Today I got a reply from ‘Woman’s Weekly’ magazine, returning a short story contribution which they advise is not quite what the editor is looking for.

I am very heartened by this for three reasons.

First, I did not send a stamped self-addressed envelope with my letter. I know this because if and when I do, I use first class postage affixed to a standard business envelope, assuming that, if what I send is unsuitable for the current round of articles or features, which it almost always is, my contribution will be routinely binned and that I might, if I am very lucky, receive a single sheet form letter in reply. (I have long since left behind the desire to see my printouts returned, because they are rarely used twice, and the material will doubtless have been revised many times since it was submitted.) So, the fact that ‘Woman’s Weekly return anything in a large envelope with the proper second-class postage means that someone probably read it and decided it was good enough to merit a reply – result!


Secondly, despite the fact that the form letter enclosed with my story says, ‘unfortunately we are unable to return manuscripts that are submitted without an sae’, someone clearly did return it, suggesting that they are reminding me of their submissions guidelines. Nudge, nudge!

Thirdly, that someone takes the trouble to remind me of their submission guidelines reinforces how important it is to follow these to the letter, and suggests that someone might want to hear from me again. I shall study the guidance carefully and write another short story which might be more suitable next time. I think I can do that. And, to make their lives easier, I shall enclose a second-class large letter postage stamp on a suitable envelope as routine.

I call that an excellent outcome. I am very grateful to Woman’s Weekly for taking the time to reply, and for returning my contribution with such useful feedback.

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