holistic health magazine






Interview with Jack Canfield
On writing, publishing, and how to achieve personal success

By Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Publisher

Jack Canfield is one of America's leading experts in the development of human potential. He is a highly accomplished author, a dynamic and entertaining speaker, and an educator who has focused most of his efforts on the empowerment of adult learners in both educational and corporate settings. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen are the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling coauthors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, currently with 32 different titles in print, and worldwide sales of over 80 million copies in 39 languages.

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Share Guide: The Chicken Soup for the Soul® books have done extremely well, with millions of copies in print. How did the first book come to be published?

Jack Canfield:: Back then I was a speaker doing talks primarily on self-esteem for teachers and the corporate world. People would come up after my talks and say "That story you told about the puppy, or the girl scout. . .my daughter or son needs to read that. Is that in a book anywhere?" I'd always have to say no. Then one day on the way home on an airplane, I realized that since a lot of people had been asking me about these stories, maybe I should be the one to put them in a book. So on that plane flight I made a list of all the stories I knew. I used a lot of them in my talks to illustrate different points, because the best way to teach is through stories. I had about 68 stories that I knew, so I started writing them up, a couple a day. About two thirds of the way through that process, I had breakfast with Mark Victor Hansen--the coauthor, cocompiler and coeditor on all the Chicken Soup books. He asked what I was doing and I told him I was working on this book of stories. He asked what it was called and I didn't have a title yet. When I told him what the book was about, he said "I want to do that book with you." I said "Mark, that's like telling James Michener you want to finish Hawaii with him when he's halfway through the book. Why would I let you do that?" He said, "Number one, half the stories you tell, you stole from me and second, I have a whole bunch of great stories you haven't even heard yet." The first part of that was an overstatement but the second part was actually true. He did have a lot of good stories. So I said, "If you write up 30, and I have 68, that will give us close to 100, and I'll let you be the coauthor of the book." So we did that, and that is how the original book came into being.

Share Guide: Did the book take off right way once it was released?

Jack Canfield: A friend recently reminded me of the calm before the calm: when the book first came out, nothing much happened.

Share Guide: The calm before the calm, that is like the first issue of our magazine, which was many moons ago. The phone did not ring right away, so I dialed it up to make sure it was still working!

Jack Canfield: Right. We came up with something called "The Rule of Fives." We had a meeting with a psychic by the name of Ron Scolastico, quite a profound being. He said to us, "If you go to a tree with a sharp axe everyday and take five swings with the axe, eventually the tree, however big, will eventually have to fall down." So we came up with this idea that we would do five things every single day to promote the book. This could mean signing five books and giving them to people for free. It could be giving talks at churches or sending out free copies to reviewers, or giving five radio interviews. There were five specific actions we did every day so there was always something happening that promoted the book. Eventually, I wrote a letter to the publisher of a publication called L.A. Parents. We had a story in the book about parenting, and I asked them to reprint it. In exchange for printing it, we asked that they put at the bottom a little box that said it was excerpted from Chicken Soup For The Soul®. He liked the story so much that he told us there were many more of these parenting magazines all across the country. He helped me to send out this article to every editor and we got 55 copies of it printed. I think that is one of the things that helped the book to take off. Eventually that led to 135,000 copies of the book selling, and by a year and a half's time we had sold 1.3 million copies. We really didn't hit a best seller list until September 1994, even though it came out in July of 1993. About a month after that, it was on The New York Times list, and then USA Today, and we stayed on those bestseller lists for almost 4 years. At one point Chicken Soup for the Soul® was number one and A Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul® was number two. Eventually we came out with the whole series of books, 32 titles so far. That is basically how it added up--it was NOT an overnight success. What happened, I think, is that one person would read it, they'd tell five others; those five would read it and tell five others and eventually that had a snowball effect that finally reached critical mass, and we had a bestseller.

Share Guide: Did you approach a number of publishers prior to it being accepted?

