Friday, March 19, 2010

Writing Romantic Fiction For Woman's World Magazine- 2010 Update

Seekerville is delighted with the number of emails and comments from our friends who have sold to this great magazine since our first post.

I'm not an expert but I have sold six romantic short stories to Woman's World and I've had nothing but good experiences with them. Currently I have two stories in the submission process. I only wish I had more time to write short stories.

The Basics and My Tips:

  • Pays $800 for romances on acceptance for North American serial rights for 6 months.
  • They accept either first person or third person point of view, feminine or masculine.
  • Stories are contemporary.
  • 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, fantasy or literary fiction.

  • Write tight. The word count of 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.
  • Specify Fiction on envelope.
  • Always enclose a SASE or your story will be discarded.
  • No phone or fax queries.
  • Submit the entire manuscript. Double-spaced. Don't simply pitch a storyline.
  • Send seasonal stories allowing six months lead time.

Woman's World Magazine Update:

Response time does vary and can be up to six months. So submit it and forget it really is the best advice more than ever.

When you do sell you will receive a contract by mail and instructions on where to email your story. Again, remember, Woman's World sells upon acceptance. The sooner you return the contract following the instructions carefully, the sooner you'll see a check in your mail box.

I've submitted plenty and from my rejections and acceptances and from reading hundreds of issues, I can tell you that in general the following suggestions apply:

  • They don't seem to publish clown or carnival stories.
  • Pets mean everything to their owners, so no stories where the family pet dies.
  • In the same vein, avoid stories where the family pet is seriously injured, lives and the owner falls in love with the vet.
  • WW publishes fresh stories with a clever ending or magical twist.
  • Avoid sad or depressing stories. Woman's World stories are meant to uplift and entertain.
  • Stay away from main characters that are either too passive or too aggressive.

The same common sense tips are true for short stories that are true for targeting novel length fiction. Know your market. Subscribe to the magazine and read the stories. That's really the best way to get a feel for what the editors are buying.

It will also tell you what's been selling so you don't submit a theme that's been overdone.

Resources for Woman's World Magazine:

  • Interested in joining a group of other writers targeting Woman's World? Find them on Yahoo! WWWriters.

Good luck and keep submitting!

Since we've had such an enthusiast response from our Friends of Seekerville to writing for Woman's World, I'm offering a one paragraph review of one (800 word) romantic short story each for two of today's posters. You must leave your email address and tell me to put you in the drawing. Deadline is midnight tonight.

That means it's not a detailed critique but a one paragraph review with suggestions. So if you've been thinking about subbing and want a fresh eye, drop a comment today. I'll pull two names from the hat. Names announced Saturday, March 20th and I must have your story by Sunday, March 21st at 7 am. You'll have your review by Monday morning March 22.

If you are announced as a winner you will send your story in the body of your email to tina at tinarusso dot com. No attachments.


  1. Midnight?? It's only 10:30 MST now. Thatconly gives me an hour and a half...


  2. Pinson go to bed and wake up again. It is midnight Friday. We set our posts to EST.

    You goofy girl.

  3. You've given me something else to think about ... I love writing short stories - I should try my hand at it again.

  4. Why not. Great to get a byline. They pay on acceptance, which is rare these days and they are nice people.

  5. Tine:

    Just checking to see if you're on the job. You are. All's well.


  6. Helen, Happy Friday.

    Currently I am thanking God it is raining here not snowing.

  7. This sounds intriguing -- but ugh -- I'm horrible at short stories. And 800 words? I've written blog posts that are longer! What a challenge it must be to create a story within that word count. Kudos to those of you who can. I'll have to check out Woman's World and see how y'all do it.

  8. I've subbed to them before, but I haven't sold anything. I could use your fresh eye. Please enter me into your drawing. Thanks!


    jcsmlee (at) hotmail (dot) com

  9. You're in Susan.

    Yeah, Kav, it is a challenge. You really have to learn to ge the most emotion into the smallest amount of words.

