Monday, October 13, 2008

Write for Writer's Forum magazine

Writer's Forum magazine is a great magazine for writers, but it is also one of the most accessible ones to write for.

Here are the guidelines for anyone interested in writing for this magazine. One such area in the magazine where you may be able to achieve publication is if you can interview a writer you know. Now the writer doesn't have to be famous, but if a member of your writer's circle has achieved publication, or has had a great experience with self-publication then other writers may be able to learn from this (see notes below on what is and is not acceptable with self-published stories).

And if you are based abroad, are there any good markets in your own country that you can write for, or have had success writing for yourself? How did you break into these markets? The reader's of Writer's Forum magazine are interested in any tips - just like you are! So if you have any knowledge you can share, then this could be a useful market to share it with!

This is what the editor, Carl Styants (make a note of his name!) has to say:


We welcome feature ideas from both new and established writers, but we expect journalism not opinion. [Top tip!] Back up any statements with facts and figures. Unless the story is personal and told in the first person, keep your voice from intruding.

In almost all instances, articles should show research of current markets or issues affecting writers, and include quotes from relevant experts. [Aren't I always telling you how quotes add credence and authority to your work?]

Space is limited and articles that try to cover too much will not be able to explain any part in detail. Stick to one topic, but make it one that will be of interest to enough readers.

Avoid formats used by regular contributors in their columns, such as 'Where I Write'. [I know Phil Barrington who writes this piece and I can tell you, he wouldn't be very happy with someone muscling in on his territory. PS - He's just interviewed me about my writing space - look out for in an issue around Spring 2009 - I might mention it nearer the time in the blog! It's where I mark all your assignments too!]

As in all good writing, show don't tell. Give detailed examples of any points being made; ask other writers, publishers and relevant experts for them.

The main reason for rejection is that an article tells us things we already know; advice that even a relatively new writer will have seen too often. If you want to cover a familiar aspect of good writing, show why and how it applies in today's publishing world. New ideas in writing are extremely rare but there always new ways to present old ones.

Articles examining an issue that affects writers (eg legal, political or financial matters, or those involving writing relationships or health concerns), are especially welcome. Again, these require quotes from relevant experts. [In other words any 'off-beat' or more unusual articles about writing stand more chance than traditional 'how to write' type articles.]


Author interviews should concentrate solely on the process of writing and getting published. We prefer masterclasses on a specific technique or style for which the author is known. The content of books, plots and characters should only be discussed in those terms; as examples to illustrate a piece of advice. Do not praise the author or the quality of his or her work but state reported facts, such as 'bestselling', 'controversial' or 'prize-winning'.


If you are writing about your own success in getting a book published, pick out aspects that make your story unique or interesting. Everyone knows they should keep going and not give up, but how did you do it? Tell your story chronologically and stick to your own experience. Show don't tell, eg: 'This is what happened to me and this is what I would do next time.' Don't presume to speak for all writers, or lecture the readers on what they should do. Let them decide which parts of your story are useful.


We are inundated with stories from readers who have self-published a book. We welcome how-to articles on specific aspects but please don't send submissions describing the whole process. Contact Siobhan Curham who uses lots of case studies for her Self-Publishing Workshops. She plugs the books of those featured who can help out with anecdotes and tips.

Remember that Writers' Forum is a trade magazine, not a literary review. The language should be kept simple and all jargon explained in passing. Save any literary flourishes for your creative writing. Be informative, accurate and, just as importantly, entertaining.


How to suggest ideas:

All ideas should be sent in the body of an email to Briefly describe the proposal in the subject line to make it stand out. Be as concise as possible but explain the aim and scope of the article. Add a few words about your writing experience, if any. [From my own experience, Carl will get back to you if interested although allow several weeks before chasing.]

How to send copy:

Once agreed, articles should be sent attached as a Word document preferably (.doc not .docx) or as a Rich Text File (.rtf).

Use a single plain font at 12pt or 14pt. Bold and italics are fine but keep it simple. Please do not format the text with tabs, indents, borders, colour, images, headers and footers etc.

There's no need for a cover sheet but make sure your contact details are in your email and at the top of the copy on the first page (not in a header).

Freelances often ask about wordcounts but it is more important to get all the details into your article. We edit all articles on the page and it is easier for us to cut material than to add it. As a very rough guide, an article that suits a page should be about 800-1000 words, or about 1500-1700 words if it suits a spread, depending on photos, book covers etc. We'd rather receive 500 tightly written words than a 1500-word article padded out with repetition and deviation.

How to send images:

Mention any available images in your submission but you needn't send them until requested. You should source images of anyone interviewed – we prefer normal colour photos to arty black and white 'author' shots. If necessary, you must seek the consent of the copyright holder and supply a credit.

Electronic images must be print quality – 300 dot per inch (dpi) at a decent size. Web images at 72dpi will not reproduce well unless they are four times the size they will be used in the magazine (ie a 20cm square web image at 72dpi will be only 5cm square when printed at 300dpi).

Give them filenames that are brief captions, eg sam_at_her_desk.jpg You can also send images to be scanned by us, although we cannot be held responsible if they are lost in the post. The address is:

Writers' Forum,
PO Box 6337
Bournemouth BH1 9EH

We appreciate that many contributors will be new to feature writing and do not mind if these points are not followed to the letter. The ideas and level of detail are far more important than the presentation.


Here in the UK Writer's Forum is available in most large newsagents. You can buy back copies which may be a good idea for those based abroad. Click here for more details.

My article about writing for the outdoor magazines was published in this issue

and my article about arranging your own Writer's Retreat was published in this issue.

Good luck!