On Getting Paid

This article first appeared on my blog under the title ‘Time for a Rant’ when I started it back in August with just a handful of followers. I hope my new ones will enjoy it as much as that handful did!

 Having prepared you for a rant, I’m going to talk about getting paid. This is a resurgent gripe for most writers. We work hard. We ought to receive some compensation. The thing that really, really gets me though, are those publishers who offer no apology for the lack of payment.

 Lately, I’ve sent a few short stories off for consideration. There are a lot of places out there to search through. I spend lots of time trying to find a good fit. I make it a rule to avoid those who charge a submission fee. Don’t get me wrong, I think it makes sound business sense. And these publishers usually hold out the carrot of much better payment should you be accepted. And if you only send one or two submissions out, that’s fine. But if you send twenty or thirty then you’re talking about a lot of money. Money that most likely you will never see again.

 But my real problem is with publishers who don’t offer anything at all but a chance to see your story in print. This is not necessarily the same as not paying. Many wonderful story magazines can’t offer payment right now, which they apologise for, and give you a free copy of the magazine or perhaps your own bio page instead. I like these magazines. I don’t usually submit anything to them that hasn’t been turned down by a few paying ones first, but that’s okay. No, the publishers I’m talking about are the ones who’ve forgotten that they wouldn’t have a product without the writers. Their submission instructions go something like this:

 We receive over 1000 submissions a week and only 0.3 of them get accepted. To increase your chances, find out what sort of things we publish by purchasing a subscription to our magazine for £35.00. 

 If, having done that, you still think your story would be a good fit, send it to us in 12pt Ariel, double spaced, as a .docxrftblabla attachment, properly formatted with 2.45 cm indents, also a well crafted bio, professional author photo and a side of unicorn sprinkles. 

 Payment? Don’t be ridiculous. Not put off yet? Why don’t you just give up? We’re overworked anyway and we’d rather be left alone. If you still insist on submitting, click this button. But you won’t hear from us for at least eighteen months.

 Ok, so I’ve exaggerated a bit, but you get the idea. I do realise that these publishers work hard. I also realise that the majority of submissions they receive are not what they want, or not of a publishable standard. But I still don’t understand why their website needs to be so dismissive, like it’s a massive favour to allow writers to submit to them. They’ve forgotten that they need writers in order to publish anything at all. But maybe if so many writers didn’t just ignore their patronising tone and submit anyway, they would be forced to recognise that. So don’t sell yourself short. If a website that you connect with doesn’t offer payment, well, go ahead send them something if you want. But don’t feel you have to entrust your hard work to any publisher that doesn’t appear to appreciate its writers.


Positive Thoughts on Rejection 


 This last couple of weeks I’ve tried resubmitting to a couple of publications that have published me before. I mean, they obviously liked my work, right? Should be a doddle. 

 You can probably see where this is going. They both said no. I found this peculiar at first, but actually, this backwards situation has helped me learn a few essential things about the whole rejection scenario we all dread. 

 When you’re rejected it doesn’t mean you can’t write. It doesn’t mean no one will publish that piece. Sometimes, when a publisher says that your work ‘isn’t right for them’ or ‘isn’t what they’re looking for right now’, that is purely and simply what they mean. So don’t give up. Don’t even feel discouraged. Just send it somewhere else. Who knows, it might be a better fit this time. And always remember that when you’re rejected, it’s not a rejection of you as an author! The same people might love your next story. 

 The other thing I learned was not to be dismissive of my publishing successes. As soon as I get accepted anywhere I tend to just assume they must take almost anything! That’s not true! In fact, being rejected somewhere that you were previously accepted actually validates your previous work. 

 I do hope my experiences with rejection will help you feel better the next time you are rejected. Sorry if that sounds pessimistic. But let’s face it, if you’re a writer putting yourself out there, you’re going to be rejected. A lot. Even if you’re an experienced short story writer. Even if you’ve previously been accepted by that particular publisher. But you know what? I wouldn’t want that to change. Being mostly rejected makes the times when you’re accepted so much more special. You’ve beaten the odds. 

Pet Hates

  We all have pet hates. Things that aren’t really that big of a deal but just get under our skin. I have three: spelling mistakes (seriously, I can’t even bear to write an incorrect shopping list), men leaving the toilet seat up, and seeing something on sale which I recently bought for full price. The latter in particular just gets me every time! 

   Because that’s a pet hate of mine, I want to save you from a similar situation. So this is just a heads up that my award winning short story ‘A New Life’ is currently available on the iBooks store for FREE. Only for a limited time though, so get it now before you miss out! 

    This story is the perfect quick read for lovers of romance and coffee. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please consider leaving a nice review, it would make such a difference! 

