I love a good read and have always got my nose in something, whether it is a book or a magazine. Over the weekend, I didn't have anything planned and so thought I would treat myself to a few magazines to relax and have a bit of me time. One of the ones which I chose, mainly due to it's price was That's Life magazine.
That's Life is a British Women's magazine. It is a weekly magazine and is out to buy every Thursday. The current price is 70p which I think is excellent value as it is very cheap which means that it is affordable to everyone.
Like other real life magazines; this one covers most topics; real lives, readers tips, readers photos, letters page, health, beauty, fashion, horoscopes, competitions, puzzles recipies and so I think that it is clear to say that there is something to suit all here.
There aren't many adverts and the ones that do feature are ones which are advertising 'normal everyday products' such as supermarket offers and shampoos etc. Normally adverts annoy me; especially the pointless ones in more expensive magazines which are on every other page. In fact, I actually liked these adverts as I felt that they actually related to me.
Being a celebrity fan, I found it a nice, pleasant change to read about normal people for once as opposed to feeling envious of the glamorous lives of celebrities. I do find the magazine to be quite inspirational; it does feature quite a lot of inspirational people.
For those of you who like puzzles; there are plenty in this magazine. I myself never pay attention to this (there are some good prizes to be had though. Although, now that I have said that, I feel inspired to actually have a go at one of the puzzles in the magazines. They don't look that easy though!
There are plenty of ways for readers to get involved with the magazine; send in your real life stories, pictures, letters, jokes etc. They pay you if they use any of your 'material' which is good.
The magazine gives the impression that it is aimed at women of all ages; from teenagers to ladies in their 70's. Although, as is often the case with magazines like these, the fashion featured always seems to be aimed at the young. Obviously this doesn't apply to me, although I feel sorry for ladies...say 40+ who couldn't wear these 'young' clothes featured. I think that the magazine should feature fashion to suit all ages so that everyone can feel that they too can be fashionable if they follow the trends in the magazine.
I like the way that the magazine is written; I mean it's not top journalism, although it laid out nicely; really short and sweet. It provides great light reading material which is great as it means that you can read this magazine whilst chilling out as it doesn't require too much thinking.
Obviously being cheap, the magazine needs to be made cheaply and so the pages are very thin and 'papery' like; which rip easily. Although, I like this as it means that they can fold in your bag easily. This is also an advantage to me as it means that I get rid of these magazines once I've read them; unlike my more expensive ones such as (Glamour and Cosmopolitan) which I feel I have to keep (I have hundreds which I feel I can't throw away, as they're too glossy and expensive!).
All in all I would recommend this magazine if you like real life stories. This is a short and sweet magazine; it won't provide in depth and detailed reading, but it is entertaining and perfect for a bit of light reading; say when you are waiting for an appointment or on a train journey. Although, having said that it is the kind of magazine which you can enjoy anywhere and anytime.
Thanks for reading!
Following a recent burn injury to my left eye, I decided to embrace the fact that I still have my sight and read something, rather than strain my eyes for the television. Not wanting to spend too much money on a quick read, I popped to my local Tesco and purchased a copy of That's Life!
That's Life! is a "real life story" magazine published by H Bauer Publishing, who also brought us Take A Break, Bella, Spirit & Destiny and Eat In. According to their own "About Us' page, they are the largest publisher in Europe and also publish in the US and Mexico.
Having read the odd Take A Break over the years, I felt that I would probably enjoy That's Life!, but it wasn't exactly what I expected.
The tagline at the top of the 8 September/Issue 36 edition of That's Life! is "Puzzles! Prizes! Cash!" - so it's fairly obvious what you are setting yourself up for when you pick up the magazine. On the front page of That's Life!, straplines for stories inside include:
'Sarah Harding' trapped my two-timing lover
KILLED BY MUMMY... because Daddy had an affair
My warning to mums - BREASTFEEDING left me INFERTILE
HONEYMOON HELL! I caught my GROOM abusing YOUNG GIRLS
DISGRACEFUL! Family hated my 'UGLY' baby
No prizes for guessing then, that these titles have been exaggerated to catch your eye. For example - Sarah Harding never trapped the woman's lover - she used a picture of her on a fake Facebook profile to trick him into meeting her for what he thought would be an affair with another woman. The breastfeeding story? Well it wasn't the act of breastfeeding that left her infertile, it was her concern with ridding herself of baby fat that lead her to effectively starve herself, which like many eating disorders might do, left her POSSIBLY infertile. And the ugly baby story - she may have had a condition similar to leprosy so people were unsure whether or not her condition was contageous - no one said they hated her or that she was ugly.In terms of the writing, it is very much structured as though the individual has given answers to questions, and a journalist or editorial assistant has bulked out the story to make it readable. From the depth I have read the stories, I haven't spotted any spelling mistakes or grammar issues, though in this kind of publication it wouldn't really bother me!
It might just be me being a bit slow, but although I am usually fairly good at puzzles, I was stumped turning the first page! The puzzles seem a little more advanced than Take A Break, which surprised me, and a lot of the answers require you to have quite an extensive knowledge of famous names such as actors and singers. There are 9 puzzles altogether, which is somewhat disappointing but I guess you can't ask for much more nowadays for your 68p's worth. The good thing is that they are varied, including sudoku, wordsearches, arrow words and spot the difference.
The following items were available to win or earn in this issue of the magazine:
You can earn up to £1000 for a story
Puzzle 1 - win £100 cash
Puzzle 2 - win a Halloween break at Chessington World of Adventures
Puzzle 3 - win £3000 cash
Puzzle 4 - win £1000 cash
Puzzle 5 - win £200 cash
Puzzle 6 - win £100 cash
Puzzle 7 - win £200 cash
Puzzle 8 - win £200 cash
Puzzle 9 - win £200 cash
So not very varied - but still, hypothetically if you won all of the cash competitions in this issue you'd have £5000. Not to be sniffed at, but of course the chances of winning them all is highly unlikely!
This actually surprised me, but unless I'm missing some advertorials, I only counted a total of six adverts , which I personally think is brilliant, because it leaves more room for stories and puzzles, much more preferable! And of the six, several were for bingo or other publications that are hosted or published by the same publisher of That's Life!.
As soon as you pick up a magazine like this, you're not expecting top quality journalism, or a thrilling read from start to finish - it really is there just to be picked up and put down at leisure. Of course I wasn't expecting overly great things, but the magazine did the job I purchased it for - gave me something to read, puzzles to do and killed a bit of time.I would say it would be ideal for someone waiting for transport, sat in a hospital waiting room or ward, or as a break time read at work. It probably wouldn't last you much longer than that kind of time frame.
All in all you get what you pay for with your 68p, and the title is very much comparable to other similar magazines on the market.
Also published on Ciao
I buy this magazine every Thursday. At 68p per issue, it's a great buy in my opinion. It's around 47 pages so quite a lot to read for the money. It always has a neatly laid out attractive, bright cover with details of feature stories within.
Inside you'll find the Contents page, which details the page numbers for things like the cover stories, regulars, fashion and beauty, that's life kitchen and your health.
The stories in this magazine are wide ranging. Some of sheer horror, courage, joy and some that are truly heartbreaking.
Features of this magazine are:
Your hot mail - letters sent in by readers
Tightwad tips - useful tips sent in by readers
Horoscopes - your stars for the week ahead
Your health - informative stories about people's illnesses/conditions
Cookery section - recipes
Beauty - fashionable haircuts, makeup, celeb styles
The great giveaway - send in your details for a chance to get some fab freebies
There's a health section in this magazine which features true stories of conditions/illnesses that people are suffering from. This gives details and possible symptoms, remedies etc. This is very useful for people as it's always very helpful to be aware of the signs/symptoms of various conditions.
There are great puzzles to complete and enter for the chance to win great prizes. The types of puzzles are spot the difference, Sudoku, word search, code break. Some are very challenging and others simply, a good mix for different abilities. These prizes can be cash amounts, holidays, cars, etc. I sometimes do these if I'm at a bit of a loose end. I have entered them a few times online. You can enter these in many ways - online, phone, fax, text or the good old fashioned method of post.
My favourite part of the magazine has to be the last page which has a part entitled 'Aren't men daft'. This is little stories and pictures sent in by readers about the men in their lives and the daft things they get up to. Also on this page is the rude jokes sent in by readers. These 2 articles can be very amusing and it's an excellent feature of this mag.
I think this is a magazine that suits a lot of people both young and old, there's something for everyone in this. It's well worth the money, a very good read.
I've never been a big magazine reader having never managed to find one that I really liked, I was never one of those girls who was into Cosmo, OK or that type of magazine so one day I decided to try That's Life! magazine and for a teenager that wasn't such a common thing!! I have never looked back, it is by far and away the best mag I have ever read and it is one that I now buy religiously!
That's Life is just 68p per week which is brilliant for such a good read and for that you will have about 45 pages worth! The cover of the magazine is brightly coloured and always has a picture of a lady along with headlines of some of the stories featured inside. Inside the magazine you will find a large range of stories, from the fun to the criminal to the absolutely heartbreaking. There is usually at least one story in the magazine that will almost if not certainly reduce me to tears - usually those about babies.
Also in the magazine there are various competitions such as crosswords or su-dosh-u (sudoku) and the prizes on offer range from holidays and cars to cash. I have entered the competitions a couple of times, but usually I just do the puzzles to pass the time at work. There is a letters page, tightwad tips, agony aunt as well as a great page at the back dedicated to funny stories about men - called Aren't men daft (where us women can have a good laugh at funny things fella's do).
The health section of the magazine is really good, featuring stories about people's illnesses and giving details about the conditions which is good to read as I think it is helpful to know signs of various conditions just in case!!
All in all I think this is a cracking magazine and after comparing it with plenty of others on the market I can't see there being one to beat it in my opinion!
Thank you for reading my review
I am doing the review on That's Life issue 43, 25-Oct.-2007.
On the cover it says That's Life! in white and the price 68p, in small writing is the date and the issue number. All this is enclosed in a red box.
It also has something about a few stories to try and grab your attention.
On the front of this issue is
True Stories:- Mums dirty grope at my wedding
When you read the story you find out that it is about abuse.
Real Lives:- Why I enjoyed kicking him between the eyes
This is about domestic violence.
True Stories:- My head was full of blisters
A short article about someone having an allergic reaction to a hair dye.
The last one is
I kept my dead baby in a fridge
Upon seeing this you might think it a bit strange or even sick. Once you start reading this story you would realise it is in fact a very upsetting story about a baby that had died and the mum wanted to take the baby home until the funeral.
When you open the magazine the first two pages are pictures and some letters about them. Picture of the week is a picture of a cat on an ironing board and the person that has sent it in says he loves lying there after they've ironed as it is warm.
There is also a little contents part on page 2 which lists the cover stories and
other features ,
regulars, mums world (which in this issue is about face painting). Thats Life kitchen (3 recipes which are Hot for Haalloween they all include sausages),
Fashion and Beauty (about bags) and
Your Health (the cover story my head was full of blisters came under this. and there's a little statement about how stamed vegetables are better for you, and 6 facts about cold feet)
The magazine also has
a letters page - the star letter gets fifty pounds the others 20 pounds with an extra 5 if they print your photo.
Other true life stories and confessions
A problems page - where Sue offers advice
Aren't men daft - where people write in with daft things men have done or said. It also has some jokes here too
Josephine reveals what's in store for you this week in the Horoscopes
It also has 12 puzzle competitions where you can win 200,100 or a thousand pounds depending on the puzzle and the big cash crossword can win you three thousand
That's Life says it will pay up to £500 if your true life tale is printed
It is on sale every Thursday.
I knew I was going to be early for college one day so I picked up a 'That's Life' magazine out of the rack to have a read while I was waiting for lessons to start...
The magazine is very colourful with many eye-grabbing headlines and costs 68p.
It seems very sensationalist and aimed at women although I'm sure men would enjoy it also, lol!
There is a lot happening on the front cover to grab the reader's interest and the write up advertises a big trip away also...
The magazine is famous for its competitions and is sold a week in advance but I don't know why?
Inside there is a contents list and al the Prize Puzzles listed on the bottom left hand side - you put the answers on a coupons near the back cover and ten post it off. You get about two weeks to fill the list in and make sure it arrives at their Market Harborough office.
The big cover story is always on page 4/5 after a double page feature of 'Your lives upfront' which is about readers sending in pictures with their stories. I enjoyed reading these more than the sensationalist stuff which seems a bit extreme to me...
You can ask to be in the magazine and win up to £500 by sending a letter plus photos in to the London office, or email if you prefer. Men write in too which is good :)
The pages are full of True Life Stories and there's a section on Lifeline, which is asking for financial help to makes someone's dream come true...
Throughout the mag there is Psychic Diane who tried to predict people's future, Tightwad Tips to save money, a Crime Scene feature, a problem page with Talk It Over With Sue and Horoscopes of course!
Also there is Aren't Men Daft, Rude Jokes of the Week, Your Hot Mail which is letters from the readers plus Your Quick Reads, and loads of adverts too as well as The Big Thriller story.
There's plenty to read in this mag, I was really surprised.
The thing I liked about That's Life was the variety, there were puzzles if I was in the mood or lots of small snippets to read if I was strapped for time. The bigger stories can be read on break or lunchtime and some are really shocking or sad.
I think this is really good value for money so the next time I see one lying around I may just have to slip it in my college bag and have another read. Plus some of the competios are really hard, lol!
