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First Features

Your questions answered

1) How do I ensure I'm happy with what goes in the paper or magazine?

We will go through the story with you line by line before it is printed to make sure you are 100 per cent happy with every word. This is not our story after all, it is your life!

2) How long does it take before I get paid?

Magazines and papers take a wildly varying time to pay up but generally they all operate on the same principle that payment is only due after the publication of your story. The wait can then be anything from ten days to eight weeks, depending on the publisher.

3) If I tell you my story, will you then use it without my permission?

Absolutely not! First Features is wholly committed to upholding the high standards of journalism as laid down by the PCC Code of Practice, closely observing the rules as well as the spirit of The Code. Whatever you tell us is STRICTLY confidential until and unless express permission is given for publication.

To read the PCC code in full, click here.

4) There are parts of my story I wouldn't like to be printed as they could be harmful or insulting to someone else. Is it okay to leave them out?

This all depends how crucial these aspects are to your story. The main thing is to be upfront with us from the beginning – if they aren't vital to the story, we can usually leave them out.

5) Is it okay not to mention my place of work as this could be embarrassing?

We are not in the business of making you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious in your home or work life. If you don't want your place of work mentioned, we can accommodate this.

6) I'm not happy about being photographed.

Bad luck! All publications, without exception, demand pictures to go with stories. It is very VERY rare to find a publication happy to do anonymous stories unless they are linked to cases of sexual offences. In these cases we are bound by the law not to reveal the victim's identity. However, the victim does have the right to waive that anonymity.

7) Will I have to sign anything?

Yes, most magazines and papers want to make sure that your story will be exclusive to them until the date of publication. They usually want you to sign a contract to say that you won't speak to any other media until that time – and it is in your interest to sign as the contract will state the agreed fee. So you will have a written guarantee of the money you are owed. After publication, however, you are usually freed from the contract.

8) Do you come to my house to interview me?

No. Interviews are done over the phone as this makes the whole process quicker. However, if you feel that you would rather speak to someone face-to-face we can arrange one of our writers to visit.

9) I'm not sure if I have a story. If I call or email, does that commit me to anything?

Nothing at all. We could chat for hours and at the end of the day, if you do not want to go ahead with your story, that is absolutely fine!

10) Can I decide which publication to go with?

It depends on how much demand there is for your story – the more demand, the more scope you have to choose where your story appears. Money is not always the over-riding factor in these circumstances - if you want to reach the widest audience, for example, or appeal to others like yourself, then we will tailor the approach to your wishes.

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Dear First Features,

If I tell you my story, will you then use it without my permission?

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