Sunday, January 24, 2010

Psyched Up for Psychologies Magazine?

Recently, a few students have written articles aimed at Psychologies magazine for their assignments. This is a good market to consider because it does use freelance submitted material, but I thought I'd use a blog posting to look at this magazine in a little bit more detail.

Firstly, here's what the magazines website says about freelance submissions:

"Psychologies welcomes all new ideas from writers, and have put together the following guidelines for all features submissions to the magazine.

Psychologies covers relationships, family and parenting, personality, behaviour, health, wellbeing, beauty, society and social trends, travel, spirituality and sex. All feature ideas should fit into one of these areas, and suggestions should offer a combination of psychological insight and practical advice. We also publish a First Person story each month, which is an in-depth account of an emotional experience the writer has gone through, and what they feel they have learned from it.

Feature suggestions should be 1-2 paragraphs long, well researched, with a clear working title, and should refer to any relevant experts or recent research or findings about that topic. Please always send outlines rather than completed articles, and include details of other publications you write for, as well as any press cuttings that can be accessed online."

Straight away, the website states that the magazine covers:
  • Relationships
  • Family and Parenting
  • Personality
  • Behaviour
  • Health
  • Wellbeing
  • Beauty
  • Society and Social trends
  • Travel
  • Spirituality
  • Sex
You therefore need to have a clear idea as to which of these headings your article will appear under, in the magazine. The website goes on to say that your article should offer some psychological insight as well as practical advice. In other words, your article needs to explain some of the theory behind the situation you are exploring, and then give readers some step-by-step or actionable advice on how to cope/recover/deal with the issue that you are discussing. So, show the reader what the problem is, then tell them how to deal with it.

If you study the magazine, you'll see that the 'practical advice' section takes on many forms. For some sections, it may refer to a Case Study - someone who has experienced the problem and then overcome it. It is the information the Case Study offers about how they overcame the difficulty that is the practical advice other readers can use.

Some sections use a boxout or sidepanel, which means that the practical steps may be three or four paragraphs, or a list of bullet points (8 steps to feeling brighter, 10 ways to be assertive). Whatever style the magazine uses for the section you are targeting, that's the style of practical advice you need to be providing.

The website asks that feature proposals are emailed to the Editorial Assistant, and that your sales pitch is no more than 2 paragraphs. The key here, is that these paragraphs should include details of the research or findings that you are quoting and the names and experience of any experts. Psychologies places a lot of emphasis on this - the magazine aims to be authoritative - and therefore the articles it publishes have to contain expert advice.

Take a look at this example article on their website, called "Twenty Ways To Simplify Your Life." Each of these 'ways' names an expert who has been quoted or an authoritative piece of research. That's the level of detail you need to be looking for.

For those starting out, the best way to approach this, is not to email your article idea when you have the idea, but to produce the first draft of your article first, and then approach the editor. This is not the typical way to go about selling an idea, but to demonstrate that your idea is serious enough to be considered, you need to have interviewed your experts and read up on the research. In my view, the best way to have confidence in your article is to have produced the first draft. That way, you'll know which of the experts you've interviewed will be included in your article and which pieces of research you have drawn up.

Finally, don't forget the "My Way" section of the magazine that looks at a subject from the writer's personal point of view. This means that the writer themself, needs to have experienced a problem and found a way of overcoming it, rather than the writer merely doing some research about a subject and then writing about it.

Do that, and your chances of success with this magazine, will be much greater.

Good luck!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Re-Use Material for Success

One of my students, John Price emailed me last week to tell me of his latest success.

"I'm pleased to tell you that I've had an article accepted for the Olden Life column of The Oldie, for a very acceptable £150. I included an anecdote about Pasha Cigarettes in a piece I wrote as part of Assignment 3. As I hadn't sold that, I did a bit of research on the infamous cigarettes and other people's memories of them and the result will be in the next issue!"

This is a great example of how you can re-use your material. John had originally written his article for assignment three and then sent it off to his target publication. This had been rejected, but instead of putting it to one side, John took an element from this piece and used it as the basis for another article. Just because an idea didn't work in one article, it doesn't mean to say that it won't work elsewhere. And because John went to that effort, he's now £150 better off!

Here's an opportunity for the travel writers amongst you (And perhaps those of my students who've tackled the Assignment 6 travel article and want to re-use elements of their idea for another opportunity!). Rob Innis forwarded details of this travel writing competition to me. Heritage magazine are looking for Britain's best amateur travel writers. This does mean that the topic of your article needs to be UK related, but that doesn't mean that you have to be a UK-based writer to do that!

Here's more information:

Perhaps you have taken a stroll around a magnificent castle in the Scottish Highlands, enjoyed an unforgettable ride on a steam train in Snowdonia or think you have found England’s most spectacular stately home and gardens? All we ask is that your story is about your experience of visiting a site of historical interest in Britain. The inspiration for your tale could be anything from a day trip to a historic city or village to a weekend spent exploring your favourite stretch of coast or countryside. Perhaps you want to share your wonder at finding an incredible stone circle or Roman ruin, battlefield or battleship? Just remember, the more entertaining you make your story the more chance you have of winning the vote of our judges! The author of the best story will win a fantastic seven night cruise around the western isles of Scotland courtesy of Hebridean Cruises.

