Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tailoring Your Stories

I have a Christmas story I wrote a few years ago that I just love. I would like to see it published somewhere, but this type of story - more of a romantic, feel-good Christmas story - probably won't make it into any literary story magazines. And the facts are, there are not a lot of print magazines that take genre-type short stories.

Through Diane, I have looked at some of the British magazines that focus on short stories. When I was in England, I picked up a copy of The People's Friend at a train station and thoroughly enjoyed reading all the short stories. This magazine has been around since 1869! That's pretty darn impressive. I would like to submit my Christmas story to them because I certainly think it meets the guidelines and might be the type of story they're looking for.

The problem? My story isn't set in Great Britain - it's set in America. For that reason alone, I'm hesitant to send it. All the stories I read in the issue of The People's Friend that I bought were set in the U.K., so I'm not sure if they're even open to stories with a different setting.

Now, here comes the snag. Should you tailor a story, one that has already been polished and one you are very satisfied with, to meet a market? It would take quite a lot of time to "overhaul" this story - it wouldn't be merely a matter of changing the place names and the language a bit. I think the essence of the story would be the same, however.

Part of me thinks I should go ahead and try to rewrite sections of it and see what happens while the other part of me would rather it stay exactly the way it is. The question is, will it ever be published in its current state?

What would you do?


  1. Shirley should be able to help you with the People's Friend. That's one of her "clients". They hate everything I send to them ... :o)

  2. I would be sure your story is as polished as it could be in its current state. Since you said it meets their guidelines, I would then write a knock-out query to accompany it, selling your American locale as a wonderful way to share Christmas across the pond.
    Good luck!

  3. I think I agree with Joanne's wise words. You may knock 'em dead with this new idea of sharing American stories - really, so much is interchangeable. But even if they wish it to take place in the UK, and like your story, its locale shouldn't be the deciding factor. Maybe leave it up to them whether you should tweak or not?

  4. "One of my clients" ... hm. Well, yes, I've had a few hundred short stories published by them, plus the serials of course. However, 'my' editor has retired and I think they're going in a slightly different direction now.

    Personally, I'd tailor it a tad. I would rather see a story in print (even if I do think it's perfect as it is) than languishing in a drawer. Is it possible to make the heroine British - preferably Scottish - and living in the US? I think the setting would be fine - an added selling point in fact - but they do like a British main character.

  5. Hi, Melissa
    You probably know about this American magazine and it probably isn't any good 'cos it seems they want 'a bit of spice'. But just in case...

  6. Melissa,

    I'm with Shirley - her suggestion sounds quite doable. Just to give you an extra chance of having the story pubbed and shows you're willing to be flexible :)

    Good luck! Would love to read the story.

  7. Shirley's advice sounds excellent.

  8. LOL! i know nothing about the publishing world over here... but I do know that britians are FASCINATED with anything American... absolutely fascinated. It's crazy... I listen to more US news every morning on my radio than I do English--always have. I'd give it a shot. It's too late for this year anyway, so if they don't like it, change it around a bit and resubmit. Also, my American Jane Austen rewrites dont' even seem to phase anyone I talk to, actually they love the idea and can't wait to read about modern America.

  9. Echoing Giddy's .02. I'd think they'd dearly love to have an American slant in a story, which would only broaden their appeal. If they don't go for it, maybe check out the anthologies?

  10. Great advice and ideas, everyone. I just finished reading through it tonight (*yawn* - it's rather late now!) and I still feel strongly that it's a good story. A few tweaks here and there and I plan on sending it out as is. Guess we'll go from there!

  11. I love your picture first!
    But yes to tailoring it if you can. I've had to do that now and then --you still have the story for someplace else should you need it.

  12. Yes, but don't think of it as changing your current story. Just write a brand new version of it. Like the Brittish Office and the US Office. :)


I love to hear from you!

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance!