"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What Every Writer Can Learn from the "Chicken Soup" Success Story

It was a simple concept that "ignited" like a grease fire in a kitchen.
Chicken soup.
A feel-good antidote for a world of hungry readers seeking uplifting stories that offered hope through heartfelt tales, during today's tough times.
And it worked. In a big way!
This project catapulted authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen to mega success--to the tune of millions! It paved the way for a future empire of speaking events, cook books, music Cds and more.
It topped the New York Times' lofty best-sellers list.
And after more than a decade, it's still going strong.

The lessons they imparted to audiences worldwide through this popular anthology can impart important lessons for today's writer as well.

As a fan of the series, (and one who is dying to be published in one), here's what I've learned, and you can too.

  •  They believed in the philosophy that "everybody's got a story to tell."
What's your story? How can your unique perspective help others to find a common bond? Or live better? Or inspire others to reach their dreams? When will you share it?
  • They didn't try to "reinvent the wheel."
These savvy guys simply took a basic recipe, (anthologies) and added their own ingredients and flavor. And they just did it better. So often writers and bloggers believe that their work has to be out of the ordinary and freakishly unusual to have massive appeal. Not so. Not always. Of course originality is important, but excellence is even moreso. :-) Remember the K.I.S.S. principle.
  • They recognized the importance of effective branding and marketing.
No matter how well you write, if you don't promote effectively and find various avenues to connect with audiences, your project's growth will be stunted. Use the power of social media to optimize success. And don't be shy about tooting your own horn when the situation dictates.
  • They persevered through multiple rejections.
I don't remember the exact account, but if I recall correctly, the authors were denied dozens of times before they actually garnered a book deal. How many of us can relate? As a noted politican one stated: "Don't retreat, reload."
  • They created good "karma".
Often in their books and speeches, they will thank and honor all the contributors, editors, friends, family members, and book buyers that made it all possible. They partner and collaborate with other organizations for worthy causes. They make others feel vested in their success and create important alliances in so doing. Writers should too.

So the next time you'd like to add success to your creative menu, look to the men at "Chicken Soup" for a recipe worth emulating.

Your turn.
Thoughts? Agree or disagree?

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Jennifer--I think they're right. Everybody DOES have a story to tell. Once a writer hones in on the story they want to tell, getting feedback from writers who have managed to crack the CS "code" many, many times (writers like Linda O'Connell) helps immensely...

    1. Sioux,

      Thanks for weighing in and starting us off. Linda is indeed a "head chef" when it comes to the Chicken Soup writing recipe. I'd love for her to share her tips here. I see you've had some success with it as well. Any possibility of a guest post? :-)

    2. Jeezle, Jennifer. You must be doing charity work this summer. ;)

      I will be glad to write something up and send it to you. Then the ball's in your court. However, a guest post from the Queen of Chicken Soup (Linda) would be waaaay better. (She's almost reached her goal of "20" so now I guess she'll have to up the bar and make it 25 or 30.)

    3. Sioux,

      Don't sell yourself short. I anxiously await your submission. :-) Maybe it will motivate Linda too. LOL

  2. It's an amazing success story and one worth retelling.

    1. Karen,

      Wonderful to hear from you today; it's been awhile. :-) It is indeed a success story worth sharing again and again. Thanks for your feedback here.

  3. I agree, it is a good "recipe" for success! :)

  4. I agree. Their books are now staples in many homes, classrooms, and libraries. I think they're a great example for me because I'm also trying to build a positivity based platform. It's not that we don't know about the dark side of life. We just choose to be centered on the bright side.

    1. Sarah,

      I totally dig where you're coming from. Why perpetuate negativity or doom and gloom? There's enough of it on the p.m. news. Thanks for your input here.

  5. It took me years, years I tell you, to get into a Chicken Soup book. And the story they liked wasn't a particular favorite of mine - although the cat Was. So keep on trying everybody. I think the CS formula is going to be around for a while.

  6. My secret to CS success has been to choose a related topic and write (tight) from my heart as though I am sharing my story with a best friend. Most people think that their life stories aren't interesting, important, or that they have to be a gardener, a particular religion or political persuasion to be published in those specific titles. Not so. My first story was not about gardening but about a flower that grew in winter. I could have written my next story about either political party because it was about the system that failed my mom. I titled it, A Grand Lady in Disguise. The title implies many things, but the reader has to read the story to understand the title. I am not a member of particular religion that I write about. It was the experience within the religious institution that was key to mys tory. So, the secret is to veer in your own direction, get off the beaten path, pave your own road, make your story stand out from the rest.

    Incidentally, Chicken Soup for the Soul is celebrating their twentieth year, and in honor they are producing the Reader's Choice Twentieth Anniversary Edition. They allowed readers to submit their story about how a CS author's story inspired them. I am honored that one of my stories will be included.

    1. Linda,

      Wow! Unbelievably great news. Congrats! Thanks for sharing your "ingredients". :-)

  7. Such a concept sounds interesting especially Anthologies where you have a particpation from several writers with all their own contributions for specific themes.

    Recently I realised that besides a Selfpublished eBook I also 'Co-produced', (or Co-assisted) an actual (Printed) Paperback (Non-fiction) Book that's also Co-written by several writers. (recently actually added it to my blogs About page)

    I do think that when you create such a Mutual Support an other advantage is that you also automatically will get motivated Ambasadors that would like to help Promoting, creating a great Win/Win-situation.

    1. And "win/win" situations are truly worth the effort! Thanks for your thoughts, H.P. :-)