Jack Canfield: Yes! We were rejected by 123 publishers all told. The first time we went to New York, we visited with about a dozen publishers in a two day period with our agent, and nobody wanted it. They all said it was a stupid title, that nobody bought collections of short stories, that there was no edge--no sex, no violence. Why would anyone read it? We then kept going to publishers for another couple of months. It was rejected by another 22 publishers and then our agent said, "Sorry boys, I can't sell it." So we went to the American Bookseller's Association Convention in Anaheim and walked the floor from booth to booth asking publishers if they would be interested in our book. There were 4,000 booths there! I don't think we hit every one of them, but close to it. Finally, we went to the booth of Health Communications, which became our publisher. They were a small company out of Deerfield Beach, Florida. Their primary focus was on the recovery world, such as people getting over alcoholism or drug addiction or being co-dependant. They were slowly going out of business at the time because that whole market had become saturated. They said they would take a look at it and they read it on the way home on the airplane. They loved it and said that they would publish it. There was no advance. When we told them we wanted to sell 150,000 copies by Christmas, they laughed at us. But we said let's just see what happens. So as I told you, we sold 135,000 copies--not quite the goal, but we really impressed them. Chicken Soup for the Soul went on to become Health Communication's biggest selling book ever. I think there are eight million copies of that book that they have printed so far.

Share Guide: Of that first volume?."

Jack Canfield: Yes. There are 68 or 70 million copies in print, of all the titles all together, including foreign markets.

Share Guide: So you had to keep your chin up through all that adversity to achieve your goal. That's quite a story!

Jack Canfield: Mark and I are big believers in perseverance. If you have a vision and a life purpose, and you believe in it, then you do not let external events tell you what is so. You follow your internal guidance and follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell used to say. Obviously, we would have self-published if we had to, but I am glad that we did not. It is hard enough writing these books, let alone trying to be a publishing company.

Share Guide: There is a chapter in Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul® that mentions some self-publishing success stories, like The Celestine Prophecy and What Color is Your Parachute. What are your thoughts about self-publishing?

Jack Canfield: I think that self-publishing has two main advantages to it: one is that if you self-publish, you control the game. There have certainly been times when Mark and I have not agreed on things with our publishers. And there have been times when we thought they should have been spending more effort in certain areas, positioning the books differently, or whatever. Had we been our own publisher we would have been able to just do it the way we wanted to do it. The second advantage is that we would have made more cash, obviously, because the publisher makes the lion's share of the money. But running a publishing company is very time consuming; it's an all-encompassing reality. When the book came out, Mark and I were both deeply in debt. So starting a publishing company with the investment that takes, and hiring staff and the management of that, plus trying to do that along with what we were already doing (which was speaking and writing) seemed pretty overwhelming to us. However, I think it depends on what your purpose is. There are some wonderful publishing companies that have made amazing contributions to the world, with books on consciousness, personal development, social changes and so forth. As a publisher, you can have an agenda that you can be in charge of and manage. What we did was the right decision for us, but I encourage people to do it if they feel like they want to publish their own book. The other main reason to self-publish is that sometimes it is the last recourse.

Share Guide: You mean after you've received enough rejections?

Jack Canfield: Right. Then you have to publish your own book, and you have to sell it and prove that it has a market.

Share Guide: What happens if you get a company to publish your book for you and then it doesn't sell? Is it possible to take it back and market it yourself?

Jack Canfield: Sure. In fact, I know of people who have done that.

Share Guide: So it is not necessarily a dead horse once it is out of your hands?

Jack Canfield: Correct. A Child Called "It" by David Pelzer, which was on the Bestseller's List for years, is a book that was published, didn't do very well at all, so David Pelzer got the rights back. I encouraged him to try our publisher, which he then did, and his book went on to become a runaway bestseller. It sold millions and millions of copies. David is booked now around 200 days a year speaking. So, I always tell people to examine the contract with the publisher. You always want to have a buy back right so that if the book sales go below a certain number, the right to the book reverts back to you. That way you can maintain control of your manuscript. You do not want it to be dead and languishing in someone else's control.

Share Guide: That's good information. I read in Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul about a number of bestselling authors besides yourself who suffered tons of rejections before getting published, including Alex Haley, the author of Roots, and Steven King--it might be hard for people to believe, but these authors were also rejected many times before they became successful.

