Monday, June 4, 2012

No I'm Not Taking Over BBC Countryfile ... Well, Not Intentionally!

I was delighted to see the latest copy of BBC Countryfile pop through the letterbox last week, because it has one of my own pieces in it. I'd been commissioned to write about the Royal Yacht Britannia for the magazine's Great Days Out section (and with a four-day-weekend, for those who aren't self-employed, that gives readers plenty of ideas!).

It wasn't until a few hours later that fellow writer emailed to congratulate me on getting the Star Letter in the very same issue of the magazine. I'd completely forgotten about it, and I hadn't spotted it when I was flicking through the pages!

All this actually answers a question a student asked me last week: can a writer have an article and a letter published in the same issue of a magazine? Well, I'm going to have to answer that with a definite yes now, aren't I?

My student was querying whether it was acceptable to send something into the letters page when they were aware the editor had agreed to use a piece of theirs in an upcoming issue. Would the editor reject the letter because of the article that had already been accepted? My answer to the question was: "don't do the editor's job for them - send in your letter and let them decide."

Many new students fail to send off work, because they don't think the editor will publish it. Well, if the editor doesn't get a chance to look at it, what do you expect the outcome to be? And it is the editor's job to decide what gets rejected and what gets accepted. You're the writer, not the editor. You do your job and write something and let the editor do their job.

Remember - you don't know what other letters the editor has, or hasn't, received. The editor may be grateful for your letters page submission. Mine clearly was because it was awarded the star prize - I've won a luxury food hamper! And this isn't the first time I've won the star letter in this magazine, so don't think that when you've had a letter published in a magazine that that's it. Keep sending them in. That's why I keep writing letters to magazine letter pages. I like getting surprises like this!

Good luck!


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