Write for Chicken Soup for the Soul? Who, Me?

Write for Chicken Soup for the Soul? Who, Me? 1024 576 Reader Views

by Tracy Crump, Award-Winning Author of “Health, Healing, and Wholeness: Devotions of Hope in the Midst of Illness”

Early In my writing career, I’d published a couple of magazine articles when an acquaintance encouraged me to submit a story to a Chicken Soup for the Soul® book. What was she thinking? Chicken Soup for the Soul is the bestselling trade paperback series in publishing history. They would never accept anything from a newbie like me. I let the deadline pass.

A few days later, she emailed and said Chicken Soup had extended the deadline. “Why don’t you try submitting something?”

I ended up sending five stories to that first book, and they chose two to publish. I’ve contributed another twenty stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul books since then and am here to tell you if I can do it, you can, too.

Here are a few tips to get you started and keep you on the right side of the rules.

The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

Each Chicken Soup for the Soul book is a collection of true, inspirational stories related to a specific topic. Their guidelines stipulate “no fiction, no creative writing.” In a workshop I attended on writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul, Editor in Chief Amy Newmark said they take more of a journalistic approach in their books. The stories they seek are narrative nonfiction and “completely true.”

That doesn’t mean they want dull, dry recitations or versions that read like newspaper articles. Use fiction techniques to bring your story to life. Start with action and paint vivid word pictures that draw the reader in. But don’t fudge the truth.

Stick to Your Story

Keep in mind that Chicken Soup for the Soul is all about story. Articles may make points, explain a situation, or give a detailed commentary, but Chicken Soup stories don’t. It’s easy to start out telling a story about an incident on your family trip to Mexico and end up giving the history behind ancient Mayan ruins. Briefly establish the setting or scene, but if a fact is not essential to the story, leave it out. Avoid exposition when writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul. Just tell your story.

So Help Me, God

Many people believe that Chicken Soup for the Soul—with titles such as Messages from Heaven and books about angels and miracles—is a religious series. It is not. The editors will tell you theirs is a general market publication. They do not want stories that read like testimonies or sermons.

However, they will allow contributors to include an element of faith as long as it’s integral to the story and not the focus of the story. Accounts need to be interdenominational, and I don’t recommend including Scripture. Nevertheless, values such as mercy, truth, love, forgiveness, patience, and kindness are always appropriate, as is a takeaway that gives the reader a new perspective on life.

Before We Adjourn

Chicken Soup for the Soul is a great market for beginning and experienced writers alike. Though they receive thousands of submissions—making competition for the 101 spots in each book fierce—your chances of being accepted are as good as mine. You don’t need special credentials or prior publications, just a good, well-written story that meets the series guidelines.

Now, raise your hand and repeat after me: I can write for Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Who, me?

Yes, you!

About the Author

Tracy Crump dispenses hope in her award-winning devotional book, Health, Healing, and Wholeness: Devotions of Hope in the Midst of Illness. She has published more than thirty stories in anthologies, including twenty-two in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her course on writing for the series is one of Serious Writer Academy’s top sellers. Tracy’s articles and devotions have appeared in diverse publications, including Focus on the Family, Mature Living, Ideals, The Upper Room, Woman’s World and Guideposts books. As codirector of Write Life Workshops, she conducts workshops, teaches at conferences across the country, and edits The Write Life newsletter. She is a freelance editor and proofreader for Farmers’ Almanac. Tracy and her husband, Stan, live in north Mississippi and have five completely unspoiled grandchildren. She believes Grandma is the most beautiful word in the English language.


Websites:  https://www.tracycrump.com/  or https://www.writelifeworkshops.com/
Serious Writer Academy course: https://www.seriouswriter.com/tracycrump/
Amazon book link: https://amzn.to/2OinraH
Book trailer: https://youtu.be/zixdBhD3gV8  
Social media links: https://linktr.ee/TracyCrump

  • Tracy Crump

    Great question, Carolyn! I don’t think I can give you a percentage, but I do know the stories need some kind of resolution and a takeaway. The Chicken Soup for the Soul website used to say stories should end in a result, such as a lesson learned, a positive change, or a pay-off, which is a great definition of takeaway. But I don’t think they would be averse to a story implying the problem needs more work in the future. I’ll have to think whether I’ve read one like that or not.

  • Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    Tracy, what percentage of stories that include the inspirational human qualities you mention also make it clear they whatever problem is solved needs more work in the future? I don’t think I have ever seen one…
    Love that you shared your positive writing experience!

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

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