The Business of Writing

Simon Whaley's Resource For Writers

It’s A Writer’s World

 Well, I wasn’t expecting that. Last week, I had an email from the lovely Jill Finlay at The Weekly News. She wrote to say that a story I’d sent to her a couple of weeks ago would be in the next issue (out now – dated 4th March). 

The Weekly News usually publishes two stories in each issue, and the story accompanying mine was also written by a male writer. According to Jill, this is a first – both stories in the same issue written by men.

Last year, Jill was interviewed for Writers’ Forum magazine, where she commented that few men sent her stories. It reminded me of a query a student once raised about markets – do editors take submissions from the opposite sex of their target readership seriously? (What the student meant was: do women’s magazine editors accept material from men, and do editors of men’s magazines (such as car magazines) accept material from women?)

Er … YES! Editors are more interested in the writing than a writer’s gender. (Okay, there may be the odd article where the writer’s gender may be relevant for the angle of the piece, but for the other 99.99999% of the times, it’s not.)

Editors are looking for writing that will appeal to their readers. So don’t worry about whether your gender affects your chances of publication. Instead, worry about whether your writing will appeal to their readers.

Which means it’s important to know your target publication’s readership. If you check out The Weekly News’ target readership https://www.dcthomson.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2016/01/weekly_news-301015.pdf you’ll see that 30% of their readers are men. Which means Jill, the fiction editor, is thinking about that 30% when she’s reading and selecting stories. She’s also thinking about the 70% of female readers, too.

That doesn’t mean that only men can write about male characters and only women can write about female characters. I’ve read stories about men written by women and vice versa. My story in this week’s edition has two male characters and one female. But I’ve written stories from a woman’s point of view, and tales with only female characters.

Nor does it mean that only women can write articles for women’s magazines and only men can write non-fiction for men’s magazines. I know of one female writing student who secured a column in a motoring magazine.

We’re all individuals. We all have different experiences of life. It’s those experiences that influence what we write and how we write about it.

Don’t let your gender influence which markets you write for. You’re missing out on markets if you do.

Good luck.

8 Comments

  1. First, congrats on the sale!

    As for the male/female issue … Yes, I agree in principle that you shouldn’t be put off trying at all, and you should pitch both ‘male’ and ‘female’ publications – and anywhere between, no matter where you stand on the sex / gender spectrum – but I have to say in my early days I did meet a bit of resistance with some women’s markets. They were quite happy to consider material based on the ‘male view’ of life (on sex and relationships etc), but not necessarily welcoming sometimes when it came to other areas (an editor once asked me whether I wore a skirt when I called her with a pitch or follow-up). I would hope such attitudes are no longer there ….

    As is so often the case, may have to blog on this myself now! 🙂

  2. I can’t help thinking Alex’s reply should have been, “What, just while I’m writing, or d’you mean generally?”
    Good points as usual, Mr. W. I ghostwrite about business a LOT. I often wonder if discovering that I’m a woman would put some readers off. It’s still rather male-dominated!
    When I ghostwrite for freelancer news, I let the mask slip occasionally because the articles are generally more lighthearted and personal. Freelancing is more gender-balanced though; in the UK, it’s 41% women and 59% men (something I wrote about on Friday!) 🙂

    • I wish I’d thought of something witty, Alison – but I meekly melted away …
      Interesting about business and the male domination – I don’t know the area, but I would imagine most would assume business writing would be male-written.

    • Great statistic re the gender split in the freelancing world. Surely though, it shouldn’t matter if you let the mask slip occasionally, as long as the content is relevant to the target readership.

What are your thoughts?

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