  10. Writing a short story for WWW is on my to-do list. Thanks for the update and suggestions!!

  11. Names announced Saturday, March 20th and I must have your story by Sunday, March 21st at 7 am.

    Sorry I was combining my weekends..I am in writing la la land.

    This is all about THIS weekend.

  12. Wow, Tina, your offered review is a great opportunity for someone targeting Woman's World magazine! I'm tickled some of our readers have sold to them since your post. WW is fun, uplifting and crammed full of interesting tidbits.

    The coffee is made. I brought fresh fruit and coffee cake made with buttermilk and topped with brown sugar. Mmm, it's moist and delicious.


  13. 800 words. Wow! I have a hard enough time typing posts in less than 800 words ;-)

    Once this week is up, I'm going to have to try to write one. It's such good practice. I wrote a 1500 word short story and it took me SOOOO long because I had to practicie parsing down.

    REALLY good practice and I need all the practice on writing tight I can get.

    Thanks, Tina

  14. Tina, How fun to challenge our friends with a short story. Great practice to trim those manuscripts down.

    Thanks for the coffeecake Janet. Yum. I brought some hot chocolate. Need to use it up because its warming up in the desert. Hooray.

    Orange blossoms smell divine. So I have the last of the oranges off the tree, sliced and sprinkled with coconut and walnuts.

    Have a great weekend everyone. Enjoy writing la la land Miss Tina.

  15. Oh gosh, Tina, you've even got me chomping at the bit to write a short story here, but ...

    "Write tight"?????? Only 800 words????

    YIKES, that's a first paragraph for me!! I SOOO admire anyone that can do this because it takes a really talented writer to write "tight" and say a lot in a few words, much less convey an entire story. A contest judge once told me that the best writers say the most in the least amount of words ... so I pretty much wrote it off that I would EVER be "tight" enough to become one of those "best" writers ... :)

    Really great and informative post, Tina.


  16. It really is a fun and PROFITABLE CHALLENGE!!

  17. Thanks for sharing this great info, Tina! I hate to say that I never have caught one of your stories in WW. Each time I've gone to get one, I'm just missed it.

    But I'll look forward to hearing of more sales!

  18. Tina,

    I would love to be counted in, as I write a lot of nonfiction in that range. (I target women's magazines with humor, but no luck so far in that market.) However, I've never tried a romance in 800 words.


  19. Please don't enter me, I don't have anything written, but thanks for the info, I am going to have to keep this in mind. :)

  20. Tina!

    A blog after my own heart! I just love the romance stories in Woman's World. And as you know, I do write short stories. Unfortunately, I don't have any ready for a critique(been working on novel length), so even though it's TERRIFIC opportunity, I have to pass on being entered in the give away.

    Thanks for all the great links. I'm going to follow that blog and may even sign up for the class in October. It's a market I'd love to crack!


  21. Walt will you have something ready to read?? Cool beans. You are in.

    No guts no glory. WAY TO GO!!

  22. Hi Tina:

    What a coincidence. I am working on a WW article today. The first draft is written and now I have to go back over it to ‘five-sense’ it, to give a sense of place, and to add physical descriptions of the characters and the clothes they are wearing. I also have to work the descriptions into the story line so that they advance the story. All this is very hard to do.

    BTW, I word-counted the last 30 WW romances and very few went over 700 words. None were close to 800 words. I talked to the editor and she said they liked to have the leeway to cut the stories. I don’t know if this is important or not. If a client wants 800 words, I figure: give them 800 words. Right?

    Please put me in the drawing. I’d love the comments from a six time winner! I’m ready to go with a story right now. : )


  23. Will I have something ready? I'll have to RESEARCH and BRAINSTORM and WRITE and EDIT, but I'll come up with something. (Margie Lawson would be proud of my polysendenton.)

  24. Walt this is fiction. Just write the story. Don't overthink, lol.

    Vince you are IN!!

    Six sold but many more NOT sold.

  25. It sounds great. I'd like to give it a shot. Note to self--allow my brain to come up with a short contemporary story. No, really, it's okay to think up a story set in the present.