Jack Canfield: That's right. In fact, we have a little section in that book called "Consider This" where it talks about all the writers who have had amazing amounts of rejection. I think Alex Haley had over 200 rejections, and Louis L'Amour, who is a famous western writer, certainly had more than that. The reality is that rejection comes with the territory. Now I have also met people who have sold their first book to the first publisher they showed it to for a large advance, but they are by far the minority. I speak every year at the Maui Writers Conference & Retreat in Hawaii and there are always these horror stories about how many times people's first work was rejected--whether it was short stories or magazine articles or books. I think it is just something you have to go through. It is like auditioning to become an actor. You might spend three years in New York waiting tables in order to finally get that break. There are examples of people, whether it is writing or acting, that have breaks more easily--because of someone they know or the luck factor--but in general, it is the old "pay your dues" thing.

Share Guide: In other words, just believe in your self enough to keep on target?

Jack Canfield: Right, never give up. . .Mark and I could have given up at any point along the way there. It was 123 publishers that rejected us, so I just always say "Stick with it!"

Share Guide: You believed in the book, in the project. You saw that it could go even if others had not seen it yet. What would you say that your primary motivation was in creating Chicken Soup for the Soul?

Jack Canfield: I think our primary motivation was to share stories that would inspire people and motivate them to believe that anything is possible. You can have more love and joy in your life, you can heal family relationships, you can overcome any obstacle. There are all kinds of stories of people who have done those things, and if they can do it, you can do it! We wanted to show that there's a lot to live for, that most people are good and want the world to work and want their lives to work and want their kids to grow up healthy. The news on television is negative but represents really only a small minority of the people out there. Yet it gets the majority of the coverage because behavior like that is so abhorant it is amazing--whether it's a war, a rape or a crime or corruption. It's sad that people often get their view of the world from the Eleven O'clock News. It is a very distorted view. Someone once described our book as "the antidote to the Eleven O'clock News" and I have heard other people describe our book as a "support group between the covers of a book." We did a book called Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul, which was all stories of people who had survived cancer. That book came about unintentionally. It was really an accident in the sense that one of my staff people, her mother got breast cancer, and we'd never planned to do a book about cancer because it didn't seem like a very uplifting topic. So I said to my receptionist, "any stories that get sent in about cancer, just people surviving, send them over to Linda because that will uplift her as she goes through her chemotherapy, radiation treatment and all that", and so they did. About a year later she was in remission and showed up on our doorstep with a banker's box full of stories that our receptionist had sent her. We had no idea how many had been sent. She said, "You guys have a book here if you want it." So we went through the stories, and sure enough there was a book, and that is how that book came about. You can read it and you no longer feel alone, alienated and isolated with your disease. You realize that all kinds of people have survived this, that there is humor, and there is heroism and there is a lot of overcoming in these stories. That in fact is inspirational and gave her hope and courage to carry on in the face of a very scary, life-threatening experience.

Share Guide: My next question is in terms of writing in general. You were an author before the Chicken Soup series. How did you get started writing, and do you still write regularly?

Jack Canfield: Yes, I still write. My life's mission is to inspire and empower people to live their highest vision in the context of love and joy. I started out in Chicago as a high school history teacher in an inner city, all black school. It was during the Viet Nam war; 1967 was the first year I started teaching. It was during those years that Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, Bobby Kennedy was killed. It was a very radical time in the black community. While I was teaching in the black school, I realized a lot of these kids did not believe in themselves. What I began to get really excited about was not so much teaching history, but teaching kids to believe in themselves. To believe that they were special, that they had inborn talents, and had a purpose and a mission for being here. If they could tap into that, their lives could become magical. Whether it was motivating those who did not believe in themselves or trying to re-direct somebody's efforts out of competition into co-operation, whatever it might have been, that really excited me. My graduate work was in a field called Psychological Education. How do you educate people about psychological issues? That later evolved to spiritual issues as well.

