The People's Friend PN Guidelines


The People’s Friend Pocket Novels are a satellite publication of the popular weekly magazine. They offer, in one volume, of 130 pages, the kind of story that would normally be serialised over several weeks in The Friend.

Thus we are looking for stories with a strong emotional situation as their central theme, peopled by believable characters who the reader cares about, sympathises and empathises with, and roots for in whatever crises they may face. The characters are almost more important than the plotline. As The People’s Friend themselves say in their own guidelines, the reader will remember a good character long after she’s forgotten other details.

The hero and heroine are generally in their twenties or early thirties, although often the heroine of the story is in fact the mother figure who we feel for as she charts the tricky waters that being the matriarch of a modern family can entail. But when we talk about a modern family and the troubles they may face, we’re talking in terms of broken love affairs, overcoming a bad patch in a marriage, lost jobs, disappointed dreams; we are not looking for drugs or sex or anything that could possibly be described as sordid or offensive.

The characters move the storyline forward to a satisfying conclusion, so that when the reader turns the last page she feels a sense of pleasure that things have turned out the way she had hoped, although it might have looked a little doubtful at times! It’s fair to say that almost all of the stories are romances, although in a family saga the romance happens along the way rather than being the central action of the piece.

Dialogue is an important part of both the story’s telling and in giving the reader an insight into each character. After all, we always get a different impression in a face-to-face meeting with someone as opposed to going by a third person’s description. Dialogue also helps to keep a narrative lively.

Stories can be modern, wartime, even turn-of-the 19th/20th century, but not too distantly historical; they can be set in Britain or abroad. And in what way do they differ from a People’s Friend serial? Only in the respect that because the story is available to the reader all at once, it doesn’t require the same end-of-chapter tension that a weekly serial depends on to make the reader want to come back next week.

Stories are around 50,000 words, and a synopsis and the first couple of chapters are required in the first instance to assess both the storyline and the writer’s style. These should be sent to: People’s Friend Pocket Novels, D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd., 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL. We also accept manuscripts electronically. Please send them to: