I’m delighted to chat to Jane Kemp who is the Consumer and Lifestyle Editor at Woman’s Weekly magazine, a valuable outlet for short romantic fiction and serials.
Hi Jane, congratulations on your appointment as the new Consumer and Lifestyle Editor at Woman’s Weekly. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you – it’s certainly a dream job for me. I’m a journalist with many years’ experience in magazines and fiction. I’ve written lots of short stories myself, have co-authored over 30 books for children and adults, and was a scriptwriter for two BBC children’s shows – Balamory, and Me Too.
What do you hope to bring to your new role?
I’m hoping to continue bringing readers the best new fiction in the regular magazine, and through our Fiction Monthly. Woman’s Weekly has an amazing heritage, so we’re building on solid foundations.
Obviously there have been quite a lot of changes at Woman’s Weekly recently. Can you tell us about the new team?
My job title is Consumer and Lifestyle Editor, which incorporates all our fiction.
Emma Shacklock is our Fiction Writing Coordinator. She helps read and select our short story submissions for both Woman’s Weekly and Fiction Monthly. Emma also looks after book reviews in Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Woman.
The RNA has a lot of short story writers amongst our membership. Can you tell where to find submission guidelines? Are you able to consider short stories and serials from our members generally or are submissions restricted to regular Woman’s Weekly writers only?
We are happy to receive all short story submissions and serial outlines from anyone. New writers are welcome to submit stories for either the weekly issues or Fiction Monthly specials – our full guidelines can be found at http://www.womansweekly.com/fiction/
We read every submission. We’ll discuss potential amends with a writer if we feel a story needs editing, and we always let writers know our decision when we reach one. However due to the volume of stories we receive, we’re unable to give feedback on submissions. I should also stress that we can only pay for stories on publication.
Are you planning any changes to the Woman’s Weekly Fiction Specials?
From July onwards the Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special will have a monthly Book Club, sharing a selection of our most highly rated recent reads and releases. Alongside these, our Book Club also features reader-recommended books and all-time favourites. The magazine’s design is also being refreshed. But it will still be packed with stories, of course.
Will there be any other opportunities available for our members that you’d like to share with us?
If any of your members have a favourite book, be it classic or contemporary, then head over to our Facebook page and let us know.
What does the future hold for Woman’s Weekly in 2018?
We’re looking forward to more reader involvement, and we also have plans to bring more reviews and book news into the weekly issue.
If you could give one piece of advice to authors what would it be?
A literary agent gave a talk at an event I went to, and suggested that the test of a strong story is whether you can summarise its key plot in less than 12 words.
For example, Hamlet is a story about… A prince who can’t decide whether to avenge his father’s murder.
That advice stuck with me – it’s a bit like the movie ‘lift pitch’ test, where you have 30 seconds in an enclosed space to sell your screenplay idea to a producer! I think it’s a very useful discipline for any story writer.
What are your interests away from work? Do you ever read just to relax?
Yes, I read a lot. I also swim, go to life-drawing classes, and fuss over my garden and my pond.
We often ask agents and publishers what they consider to be the next ‘big thing’ – what do you hope to see more of in 2018?
It would be good to see more stories from broader cultural backgrounds, but really, all I want to read are good stories, well told.
So Emma and I will very much look forward to hearing from any of your members.
Thank you very much Jane. It sounds like exciting times are ahead for Woman’s Weekly and Fiction Monthly. All the best!
For more information go to the Woman’s Weekly submission guidelines page.
Rhoda Baxter (AKA Jeevani Charika) writes feel good stories about strong women and nice guy heroes. She especially likes it when they make her laugh. You can find out more about her award nominated books and mentoring services on www.rhodabaxter.com