“Hebridean Island Cruises has been setting the benchmark for small ship luxury cruising for 20 years,” says Hebridean’s Hannah Kingsley. “MV Hebridean Princess is living proof that small is beautiful. Each all-inclusive cruise is carefully planned by our own highly experienced researchers, whose brief is to capture the cultural essence and historical significance of each port of call.”

If you fancy giving it a go, the rules of entry are simple: stories can be a maximum of 500 words and must be first hand accounts of your experience. Anyone can enter, but the story you supply must not have been published anywhere else. All entries will then be judged by the Heritage magazine editorial team. The winner and four runners up will then be printed in a special feature in the June 2010 issue of the magazine and other selected stories will be published on the magazine website.

How to enter

To submit your story, click here. Alternatively you can send your work to us by post to Reader Writing Competition, Heritage/Realm magazine, Archant House, Oriel Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 1BB. The closing date for all entries is Friday 26th February 2010.

The prizes

1st prize:
An luxurious seven night cruise for two people worth up to £7310 per person, staying in a G-Grade double or twin Castle cabin on board the Hebridean Princess in 2010.

2nd prize:
A two night stay for two adults and two children at the stunning Auchrannie Spa Resort on the Isle of Arran, Scotland, including a bottle of fizz on arrival, use of all leisure facilities, a complimentary express beauty treatment and a full Scottish breakfast

3rd prize:
An overnight stay for two in a four poster room at Bibury Court Hotel, a stunning Jacobean mansion in the heart of the Cotswolds, with complimentary afternoon tea, dinner in the newly refurbished restaurant and a full English breakfast

4th prize: Two tickets to a forthcoming exhibition of your choice at the Royal Academy of Arts

5th prize: A Thorntons Chocolates Chocoholic gift set, containing an assortment of goodies for any chocolate lover

Rules: Closing date for entries Friday 26th February 2010. All prizes are subject to availability and must be taken before the end of 2010. Travel expenses, supplements, upgrades, travel insurance and other incidentals are not included. Only one entry is allowed per person. This competition is not open to employees (and relatives) of Archant, Hebridean Cruises, Auchrannie Spa Resort, Bibury Court Hotel, the Royal Academy of Arts, Thorntons and associated companies. The winner will be chosen at random from all the correct entries received. No cash alternative will be offered and the prize is non-transferable. Entrants must be 18 or over. No bulk or third entries accepted. Entries will not be acknowledged or returned. No purchase is necessary. Archant cannot be held responsible for the manner in which prizes are provided. Any extra spending beyond the prize described is the responsibility of the winners. The winner must be willing to take part in post-event publicity if necessary. The winners’ names may be published at a future date. Entries that are illegible or not in accordance with the rules will be disqualified. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Winners will be notified within 21 days of the closing date. The prize may not be assigned to any other person and no alternative prize is available.

Incidentally, Heritage magazine is a good market for freelance opportunities (I've had a couple of pieces in here), so if you don't fancy any of the prizes, the magazine is definitely worth a look!

Good luck!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Helen begins 2010 ... in print!

Congratulations to Helen Baggott, who has started 2010 off in print. She saw my blog posting last year about the "Where I live" section in Country Walking magazine.

"Remember last year, you shared the opp to write something for Country Walking's new series on where we live?
Well, I sent my effort straight off and guess what? It's in the current issue!
What a great start to the year!"

Anyone interested in having a go at this slot, needs to email 200 words to explaining about the area the live and why it's so good for country walking. Published pieces receive a copy of a book entitled "Icons of England."

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Great Thaw Begins ... Yeah right!

According to the national news here in the UK 'the great thaw has begun'. Well, it may well have done in the town and cities, but just because that's what's happening in places where many people live, that doesn't mean to say that's what's happening to everyone.

This first picture was taken yesterday and is of the country lane I walk along most days in order to post my submissions and any assignments that I've had to mark back to students. As you can see, the snow is banked up high on one side, but on the actual road itself, the snow is compacted to about 2 inches thick. It's perfectly possible to navigate if you're wearing the right walking shoes and have a well padded rear end, just in case.

This next picture was taken 20 minutes ago and is of the same country lane. We may not have had any more snow, but what has been lying on the adjacent fields has been blown overnight onto the road. I tried walking in it, but it is over three feet deep in places (and my padded rear end got very cold!). So much for the great thaw! I had to abandon my trip today.

What has this got to do with writing? Well, as I said at the beginning, just because the media say something is happening, it doesn't mean that it actually IS. And if it is happening, it doesn't mean that it is happening to EVERYONE. Whilst a story may be classified as national, the local angle can be a very different one. It's a useful way of generating ideas.

