What ‘Woman’s Weekly’ Wants

As a ‘Regular Writer’ for Woman’s Weekly’s fiction pages (their title, not mine. I think  ‘Occasional Writer’ is more like it), I got an email today from Maureen Street…. da, da, derrrr!

As you know, normally this is BAD NEWS (ie: a rejection) but today’s missive was merely a note from WW to tell us the type of stories they are currently looking for.

When a magazine gives you some direction and guidelines, take note! (If you want to write for them – obviously).

Here is the letter:

Dear Regular Writer,

This is an urgent request for TWO-PAGE STORIES (approx 1,800-2,000 words) and ONE-PAGE STORIES (approx 900-1,000 words).

Don’t stop sending your lovely longer stories as well. We still need them for Fiction Special!

The plot and tone of the stories also needs to be looked at to save them all from sounding rather similar. We’re receiving lots about relationships, especially broken ones. WW stories can be about just about anything, and if you can come up with something a bit different, it’ll stand more chance of acceptance. Humour is very welcome and the readers love a mystery. We also receive too many stories in the present tense.

We reject a lot of stories that have no surprises and what you hate us to call “well-worn themes”. It sounds obvious, but if you can keep up to date with reading Fiction Special and the main Woman’s Weekly, it can help to avoid this.

A Few Important Housekeeping Points:

AWKWARD LENGTH STORIES. Stories that fall in length between one page and two pages are very difficult for us to place. Please make them either approx 900-1,000 words or 1,800-2,000 words.

Put your NAME, STORY TITLE AND WORD COUNT on the story itself. If these details are just on your e-mail, it can take us ages to unite the e-mail and story once they’re printed (we get loads!). Time we should be spending reading stories! Also number your pages. Thanks.

Finally, please read your work carefully to make sure your characters don’t change names halfway through or that the tense doesn’t change for no good reason. We make every effort to spot these – it’s our job, after all – but occasionally they slip the net and really spoil a good story. Oh, and don’t tell us your surprise ending in your covering letter/e-mail!

Don’t think ‘oh, well I’m not a ‘regular writer’, so this doesn’t apply to me’. They still accept unsolicited manuscripts but they only have the email addresses of those who’ve already been published by them, which is why we got the email. But it applies to anyone who wants to write for them.

If you study these guidelines, your story will have much more chance of being accepted. I’ve probably said this before but I reckon the main reason a story will be rejected is if it’s unoriginal and/or not the kind of story that WW publishes.

Good luck!

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20 Responses to What ‘Woman’s Weekly’ Wants

  1. That’s good to know Helen. Thanks for sharing this with us ‘regular writer.’ Will have a think of something origional….

  2. juliathorley says:

    Thanks, Helen. How generous our little writing community is. Where else would you find competing professionals (if that’s what we are!) so willing to share their tips and leads.

    • Julia – *blushes* – actually I don’t think I am being that generous! I’m only telling you what WW wants. The hard bit – which you have to do yourselves – is delivering what they want!

  3. Keith Havers says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Helen. Really generous of you. WW is one market I haven’t had success in – yet.

    • Keith, I like that optimistic ‘yet’! Go for it – perhaps as a ‘chap’, you can give them a really original story (from a man’s point of view?). It sounds like they’re a bit fed up with the same type turning up all the time. Good luck.


  4. Tracy Fells says:

    Really appreciate you sharing this Helen with us ‘non-regular WW writers’. Have tried WW but without success to date, so now feel spurred to try again – taking careful note of all you reported 🙂

  5. Thanks from me too, Helen. Always good to hear requirements ‘from the horses moutrh’. The bit about present tense is interesting – I thought that was something they particularly liked, obviously not any more!

  6. Stephanie Holliday says:

    Thanks for this interesting opportunity. A while ago they weren’t accepting submissions byemail but I assume they are now. Do you know the email address?

    • Stephanie I’m afraid they only accept email submissions from you once they’ve accepted the first story. They’ll only accept stories by post up until that point.


  7. Maurice Sketchley says:

    Thanks Helen, as a “Regular Receiver of Rejections” from Woman’s Weekly all such information is extremely useful and encouraging. I’ll just try again…

    • Maurice
      Glad it was useful. If it’s any consolation, I tried for a long time to get a story accepted by WW – to the extent that some people (ie: my Mum!) told me to give up because I got so fed up each time I got a rejection. But I didn’t give up and I got there in the end. I’m sure you can do it too. Don’t give up – good luck!

  8. Kath says:

    Hi Helen – many thanks for the info. Having just had a story accepted by WW after two years of submissions and rejections I received the email too. I felt almost important! So to all those who have yet to break into WW do keep trying. As Helen suggests ‘Don’t give up’ . Good wishes Kath

  9. juliathorley says:

    Well done, Kath.

  10. Kath says:

    Thanks, Helen & Julia – I too was on the verge of giving up. Then after writing lots of stories that matched their market I sent them one that I thought was not their style at all. Hey Presto – they bought it! Just goes to show that sometimes it’s worth being just a little bit daring. Many thanks for all the info on your blog, Helen. It’s very kind of you to share all the fruits of the efforts of your own hard work. Good wishes Kath

    • Kath I absolutely agree that sometimes you can’t quite tell what they are looking for! I sent them a story that had been turned down by ..ahem.. another publication and which I really didn’t think was their ‘thing’ but they snapped it up. And then, the last 3 stories that I’ve sent them, all of which I had high hopes for… were turned down! So you can’t really second-guess them too much! Just try to be original and write the best story you can, I think! ________________________________

  11. Diane Muzio says:

    Hi, thanks so much for sharing. Very generous. I was writing my first story for them. Fingers crossed!

  12. moira hawey says:

    I would like to submit a letter to your letters page – can I email this? and to whom. Kind regards

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