Woman's World celebrated its 25th year on the newstands in 2006. This weekly publication is the number one newsstand seller with a yearly circulation of well over 84 million. Don't underestimate this little magazine!
Woman's World is very popular with middle class women for many reasons. The price is nice, at $1.79 and it has very few ads and none of those annoying subscription cards inside. Every single page is jam packed with information and the romantic fiction (and mini-mystery) are a nice bonus. The features makes you feel good too.
From MagsDirect.com here is the 2005 demographic snapshot of a typical Woman's World reader:
Median age: 46
Median household income: $50, 192
Employed fulltime: 51%
Working mother: 32%
Children in household: 47%
Ave. age of children: 9.5
I submitted my first romantic short story in 1989 and continued sporatically submitting through several editors (Jeanne Munchin, Brooke Comer, Deborah Purcell) until in 1999, when I received my first contract from the current fiction editor, Johnene Granger.
Do what I say, not what I do. Submit regularly. In late 2007 while working from home I had a period between the completion of novels when I was able to work on short stories steadily. I submitted five to Woman's World. Three sold in 2008, the last appearing in the January 12, 2009 issue and is called, Letting Go.
Romantic fiction guidelines state:
"Short story, romance, and mainstream of 800 words. Each of our stories has a light romantic theme and can be written from either a masculine or feminine point of view. Women characters may be single, married, or divorced. Plots must be fast moving with vivid dialogue and action. The problems and dilemmas inherent in them should be contemporary and realistic, handled with warmth and feeling. The stories must have a positive resolution. Specify Fiction on envelope. Always enclose SASE. Responds in 4 months. No phone or fax queries. Pays $1,000 for romances on acceptance for North American serial rights for 6 months."
Let's break that down and add a little color from my experiences:
- They accept either first person or third person point of view, feminine or masculine.
- Remember your target audience is a middle class working woman who works either in the home or outside. She must relate to your story. This isn't the market for chick lit, sexy, depressing or literary fiction. It is what it is; an uplifting and entertaining short story.
- Write tight. 800 words gives you very little room for description or exposition. I find it is easier to write the story and then go back and trim. Review every single word. It is neccessary? Can I replace it with a more evocative word choice?
- Don't write a predictable story. I like to use the "bait and switch" technique for most of my stories. Lead the reader in one direction and then provide a satisfying twist.
- Dialogue generally moves these stories as there is very little time for introspection.
Be sure you know the market you are writing for and submit again--and again, and again. I subscribe to the magazine and read each story. (The subscription is tax deductible.) After reading several issues with cat and dog themes in 2008, I had a hunch my cat story would be rejected as the topic was saturated. Sure enough the accompanying note on the rejection letter said as much.
You can expect the quality of your rejection letters to improve as you submit regularly. Mine began with the copied standard, Dear Writer, rejection letter and advanced to signed comments. The fiction assistant was even kind enough to call me and leave a message when the word count changed from 1,000 to 800.
Do's and Don'ts:
- Submit only by snail mail and use a SASE.
- Follow the guidelines and specify Romantic Fiction on the outside of the envelope (I suggest "9 x 12" clasp or Tyvek envelope), using the same for your SASE.
- Don't call them to follow up. Send it and forget it.
- If a revision is suggested, don't diva. Do what is requested to the best of your ability.
- Submit the entire manuscript. Don't simply pitch a storyline.
- I always send a cover letter, but they are not a requirement.
You can expect your publication date to be about three or four months after your contract is received. If you are submitting seasonal stories, send them in a season ahead of time. Holiday stories should be subbed six months ahead of time. My winter story, Letting Go, was originally sent September 2007. Revisions were approved in February of 2008, putting it too late for winter '08. They were kind enough to hang on to it and offer me a contract last fall for winter '09.
Woman's World buys First North American serial rights. This means once the story is printed the rights revert back to you (after six months in this case). Or in official terminology from the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASAJW) site:
"As recently as the mid-1980s, most periodical publishers sought only "first North American serial rights" (FNASR) from the writer. Under a FNASR contract, the publisher licenses a one-time right to publish the article first in the North American market. The author retains all other rights to his work, including the right to re-license its use as a reprint ("second serial rights"), to publish it in foreign markets, to license a movie or product spin-off, and so on."
That's the scoop. I read somewhere that Woman's World receives 2,000 submissions a month. I can't verify that tidbit, but I can encourage you to submit and be persistent.
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