    I will keep reassuring my historical brain. (Which is not the same thing as an ancient brain.)

  26. Tina,

    The RESEARCH involves picking up a copy or two or more of Woman's World and seeing what they want.

    Enjoying and Einstein's chocolate almond latte at the moment. Absolutely delicious. :-)

  27. Walt's got polysendsyndrome....

    Is that fatal, honey???? 'Cause I've got pills here for most anything that ails ya' from back before Grand-dad crossed over. They'd still be good, right? I mean back then, they didn't even have expiration dates because nothing expired.

    They should go back to that, don't you think????


  28. Tina: I hope I win your contest because I believe it might be the thing to push me over into the WW Acceptance column.

    I've submitted five stories and received five Rejections. However, the last two Rs came with very nice, hand-written notes from Ms. Gaddis saying the stories were well written but not right for the mag (for some of the very reasons you mentioned in your posting!).

    Even if I don't win the critique, I feel I've won because of your valuable, helpful posting.

    Best of luck everyone!


  29. Tina, what a generous offer! Anyone interested in writing for WW would be a fool to pass up this golden opportunity!

    I cut my writing teeth on short stories and articles for the children's & YA market. Writing to meet magazine word count limits really is good discipline. It forces you to organize your thoughts, streamline your prose, and choose the very best word.

  30. Sherri,

    I subbed to WW off and on for ten years before I finally sat down and applied the guidelines. Same thing with my sale to LI.

    So I'm a slow learner..but I am persistent.

  31. I went to visit Julie Lessman over at Renee's blog. (The link is in the weekend edition.)

    Julie writes beautiful, visual love scenes.

    Recently one of the Seekers mentioned she finished writing a kissing scene--2 thousand words.

    I was stunned. Mine are two paragraphs and that is with lots of layering.

    That is the downside of cutting your teeth on short stories.

    In person I am the same way though.

    Why give you two paras if I can give you two words and I hate the telephone, but text messges are my friend.

    Anyone else relate to this?

  32. Tina,

    I can relate. One of the comments I often receive on both my fiction and nonfiction is a comment about how "clean" it is. The implication was that there wasn't a lot of waste in my writng, but also suggested that I needed more description, more emotion, more umph.

    And that's why I may not be successful yet in reaching a reader's heart.

    Ruthy, don't know if there's a pill for what I've got. :-)

  33. Okay, Miss Russo Radcliffe

    I shall give this short story stuff a shot. As wordy as I am, it orta be interesting to see how well I can chop a story to bits and still retain a story that someone might actually wanna read it.

    Put me down for the draw.

    I'm crossing my eyes and my t's.

  34. You're IN Ms. Tina P.

    Chop. Chop. Chop.

  35. Hi Tina:

    No one cares how many golf tournaments you didn’t win. They go by how many you won.

    Julie Lessman writes long passion scenes but they read real fast like they were just a couple of paragraphs. That's the hard part!

    eBook fans: I just downloaded the Kindle for PC. It’s free and you can have access to all the Kindle eBook bargains. So far it works great.
    (I bought “Prime Time” by Hank Phillippi Ryan for my first Kindle book because it is written in first person present. I wanted a book written in this POV.)

    Sony sent me a prepaid mailing package. They have to make an upgrade for the last upgrade of my Sony eBook Reader. eBooks are still in the Wild West phase.


  36. I've subbed to WW a few times but received only rejections. I have a short. I've been to Kate's blog. Thanks, Tina, for this great opportunity. Please enter me in the contest.

  37. Miss Tina R,

    I am chop, chopping along at 2000 words and counting down.


  38. Tina,
    I LOVE WW!!! Sold to them twice. The first time, I was sure they'd made a mistake when they sent the contract. Thought they'd forgotten the decimal point!

    I've read one of your WW stories and loved it! Nicely done.

    WW stories look easy to write, but capturing what they want is difficult. As you've mentioned, a great learning tool for crafting tight prose.