I started to write up what I had been learning while I was teaching into a book called, 100 Ways to Enhance Self-Concept in the Classroom. We all have a concept of who we are. Now we call it self-esteem; back then it was referred to more as self-concept. Basically, it's the idea of ourselves, and the beliefs we have about ourselves. I hooked up with another guy named Harold Welsh who was interested in the same kind of ideas. We coauthored that first book. By the way, I got a "C" in composition in college. I never set out to be a writer, but I was someone who had a message, something I wanted to share with the world, so I had to develop my writing skills in order to be able to communicate that. From there I got more interested in training the teacher in self-esteem, realizing if they did not believe in themselves or their goals or did not accept their feelings and so forth, or if they didn't have a sense of their divine mission, there was no way they were going to pass that on to anyone else. That is what got me more interested in focusing on adults. From there I became a therapist, and I ran a growth center in Amherst, Massachusetts similar to Esalen in Big Sur. It was called the New England Center for Personal and Organizational Development. We focused primarily on Gestalt Therapy, Psycho-synthesis, and a number of other modalities. We had a Rolfer there and a Feldenkreis worker, a massage therapist, and we did Kundalini yoga. Those were the core modalities. We would bring in people from all over the country. It was a center where people would come for weekend or weeklong workshops. I ran that and got further and further immersed in the whole human potential movement. While I was doing that, I was looking at how these activities, approaches, and modalities could be applied to transforming education. That became my mission for a long time. I wrote six books in that field. Then I finally wanted to write a book for the general public, and that is really how the Chicken Soup
® book was born.

Share Guide: So you had an important message to share which you then learned how write about, as opposed to the English literature major learning to be very articulate with the language, but then once they've done that, what are they going to talk about?

Jack Canfield: Exactly. I see a lot of people who want to be professional speakers or who want to be authors but they don't know what they want to write about. I always say, if you can get passionate about something then you will develop whatever skills you need in the process of communicating that message. But some people are obviously natural born writers. For instance, a book like Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, the lyrical prose of that book is almost hypnotic. But I don't have that kind of skill and I don't know if I could ever develop it. That is part of an inborn natural talent. However, I think anyone can develop the ability to communicate essential messages cleanly and clearly so that other people can get the essence.

Share Guide: Right. You might not call the Chicken Soup series great American prose, but it certainly gets the message across in short and sweet doses, and that's why people like it so much.

Jack Canfield: True. We did not set out to write great literature; we set out to share great stories.

Share Guide: And spread positive feelings.

Jack Canfield: Exactly. And we chose a certain style. I often call the stories "bite size," the kind people can read in five or ten minutes and get some value from.

Share Guide: There are many Share Guide readers that are health practitioners. I am sure some of them are interested in publishing their own books. What advice can you give these folks about writing and getting published?

Jack Canfield: Number one, it's a very full world of books out there, meaning that there are 60,000 books published every year in the United States. Every therapist, every bodyworker, every person that has had any kind of awareness (whether it's a personal journey or whatever), has a story to tell. Because we all have personal computers now, it's made it easy for people to craft their story and get it written and printed and send it around the world. The biggest challenge is that there are so many people writing things and vying for the same publishing space. So I say go into it soberly, knowing that this is the reality. If you are writing a book just because you want to write a bestseller, the odds of that occurring are very small. If you're writing a book because you want to have a credibility piece--in other words, something that says this person is legitimate, they've got something to say, look they have a book, I think that can be a valid reason to go after it. Most importantly, if you have something to say that is unique and different, then go for it. So many books written these days are saying the same thing over and over: I learned Buddhist meditation and my life changed, or I'm a bodyworker and if only everyone would take better care of themselves, get a massage once a week and eat better and drink ten glasses of water a day. . .I mean a lot of those messages have been said a millions times! However, I do believe that if you're writing it to make a difference in the lives of others, if you have passion, some different message and people haven't heard it, then it's definitely worth doing. Besides, chances are most people out there have not read all of those 60,000 books that were published. Plus, if you go to a conference and you speak, or you go to a Whole Life Expo and lecture or if you go to any kind of venue (church, community, school, etc.) to speak, people may hear that message for the first time. And you can't give your whole message in a half hour or an hour, so if they are interested they will buy your book and take it home. That may be the first exposure they ever have to you. So if one's goals are realistic, I think that writing can be a very profound experience. If one's goals are skewed and you're doing it for the ego, you want to get famous, that only happens very rarely and I think it's the wrong reason to write a book. Yet if you have something that's a real breakthrough, something that really is a New Statement, or a new way of saying something that gets through to people better, or you really have a breakthrough modality like Rolfing was a breakthrough and Feldenkreis was a breakthrough, Polarity Therapy was a breakthrough, then by all means, get it into print, get it out there. But I really invite people to look at their motives first.