Five stars, really good value and a chance to win some cash - up to £3000 for a giant crossword, awesome!
I like to read the free Metro newspaper that you get on public transport, however these newspapers can sometimes go very quickly. So when I have no Metro I tend to have a wander in my lunch hour to the local shop near where I work. I don't really stick to any magazine in particular, however I do find that That's Life! is a pretty decent magazine especially at a low price of 68p.
Most of the stories are very interesting with the front cover obviously showing the better ones. It also has the handy page number under each stories headline. The stories are a good mixture of heart felt stories and also true crime.
There are over 10 different puzzles which are spread through the magazine. One point I have to make is that I prefer the puzzles to be kept all together but this is only a minor problem for me.
I also like to look over the recipe section and this magazine has a varied selection, all the recipes look simple to follow and in the issue I bought I was quite taken by the one for Choc & Orange Ice Cream. Now I just have to find the time to make it!
The health section is actually very informative with lots of different information and advice on offer. I also find the beauty section informative and has the added twist that when the advisor recommends beauty products she actually sends out the product to the writer.
There is also a consumer guide section which is always handy along with bits and bobs on how to save money. Which certainly can't hurt in the current climate.
One of my favourite sections of the magazine is Aren't Men Daft, where the reader writes in with funny stories regarding the silly things that men have come out with. I do have to say that to be fair I would include womens daft comments too, but hey it is a womens magazine after all! This bit also includes readers jokes where you get paid £15 per joke, not a bad amount just for a little joke.
There are advertisements throughout the magazine but not that many that you felt you have just spent your money and time looking at adverts.
That's Life isn't a glossy high end mag but does a great job of entertaining the reader, it certainly helps pass the time whilst I am on my lunch hour.
I have a magazine addiction it's got to be said but limit the amount I but now buy due to cost! However along with one or two others this is one of my weekly treats. It's a magazine with a bit of everything and is made up mainly of readers contributions everything from letters/tips to readers real life stories-some of which are quite shocking. It's got lots of competitions that you can win some amazing prizes in and is a very good read but I always get the feeling it's a poor mans 'Take A Break', as it costs 10p less than it's 'rival' and retails at around the 68p mark. This ,like Take a Break, also comes out every thursday and normally at Christmas there is a bumper double issue, and one at new year too. I don't wish to sound as though I'm putting the magazine down because it is a very good read and is cheap enough to buy but don't think it's quite as good it could be, but maybe that's just me who thinks that, so all I can say is buy a copy and make your own minds up
I must admit that I haven't been buying that's life magazine for very long as I always expected I to be for an older woman. The magazine is weekly and costs 68 pence and it is now a weekly favourite of mine.
The magazine begins with a section named your lives up front. Readers can basically write in and tell that's life about different experiences and stories. We can also see pictures of various people doing different things.
The magazine also has a true story section where each week we get to read a few true stories from readers them selves and see pictures of them and their families. I must admit some of the stories can be very sad.
Every week that's life will help a reader by giving them up to 1,000. The reader has to write in their story and explain what the 1,000 would mean to them. The winner receives up to 1,000 and their story printed in that's life.
The magazine also features a "quick reads section". Which are basically true stories but shorter versions that don't go into as much detail as the actual true story sections. These stories can range from witty little tales to dying wishes.
I do like the "look who's talking" section where we see cute little babies doing silly things haha. There is a brief shopping for children ideas part and a few question and answers problems regarding different topics by the week.
That's life crime scene is a section that can tell us of crimes that have taken place all over the world and the story and evidence behind them. Each week there will be a new story.
As with nearly all magazines there is a bit of advertising new products such as laundry powder, there isn't enough to bother you though. You can see a fashion section that will tell you different hot fashions at the moment and where to buy the clothes, same with beauty products aswell.
There is a star sign section that to be honest isn't up to much. You can read jokes and also read problems and solutions.
The magazine has a good few puzzles in such as arrow words, crosswords, word searches, code breakers and spot the difference aswell as some other small puzzlers. The prizes are quite good aswell you can win anything from cash to a car.
That's life also has a website www.thatslife.co.uk if any information is required.
Overall a good magazine with a good range of stories and puzzles.
I read one of these magazines on a train in Ireland. Somebody had thoughtfully left it behind.
After reading it from cover to cover in about ten minutes, I was not suprised it had been left behind. This publication caters for the lowest common denominator of readership.
The main story featured a woman telling the tale of how she had stolen another woman's husband and 'forced' him to tell her whilst she was delivering their first child. She was crowing and triumphant. I couldn't believe that the narrator was being given room in a national magazine and paid to tell her miserable story of spite and selfishness.
Another story showed rather graphic murder pictures and told of the 'misery' of an Aunt whose nephew had been murdered by drug dealers because he owed them money. No mention was made of the fact that he was obviously a dealer himself. No, he was definitely a saint! Hmmm, lots of journalistic balance there too!
That's Life magazine, retails at 68p and is issued every Tuesday.
Here is a list of this week's contents. Taken from their website.
The Editor comments on the contents of the magazine. This is short and written in simple language.
~Joke of the week~
Around the level of a "Knock knock" joke for challenged under fives.
~Your rude jokes~
I'll leave these bits to your imagination. (pun intended!)
26 tips on how to vary your Big Mac.
~Send us your story~
We will pay you hundreds to humiliate you publicly or allow you to humiliate someone else publicly.
There are the really difficult kind. The kind that if you get stuck you can cheat by appealing to your doggy for some intellectual help.
~Is your man daft?~
Cheap shots at men that would have women going doo-lally and screaming "Sexist crap!" if the positions were reversed. (Oooh Matron!)
This feature is dedicated to getting readers involved in online gambling.
~Send us your tightwad tips~
Features readers tips to save money. No-one has yet been paid the £20.00 prize for suggesting "Save 68p per week by not buying this magazine".
~Your hot mail~
Readers letters. Often accompanied by a photo of said reader with a copy of 'That's Life' on their holidays in Skegpool.
Invitations to and discussion about the magazines' online chat rooms. So basically a page dedicated to gossip about gossip.
Is your man cheating? Have you got a 'Lurve Problem'? Do you want to earn That's life money by telling the world? We will pay you to look like an idiot. Particularly if you have unwisely been desperate enough to fall in love with a foreigner who wants a ticket to Britain.
~Free catalogues & holiday brochures~
Information about the advertisers. Of which there are many.
~Spirit & Destiny Website~
Mystic Mog does distance tea-leaf readings. She also doles out questionable advice to vulnerable and gullible readers. (If she hasn't written all the letters herself on the way to work!)
What's on the box? Paying particular interest to the 'Love Rats' on the Soaps. A big suprise that!
The same really. The only difference seems to be that it tells you how to get on the telly with your lurid stories.
The headlines for this week are........
"He came back from the dead to marry me!"
