Dear Marcus Rich, Sam Rich, Andrea Davies and Angela O’Farrell,
I used to hold Woman’s Weekly in high esteem. Not many men read women’s magazines, but as someone who always dreamed of having a short story published in the Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, I knew that in order to achieve my dream, I had to buy every issue and read them from cover to cover.
As a prolifically published article writer, and a bestselling author, I know how important it is to understand your target market.
It took me nine years, but having read the excellent stories written by some of this country’s most talented short story writers in your publication, I achieved my dream. I was published in the Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special. And then I did it again. And again.
The recent announcement that Woman’s Weekly will be purchasing All Rights, and copyright, in any fiction it acquires in the future saddens me considerably. What I find worrying is that it demonstrates a lack of understanding of how fiction works. I have a foot in both camps – I write for numerous non-fiction publications, but I also, occasionally, write fiction.
Non-fiction articles and short stories are two completely different beasts when it comes to rights. This blanket rights grab only highlights that senior management at Ti Media do not understand this.
Your decision is having a huge impact upon those talented writers who write to entertain your readers far more frequently than I do.
In his editor’s letter of the latest issue of Writers’ Forum magazine (Issue #202 – August 2018), the editor said:
“Don’t buy Women’s Weekly or sell them any stories until they change their new policy of Taking All Rights for fiction.”
And in her latest blog posting (https://www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/2018/07/13/story-starter-fag- ends/), the fiction editor at The People’s Friend commented:
“And going back to the subject of short stories, we are receiving more than ever. There’s no doubt that the changes at Woman’s Weekly are having an effect on us, too. (And I’ll come back to that in a later post.)”
So TI Media’s decision is being commented on, and noticed, by others in the fiction magazine industry. Writers are avoiding Woman’s Weekly. It is no longer a market held in high esteem, or valued as a publication deserving of the high quality material it published in the past.
I quite understand, in the grand scheme of things, how running one publication differently to the hundreds of others you have in your stable, does not make ‘business sense’. Therefore, an attempt to harmonise the way the business works across all of your markets would seem logical. But this decision is hurting the many writers who’ve loyally supplied fiction enjoyed by your readers for years, if not decades. And it’s hurting them so much they cannot financially, morally or idealistically continue to supply your business with their high quality, creative content.
If TI Media could listen to the concerns of its suppliers, and look for some kind of compromise, its reputation, but more importantly, that of Woman’s Weekly, could be restored.
Assigning All Rights in any fiction I create is not something I can accept. I, too, shall be offering my fiction elsewhere.
But, please do stop and consider what you’re doing. If not for your suppliers, then at least the readers at Woman’s Weekly, who’ve come to expect high quality fiction on your pages. And if not your readers, then your advertisers who make you the profitable company that you are.
Thank you for your time in reading this.