We are so excited that Susan Watson from My Weekly magazine is joining us today on the blog. As the fiction editor for the magazine, Susan is responsible for book reviews, author interviews, fiction events and short story commissions.
What does a typical day in the life of a fiction editor look like?
At any given time, I’m juggling lots of different deadlines so I make a little ‘to do’ list first thing each morning!
In each issue of My Weekly, we feature a short story from an author to tie in with the publication of their latest book, so I spend a bit of time sending out story briefs to authors and working with their publicists. We often have stories illustrated, so I also spend time sending out art briefs to our very talented team of freelance illustrators.
Around lunchtime, the doorbell goes and often my – very patient and helpful! – postie will be delivering some lovely book post. This is definitely one of my favourite parts of the job and I feel very privileged to regularly receive advance copies of books that are due to be published soon.
I love reading them so I can make my selection for my book reviews which appear in My Weekly once a month. I also review books for the My Weekly Special each month.
I arrange fiction and book content for My Weekly’s website, too, so some of my day will be spent interviewing authors and arranging book extracts.
We have a closed fiction submissions list at My Weekly but we still receive hundreds of short stories from our regular list of writers each submission period. One of my favourite parts of my job as fiction editor is reading them all – I am lucky to work with a lot of really creative and talented writers. The only trouble is, that it makes it REALLY hard to make my final selection as I receive far more stories than I have the space to publish!
What was the path that led you to working as fiction editor at My Weekly?
I became My Weekly’s fiction editor at the beginning of 2020. Prior to that, I worked as a features journalist. I did everything from organising fashion shoots to writing about My Weekly’s charity, the Helping Hand Appeal, which saw me travel everywhere from India to Malawi. I then worked as the Celebrity Editor for My Weekly before making the decision in 2019 to move into the lovely world of fiction. I’ve always been a passionate reader so this really is a dream job for me!
How do you decide which books and authors to feature?
With great difficulty! My Weekly readers love fiction and although there are certain genres which I know they particularly love – romance, saga and crime to name but a few – I always try to feature a wide range of genres in my book reviews. After all, a good story is a good story. I also like to highlight some great debuts – it’s important to support new authors on their publishing journey.
I like to chat to authors who have an interesting story to tell (almost all of them in my experience!) and there are some authors I know are particularly loved by our readers such as Sue Moorcroft, Milly Johnson, Isabelle Broom, Adele Parks, Phillipa Ashley…too many to mention them all!
My Weekly readers see their magazine as a treat and expect to be entertained, therefore I like to feature stories that are uplifting, hopeful or inspiring. They particularly enjoy romance so I always make sure there’s at least one romantic story included in each issue.
Recently, we had a wonderful romantic witchy fantasy tale from Sangu Mandanna and early next year we have a gorgeous queer romance set in the 14th century written by Emma Denny.
Why do you think romance is important?
I’m so proud to be part of the #RespectRomFic movement and at the very first meeting earlier this year, Isabelle Broom summed it up perfectly by reminding us that ‘love is what makes the world go round’ and she’s completely right. At the root of everything, every story, there is love.
I know from correspondence from our readers how much they enjoy reading love stories and beyond that, the figures speak for themselves – romance is one of the biggest selling genres. Isn’t it something like one romance book sold every two seconds?! That’s incredible.
I get really, really annoyed when I hear anyone sneer at romance novels. We all know that they bring great happiness and joy to readers and that’s a powerful thing. We have a big issue coming up in February 2023 – a bumper special which will be dedicated to romantic fiction.
Who are your top five romance authors?
This is such a difficult question! It changes constantly as I read more new authors and add to my list of old favourites. Here are a few from my list:
Emily Henry – I love her turn of phrase and writing style. She really knows how to build a simmering romance!
Isabelle Broom – I love the way Isabelle’s books always transport me to somewhere gorgeous and she always weaves such a beautiful story.
Robyn Carr – her Virgin River books got me through lockdown. I was on maternity leave and looking after a newborn baby and a two year old pretty much on my own. I was finding it hard to concentrate (especially during night time feeds) and reading this series was like a salve to the soul!
Sophie Irwin – I loved her 2022 debut, A Lady’s Guide To Fortune Hunting. The reparetee between Kitty and Radcliffe was so cleverly written!
Sangu Mandanna – I found The Very Secret Society Of Irregular Witches so charming and magical. It was one of my favourite romances of 2022.
If an RNA author is interested in submitting to you, what is the process?
We currently only accept fiction submissions from authors who have previously had fiction published in My Weekly magazine. However, if an RNA author fits this criteria they are more than welcome to send fiction to me. I send out fiction guidelines to our regular fiction writers every two months which detail exactly what I’m looking for in terms of themes and story lengths.
If you have had fiction published in My Weekly magazine before and for some reason don’t receive the fiction guidelines by email, do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll make sure your name is added to the distribution list.
I’m also really keen to find new writing talent and we ran a short story competition in the magazine earlier this year. I hope to run it again in 2023, so do look out for an update in the magazine next year.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us!
Susan was speaking with Julia Boggio
Julia Boggio is a writer, photographer, mother, runner, and Christmas card enthusiast, as well as being an original YouTube star. She is one half of the popular podcast, Two Lit Chicks (like desert island discs, but for books). Her first book, SHOOTERS, is available to pre-order from Amazon.