"Grandad stole our Angel's funeral fund!"
"He was found hanging on Elvis' Birthday."
"Cheated on as I fought for a baby."
"I was poisoned because I wanted to get thin."
They sum up the tenor of the Magazine.
The tone of the Magazine throughout is chatty and quite patronising.
Readers are continously asked if they have a story to sell. The more sensational the better.
The pictures are lurid if a death or maiming is involved. Banal otherwise.
The whole ethos of the publication seems to be a celebration of others' misfortunes and helplessness.
I'm probably making no friends here but I absolutely hate this magazine and all the mediocrity, salaciousness, manipulation and low standards it stands for. I felt dirty after reading it.
If that makes me a snob then I hold my hands up.
If I were a jounalist for this publication I would probably tell people I was a convicted sex offender, rather than face the embarrassment of telling people what my real job was.
As there is no option on here to award no stars I have to give it one. That is for getting the page numbers in the right order.
This magazine, that's life! & other like ones, such as Chat & Take A Break, are, dare I say, strangely compelling. Most if not all of the stories are quite sick & very sad so I've no idea why (if you are easily offended/upset, and/or a hypochondriac, this is NOT for you.) The only reason I can think of is that that's life!'s readership is glad they aren't as badly off as the people the stories are about. Over the time I've read it I've seen a story about a woman with great ragged holes in her stomach (URGH !!) another one who ate her own hair, & one who hated the way she looked so much she wanted to gouge the fat out of her body. How lovely.
I've quite severe cerebral palsy & had the idea of writing into that's life! to appeal for some more help/a break for my parents, who are my main carers (they are in their 60s). I didn't think I'd *ever* get featured & I forgot that I'd written in until I got a phone call. The woman on the other end suddenly asked me if my mum was aware that I'd written in. I said I'd changed my mind & slammed the phone down. She rang back a further 5 times & I suppose gave up eventually. [I do wonder if these people actually get what they've written in about, or if it just *says* they do.]
I didn't get featured, which was actually a relief. I would have been made to look pathetic anyway.
If you read that's life! you might like to write in, or think about writing in for a few £100, but you'll soon remember that everyone you know will probably read it. If you can cope with that go ahead. But be afraid. Be very afraid .......
This review was originally written for Ciao in April 2007 at the time I was actually appearing in the magazine. It deals with my experiences of featuring in an article as well as a review of the magazine - enjoy!
***Intro - TRASH***
Now's here's a review I didn't think I'd find myself writing! Put quite simply, 'that's life!' magazine is TRASH. It is NOT the sort of magazine I would buy (or at least admit to buying!) out of choice - and certainly not a magazine I would want to see myself appearing in. I just want to clear that up before we go any further!
Trashiness aside, there does seem to be something about the human mind (at least for many women) which draws us to this trash if it happens to be lying around.....or (in my case anyway, please tell me it's not just me, please?) makes me feel the need to read it over the shoulder of someone next to me on the train and get really frustrated when they cotton onto me and turn the page before I've finished, and as a result I never get to find out whether Tracey's baby twins were Wayne's or Gary's.....or one of each! I hope I'm not offending any avid readers of the magazine....even if you like the magazine (and I respect anyone who will admit that) I'm 99% sure you'll agree that it is trash!
*A note to readers*:
If you are reading this review (as many if not most of you will be) purely to get an idea of what the magazine is like, rather than hearing my personal experience of featuring in it, I suggest you skip the next paragraph, read the background information, and then skip to the part where I give detailed information about an issue of the magazine.
I would also like to apologise for the length of the review (this is becoming a bit of a theme for me). However, in order to talk about my personal experiences AND give an adequate review of the magazine I felt it had to be this length. I really hope that you do find it interesting and worthwhile to read.
***So after that intro you might be wondering, why am I writing a review on this magazine?***
Well, my relationship with the magazine started in December when a fellow director of the self-injury charity I'm involved with forwarded me an e-mail from a researcher (we get a lot of media requests). The researcher was looking for a woman between 25 and 44 to be in a magazine - at this point all we knew was that it was one of the magazines in the 'Bella' group. I would assume that most women in the UK will at least have heard of Bella - for the benefit of men, it is a weekly women's magazine.
My fellow trustee Sarah appeared in 'New Woman' magazine in January (a far more young and classy magazine I must say (not that I read that trash either) as Sarah is younger and much classier than myself). However, they put the wrong picture next to her story, and also implied that Sarah drank cheap wine which she has never done (this was her biggest concern - what would people think about her drinking cheap wine?). The magazine also (of course as the media does) sensationalised self-injury, using the word 'slash' which Sarah explicitly asked them NOT to use.....but that is the media all over.
Anyway, that is not really relevant except that it has taught us how the media does not really represent reality at all - but then we all knew that anyway didn't we? The point is, that Sarah had done her bit, and now I thought it should be my turn. Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't something that I wanted to do. Being in a magazine read by over a million people has not been my lifelong ambition. I have (and have never had) any desire to be famous, or to see my image glaring out at me as I peer over the shoulder of my fellow commuter. In fact, the only thing that I can think of as worse would be being on TV.
You're still wondering why I'm doing it? Well, quite honestly it's bound to happen sooner or later, so I might as well get it out of the way. More importantly though, it is excellent publicity for the charity - and anything that means a million people will have heard of us has got to be worth it surely. I went into this with my eyes open - knowing that the article wouldn't be an accurate representation of me and who I am. I know that it is not the 'best' publicity (especially as it is likely to reinforce stereotypes of self-injury being a condition which primarily affects young women, which isn't the case), but it IS publicity, as I was clear that our website address must be printed.
***Some background information about the magazine***
Information about ''that's life!' can be found from http://www.bauer.co.uk/website/thatslife.cfm
'that's life!' is one of the magazines produced by the H. Bauer Publishing group, which produces 120 magazines across 13 countries. The other magazines published by H. Bauer in the UK are Bella, Fate & Fortune, Fiction Feast, Puzzle Portfolio, Spirit & Destiny, Take a Break, Total TV Guide, TV Choice, TV Quick and Win & Go.
'that's life!' was launched in June 1995, and is currently selling for 68p. It is a weekly magazine (comes out on Thursdays) aimed at 'young, mass market women with children', the average age being 36. The magazine sells 464,762 copies, but has an adult readership of 1.2million (of which approximately 100,000 are male - I suspect there are more who do so in secret). The magazine can be found at most places which sell magazines (not much of a surprise there then!)
Editor - Jo Checkley
Publishing Director - Andy Brooks
Advertising Manager - Lisa Carver
Production - Karen Way
According to the website "Its unique mix of sassy, gritty and involving editorial ensure that 'that's life!' has the highest reader loyalty in the market and is the most thoroughly read magazine in the UK. This unparalleled reader relationship ensures that advertisers gain the maximum benefit when advertising in 'that's life!'
