Magazine Madness Part 12: December (Bumper Issue!)

And so, I reach the last month of my year of ‘Magazine Madness’!

I had a bit of catching up to do, as I realised last month that writing to 4 different magazines per month was not going to equate to 52 (one a week), the target I set myself at the beginning of last year.

So, in December I wrote to 6 magazines: Sense, Real Food, Woman’s Own, Delicious, Reader’s Digest and Home Building & Renovating.

1. Sense Magazine (quarterly, I think and FREE from Nat West Bank)

Sense is the NatWest bank’s free magazine, which has some general lifestyle articles (interviews with celebs, for example), as well as features that you’d expect from a bank, such as how to save money. If you nip into any branch you should be able to pick one up or, if you prefer, you can look at the latest issue on-line.

There’s a very generous £250 John Lewis voucher for the star letter each quarter, so I thought it was worth having a go and I wrote about one of their articles – a feature on Matt Smith (the current Dr. Who).

Top tip: they seem to like letters referring to articles in previous issues (how many times have I said that during Magazine Madness?!).

2. Tesco’s Real Food magazine is another one that you can pick up for free in the supermarket (or you can read it on-line).

Their letters page, ‘Food Forum’, invites readers to “get in touch if you have a favourite recipe, food news and views that you’d like to share or ideas for seasonal eating.”

In the issue I looked at, they’d only printed one letter (but maybe that’s all they got?!) and gave the writer a rather snazzy (and expensive!) Kenwood Food Mixer.

I wrote a bit of a pathetic offering, now I think about it, about how my partner and I hate carrots but I’ve been sneaking them into food – grated, etc, so that we can’t taste them but we still get the nutrition! I know, I know, but I couldn’t think of anything else! (It was Christmas!) Email them at: or write to Real Food, 85 Strand, London WC2R ODW.

3. Woman’s Own (93p weekly)

Woman’s Own has a letters page called ‘Chatroom’ (“Your life, your opinions, your page”). They offer a prize for that week’s ‘blog’ which, in the 31st December issue, was Dead Sea body scrub and body butter worth £60.

For the ‘blog’, readers are invited to ‘become a columnist’ and send them 150 words, plus a photo and a few details about yourself. They want to hear ‘funny stories, tales about somewhere you went or something you did that was great, or rants’ (max 150 words).

Send to: or write to: Chat Room, Woman’s Own, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 OSU.

They don’t appear to pay for any other letters that they print.

I sent in a ‘rant’ about how I hate the torture of going to the hairdressers (which is true!) so we’ll see if they like that. (Although, to be honest, some of the torture is price-related and I saved myself a lot of pain recently by getting my hair cut by a trainee at a local college and it cost THREE POUNDS! And she made a good job of it!)

4. Homebuilding & Renovating (£4.25 monthly)

Home Building & Renovating want to hear ‘your views on the magazine and your self-build, renovation and conversion experiences.’ Email:

You’ll receive £200 of Ironmongery Direct vouchers, if you’re ‘Letter of The Month’ and all other letters receive a 12 month subscription to the magazine.

We only bought this magazine because we were in the process of buying a house which needed some work doing to it. But it all fell through on Friday. (No, not the roof – the house purchase!). We are not heartbroken. I had a funny feeling we weren’t destined to live there. (Cue ‘Apprentice’ music – “The Search For Helen’s House goes on…”).

Anyway, I wrote to ‘Homebuilding & Renovating’ about a statistic they’d included in their last issue – that “21% of us have felt that guests have outstayed their welcome.” I managed to find something ‘wry’ to say about that!

5. Reader’s Digest (£3.49 monthly)

How could I have waited until the end of the year to tell you about the brilliant opportunities in Reader’s Digest? Probably because I didn’t pick up a copy until I was in the dentist’s last week, waiting for my Dad. He goes to a posh practice where they have LOADS of magazines, all laid out neatly on a table in the waiting room. It’s like heaven and I never thought I would say that about a dental surgery!

By the way, don’t forget to enter the free Reader’s Digest 100-word short story competition (deadline: 31st January), which I told you about earlier in the year, here.

There’s only one winner of the £1000 prize (plus a couple of runners-up) but they do print some of the other stories on-line and in their magazine and I was pleased to see that they were paying £70 for a story from last year’s competition, which was printed in the January 2012 issue of Reader’s Digest. So, even if you don’t win, you might get paid and see your story in print. Worth a go for just 100 words, I think!

Reader’s Digest pay £50 for the star letter and £30 for all others (I’m sure it used to be more than that!) and also £15 for ‘short extracts’ (?). Write to Reader’s Digest, 157 Edgware Road, London W2 2HR or email:

They also pay £70 (that’s more like it!) for “true stories, anecdotes, jokes and contributions to end-of-article fillers”. Email

I sent them a funny story about something that happened on Boxing Day at my brother’s house. Well, it seemed funny at the time but we’d had a few drinks by then so it might not be funny at all.

And if you’re good at writing captions, you could win £100 for a funny line. Have a look here.

6. Delicious Magazine (£3.60 monthly)

Delicious (also courtesy of my Dad’s dentist), is a magazine for ‘foodies’ and it’s packed with recipes and stuff about eating and drinking. They have a letters page, ‘Good to Hear From You’ and there is a prize for the star letter only, which, in the January 2012 issue was a Brabantia 45 litre kitchen bin worth.. £227! It must be gold-plated or something.

They want you to send in tips, recipes, questions or recommendations. Anything goes, it would seem, so if you want an expensive bin decorating your kitchen (they are in very pretty colours!) then email: or write to: Delicious Magazine, Axe & Bottle Court, 70 Newcomen Street, London SE1 1YT.

I wrote about how I am very unadventurous with my food (when we get into a restaurant, before I’ve managed to get my reading glasses out of my bag, my chap will have a quick scan of the menu and, without even looking up, says, ”There’s chicken.” See what I mean?).

And that’s it! For now….!

No, there is no more Magazine Madness, at least not for this year, but I am planning to do a resume of all 52 magazines that I wrote to AND a final tally of my ‘successes’, next month (when, hopefully, a few more letters might have been printed!)

Watch this space!

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6 Responses to Magazine Madness Part 12: December (Bumper Issue!)

  1. Prue says:

    What about the Mary Berry cake? Was it ok? Worth getting? Or are you able to postpone gratification and put it away for the flavours to mature?

    I’m looking forward to seeing your final tally. What a year! Congratulations for sticking at it.

    • Prue, the cake has turned out well! (I think). At least all the fruit didn’t sink to the bottom which, I understand, can be a problem. I am planning to start icing it today, time permitting. You have to leave 24 hours between the ‘stages’ (marzipan/jam and then the actual icing), so it will be at least mid-week before I am able to cut a slice and deliver my final verdict! I will let you know..!



  2. Julia says:

    Well done, Helen. I’m going to try to follow in your footsteps and never let a magazine go past me without dropping the editor a line.

  3. Stephanie Holliday says:

    Thanks. What an inspiration – everytime I read your magazine madness I decide I’m defintey going to follow in your footsteps. Of course doing it is another thing!
    Looking forwar t the summary and to your next project.

  4. Kath says:

    Hi Helen – just a quick “Thank You” for all your helpful advice. Good luck in all that you do.

    Bst wishes

  5. Mo says:

    I’m gobsmacked! Thank you for sharing all this – I’ve just read all 12 and my head is spinning 🙂

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