Chicken Soup for the Soul
Chicken Soup for the Soul stories are written in the first person and have a beginning, middle and an end. The stories often close with a punch, creating emotion, rather than simply talking about it. Chicken Soup for the Soul stories have heart, but also something extra—an element that makes us all feel more hopeful, more connected, more thankful, more passionate and better about life in general. A good story causes tears, laughter, goose bumps or any combination of these.
The most powerful stories are about people extending themselves, or performing an act of love, service or courage for another person.
Guidelines for a Chicken Soup for the Soul story
1. Tell an exciting, heartwarming or funny story about something that has happened to you or someone you know. Your story should be written in the first person and should be about yourself or someone close to you.
2. Tell your story in a way that will make the reader cry, laugh, get goose bumps or say “Wow!”
3. The story should start “in the action” and draw in the reader. Do not start your story with an introduction about what you are going to say, or end with a concluding paragraph about what you just said.
4. Don’t be afraid to speak from the heart. Many people tell personal stories for the first time in our books, and they find it to be a cathartic and productive experience. We do let you use a pen name for your story if you do not want to use your real name.
5. Don’t try fancy moves with tenses. Writing in the present tense about something that happened in the past rarely works.
5. Keep your story to 1200 words or less. Tighten, tighten, tighten!
6. Your story must be true. No fiction, no creative writing.
What a Chicken Soup for the Soul story IS NOT:
1. A sermon, an essay or eulogy.
2. An "as told to" story written by you for someone else. If you ghost-write a story for someone, we thank you for helping that person share his or her story. That person’s name will be listed as the author and he or she can acknowledge your help in the bio section.
3. A term paper, thesis, letter or journal entry.
4. About politics or controversial issues.
5. A biography or testimonial.
6. A journalistic article about a third party that reads like a newspaper article.
Guidelines for a Chicken Soup for the Soul poem
1. We love poems that tell a story. A Chicken Soup for the Soul poem does the same job as a story. The reader goes away having learned your story, just through poetry instead of prose.
2. We do not publish poems that do not tell a story.
3. We also do not publish poems that seem overly focused on rhyming and read more like greeting cards.
A few more tips about submitting
1. The only way to submit your stories or poems to us is via our website. If you have any problems when trying to fill out the form and submit your work, please contact our webmaster at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Responses from the webmaster usually take several days, so be patient.
2. Our webmaster cannot help you with your personal computer problems. If you have questions, such as, “How do I paste my story into the submission form?” please ask a friend or relative, not our webmaster.
3. Please submit only stories or poems that have not been previously published. The only exception to this is if your work has only been published in a small local publication with limited circulation or on your own blog.
4. Please do not send us any book manuscripts, unless through a literary agent, as these will be automatically discarded. Also, we do not accept title ideas from the public. If we receive any, they will be discarded and will not be shown to an editor.
What happens after I submit my story or poem?
Please be patient after you press the SUBMIT button. Wait for the next screen to come up with a message that says: Thank you! Your information has been received. This is your confirmation that we have received your story or poem and that it has been entered into our database. This is the only confirmation you will receive. There is no separate e-mail message from us. A very obvious “Error” message comes up if your submission does not go through.
How will you know if your story is selected? We do not send rejection letters, and we occasionally will save a submission for consideration for a future book. But in general, if you have not heard from us 60 days before the book’s on-sale date, that probably means we have decided not to use your story or poem. You can check the on-sale dates for our future books by checking the Coming Soon page on our website. We get thousands of submissions for each book and we only have room for 101 pieces, so please don’t take our silence personally!
It can take many months or even a few years for a Chicken Soup for the Soul book to be completed. Please be patient, as the selection of stories and poems is a time-consuming process. Please do not contact us to ask for an update about your story unless you need to know whether we are considering it because another publisher is interested in it too.
If we choose your story or poem for a future edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul or any of our other projects, we will notify you by e-mail and request your permission to print it. We never publish anything without written permission from the author, and we get your approval for the inspirational quote that we put at the top of each story and also for any edits we make.
If your e-mail address changes after you submit your story, be sure to let our webmaster know by emailing email@example.com. You need to let her know which book you submitted to so that she can update your information.
If we publish your story, you will be paid $200 one month after publication of the book and you will receive ten free copies of the book your story or poem appears in. You will also become part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul family and will be entitled to buy cases of your books from us at half price. You will also receive our monthly newsletter that is sent exclusively to our published writers, with advance notice of new books, contests to win Chicken Soup for the Soul merchandise, and writing tips.
If your story is selected to be published in one of our Chicken Soup for the Soul books, you will be asked to sign our standard permission release agreement. That agreement asks for non-exclusive rights to publish your story. This means that you retain ownership of your story or poem but you grant us the rights to publish it and use it again in any future Chicken Soup for the Soul book title or any Chicken Soup for the Soul product.