Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul

By Harriet Michael

Chicken Soup for the Soul publishes around a dozen books a year, each with 101 stories in it. That’s approximately 1,200 chances to have a story you wrote published per year. Sounds pretty great, right? It is and it isn’t. It is not as easy as it may seem to have your story selected for one of their titles. But if/when that happens, then yes, it’s pretty great!

This year’s Christmas themed book titled, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, will have a story in it written by me.

Chicken Soup Christmas book

This is the fourth story I have had selected for Chicken Soup. While that’s exciting and an honor, I must share an insight that I have in their selection process. This is just my opinion and others may disagree with me, but it seems to me that it is harder to have your first story chosen by them than subsequent stories. At least that is my experience.

I am a prolific freelance writer. I have submitted many, many short pieces (articles, devotions, short stories) to many different publications since I began sending submissions in 2009. After over ten years of freelance writing, I have had a lot of acceptances but also a lot of rejections. However, my rejection percentage with Chicken Soup for the Soul was 100% for the first few years. That was definitely not the norm for me with other publications. I sent several stories a year and never received even a notice that it was being considered for one of their books. Finally, in 2014, after about four years of rejections, I got an e-mail telling me one of my stories had made it to the final round of selection. I danced with joy when I read that email!

Since then I have had four stories selected. This experience has made me conclude that it is harder to get a first story chosen but slightly easier after that. My experience may only be coincidental, but it prompts me to encourage writers to keep sending Chicken Soup stories. Keep on keeping on!

Chicken Soup publishes inspirational true stories from ordinary people. They want stories under 1200 words (with 1,000 being closer to their sweet spot) written to one of their book topics or themes. If your story is chosen, you will first get an email telling you that your story has made it to the final round. This email will include a publishing contract that will be discarded if your story is not chosen for the actual book. Most stories that reach this round make it to the book, but a few don’t. I have never had one dropped after this stage, but my sister has. Then, the fun part—you receive 10 free copies of the book about a month before its release date and a check for $200 about a month after the release date.

And because I’m a stickler about writer’s rights, I asked them when the rights would return to me. The contract states that they are buying 1st rights but does not say when the rights revert back to the author. Most of my freelance contracts contain this information. Chicken Soup replied that I owned the rights again as soon as the book releases, or one day afterward, I suppose, since 1st rights mean they have the right to be the first to publish it.

Writing for Chicken Soup is fun and rewarding. I highly recommend giving it a try and like the old saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

And make sure to join us in September as we tackle a fun topic: Cooking for Writers…


Writing prompt / Exercise: Go to https://www.chickensoup.com/ and click on “Submit your story” at the bottom of the page. That will take you to a site that has book titles/themes, guidelines, and the online submission form. Familiarize yourself with these and then, if inspired, write a story for one of their Book topics.

Click-to-Tweet: Chicken Soup for the Soul publishes around a dozen books a year, each with 101 stories in it. That’s approximately 1,200 chances to have a story you wrote published per year.–Harriet E. Michael via @inspiredprompt #amwriting #freelance

Freelance Writing: The Pros and Cons

By Jennifer Hallmark

So, you’re writing the Next Great American Novel but want to make extra money in the meantime. Many opportunities abound in the world today: Writing for magazines, e-zines, newspapers, blogs, copywriting, and technical writing to name a few.

Take time to study the market versus your skills and then choose a direction and stick with it. If one type of writing doesn’t work out, try something that might suit you better. You can start penning words for free sites and building a resume which in turn could land you paying jobs.

What are the pros and cons of freelance writing?

The Pros include:

·         You can make your own schedule. This works great especially if you have another job or young children at home.

·         After you are established, you can choose the work you want.

·         You can write on a plethora of topics: the variety is endless.

·         Freelance writing can provide a good resume if you are trying to sign an agent or impress a publisher.

The Cons include:

·        Variety of payment amounts and sporadic time between payments.

·        Working at home can be distracting with chores and other family members close at hand.

·        Difficulty in finding the type of work that fits you best.

·        Burning out when writing novels and freelance.

The most important point is to weigh the money you’d like to make against whether you can work hard enough and write consistently enough to earn what you’d like to make. You might find a part-time job away from home that will meet your needs in a better way. If you’re still unsure, put aside a month and research the market, then send out a few queries to see if you can find interest in your ideas.

And don’t give up your novel writing. We can’t wait to read it…

Click to tweet: Freelance Writing: The Pros and Cons. #freelance #amwriting

Writing Prompt: Nancy circled the ad in the newspaper. Copywriters wanted. She wanted to prove to everyone that she could do this. But what if…

How to Spell Freelance

by Kristy Horine

He darted through the stream of folks flowing into the sanctuary.

Behind me, the pastor asked a deacon, “You ever see that man before?”

A stranger. Here. In the vestibule of our church.

Normal people would think, “Oh, how nice. A guest. Let’s go make him feel welcome.”

Not me. I’m a writer, with a hyperactive imagination. I breathed a prayer of protection and courage, fast-forwarded active shooter training in my head, then slipped into the sanctuary toward my usual second row seat, ready to worship, ready to move if necessary.

Moments later, the stranger appeared at the end of my pew.

“This seat taken?”

“If you sit in it, it will be.”

I smiled and prayed again. Hard. This was close-range business now. I extended my hand in his direction.

“I’m Kristy, and you are …?”

“John*.”

“Where you from, John?”

“Texas.”

“What brings you to Kentucky?”

“Fort Knox.”

That explained the high and tight hair and the clipped answers. I simply could not stop the interrogation at this point.

“You drove at least two hours this morning to come to church here?”

“No,” John admitted. “I’m going to the library to do some genealogical research.”

“So your family is from here? What’s the name?”