Go through your national newspapers and pick out the national stories. Then consider the impact on your locality. If the Government is pushing for free swimming for under 16s, how does that national policy fit in with your community if your local council is closing your neighbourhood swimming pool? If the national news is saying that unemployment is falling, but in your local area it is still rising, then there is an article angle there. Ask the question, "What makes my local community different?" and your answer will produce your article.

So don't rely on what the national news is telling you, get out there and establish the facts for yourself in your local area. You could find yourself producing an article for your local newspaper or magazine, or, if the story at your local level is very different to the national story - you could end up selling it to a national newspaper!

I'll try again tomorrow to make it to the postbox. In the meantime, good luck!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


PLR - or Public Lending Right to give it its full title - is a right that enables authors to receive a payment from the Government on behalf of books they've written being borrowed from the libraries. The right was introduced in an attempt to recompense authors who were losing out on a royalty payment because several people were borrowing the same copy of a book from a library. If 10 people borrowed the same copy from the library, the author has missed out on 9 royalty sales (not 10, because the library buys the copy for their shelves, so the author gets that one!)

I've always advocated that article writers who have several pieces published on the same topic, should try to produce a book on this subject. Publishers are more likely to accept you as an expert, if magazines have published your articles on the same subject. (For those who have not been psychologically scarred by my video appearance on the Writers Bureau website where I talk about non-fiction book writing, click here ... if you dare.)

The British PLR system (many countries in the world have similar systems and the European Union has made it compulsory for all countries within its borders to have such a system - Ireland have just launched theirs) monitors which books are borrowed from a sample of libraries across the country. This 'sample' is reviewed every year.

In February 2010, authors will receive their PLR payments for the period of 1st July 2008 to 30th June 2009. Statements have just been issued and I find the statistics quite revealing.

My bestselling book - 100 Ways For A Dog To Train its Human - has sold over 210,000 copies in the shops, yet was only borrowed 54 times from libraries between 01/07/08 and 30/06/09.

One of my other books - Fundraising for a Community Project - tackles the dry and boring subject of how a community group can apply for grant funding. Since its publication in 2007, it has sold less than 500 copies in the shops. But between 01/07/08 and 30/06/09 it was borrowed from the libraries on 1,248 occasions.

So, if you've had some success with articles on a particular subject, but you don't think it would be a particularly successful book in the shops, don't let that put you off of writing the book. You may end up writing a really useful 'library' book. The benefit of PLR is that when the bookshops stop stocking your book, the libraries often keep hold of it, which means that your book continues generating income in the years ahead.

And once you've had a book published, you often get approached by magazines to write more articles, because as the author of a book on the subject, you're perceived to be an expert on the subject.

Good luck.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year Opportunities!

Well, 2010 is certainly starting off with a bang! I've just received my February 2010 copy of Writing magazine and inside is an article of mine where I talk to three writers who've each found different ways of creating time to write. Some are quite simple steps to follow, whilst others are a bit more drastic, but the point is, all three writers have found a way that's best for them.

One of my students, BD Basu, is celebrating a success with one of this articles in the January 2010 issue of Positive Health magazine. Congratulations to him - especially because this is his second article with the publication. I've told him to get in there quick with another article, whilst the editor remembers who he is. It could lead to more regular work! Editors soon get to know writers whom they can rely on for good, well-written and informative copy.

Do you remember those of us poor Writers Bureau tutors who had to filmed for those advice clips on the Writers Bureau website? Well, whilst you have a copy of the February 2010 issue of Writing magazine in your hands, turn to the back page, for Lorraine Mace's behind the scenes explanation of what REALLY happened during filming. I'm going red just reading it and being reminded of it all.

You may also be interested to know that Lorraine has launched a new short story competition called Flash 500. Flash fiction refers to short, short stories and the clue is in the title here, the maximum word count is 500 words, so that's tight writing! There's a £5 entry fee for one submission or £8 for two, but the first prize is £250 plus publication in the ezine 'Words with Jam'. Other prizes include £100, £50 and copies of 'The ABC Writer's Checklist'.

For more information about the Flash 500 competition, visit

I would like to see some excellent submissions made to this competition. Why? Because I'm the judge! So come on guys and gals, show me what you can do. Incidentally, you may want to look at the advice I give to writers entering competitions that I happen to be judging. You can read it here on my website. That's all the help I can give you I'm afraid!

For my Writers Bureau students, if you're looking for more openings in 2010, don't forget WB's very own C & V online newsletter. Log into the WB Student area to find out more. The next issue's theme is "The 1st decade of the 21st century" which offers plenty of scope for ideas, whether you prefer to write fiction or non-fiction. The deadline for the latest issue is approaching fast - 15th January 2010 - so you need to be quick.

Submissions should be in Word or WordPad files (as against MHTML) saved as RTF attached to an email, with your name and student number within the text of your work as well as in the subject line of your email. To help other students understand how you arrived at your idea, a short introduction explaining the inspiration or source of your work would also be appreciated.

Please send your submissions to

Submissions need to be around 500 words.

I hope all that has inspired you!

Good luck!