Review of "That's Life!"
Busy with my toddler son and my baby grand-daughter. My new book THOUGHTS OF A NEW OLD MUM is out now, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/nhbr22476
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 That's 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, I'm 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 doesn't take long to read, maybe half an hour, so it is ideal for a doctor's 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 woman's 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, I'm 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, I'm 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. You're 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 it's 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 aren't 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 don't 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) 'Aren't 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 it's popular and has a wide readership, so it must be doing something right.
Product Information : That's Life!
Manufacturer's product description
Listed on Ciao since: 02/05/2001