Share Guide: What about after you actually write something?

Jack Canfield: There's a good book called The Writer's Guide to Book Editors, Publishers and Literary Agents by Jeff Herman. I recommend it if you're going to try to get your book published. You should do it with an agent, because they know they know how to negotiate the deal better, they know who is buying what kind of property. Once that happens, and you have a publisher, then you want to go out there and promote it. I always say that there's a feminine and a masculine aspect to putting a book together. The creative side is the feminine side, the receptive side; it's the mothering, the bringing into birth of this new being called your book. But then there is the masculine side, where you have to go out and promote it, because if you are a reclusive type and you write a book, very few people will ever hear about it. In this world today it takes an amazing amount of energy. Mark and I have done probably 2,000 radio, print, and television interviews over the years. We were out there speaking two or three times a week to large groups of people, so we were getting our message in front of people continually. And it still took us a year and a half to make the bestseller list. But it's not impossible. You mentioned The Celestine Prophecy; there's also Saved by the Light. Both those books started out as underground hits that were self-published and eventually hit the mainstream and went on to become blockbusters. For every one of those there are tens of thousands that did not make it. When we came out with our book, we asked seven people who were bestselling authors: What did we need to know if we were going to be bestsellers? We spoke to John Gray, who wrote Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus; Barbara Deangelis, author of Making Love Work; Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, M. Scott Peck, who wrote The Road Less Traveled. We spoke to a lot of different people, and we asked them what was the secret. They all gave us several ideas. Then we looked for the pattern, and there were patterns. One of them was to spend at least three quarters of your time for the next 12&endash;18 months promoting your book. A lot of people do not want to do that. They would rather be meditating, doing yoga, sitting on Mt. Shasta, whatever it might be. That is fine, but it is unlikely that your book will do well if that is all you do with it. There is a science to marketing books. There is a wonderful reference out there, The Insiders Guide to Getting Your Book Published. It has a lot of good tips to help with that. There is also 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, by John Kremer. Mark and I must have read seven books on how to sell books. We hired Dan Pointer, the guy in Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul who wrote the article on self-publishing. He is also an expert on marketing books, because if you are a self-published author, you have to learn how to market your own books. We hired him for a half a day and he consulted with us. You can get most of his tips now on the internet. For anyone that wants to get in touch with Dan, there is a website, www.parapublishing.com where you can go for all kinds of great information both on self-publishing and marketing books.

Share Guide: That's very helpful. I learned about the Maui Writers Conference through the book Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul®. I was wondering about your involvement with that.

Jack Canfield: I go every year and I am on the faculty. They have a writers school that they call the "Writers Retreat" which takes place about five days before the conference. Up until last year, they had fiction, non-fiction, and screenwriter's tracts. This year, for whatever reason, they dropped the nonfiction tract. I had been teaching in that tract every year but I still go and speak and do talks such as How to Market a Bestseller; The 10 Steps to Success as a Writer; The Power of Focus for the Writer; plus other different themes that I do. I love it there. The nice thing about the Maui Writers Conference is it's in Hawaii. It has a draw that no other conference can have. We have a great writer's conference here in Santa Barbara with a lot of good writers, but the one in Maui is amazing because you get a lot of people who might not normally go to a writer's conference. We have had Ron Howard, the film director, Marianne Williamson was there last year, Barbara Deangelis, John Gray, Robert Allen, Mark Victor Hansen, etc and myself. There are a lot of famous fiction writers, like Mary Higgins Clark, David Balducci, and people of that sort. So it is really a thrill for me to be in the presence of these writers and be able to share at that level.

Share Guide: I bet there are a lot of people like myself who have positive experiences that they want to share and they think they are going to get around to it someday, but life is full. "Someday" never really comes. You have to make a commitment to write regularly along with what you do for a living.