“Smith.”

Seriously. (*Even though I changed his name for anonymity, he did give me one of the top three most common surnames ever.)

The worship service started and the Lord helped to quiet my spirit, but not my curiosity. During the offertory hymn, I googled library hours and discovered the genealogy room was open on Sundays.  Maybe this close-lipped, corduroy-wearing Texan was telling the truth after all.

After service, I learned a little more. John served with a Texas Army ROTC Corps. He came to Fort Knox for training. He came to Paris because this place was the only known connection to his late grandfather. He had a date, he had a name , and he had a heart for his family story.

Story.

I breathed another prayer. Oh, Father, thank you for what you have written in our lives!

You see, over the past 25 years in my writing career, I have learned that you spell freelance like this: S-T-O-R-Y.

Freelance writing is kind of like renting versus buying. Renting gives shelter and opportunity, but without the permanency and obligations of ownership. There are pros and cons to each and I’ve lived under both roofs. No matter which writing house you choose to live in, there is deep responsibility on the writer’s part.

Yes, market research is important. Yes, request an editorial calendar and pay close attention to submission guidelines. Yes, write a query letter with all the excellence you can muster. But a writer’s responsibility is to the story. If you don’t have the story, what will people read?

When I breathed the prayer of gratitude for what God has written into our lives, I realized the wealth of story opportunity that came with meeting our mysterious Mr. Smith.

  • Personal Adventure – What does he find?
  • Genealogy in Kentucky – How do you learn who you really are? What are the best root sniffing places in Kentucky and where do you even begin?
  • The role of ROTC – What does it look like in the Commonwealth? Is there an anniversary coming up? Are there spin-off stories I can find by researching individual university ROTC programs?
  • Faith Over Fear – Does perfect love cast out fear? If so, how do we recover from current events? How do we approach daily life with faith no matter what might happen?
  • The Safe Church – A How-to article considering Nehemiah 4:18 and present day responsibilities in our houses of worship. What is the new role of parishioners, greeters, police in community, and how we are to move with faith in God’s protection?

The Lord gifted me with an inquiring heart and suited me for the gathering and telling of stories. I imagine that on Sunday, He snickered and said, “Oh, my child, trust me. Have I got a story to share with you … Now, go and tell somebody.”

Click to Tweet: The Lord gifted me with an inquiring heart and suited me for the gathering and telling of stories.–Kristy Horine via @InspiredPrompt  #amwriting #Freelance

Writing Prompt: Have a go at Mr. John Smith. What story does he find? What story does he write with his life after he finds it?

Articles, Articles, Articles! by Linda Gilden

Today we’d like to welcome my friend, Linda Gilden, to the Inspired Prompt blog. Linda has just released a new book on article writing and is an experienced writer, speaker, editor, writing coach, and Certified Personality Trainer.

Glad you could join us Linda! Do you have any interesting writing rituals?

Linda:  I don’t know if you would call it a ritual or not but I prefer to write in my pajamas. I have done this for so long that my family is quite accustomed to finding me in my pajamas late in the afternoon. If I greet them in my pj’s, they know it has been a good and productive writing day.

What are your books about?

LindaArticles, Articles, Articles! is appropriately named. It is about writing articles. Even if you have never written an article, this book will walk you through the steps of writing an article, enlighten you on the different types of articles you can write, and show you how to search for a market for your article. There are examples of article format, a query letter, and much more.

What is your favorite part of the book?

Linda: This is somewhat like asking which child is your favorite! There is so much material in the book that can help writers discover the exciting world of article writing and I love every aspect of this genre. But if I have to pick a favorite part of the book, I think it might be sharing new opportunities contemporary writers have to write. With the digital age, we can no longer just write for print publications, we can also write for websites, e-zines, blogs, and so much more.

Is there a message in your book you hope readers will grasp?

Linda: I hope readers will be encouraged to share the messages that God has given them with others. Not every wants to write articles. But for those who do, I hope they will learn from the book and try their hands at article writing. Article writing is such an effective way to share with others and you can reach many times more readers than with a book alone.

The other thing I hope readers get from this book is that writers must write with excellence. We are writing to share the message God has given us and we must work to learn how to do that in the very best way possible.

Where can readers find you online?

Linda: My website is lindagilden.com and there is a contact page there. I have an Amazon author page as well as a Facebook page and am on Twitter.

Click to tweet: Linda Gilden’s new book on article writing. Article writing is a good way to begin a writing career because you learn to write tightly, meet deadlines, and stay within word count. #amwriting #freelance


Articles, Articles, Articles

Supplement your income doing what you love–writing. Do you want to expand the reach of your message? The answer to that question and many more lies in writing articles. Article writing is a good way to begin a writing career because you learn to write tightly, meet deadlines, and stay within word count. Articles reach more people than books. Articles supplement your income as you sell and resell them to many markets.

Articles, Articles, Articles! will help you: * Learn the basics of article writing * Develop your ideas into marketable articles * Know the difference between articles for print and the web * Explore different types of articles * Understand the rights you sell * Find markets that match your writing skills * And much more! Don’t wait another minute. Begin your adventure into the exciting world of articles today.


Linda Gilden is an experienced writer, speaker, editor, writing coach, and Certified Personality Trainer. Author of the popular Love Notes series, she is also the author of Mommy Pick-Me-Ups, Mama Was the Queen of Christmas, Personality Perspectives – Clues to Building Better Relationships, Called to WriteWhy You Do What You Do, Words to Live By, Called to Speak, and many ghostwritten books. With over a thousand magazine articles to her credit, she is a prolific writer who loves to share a great story. She speaks nationally many times throughout the year, is a frequent radio and television guest, and welcomes the opportunity to help others become better communicators.