Know what you are selling

Writers seldom make a fortune from selling their stories and articles, so it is important to maximise fees in this competitive market. A degree of business savvy is required, a quality not always found in the creative.

When work is offered to a publisher (magazine or other) and they accept it for publication, they will pay a fee. The basis for making a binding contract must include these three steps known legally as; Offer, Acceptance and Consideration.

Another essential requirement are the contractual Terms. The writer will normally accept the contractual terms presented by the publisher and have no input into their drafting. However, terms should be scrutinised to ensure that they are acceptable to the writer. If they are not, then the writer’s concerns should be submitted to the publisher and agreement reached or in the event of no agreement, and the terms so unpalatable, the writer’s offer withdrawn. A tough decision to make in view of the infrequent incidence of success.

It’s within the Terms that the fee will be stated and payment details e.g. ‘Payment on publication,’ and precisely what the publisher is getting for his money. This commonly allows the work to be published once and perhaps the right reserved to republish later in a publisher’s anthology, special edition etc.

Less common are sales on an ‘All Rights Basis,’ this means that the writer surrenders his copyright and all moral rights. He will not be able to reuse his work or even be credited as the author should it be republished by the publisher. This amounts to a loss of income for the writer.

World Cup Hiccups

Writers can harvest numerous story and article prompts from the history of the World Cup. (Which needs no further introduction in June 2018!) It’s 88-year history is peppered with tales of; theft, money laundering, bribery and even some events on the pitch.

The much-travelled Jules Rimet Trophy was held by Italy during WW2. Afraid that the Nazis would steal it, the Vice President of FIFA secretly removed it from a bank vault and hid it safely in a shoe box under his bed. There’s no record of where he kept his shoes for the next 5 years.

Eventually thieves did get their hands on it just before England’s win in 1966, when it was stolen from a London exhibition. The FA Chairman received a ransom demand for £15,000, (when the pound in your pocket …) during the handover the thief was spooked, and the cup was not recovered but an arrest was made. Mysteriously a few days later, the cup was found by a curious dog named Pickles, in an Upper Norwood street, South London.

The trophy was stolen again during another exhibition, this time in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil had won the contest for the third time in 1970, and under the rules at that time, qualified to keep it. The cup has never been recovered.

Even on the pitch there was skulduggery, in 1986, England were knocked out by Argentina, when Maradona punched the ball into the net to score the winning goal. The linesman didn’t flag the foul and regretted it for the rest of his life.

The most extraordinary score was when Australia beat American Samoa, 31 – 0, in 2002.
There is no truth in the story that Australia’s extremely high score was due to Samoa’s goal keeper leaving the field to start his shift in the tuna cannery.

Already in 2018, we have reports from Moscow of BBC camera crews being under surveillance by the Russian authorities. A spy story with a World Cup setting would be good. Must be more to come.

In the Beginning

Like many writers my fascination started with the school magazine. Being a failure academically (the pointed hat was reserved for kids brighter than me) the selection of my essay for the magazine was a major surprise. When ‘Elvis’ the English Teacher came into the room waving my scrawl covered pages, I thought I was in for another rollicking for poor work, but this was one of the few times when I received praise… and publication.

I was about 13 and reading a lot of Hemingway, so my modest success convinced me that the bell was tolling for me to be a writer. The essay was about stamp collecting, and of course…it didn’t get me anywhere! I won’t reveal the time it took to get my next piece published.

I was still a teenager when I sat on the sunny side of a bullring suffering post ‘Cuba Libra’ despair, to watch the methodical slaughter of six bulls. The ‘sport’ did not appeal to me, Ernest would not have been impressed.

I wrote postcards home, one informing my Trotskyist father that living in a fascist run country didn’t really seem too bad. When I affixed the brightly coloured stamps I kept a few for the collection.

End of the Line for Short Story Magazine

Sadly, an outlet for short story writers has announced after nearly 30 years that it is to cease publication. The prestigious magazine, Glimmer Train, based in Portland, Oregon, USA will close after issue 106 in the autumn of 2019. Until then it’s submissions as usual, so writers still have the opportunity to be published. Glimmer Train seemed to be a caring organisation who paid writers well and uniquely accepted short fiction up to 12,000 words. Follow the link on the ‘Links’ page.