A few days ago, a group of my writer friends in Missouri met at a local library to present a panel discussion on writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul books. They know a thing or two about writing these kinds of stories; among this one group, they’ve probably published in over fifty different Chicken Soup titles.
Yep, they’re that good.
But you don’t have to be that good to get your story published in a Chicken Soup title. You just have to follow a few steps:
1. Check the Chicken Soup website regularly for the book topics they need. The editors will give you the subject and lots of ideas about what they’re looking for in that topic.
2. Follow the guidelines for a Chicken Soup story. Don’t go over those 1200 words (and keeping your word count at around 750-850 is even better).
3. Submit your story as soon as possible. The closer you submit to the deadline, the more stories there are ahead of you!
I know what you’re thinking. Is that all there is to getting a story in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book?
Well, those are the basics. Considering that there might be 3,000 stories submitted for each topic, it’s a bit more challenging to actually get a story selected. So I asked a couple of my writing friends from that Missouri group to share their best tips.
Linda O’Connell said, “I have more success when my opening paragraph is filled with images that illustrate the book title. For the beach lovers book I wrote, ‘The ocean tugs on my Midwestern soul with the same intensity that the moon pulls the tide.’ Any landlocked beach lover can relate,” she said. “Your opening has to engage the reader.”
Linda should know. She’s been published in 23 Chicken Soup for the Soul books!
And then there’s Sioux Roslawski who has a badge on her blog stating that she’s a 10x contributor. But by my last count, she’s been published in at least 15 titles! Here’s what Sioux had to share:
“Relive the memory like a movie. You have a story idea, a moment in your life that would make a great Chicken Soup story? Go back to that instant, and take your time as you retell it.
See the story in your head, like you're in a movie theater. Pretend it's happening to someone else. Imagine what your facial expressions were, your gestures. If aromas or sounds would help tell the story, sneak them in. Be sure to include a bit of dialogue, even if you don't remember exactly what was said. (It's okay to make up things like that, as long as you stay true to the tale.)
And then let the story unfold... as you put it down on paper.”
Finally, here’s advice that I think any of us, from 1x to 20x contributor, would share: If you live in Missouri, get yourself in that writing group! (But if you don’t live in Missouri, then read plenty of Chicken Soup for the Soul books to get a feel for what the editors like. And then write, submit, repeat until published!)
~Cathy C. Hall