I'm afraid I do not wish to comment on its sassiness and grittiness - I'll leave you to come to your own conclusions!
Well, I'm a woman (if you hadn't already guessed from my name and picture), I'm between 25 and 44 (being 25 I only just met the criteria!), and I have personal experience of self-injury. I e-mailed the researcher/writer back to tell her this, and gave a brief bit of information about myself, and my relationship with self-injury. I was informed that the article would be in the Health section (which is thankfully the least trashy part) of the magazine, either as the lead feature, or the "A Change in Me" article. I bought a copy of the magazine - that week's lead feature was a woman who had completely lost her memory. I e-mailed the researcher to say that my story is not half as exciting or dramatic as someone who has lost their memory (and that I could probably find someone else who would be willing to feature). However, she assured me that she was interested in my story, and felt it could be the main health feature, once she'd got a few more details and spoken to the editor.
I answered the basic questions - when I started self-injuring, what methods I used (which I don't really like to discuss in detail as I don't want to encourage people to try different methods), why I self-injured etc. I was also phoned by the researcher (more on that in a bit) and agreed to a photographer coming to take pictures of me at some point - she was particularly eager that I would be able to be shown with scars on show (I said that our charity is not happy about this as it sensationalises self-injury and is unnecessary) but I agreed, on the basis that my scars will not show up in their photos anyway (they are mainly white) unless they are just taking a picture of my arm which I would not allow anyway.) The magazine is not renowned for high quality pictures anyway! The editor said it was ok to run the story, and I was sent a contract. The contract did make me laugh - I had to agree not to sell my story to another magazine or paper until after 'that's life!' have published it. I mean, come on! It's not like I've slept with Robbie Williams or something the papers might actually be interested in!
I did feel a bit like I was signing my life away, and every now and then I do get a nagging feeling as to whether I've done the right thing or not. But I have to remind myself, I am doing it to raise awareness. There is an added bonus that I will get £250 for the article, and although I would love to go and spend it on something for me (like a makeover so that no one will recognise me), I will give it straight back to my charity, because I'm just such a wonderful person. Seriously though, I don't think it's really right to personally profit financially for my self-injury is it?
*** "Hi Mary, it's Kate from 'that's life!'"
This was the phone call I came to dread throughout February once I had signed the contract. The e-mails I could just about handle. Perhaps I'm looking back on it now thinking it was worse than it actually was, but it did seem at the time that it was question after question after question.
In the course of e-mails between myself and Kate (name changed) I feel that I told her absolutely anything and everything about myself and my life. To be honest I felt she was getting a bit too 'pally' with me, signing e-mails with 'Love and hugs', which I do with friends, and even with Internet people I don't really know....but I wouldn't sign professional e-mails with hugs (I did once from work by accident, and it was very embarrassing!) She also suggested I might be interested in her weekend therapy courses in London for couples with intimacy difficulties. I had never mentioned any intimacy difficulties, but she assumed that since I self-injure that I probably would have....I politely declined!
I don't mind e-mails, but I have always hated phones, but I was aware that she might want to speak to me a couple of times, so for once kept my mobile on while at work. I dreaded my mobile ringing and seeing her name on the screen. I'd pick it up and she'd say "Hi Mary, it's Kate from 'that's life!'" I felt like screaming "I f**king know, I can see your name on my phone!" In addition to that, I don't know any other American women who know my mobile number, so that kind of gave it away a bit. This might sound a bit unreasonable of me, but she started phoning me, to ask silly little questions of no relevance.
"What's your husband's name?"
"What's his date of birth?"
Then 5 minutes later another phone call:
"What date did you get married?"
These questions were not so bad, the problem was when I was at work and I would be getting phone calls, and she'd be asking about self-injury.
" So, exactly what methods have you used to self injure?"
" What has your doctor said about your self-injury?"
"Exactly how many cuts did you make the first time?"
It got quite awkward, as I'd have to go into the photocopier room, as I really didn't feel comfortable talking out loud about that sort of thing in front of my colleagues. The final straw came when she phoned to say, "Mary, the editor and I have been talking. We are not quite sure how someone can cut themselves with a pair of scissors?" My response being "I won't even dignify you with a response. How the hell do you think?!"
Actually, that wasn't the final straw. The final straw was when I was waiting for my husband to pick me up from work to take me to the hospital for my wisdom teeth to be removed (not a calm time). She called me 3 times in 15 minutes to ask about the type of knife I used the first time I cut myself. Or perhaps the final straw was when I was at home recovering and I opened my e-mails to find yet more questions.
Honestly, the amount of questions I answered she could have written my autobiography. At the end of the day the article is only a few hundred words and most of the questioning was irrelevant. I wish she'd just asked me what she needed to know.
***Finalising the article***
The funny thing about the article is that it's written in the first person, but it's not written by me. Anyone who knows me will recognise straight away that it is not me (that is a good thing I think!) It is REALLY weird reading something written in the first person when you haven't written it yourself. Kate had said I could try and write it myself, but to be honest it would probably have been rewritten to fit with what their readers want, so I didn't bother - for instance I would never choose to talk about how exactly I cut myself or each cut. One of the most important things to remember about self-injury is that the physical severity of the injury usually bears no relation to the emotional distress behind the injury (anyway, if you want to know more about self-injury just ask me).
Kate e-mailed me what she was sending the editor. I made a couple of alterations, and she then sent it. Following that were questions (these were the ones I mentioned above) which frustrated me as I had thought it was all over by then - Kate had even sent me a 'Thank you' card in the post saying how she thought my article would really help people and how great I was (now I know that was just to butter me up before the extra questions). The editor wanted to change some things, and the end result is that parts are just not true at all. One that springs to mind is "I got drunk and spilled the beans to my mum." Now that isn't the case at all. I got drunk at school, and my self-injury (among other things) came out then. It was the school who informed my parents - I would not have 'spilled the beans' (and certainly not have used that ridiculous expression)!
By this stage though I couldn't be bothered to argue the technicalities. The article does say I haven't self-injured in over a year which is actually unfortunately not true (my relationship with self-injury is very complex), but I agreed to it saying that because according to Kate it had to.
At the beginning of March I had a phone call from a photographer. We agreed he would come to my house at a weekend (I didn't really want to do it in my lunch break at work) - he had to come from Manchester, as they don't have photographers out in Cumbria.
The photographer was nice, but had trouble since we have no plain walls in the house - he took a number of different shots including me sprawled on the floor with my charity leaflets, and I hope that they aren't too bad. Being a bit overweight at the moment, this was the thing I was least looking forward to, and I will probably be even less happy when the magazine comes out. He also scanned a load of photos of me growing up, to give the magazine people some choice. I think they are going to use the one of me and my husband at university, but don't know.