10 Places to Submit your Writing

 Following last week’s post on editing your short story, a few people asked me for suggestions on where to submit. I know that there are a lot of similar, more exhaustive lists already available; however, there’s no substitute for experience! So here are ten publications that either I, or writer friends of mine, have had good results with: 

Mystery Weekly

 Mystery Weekly publishes stories with, you guessed it, a mystery at their heart. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a classic whodunnit though. Any story revolving around a secret is just fine. Stories should be a minimum of 1000 words and a maximum of 10,000. They pay 1 Canadian cent per word. 

The Drabble

 The Drabble is a WordPress site that publishes fiction and poetry of 100 words or less. There’s no payment, but your work will be seen by lots of people and they include a link to your website. 

The Flash Fiction Press

 The Flash Fiction Press accepts short stories of between 250 to 1200 words. They aren’t fussy as to genre and usually respond within a week. They pay $3 per story. 

Platform for Prose

 Platform for Prose publishes short stories of 100 to 5000 words and poetry of up to 40 lines. They often respond very quickly, within a week. They don’t offer payment. 

Flash Fiction Magazine 

 The Flash Fiction magazine publishes stories of 300 to 1000 words. They usually respond within a week. They do not pay for online publication, however you will receive $40 if your work is selected to go in their anthology. 


 Prole publishes accessible stories of up to 7,500 words, though you are more likely to get in with a shorter piece. They also accept poetry. Payment is based on 50% of their profits being shared out among their contributors. 

Write Out Publishing 

 Write Out accepts stories of over 2,500 words.  They charge the public $1.99 per story with 10% of the profits going to your charity of choice. You should get a response within six to eight weeks. 

Stoneslide Corrective

 Stoneslide publishes short stories of up to 7,500 words. They have various categories, so do check which one best fits your work. Accepted contributions receive a lifetime’s subscription. 


 Channillo is a more unusual concept. They accept both fiction and none fiction series. You don’t have to supply your piece, instead you pitch your idea to them. You should get a decision within a few days. If not, check your junk mail folder- that’s where I found mine! Channillo is a membership site where people will pay to follow your series. Payment is based on the number of subscribers you have. However, you won’t receive anything until this amount reaches $50 and it may take a while! 


 Spark accepts several different categories of writing, including poetry. Each has a different word count limit. They take quite a long time to respond, however they provide constructive feedback from a variety of readers. They pay 2 cents per word, or $20, whichever adds up to more. 

 Hopefully there’s something here for everyone! I’ve tried very hard to get all these details right for you, but I cannot absolutely guarantee that they are. Please check them yourself before submitting. All the best! 

Victorian Handicrafts

 I’ve decided to do an occasional article to feature some of the things I learned about Victorian history while researching for my book. After all, why waste all the knowledge?! 

 This article originally appeared in my February 2017 newsletter. If you enjoy it, why not sign up to receive one each month? You can do so on the contact page of this site. 

 If you happened to be an unmarried woman in either the upper or middle class of Victorian society, life could be, well, a bit dull. You were basically supposed to sit at home until you were married. In Pride and Prejudice, which of course was written a few years before the Victorian era but still applies, Charles Bingley says that all young ladies are accomplished: “They all paint tables, cover screens and net purses.”

 I think we can take it that this was a direct result of the boredom that would inevitably overtake a clever young woman with nothing to do all day. However, handicrafts have not completely died out with the movement of women to the workplace, so clearly they do have an appeal beyond this! Personally, I like to cross stitch and I’m learning to knit. 

 A Victorian craft that many women turned to that appeals to me, was painting their own tea-sets. I’d love to give you all a tea-set to paint, but since that’s not practical here’s a link to a free downloadable coloring page, so you can at least design your own. Here’s mine:

 Ok, so I’m not the worlds best artist, but I had fun! Hope you do too.  

The Abigail Shepherd Guide to Editing Your Short Story

 Recently, a friend asked me to take a look at her short story and see what I thought. It was a great story, but there were a few common mistakes that new writers make, such as a lot of unnecessary words. I ended up helping her to edit it and, a week or so later, she told me that it had been accepted for publication. Naturally, this has gone to my head a bit and I now consider myself a short story editing expert! 

 Seriously though, my friend asked me to help her learn how to edit her own work so she didn’t always have to call upon my services. Below is the summary of my method that I sent her. I thought it might be of use to some of you guys too! 

  1. Try and see the story through the eyes of someone who’s never seen it before. Does it make sense? Will they understand what the story’s about? Does it fit together cohesively? 
  2. Go through it looking for unnecessary words and phrases. Take them out. Now repeat step one. 
  3. Look for repeated words that are close together. Replace. 
  4. Read it out loud. Change any sentences that sound unnatural, clunky, or are difficult to say. 

  By the way, this guide assumes you have already been through to check your spelling and grammar. You don’t need me to tell you you need to do that! At least, I hope you don’t. 

Is there anything else you would add to this list?