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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
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
WFD: How do we writers submit our stories to the
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
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
WFD: What kind of stories are you looking for
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
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
WFD: Do you take nonfiction articles
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
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: 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
WFD: Give us a look at how you buy and pay for
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
© Copyright 2002, Peggy Fielding
Peggy Fielding has published jillions of confession stories. She frequently lectures on writing confession stories. Visit Peggys website at: PeggyFielding.com
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