A week or so later the magazine phoned me up and read me the final article (again I was at work). My first impressions were that it really sounds like a bit of a sob story and not like me at all. But I was as happy as I was going to be. I clarified that there would be a facts section with the charity's web address included - and it was confirmed.
I am writing this on 12th April. Now it is a case of waiting and seeing. I am nervous, but trying not to get too worried. While it is not the sort of magazine my family and friends would read normally, since I have told them about it (I warned my mum it might upset her) I will have to let them know when it's out....and my colleagues as well. I am dreading seeing which picture they use and how hideous and fat I look in it.
***Some date confusion - a little rant***
It was lucky I checked in the shops, as ''that's life!' magazine has a really ridiculous habit of publishing a magazine with the following week's date on. Stupidly I was expecting that the issue with me in it would be out on Thursday 26th April. But no, Thursday 26th April will be out on Thursday 19th April. If I waited until the expected date I would have missed it, and ended with Thursday 3rd May.
Now this REALLY annoys me, I do not see any logical reason for it. It annoys me only slightly less than "The Best of 2007" CDs being sold in time for Christmas 2006 - as if someone in 2006 knows what the best hits of 2007 will be. That is one of my pet hates.
***A review of Issue 16 dated Thursday 19th April - out on Thursday 12th April***
I chose to review the previous week's edition of the magazine so that I could get my review out on Ciao on the day the article was published giving members the chance to see it for themselves!
It aldid mean that I had to buy another copy, and had to explain to the shop assistant that it wasn't for me, and felt I had to buy a Toblerone bar as well to avoid my cover being blown.
Writing a review about this magazine is actually harder than expected, and this is my third attempt (I am now writing this on 16th April) - bear with me!
On picking up the magazine I am struck by the bright colours - it's very red, pink, and yellow (even the model has a yellow tinge). Big bold headlines across the front cover, such as "He set himself on fire!" I am struck by the poor quality paper, but on opening the magazine, even more so by how 'busy' it is - no space is spared, which evidently keeps costs down.
After attempting a page by page analysis of the magazine I thought that would get impossibly long (and as you can see it's long already!), so have decided to go by the Contents. There are other smaller stories and bits and pieces along the way, such as "I went to work wearing odd shoes", but I hope you can live without them! One thing that I think is important to note is that the magazine is consists almost solely of readers' stories. It is not about celebrities, which I think actually makes a welcome change - at least the people choose to be in this magazine!
* 4 - He set himself on fire because he couldn't be a daddy - your typical shock horror feature. Woman meets man, woman gets pregnant, man gets jealous and obsessive, woman leaves man, man stabs woman, man sets himself on fire - are you starting to get the idea?
* 5 - Why I put brambles in my socks - I did a double take when I read this as it's a self-injury article. This is of course a story I can relate to, but I'm frustrated by the picture of the girl's scars being shown (it just serves to sensationalise self-injury), and also the lack of information about where to get help - this is pretty standard for the magazine, except in the health section, so glad I'm in there!
*14 - I was her fat identical twin - need I say more? Actually there is a mention of self-injury in this story...the magazine must like self-injury.
* 28 - Having his baby...but bonking my ex - self-explanatory.
* 42 - She wore her tiara to die - a sad story about a little girl who died.
* 31 - A mini marvel!
PLUS A sign from heaven - a couple of quick stories.
* 37 - Super-Sue! - A story about a woman who took on a man trying to stab someone.
* 47 - Trumpety Pump - not as exciting as the title makes out - a woman sung 'Nellie the elephant' in a pub, as someone nearly died.
I'm starting to get bored now, but I must persevere.
* 9 - Horoscopes - I have never understood how I share my destiny with 1/12 of the population - what bollocks.
* 11 - It happened to me - Cancer, Footie and Guiness - basically a man died. Oh dear.
PLUS Was her turkey curry to blame? - A pregnant woman had a baby after eating a curry - riveting stuff! The question is, will she let her friend cook for her again?
* 13 - It happened to me - £200 says he'll propose - A woman got her fiancé to propose to her for charity.
PLUS - A rocket felled my man - ok, this was a firework, not a space shuttle.
* 15 - Love Detective. Psychic Diane - I refuse to elaborate.
* 20 - Love Confidential - Sadly I missed Part 1 which was in last week's magazine, where Alison popped home to find her 16 year old daughter shagging her boyfriend. So, I feel that with that in mind, I'm off the hook and don't have to read Part 2!
* 22 - Crime Scene: Strangled for Daddy's debts - a tragic story of an 11 year old boy murdered by his dad. Tragic, but hardly the stuff that entertains me.
* 30 - Sue sorts it! Your problems. - Now I normally quite like problem pages (just for the laugh), but they weren't as dramatic as I'd expected. Nothing will ever be as amusing to me as the time in Just Seventeen where a boy wrote in "I'm 16 and my penis is 2 cm long, have a got a problem?"
* 36 - Your hot mail - letters and photos from readers.
* 36 - Tightwad tips - some really useless money saving tips, like using orange juice cartons as paint pots. Why not just use a jam jar?
* 38 - My true life secret - A woman has written in anonymously revealing that she lied to her daughter saying she was really ill, as an excuse not to look after her grandchildren full-time. How about being honest and saying "They're your kids, and they are little sh*ts (which was the real problem), that's why I won't have them full-time."
*41 - Fight for your rights - a story about a woman and her front door. Yes, really.
* 44 - Aren't men daft - readers submit their pictures and stories about men, to make them look stupid. For instance a man in a shop mistaking a kitchen roll for a toilet roll - hilarious!
* 44 - Rude jokes of the week - oh dear, now these really are bad! To give you an idea, I'll share with you one of the shorter ones:
Q - What can you use to make a shrimp feel sexy?
A - Prawongraphy.
Fashion & Beauty:
* 6 - Prints charming. A selection of the latest fashions - doesn't interest me.
* 39 - Face Facts - Plastic Surgery or tricks of the trade? - The pros and cons of sorting out your face at home, in the salon, or under the knife. I'm sure some might find it fascinating. I don't.
* 18 - Why wouldn't he sit still? - A mum talks about how a new diet helped her hyperactive son.
There are also various other parenting snippets.
''that's life!'!'! Kitchen:
* 25 - Get cracking! Good eggs - a selection of recipes using eggs (no surprise there then!) - they look quite nice and are simple, but nothing that really inspires me.
* 32 - Why did my bottom keep bleeding? - Ok, so this is the story I have to follow. The title itself starts making me a bit worried - what the hell will the title for my article be? I hardly imagine that the girl from this article wanted it to be about her bottom bleeding. Basically the story is about a young woman's battle with bowel cancer. This is generally a more tasteful article, and there is factual information given, including where to get help.
The shorter story is about a woman who stopped smoking, started again, and then stopped.
* 34 - Me and my food - One woman's story about losing weight (seems to be one in every magazine).
