How to Write Deliciously for Chicken Soup for the Soul

Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul
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With more than 200 books in print and others in development all the time, Chicken Soup for the Soul books are a huge market. If you’re not writing for them, you’re missing out!

Best of all, whether you’re a stay at home mom, baseball fan, or dog lover, you’ll find a book covering nearly every interest — including these for movers and shakers like you: Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur’s Soul, Chicken Soup for the Working Woman’s Soul, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Unlocking the Secrets to Living Your Dreams.

Find the right recipe

So, you’re an interesting person with a lot to say. However, don’t just dive right in and write a story before checking whether there’s a Chicken Soup topic that fits. Instead, go to the Chicken Soup for the Soul website, click on “Submit Your Story” in the left-hand column, then click on “Possible Book Topics.” You’ll find a listing of all the titles in development.

Now, think about a true situation you’ve experienced that might fit into one of those titles. I’ve been able to place stories about my love for M&Ms, walking my dog, and multitasking all in the same volume just by wrapping the focus around the specific needs of the topic. When you write for the title, you have a ready-made market for your work. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it.)

For example, one of the titles in development now is Chicken Soup for the Soul; Reboot Your Life. Do you have a story about inspiring changes you’ve made in your life? The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2013.

Select quality ingredients

To create a great Chicken Soup for the Soul story, you need the right ingredients. First, your story must be true and told in the first person. Chicken Soup for the Soul no longer accepts “as told to” submissions.

Second, it must be appropriate for the category you’ve selected. Under the title, you’ll find a more detailed description of the potential book’s contents. Tell your story in the most concise way possible: Chicken Soup stories should come in at less than 1200 words.

Finally, your story must be told with good literary techniques. Do you have a clear beginning, middle and end? Are you showing in action and vivid scenes, instead of just telling what happened? Have you invited the reader into the story using all five senses and connected emotionally? Be sure you have a strong point or moral, rather than just ramblings about the time Uncle Earl took you fishing and you fell over the side of the boat.

Let it simmer

Any good soup needs time for the elements to blend. Resist the urge to dash your story off the minute you strike the last key. I like to let my writing sit for a day or two, then review it with fresh eyes. I always find something I can tweak and improve.

If you have trusted readers, ask them to give it a look — not just your mom, who’s going to tell you she loves every syllable. A writers’ group is a great way to exchange critiques with others who might be a bit more critical, but also more helpful.

A writer's group is a great way to exchange helpful critiques with others

When your story is ready, go back to the website, click on “Submit Your Story,” and send it off. The process couldn’t be easier.

Taste the rewards

Now for the hard part: sit back and wait, and resist the urge to check your email twenty-six times a day. I like to get busy with another project: it might take several months for a reply. And, frustratingly, they don’t send rejections, so if your story doesn’t get selected, you won’t hear anything. Generally, if you haven’t heard in 4-6 months, you can assume it wasn’t selected.

If the editors like your story, you’ll receive an email that you’ve made it through the first round. You’ll be asked to fill out a few forms and approve the edited copy. Most edits are minor, if there are any at all. Often the title will be changed. Several weeks after that, if you get a reply, it’s good news: you’ve made the final cut. Celebrate!

The rewards aren’t earthshaking, but they’re not bad. If your story is published, you’ll receive $200 and 10 free copies of the book. You’re also given information on marketing and book signings, and you’re allowed to sell the book from your own website.

With 101 stories selected for each volume, your chances are great. Pick your title, write a compelling story, and you may be on your way to publication in one of the best-selling book series of all time!

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Peggy Frezon has stories in more than a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books; her most recent story can be found in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Inspiration for Writers. She is author of .

Peggy Frezon | @peggyfrezon

Peggy Frezon
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Comments

  1. Thanks for the reminder about submitting stories to “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” I submitted a story a few years ago, but it wasn’t published. Perhaps I’ll try again.

  2. I read a lot of Chicken Soup for the Soul books growing up, yet it never occurred to me to submit my stories to them.

    Thank you for suggesting it, Peggy! I’ll definitely check this out.

  3. Great post, Peggy! Love how you put it together in cooking terminology!!

    Blessings,
    Julie

  4. Hi Peggy!

    Thanks for the insightful post on exactly what it takes to get published in Chicken Soup For The Soul. I am one of those fortunate souls whose story was selected to be included in their Angels Among Us edition which came out in January 2013.

    For a newer writer (I’ve been writing for over 40 years but professionally for only 3) the money may not be a lot but the free books allowed me to share my story with the special people in my life and now my bio actually shows a publishing credit…;~)

    Donna L Martin
    http://www.donnalmartin.com

  5. I should have read this before I submitted! I do think I followed your tips though. We will see what happens.

  6. Thanks so much for this information, what a great way to help break out into the world of published books, much appreciation. Love your site, just discovered it, Caroline.

  7. Alicia Renkema says:

    Hey Peggy, Thanks for writing this piece on ‘Chicken Soup’ entries and some facts and tips. Speaking of that, I was wondering if you had any specific tips for poetry writers and what the folks at ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ tend to look for besides being on topic of course. Thanks for any help that you can provide me in this area.

  8. Loved the article, Peggy! I really appreciated this reminder. I submitted to Chicken Soup for the Soul about 6 months ago and haven’t heard anything back. I thought I would hear one way or another. Perhaps it’s time to rework article and submit elsewhere. Or should I resubmit to them? I still would like to write for them so I’ll continue to look at their site for topics.

    Thanks,
    Will

    • Hi Will,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately it doesn’t sound like your story was selected — as Peggy noted, Chicken Soup editors don’t send rejections, so radio silence for months is usually a bad sign.

      I wouldn’t resubmit the same piece to Chicken Soup, but look for other places to submit it. We’re about to run a post about reworking rejected submissions to submit them elsewhere; keep an eye on the site for that!

      Best of luck,
      Heather
      TWL Assistant Editor

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