that takes their fancy – in the issue I read, it was a selection of audio books.

Right, not being a great tele-watcher (apart, of course, from Dounton Abbey and X-Factor!), what was I going to write about?! Luckily that night there was an interesting documentary on ‘My Sex And I’ (nooo, not that kind. It was about people who are born neither completely male nor female). It was very interesting – and moving – so I wrote about that. And – hey presto! It was published in the 29th Oct – 4 Nov issue but because it wasn’t a ‘star’ letter, I don’t get a prize. Close, but no cigar.

Email: radio.times@bbc.com Or write to: Letters Editor, Radio Times, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TQ

3. My Weekly (85p weekly)

My Weekly has a double page of letters (‘All About You’) with photos and they pay £25 for each contribution and £50 for the Star Letter. They want you to share the photos ‘that make you laugh, cry or curl up with embarrassment’. They’re also interested in photos of your grandchildren (‘Little Treasures’) but for any photos of under 18 year olds you must also send written permission of the parent or guardian. No comments on previous issues – it was all readers’ family, friends and amusing snaps. Don’t forget it you write to them, you must send a photo too – ALL the letters had an accompanying picture!

I enjoyed reading My Weekly – no stupid celebrity stuff for a start – or if there was, it was sensible, like Denise Van Outen raising money for breast cancer research. And – hallelujah – they have FICTION! (2 short stories and a serial. But don’t rush to send them your stuff – they have strict guidelines now on who can submit – see Womag’s blog here for more details).

They also pay £25 for a tip with a photo and you can write about a friend (with photo) to win him/her a bouquet of flowers. And that’s what I did!

Write to: All About You, My Weekly, PO Box 305, London NW1 1TX or email: myweekly@dcthomson.co.uk
If you’re using snail mail and want your photo back, don’t forget to enclose a SAE.

4. The Lady – £2 Weekly

Apart from about ten years ago, when I wanted to enter their short story competition, I’d never bought ‘The Lady’ before and I was pleasantly surprised.

I knew it had been revamped by new(ish) editor Rachel Johnson (who took out all the fiction!! Boo, hiss!) but, allowing for that major failing, it was better than I’d expected – topical, current and fresh – travel articles, book, film and play reviews, an interview with Brian May of Queen. Clearly, their target audience is still ladies-of-a-certain-age – and class – given the adverts for cardigans and all those classified ads for ‘live-in help’ but there was still plenty to interest those of us who are not posh or …er… too elderly.

The letters page covers two sides and they give a prize (3 bottles of wine) for the Star Letter each week, as well as a £100 hotel voucher to the writer of ‘The Lady And I’ letter (of 350 words) which has to be on your relationship with the magazine over your life. Clearly something I’d have difficulty bluffing!

The Star Letter was written by a housekeeper in a big house in the Cotswolds who gets rather irritated by holidaymakers who complain about the noise of combine harvesters at harvest-time and spiders (who can, apparently, spin a web in 20 minutes, so if there is one, it’s no reflection on a person’s lack of dusting).

For my letter, I decided to ‘come clean’ and say it was the first copy I’d bought and where I was expecting recipes for the Aga and tips on how to get the best from your butler, I was delighted and surprised to find an interview with Brian May and horoscopes?! Bit sycophantic, but we’ll see.

If you want to get something off your twinset and pearls, write to: Letters, The Lady, 39-40 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9ER or email: letters@lady.co.uk

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10 Responses to Magazine Madness Part 10: October

  1. Prue says:

    Highly diverting. It almost makes me want to race out and start buying mags…and I feel much, much better after reading the bit about spiders 😀 Thanks for that!

  2. Keith Havers says:

    I get Radio Times every week and always read the letters but I had completely missed the fact that one was yours. Congratulations! I’ve tried a couple of times myself but no luck so far.

  3. Your magazine madness seems to be turning into an obsession! It also seems to be paying off. Well done.

    • Well, that’s probably why I called it Magazine ‘madness’! But it’s only for another 2 months, then I can hang up my pen, so to speak, once I’ve achieved my goal of writing to 52 different magazines over the year. I’ll need a new challenge for 2012 though..!

  4. Stephanie Holliday says:

    I’ll miss your Magazine Madness blog. I find it so inspiring, and I suppose being a bit lazy it’s nice to have someone else do the research!
    I’ve just had two articles published in Motorhome Monthly Magazine (my first time ever in print) and if it hadn’t been for your inspirational blogs I’d never have given it a go – so thanks again.

  5. Stephanie Holliday says:

    Thank you. I hadn’t thought about a cuttings file but I’m off out now to buy a posh folder.
    Have you had any thoughts about your 2012 project?

    • Stephanie – I laminate all my ‘cuttings’ and then put them in the file! Bit sad perhaps but a) it protects them for longer and b) I love laminating!!
      No, not thought about my 2012 project yet, but I’m sure (?!) something will occur to me over the next few weeks. Hope so anyway. Any suggestions welcome…!

  6. Hi Helen,
    I sent a longish letter/article to Woman magazine, in one of my cheekier moments, I asked them if I could be a columnist for them and have a weekly slot! How cheeky! They phoned me back and said, not at the moment: to the column, but could they do an article on my and my hubby who’ve been married twice, to each other. We were married, divorced, later married again. So, I said, no to that as I’d already done it for Bella Summer Special. You have to stick your neck out sometimes; Like our youngest son says, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

  7. Susan
    I agree, if you don’t ask, you don’t get! I think sometimes, as writers, we can be too timid (this includes me!) “They won’t want that,” a little voice inside my head says or “Why would they let you do that? You’re not good enough.” But, as you say, it’s always worth asking. The worst that can happen is that they say ‘no thanks’! And it might lead to something else (in your case, if you hadn’t already done it for Bella, an article)!

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