How to Publish Your Story in Chicken Soup for the Soul, According to Its Editor-In-Chief

How to Publish Your Story in Chicken Soup for the Soul, According to Its Editor-In-Chief

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”

Visit chickensoup.com, click on Submit your Story and scroll through the current list of possible book topics.

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 before 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 

Filed Under: Publishing

22 comments

  • Kari says:

    This is an excellent article. I just submitted a story. I followed your steps and then sent it off to an editor to correct any errors. He polished it up nicely. Again, great article.

  • Sheila says:

    I’m writing a piece for Chicken Soup right now and was wondering, has anyone ever done any research and found out what the average length of a published piece is? In other words, what length the publishers like?

    • Cheri says:

      It’s on their website, under Guidelines. 1200 words or under. Be sure to check the website before you submit just in case it changes.

  • Thank you for the great advice. I was starting to get discouraged because I’d sent several pieces with no response. Now I know that’s just how they roll. Skirt magazine doesn’t respond with rejections either. I have to say, a rejection is preferable to no response, but I’ll keep trying, because I feel like many of the topics I can relate to. It’s “writing what I know”.

  • susan says:

    I have a story to submit but it happened to a friend. How do I write the story in first person. It is an “angel” story and there is a current call for such.

  • Nadalee Merczel says:

    I got my story published in Chicken Soup for the Cat’s Soul. I was pleased with how the Chicken Soup people handled everything from start to finish. I got my check – got my extra copies of the book with my story included (which I conveniently gave as Christmas presents) – all without a hitch! I had never read a “Chicken Soup” book before, yet discovered that they are quite a joy! The writing is humorous, touching, and absorbing…they obviously choose very talented writers! I now have a story for a Christmas book that is pending…I sent in information they asked for, so I’m hopeful….I love the Chicken Soup company and would recommend writing for them – and reading them! (btw, I love the way this article was written…just like a chicken soup recipe….very cute!

  • Richard says:

    I am writing a book on a different subject, but would love to have people’s submitted stories included in my book. This is not related to Chicken Soup of the Soul, but would be similar structure…
    Text, and people’s stories verifying the text.

    • Naba says:

      I am a freelance writer and looking for places to start.
      I have a lot of stories to share. If you can share details on what kind of stuff u would like I would be very happy to writ and share.

  • Michelle says:

    Thanks Peggy for the great information. I just read the article published in Beyond Your Blog and hopped over to check out your additional words of wisdom. I truly appreciate the fact that you included how Many articles are submitted! 101 make me feel brave and bold again.
    Back to work!
    Thanks again.

  • Will says:

    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

  • 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.

  • Caroline says:

    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.

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

  • 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

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

    Blessings,
    Julie

  • 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.

  • Amandah says:

    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.

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