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Pat Byrdsong Wants Your Work
by Peggy Fielding

After graduating from college in Ohio, Pat Byrdsong took a job in the advertising department of the old Ziff/Davis pulp magazine empire, hoping eventually to move from advertising into editorial work. She left the Ohio based company after ten years and transferred to the Sterling/Macfadden group of magazines and has, in the seventeen years she has worked for the New York City company, made herself into the Editorial Director of MacFadden's Women's Group as well as the Editor for True Confessions Magazine The other magazines under her Editorial Direction are True Love, True Story, and True Romance, each with separate editors of their own.

Byrdsong explained that although each of the magazines is run by its own editor, she looks out for what's best for the entire group. All the magazines are confessions but each is slightly different from the others according to that particular editor's interests. Readers who want to write for the confessions should ask for guidelines via US mail, enclosing a #10 sized SASE. Individual tips are available or you can ask for guidelines for all four of the magazines.

WFD: Should we send our stories to all four editors simultaneously?

BYRDSONG: Our editors ask that writers NOT send multiple submissions to all four of the magazines. This will drive us all crazy and cause us to look at future submissions from that particular writer with a jaundiced eye.

WFD: How do we writers submit our stories to the four magazines?

BYRDSONG: Writers need to have patience. We will get to authors just as quickly as we can but we need time. We don't have time for telephone calls so please don't call. We prefer US Mail or email submissions. Send the completed manuscript for most of the magazines. Authors should not be surprised at a 6 to 8 month wait to hear from the editor of the magazine to which you've submitted. We realize that is a long time but we want your work to be published just as much as you do, so we need time to look over the work and see if it fits our market. For TRUE CONFESSIONS, I love email and will answer short queries rather quickly.

WFD: What is a short query?

BYRDSONG: One or two pages.

WFD: What should our queries contain?

BYRDSONG: For my magazine TRUE CONFESSIONS, send 2 or 3 paragraphs telling about you and the story. Tell how many words the story will contain. I respond to any email query within 15 business days. My response will offer comments or a refusal or will, perhaps, refer you to one of the other Macfadden magazines. Send your query to trueconfessionstales@Yahoo.com.

If you have no access to email, just send the complete manuscript and SASE large enough to contain your story. Please clean your typewriter keys if they need it. I don't want to see corrections, cross outs or erasures on your typed submissions. A messy manuscript makes me want to reject your work.

WFD: Will you pass my manuscript on to another magazine if you think it would fit that editor's needs?

BYRDSONG: Although the four confessions are each separate magazines, the editors are good about sharing materials and passing along stories that seem better suited to one of the others' magazines. We're pretty much a family. We editors get along with each other and we help each other when we can. We all work terribly hard.

WFD: Do the confessions pay well?

BYRDSONG: TRUE STORY pays 5 cents per word. That magazine is more family oriented than the others, with more romantic themes of conflict revolving around love and romance. Heroines are usually in their twenties or older.

WFD: Can you tell us something about TRUE LOVE and TRUE ROMANCE?

BYRDSONG: They both pay 3 cents a word. The stories in TRUE LOVE deal with teenage to twenties protagonists. Love. Just as its title says. This is the most sensual magazine of the four. TRUE ROMANCE looks for an edgier story, grittier or harsher stories ripped straight from the newspaper headlines. T R has a unique voice and they will buy unusual stories.

WFD: What kind of stories are you looking for right now?

BYRDSONG: We want all our Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, New Years Eve, New Years Day, and Three Kings Day queries into our offices before the third week of June. We won't look at any of the Christmas holiday queries after that date. I would like to have completed holiday stories not later than July 5th. That way, if I don't want your story for TRUE CONFESSIONS you still have time to get your stories to one of the other "True" editors.

WFD: What other sorts of stories would you like to see throughout the rest of the year?

BYRDSONG: Well, each of the four confessions magazines uses twelve to fourteen stories per month so we are always looking for well-written compelling stories -- the stories from your hearts. For TRUE CONFESSIONS, I'm really, really, really interested in seeing inspirational stories. No preaching, no sermons, no scripture quoting, just good faith based stories. I'd love to find at least one of these inspirational pieces for each month's issue.

WFD: Do you take nonfiction articles also?

BYRDSONG: Yes, we do. We have several columns which ask for personal experiences of readers and their families. The column called MY MOMENT WITH GOD is the most popular feature with TC readers. The column is faith based. The article tells how the writer's faith helped him or her overcome a particular problem. Readers love it.

And we love to get letters from our readers about the stories which you authors write.

WFD: You've mentioned the 4 confession magazines in the MacFadden Group. Do they publish other magazines?

BYRDSONG: Yes. There are six black confessions which are always looking for stories. The editors of these magazines, Lisa Fenn and Takesha Powell like stories for their magazines, BLACK CONFESSIONS, BLACK ROMANCE, BLACK SECRETS, BRONZE THRILLS, JIVE, and TRUE BLACK EXPERIENCE via US mail. They're looking for more romantic stories and all the black confessions must have at least 2 sex scenes per story. They pay $100 to $125 per story. They also take nonfiction articles.

WFD: So far it seems that all of you work awfully hard for MacFadden. I hope they appreciate you as not only editor but as editorial director.

BYRDSONG: All the editors have to make tremendous efforts for their own books. All the editors take work home. I take work home. I take work with me wherever I go. We work really hard in order to get around to everybody who has submitted work to us.

WFD: Any other good advice for writers, Ms Byrdsong?

BYRDSONG: Write the best true story that you can about people you understand and like. Tell your story in an interesting and compelling way and you'll have an excellent chance of making a sale. (Submit your story to only one of our magazines at a time. Multiple submissions make us crazy.) Please read the magazine you want to write for and remember we look at first person stories only. We don't even read stories written in second or third person.

WFD: Give us a look at how you buy and pay for our stories.

BYRDSONG: Expect an answer to your e-query within 15 business days. If you don't hear from us, don't call. Send us an email reminder. Any full manuscript submitted to us by email as an attached document should receive a response within 6 months. Writers who use Mac should send us simple text only. When we buy your work we will send you a contract with a tentative day of publication so all contracts returned to us should contain name, address, postal waiting address, social security number or fax ID. We'll pay 3 cents a word, except for TRUE STORY which will pay 5 cents a word one month after publication. Our checks go out the last day of the month of publication of your stories. Remember, writers are the people who make our magazines. We need you.

WFD: One more thing. Who chooses the confession magazine's artwork and covers?

BYRDSONG: The editors and Art Directors work together to choose their own covers. The cover tiles that appear on the front of the magazine are usually of stories that are particular favorites of the editors for that month. However, great titles sometimes make the cover even though the story isn't the greatest and really great stories may not make the cover if the title seems not quite right. Better try for really great titles as well as great stories. The artwork inside is chosen by the editors and art directors. Sorry, no feedback from writers on these things.

WFD: Where can we find the confession magazines so we can study them?

BYRDSONG: If you can't find the magazine you want just send a letter asking for a sample of that specific magazine and enclose $4.00. We do have a bit of a distribution problem and would like to know if you're unable to find our magazines in your shopping area. Email us about that problem and we'll try to see that the newsstand distributors begin putting our magazines onto a newsstand near you.

One suggestion: If you subscribe you can get the magazine earlier than at the newsstand and at half the newsstand price.

© Copyright 2002, Peggy Fielding

Peggy Fielding has published jillions of confession stories. She frequently lectures on writing confession stories. Visit Peggy’s website at: PeggyFielding.com



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