    Congrats on your success. Thanks for providing such great WW info.

    BTW, I need to head to Kate Willoughby's blog. My maiden name was Willoughby!!!!

  39. TINA SAID:
    Julie writes beautiful, visual love scenes.

    BLESS YOU, TEENSTER!! But I'm only verbose in person and on paper. When it comes to the telephone, FORGET IT!! I despise the telephone but LOVE e-mails and would probably love texting, too, if I wasn't such a techno-illiterate.

    Julie Lessman writes long passion scenes but they read real fast like they were just a couple of paragraphs. That's the hard part!

    Awwww, Vince, you almost made me cry!! I say "almost" because it's Friday and I NEVER cry on Friday evenings because it's the WEEKEND!! Going downstairs right now to watch JAG on HD with my sweetie ... Yeah, yeah, we're real live wires ...:)


  40. Great Post!

    I would LOVE to write for WW but gave up after several rejections. Those same stories (albeit a bit longer) are available now through White Rose Publishing so maybe WW wasn't God's plan for me at the time.

    Thinking I'll try again.

  41. Well Debby I didn't know that. Another WW alum.

    You are in Pat Jeanne.

    Pamela give it a go.

  42. Why not indeed ;) I took an old story I had - 2000 and so far chopped it down to 1600. Now to cut it in half again. Funny thing though - it became a completely different story. Go figure ;)

  43. Oh wow!! I didn't know woman's world did this how cool! Maybe I'll be able to try that one day:)
    I would Love to do It now but I don't think I could write that fast!:)

  44. Short story writers:

    Think of your short story as the final or opening pages of your manuscript. The HEA scene, with the heroine's introspect, the feelings emoted by seeing the hero, the sense that all will be right. If it's too hard to cut words, try starting 'later' in the scene.

    If it's an opening scene (like Tina's WW that had the heroine taking her kids to school in her slippers) you want to evoke the background emotions and that first meet, just enough so that the reader knows hope has arrived.

    Tina, I love this stuff and love the feelings good short stories inspire. I used to get Redbook magazine just to read the fiction inside and then I'd try to write like the authors they used. In all honesty I lost some interest in it when the stories went to more Women's Fiction than romance. And I like good Women's Fiction that isn't 'me' centered. If I read one more thing about a middle aged woman who has to 'find' herself, I'll gag.

    (I am herewith apologizing to every mid-life crisis woman reading this right now, and offering my own brand of warm, inspirational advice: Get over it.)

    But short romance scenes that emote???? Ah, be still my heart.

    Walt, it's a hard row to hoe, to find that balance between squeaky clean and descriptive that works and doesn't freak out the word-count-o-meter.

    But once you're Nicholas Sparks, honey, it won't matter. And so much of that is subjective. One editor's exclamation of joy might equate another one's gag reflex over the very same opening. They're human. Different strokes. You know the drill.

    I can't wait to see who wins this. I'll be cheering for you all the way!!!


  45. Well it's not exactly a contest. It's an offer to read but I won't be comparing them against each other.

    Nice that they are so brave isn't it????????

    Long winters in the writing cave do that to you I guess.

  46. I'm late to this post, too late for the contest, but just wanted to mention what an excellent post it was. And that Woman's World always WILL respond eventually...perhaps next time with an acceptance!

  47. Thanks for the kind remarks Conda. Stick around we like late party people. Have a Peeps.

  48. I'm chiming in late, but love the post. I'm submitting to WW now.

    Thanks Tina -- for the update and all the tips! So generous of you!

  49. Hey, Marian. Thanks for stopping by.

    Best of luck. And don't give up.

  50. Do they accept stories from both points of view? My most recent one started with her POV to set it up, but the majority of it was from his POV.

  51. Good question. I don't remember seeing one with both POVs only one or the other. But I'll take a looksie in my backlog of issues.

    You might also join the online yahoo group and ask them. You can join as I do no mail and just weekly go to the web to check the postings. It keeps your in box from being slammed.