Throughout the magazine there are numerous puzzles. A variant of SuDoku, Code break, crossword, Spot the Difference, and various others with silly names which you'll recognise if you saw them. Prizes are mainly financial, ranging from £200 to £3000, but there is also a holiday in Budapest up for grabs. As with this sort of magazine, the puzzles are not difficult, but they always kill a bit of spare time. There is a page at the back where you can send off answers to all the questions in one fell swoop, which is good, or you can send answers by fax, or text or phone (no e-mail though).
***Anything I've missed?***
One redeeming feature of the magazine is that there are not a lot of adverts, especially not in comparison to these glossy magazines (which is probably how they afford to be glossy!) I thought I'd better count up, and there are 7 pages of adverts (out of a total of 48). The magazine is mainly full of what you are paying for, and I have to say it is good value - but only if you like that sort of thing.
***Payment for articles***
Payment for articles varies depending on which section it is in. I have already mentioned that I will get a cheque for £250, and hope to get this within 4-6 weeks. This in my opinion is pretty good - Sarah only got £100 for 'New Woman'.
Basically, you get between £100 and £500 for a story in 'that's life!' You can also get money for letters (up to £50), and jokes (£15). If you are interested, I would suggest that you have a proper read of the magazine to see where your story might fit, and how much you could expect to earn. You will also find where to write to (different e-mails for each type of submission), but the general postal address is: that's life! 3rd Floor, Acadamic House, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DT
I would advise people not to enter into something like this lightly. Please consider the effect it might have on your life and that of those who you care about. Once it is done, there isn't anything you can do about it - don't say I haven't warned you!
***The Important Part - Am I happy?***
I asked myself the question - was I happy with the following?
The Layout - Yes, it looks fine, and the other articles on the double spread aren't about anything dodgy - fine for my mum to read it then!
The Picture - It's actually not as bad as I'd expected (you can see it with my review on Ciao). I don't look hideous by any means, just a bit dopey! The picture is bigger than I'd expected. The other two pictures they have used are nice ones, the one on the left is when I was 18 going to a ball, and on the right is me and Al at Uni.
The Headline - "I kept cutting my arms." - it could be a hell of a lot worse!
The Article (e.g. have they changed it?) - yes, it is different from what the magazine read to me on the phone. In fact that bit I talked about spilling the beans is not there at all. It makes me wonder why the writer actually wrote the article, and not the magazine editor!
To be honest though, the only thing that is blatantly wrong is that they say Al is 20 - perhaps that's because he was 20 in the photo. Makes me feel like a bit of a cradle snatcher. For the record, Al is 26, the same school year as me.
Information given about my charity - Yes, it is there - thank goodness!
Would I do it again? Yes.
Would I recommend it? I think so, yes.
Would I recommend the magazine as a whole, based on my feelings today? I only got the magazine 20 minutes ago, so have only read my article (so have 2 of my colleagues - they said it should have mentioned the wonderful influence they've had on my life - lol!), and the one on the same double spread (the 'A change in me' health article) about a girl with a spotty chin.
So, my opinions on the magazine haven't changed - if you want a trashy read, then this is the magazine for you.
Most of you will be reading this long after the edition I'm talking about. But just be aware, you might be waiting for the doctor or dentist a couple of years down the line, and you might just see me staring out at you from the magazine which you happen to pick up to keep you occupied - a scary thought!
I have been buying That's Life fro about a year now. I like to do the competitions ,as there are loads and the prizes are great. They range from really easy to some that are a bit harder on the brain cells, but well worth doing for the chance of winning.
There are some great articles, many of them are written by readers and some of them are really gripping stuff. Some of the articles in the magazine though can be a bit hard to read sometimes though as sometimes are gruesome,although no worse than you read in newspapers.
They have reviews on products, and recipes, pretty standard stuff for women's magazines really, but that's why we buy them! There are fun contests, just recently there has been a "hairiest man competition" which is all a bit of fun, but the winner does get a huge cash prize. Fun contests like this appear in the magazine regularly.
That's life is similar to Take a Break as I think they are published by the same company, although it is cheaper at 68p compared with Take a Break's 78p but this is reflected in the content.
A good cheap magazine, ideal for coffee breaks, or when you get a few minutes to yourself to relax with.
I have worked in the hairdressing industry for many years now and I am always looking for things that will entertain the customers, while I am busy working on others.
I always buy hair and high fashion magazines which are fine but how many hair styles and overly priced clothes can you look at in a few hours without getting board. These in price costing have been costing between 3.50 and 6.95 per issue, and it got disheartening when you would see clients just flick through the pages randomly. Especially when I was buy 4 magazines a week totaling roughly 20.00 per week. So I needed to take action and save me some money, as these customers really did not appreciate it.
So on my day off I went to the local WH Smith, and browsed through the magazine racks, there were hundreds of different issues I just didn't know where to start. So I enlisted the advise of one of the employees, she basically show me what sold well, cheap, middle range, specialised and puzzles. I pick up four magazines, that's life, full house, chat and take a break. These cost me 2.72 only 68p each. Wow what saving from the previous 20.00 I was spending.
These magazines didn't appeal to me, but I was willing to try them to see if it improved the customers reading. When I got home I thought I would read one to see what all the fuss was about.
THAT'S LIFE MAGAZINE
It was issue number 13, 27 march 2008. as I looked the cover I was amazed why would people what to read this trash, it had titles like 29 year old virgin's sex life, trap to catch my pervy dad, hubby hit naked lover with teas maid. Non of this appealed because what kind of person wants to know about a 29 year old virgins sex life.But I persisted, I took me a little over and hour to read the magazine from front to back, and I have to admit, I was wrong I got really into it.
There are roughly 5 feature stories per issue,some of the stories do pull at your heart strings and some are really bizarr and un beliveable, but according to the magazine these are all true authentic stories and all the people who have their stories published get 500.00 cash for their input to the magazine.
At the bottom of each story the magazine prints who it is about and were in the country they live, in certain circumstances this will be printed and their 500.00 will be donated to charity, which I feel is really nice these stories come across that these people are genuine and in their mis fortune they donate there money, this in my book are the heart breaking stories. And my heart truly goes out to them these are people that there are very few of in this world. As for the others that cash in on their own or other people mis fortune, well what can I say I hope you choke on every penny.
I was also very impressed with the puzzles within this magazine, there are 11 in total through out this magazine. The puzzles and prizes include.
SU-DOSH-U Prize 5x 200.00
BIG CASH CROSS WORD prize 1x 3000.00
ARROW WORD prize Ford KA worth 8500.00
SUPER SEARCH WORD SEARCH prize 1000.00
CASH ARROW WORD Prize 5 x 200.00
WORD FIT prize 5x200.00
PILE UP prize 5 x 100.00
TURN TILES prize 5 x 100.00
BOX CLEVER prize 5x100.00
COAD BREAK prize 5 x 200.00
SPOT THE DIFFRENCE prize 5x200.00
As you can see there is plenty to do for all ages, some of the puzzles can be completed easily and some are more challenging, but they are very good fun if you love to do puzzles.
