With more than 250 titles (so far!) and 101 stories in each book, Chicken Soup for the Soul is an excellent market for novice and experienced writers alike.
But just because there are so many opportunities, don’t assume that it’s simple to get in. You still have to know your stuff: First, Chicken Soup for the Soul accepts only true, first person stories. The stories must be inspiring, exciting, heartwarming, or humorous. Also, keep your work to 1200 words or less.
But that’s just the basics. We caught up with publisher and editor-in-chief Amy Newmark, and got these fantastic inside tips that will help you give ‘em what they want.
How to get your story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul
Here are Amy Newmark’s top 10 tips for getting into Chicken Soup for the Soul, in her own words.
1. Be familiar with the books
“Make sure you have an intuitive feeling about what a Chicken Soup for the Soul story is. The only way to do this is to read through several stories in different books, and familiarize yourself with the style and tone.”
2. Go for it
“Anyone can write for Chicken Soup for the Soul. We love a brand new writer. In a way, a brand new writer is more exciting for us, especially if they are excited and go and spread the word on their Facebook and tell everyone about it.”
3. Keep it real
“Write your true story. Chicken Soup for the Soul doesn’t accept fiction. In addition, we don’t use essays, scholarly works, eulogies, sermons, biographies or parables.”
4. Forget what you were taught in school
“Don’t write an opening paragraph about what you are going to say, then the body of the story, and then end with a paragraph about what you just told the reader. Our readers are smart, they can figure it out.”
5. Submit appropriate material
“Every piece of writing, no matter how worthy, is not necessarily a fit for Chicken Soup for the Soul. Unless a book is directed specifically at kids or teens, adults will be reading it. Don’t send me your son or daughter’s eighth grade essay and say, ‘Oh my child wrote such a great story! It was published in the school journal so you should print it.’ Yes, people have done this!”
6. Get to the good part
“Don’t write the whole story depicting every moment of every day. We want stories where something happens—not just musings. Look for that moment of epiphany, a time you were amused by something, a time you were changed in some way.”
7. Write conversationally
“Write like you are writing a letter, or talking to a friend. Don’t give me a paragraph describing a leaf fluttering. It doesn’t advance the story. Don’t say ‘My heart broke into a million splinters as a tsunami wave of grief washed over me.’ No one talks that way. I’ll just edit it to say ‘I was distraught.’”
8. Use specific details sparingly
“I don’t need to know that you got into your blue Nissan, or that you brushed your daughter’s strawberry blonde hair. Sometimes, your details distance the reader. They will want to fill the story with their own specifics.”
9. Don’t be narcissistic
“Your story should be about you, how you felt, what you did, how it changed you. But we want to hear how you dealt with things, how you improved yourself or overcame a challenge, and that you know you’re not the only one this ever happened to! So no feeling sorry for yourself, or ending with no positive resolution. We’re looking for advice and life experiences that help our readers improve their lives.”
10. Submit early
“Look at the deadlines on the website. We get many stories on the same topic. The ones we read first usually stand out to us. People who get stories in earlier really do have a better chance.”
How to submit your story to Chicken Soup for the Soul
If you have a story that fits, write it up and send it in. Submissions are taken via the website form.
Chicken Soup for the Soul doesn’t send rejection letters, so if you don’t hear back by two months after the book’s scheduled publication date (you can find this on the website), you should assume your story did not make that book.
However, sometimes Chicken Soup for the Soul moves stories to future books, so it’s possible you’ll get good news a year or two after you submit your story! In the meantime, there are plenty more opportunities.
Look over the list of topics, review these tips, and get writing another great story for Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Photo via Marjan Apostolovic / Shutterstock
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