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Selling to the Confessions Market
by Julie Williams

I took up writing as a hobby when I came to America from England ten years ago. With my children grown and living in the UK, I finally had the time to pursue something I'd always enjoyed. At that time I wrote mostly children's stories and a few short romances. I never thought of writing for the confessions market until I heard Pat Byrdsong, (at that time) the Editor of True Confessions speak at the Oklahoma Writers' Federation Conference in 2004.

Pat opened my eyes to a world of possibilities if I wanted to try it.

During her presentation, she made several references to Peggy Fielding as a successful author who has written (and continues to write) stories for this group of magazines. I found out that Peggy had written a book on how to go about this subject, titled Confessing for Money (Writing and Selling to the Secret Short Story Market).

I bought a copy and read it thoroughly.

Peggy has some wonderful tips in this book. I followed them. I entered one story in a ByLine Magazine contest which had a Confession genre category. The result, third place, showed me that I do have what it takes to write a confession.

Buoyed by that success, I sent a different story to one of the magazines Pat Byrdsong mentioned at the Conference and "Second Chance" was accepted by True Experience for their fall 2005 edition.

It's a great thrill to know that many people (and not just one judge) will get to read my story and, hopefully, learn from it.

Peggy says this is an important aspect of writing for this market -- the fact that even if the person reading your story cannot identify completely with the character, they can at least learn from the character's experience and his/her choices. Should they ever be faced with a similar scenario in the future, they will know which decision to make.

Although ideas come easily to me, along with characters' names, at some point I do have to plot the storyline. Peggy has plenty of tips on how to do this and more, and I particularly like her formula for writing confessions. Wait until you see her illustration -- is it a shell, is it a wave? No, it's Peggy's drawing of a confession! And this works for most love stories, which also need their share of drama and conflict or else they are boring.

My first sale gave me a high, but I didn't just congratulate myself. I took Peggy's advice to start another right away rather than wait to hear back. Sometimes it takes several months before the story editor gets in touch. I was lucky - my response only took two weeks*.

In her book, Peggy also gives advice on manuscript preparation, office equipment, and how to keep records, etc. It is all useful information, and her tips for writing this genre, when used frequently, will become second nature.

I guess I broke a few rules the first time around, but I'm sure Peggy would say, "What are rules for if not to be broken?"

For instance, "Second Chance" is written from the man's point of view whereas the majority of Confessions type stories are from a woman's POV.

Secondly, it is set overseas, in Paris, and I've found from reading the stories that most take place in the US.

However, following Peggy's formula, my main character is pretty settled in his marriage but has made some bad decisions. He is about to make another critical one when an event takes place that causes him to think about his actions before it's too late.

But, staying true to the principles of these magazines, my story is based on an actual experience that I had in France. If I can turn a real-life event into a story, so can you.

Get Peggy's book and get writing.

© Copyright 2005, Julie Williams

Julie Williams

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