ENTERING the puzzle competitions is easy, you can enter as little of as many as you want, and there are five ways to enter your puzzle answers.
Online you can submit your puzzles at www.thatslife.co.uk, this will cost you nothing all you need to do is register your name and address, to create an account. You will only need to do this once, as your details will be saved and you can then login to that's life weekly to submit entries anytime you want, all for free of course.
Phone in puzzle answers on 09055810810, this can also be very quick but can be very expensive as calls cost 25p per minute for BT land lines, and mobile costs vary.
Post in your puzzle answers, this is very simple but it will cost you an envelope and a stamp. Simply fill your answer onto the coupon found in the back of the magazine and sends it to,
THAT'S LIFE COMPITITIONS
ISSUE (than issue number of you answers) E.g. 13
PO BOX 8115
Fax it to 09055810811, just full answers into coupon and then fax, it is as simple as that.
Text it to 82222, this is also very easy to do you will need to register for this service, just text, TL Register then your full name, House number and street and post code.
And send it to 82222, you will only need to register once and you will never ever have to do it again. To text in your answers text, TL13 (13 is the issue number for the answers you are submitting) that all your answers remember to put a space between all of you answers and send it to 82222.
You will only use one text, if it continues to two text then you have done it wrong of your answers are wrong. Registering text will cost you normal taffif, but sending answers will cost 25p plus your normal taffif.
If you are lucky enough to win you are usually notified in writing within 10 days on competion closing. And you will be listed on the magazines prize winners page a few issues down the line.
OTHER COOL FEATURES
This magazine caters for everyone, they have a little bit of everything for example.
Problem pages, readers send in their problems and they are answered by a professional within the correct area, so the readers get good advice that is correct.
Health pages, people write in about health problems and they are answered by professional trained to do so, I find this page very good as it can help as it gives advice on herbal remedies, where to seek advise, how to avoid, diet you name it.
Pictures are sent in by people and if these are used anywhere in the magazine they receive 25.00, these can be used for spot the difference, look who's changed, general cuties and funny pictures.
Advertising for make up, clothing, supermarkets, holidays you know the usual stuff to fill the pages, some times these are good. I have even ha a 3.00 voucher for Morrison's in one of them, Can't be bad.
That's life kitchen is a recipe section, I always rip these out because they are based on food that people will eat, non of this pansy food that twigs like to eat.
So that's life from front to back. I have to say by the look of this I did not think I would like it, but I will admit I LOVE IT and can't be without it now!
I do a few puzzles and my customers during the week do some, who ever completed the puzzle puts there name on top of each puzzle, then at the end of the week I submit them online, and if we win the prize goes to the person the completed it. I have found these invaluable to the salon now the customers love it, as it can be entertaining because when I have a group in we can all do the puzzles. I had some very positive feedback from these new magazines so they are now a permanent fixture. These are a lot cheaper cost me aprox 12.00 per month and not the original 80.00 I was spending so I am now save 68.00 per month. I do have to buy the occasional hair magazine for customers to get ideas but I only buy one of two a month now.
So I have learned a very valuable lesson with this magazine, YOU SHOULD NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S COVER.
Researching the market for selling my short stories, I recently bought a few magazines to see what the standard was like. One of these magazines was Thats Life! which comes out weekly and is priced at 65p.
This is one of several almost identical looking magazines aimed at women from around 20 to 60. Whilst being one of the cheapest, Im afraid the look of it suffers from the obvious cost-cutting measures they have employed, as the paper itself is low quality and feels almost greasy to the touch.
The magazine is 48 pages long and seems very crowded, with photos and texts fighting for space and your eyes unsure as to what to focus on next. The cover itself is bright and cheerful but again full and this feeling of trying to cram in too much continues from start to finish. With a weekly magazine, I am sure it would be possible to de-clutter the pages somewhat. It looks like the editor is frightened of any unused space!
The magazine doesnt take long to read, maybe half an hour, so it is ideal for a doctors waiting room or a quick tea break at work. If you want a more substantial read, you need a different magazine. Even when talking about serious issues like the true life stories, the magazine manages to give an impression of being lightweight and disposable.
As you would expect from a womans magazine, there are regular sections on beauty, fashion, the home, health and cooking. Whether I am unusual or whether the idea of what a woman is interested in is very wrong, Im not sure, but none of these subjects interest me much at all, except health, so I am unlikely to spend long on these particular features.
At least with these kinds of magazines, things are reasonably priced and attainable. The fashion items in this issue (18 August 2005) are available in sizes 6 to 20, which covers a wide range of society (though sadly, Im a 22-24!) and can be bought from stores such as Tesco, Next and Primark. The fashion here is practical and modern, without being outrageous or you needing to be stick-like to carry off the look.
Similarly, the suggestions for beauty products, meals to cook and home improvement ideas are reasonably priced. Youre not expected to be a designer brand snob if you read this magazine and everyday shops like Argos and John Lewis are used as examples of places to buy furnishings from, with make up products covering a slightly wider range but still only costing between £2 to £21 in this issue.
The regular features include horoscopes, letters pages, an advice column and rude jokes of the week (where the rudest thing I saw was the word arse so its hardly X-rated stuff!). But the main part of the magazine is devoted to true life stories submitted by the readers and a wide variety of prize puzzles to enter.
The competitions include crosswords and word searches and you can enter all of them on the entry form printed in each issue, so it only costs you the price of one stamp. The prizes are good holidays, shopping vouchers and generous amounts of cash. I was also quite impressed with the standard of the puzzles as they arent too difficult, but they do make you think.
The true stories are often sad ones, with this issue including a young girl who was badly burned in a petrol bomb attack and a woman whose husband was violent. They are written in the first person with colour photos to illustrate the article and they are written in a chatty, conversational style. I found them fairly interesting, but nothing more.
If you have your own true tales to share, you can make some money from the magazine too. In fact, this must be where its entire budget goes to, as there seems to be a money-making opportunity on every page. They pay £500 for a true life story, £200 for your true secrets, £200 for a mini-feature true story and £250 for a health-related article. Even if you dont want to expose your innermost horrors to the nation, you can earn between £20 and £50 by having a letter published or contributing to the awfully named (and sexist) Arent Men Daft? regular column.
I found the fiction to be rather bland and far too easy a read. There is only one story per issue though, so it is easy to avoid if you would prefer something more challenging.
Overall, the magazine passes a few minutes and you can make some money from it in various ways, but overall, I found it disappointing and insubstantial. But its popular and has a wide readership, so it must be doing something right.