Jack Canfield: That is exactly right. I'm writing a book right now about the principles of success that I have applied to my life. I share some of this in my workshops and people have said I should write those up. So I decided to do that and when I'm finished I will have a hundred of these principles. Each day, five days a week, I write for one hour. I usually finish a principle a week. Some may take longer. It is a first draft and when I am done, I go back some days and edit. I like things to sit for a couple of weeks before I look at them again. Then I can approach it with a fresh eye and read it almost like a new reader. I also read everything aloud the second time so I can hear it. You hear a lot when you read it that way that you do not see when you just look at it on the paper. Even if you wrote just a page a day, at the end of the year you would have written 365 pages. Most people in an hour can write 2, 3, 4 pages easily. W. Clement Stone, who was one of my mentors, said to me early on, "You watch TV?" I said, "Yes." He said, "How many hours a day?" I said that I did not know. He said, "Well, I don't know is not a good way to go through life. Figure it out." So I sat for a moment and thought, gosh, about 3 hours: Good Morning America while I am getting dressed in the morning, the evening news when I come home, and in those days I watched Johnny Carson in the evenings while I got ready for bed. He said, "I want you to cut out one hour a day. He said that if I did that, I would have 365 additional hours a year. What he was advising me to do was to read. At that time, I needed to read books on motivation, autobiographies of inspirational and successful people, books on psychology, spirituality, religion, parenting skills, communication skills, financial management, all of what I call the life skills that most of us remain pretty ignorant about most of our life because we don't study. I am a big advocate of STUDYING. If you want to be a master of something in your life, you have to study the subject. Whether you take that hour and meditate, do yoga or spend it in intimate relationship with your spouse or read or write, at the end of the year you have 365 hours worth of time. That is a huge edge to get something done that we say we do not have time for. People always ask, "Where am I going to find the time?" I tell them the story about my wife when she was studying to get her MFCC license. She would get up two hours earlier every morning so she could study. That was when we had a baby, she was nursing, she should have been exhausted and she was, but she was doing it anyway. Over the course of a year, she got her Masters Degree. I do not have too much sympathy for people who say "I am too busy" unless they really are. Most people say they are too busy but they have tons of hours that they waste everyday on things that are trivial.

Share Guide: I totally agree with you. Natalie Goldberg recommends what she calls a "daily writing practice."

Jack Canfield: I agree. If you read about great writers, such as Ernest Hemingway, he would get up every morning and write until about 12:30 or 1:00 pm. He wrote standing because he had a bad back and could not sit. He would never quit until he knew what the next sentence was going to be when he came back, so he always had the next thing ready to go in his head. Then in the afternoons he went and lived his normal life. He went out and he would drink, fish, go to the bullfights. He would be the great persona that Hemingway was. Joseph Heller went to work every day. He had an office he rented, wrote from nine to five, and would then come home just like anyone else going to work. For me, I am a morning writer. That's when I have my best energy.

Share Guide: So you're saying that even if you are committed to a career and have a family life and all that and you can't be a full-time writer, you can put in an hour in the morning or at some point every day. You just have to get up a little earlier and commit to being motivated.

Jack Canfield: That's right. Here's a good example. Bryce Courtenay worked in advertising in Australia. I met him at a writer's conference and he told me his story. He had a nine to five job making a living for his family. So he would go to work, come home, spend time with his family from 6-7:30 pm and then basically hug them all and say goodnight. Then he would go into his office at home and he would write from around 7:30 till midnight every night. He did that for one year. Within that one year, he wrote the book called The Power of One. The advance he got for that book (which was the first book he had ever written) was a million dollars. It was turned into a movie starring Morgan Freeman. So when people say they do not have time, it is because they do not CREATE the time. They do not make it a priority. Not that they have to--maybe for some people family is a bigger priority. That's okay too. In Courtenay's case, he still spent a few quality hours with his family every night and then went to work and wrote his book.

Share Guide: This is good information for potential writers who want to be published. If anyone has personal stories that they would like to relate, I believe you are still accepting submissions for future books?

Jack Canfield: Oh yes, we are doing about eight books a year. The easiest way to send them now is to go to our website which is www.chickensoup.com where there is a place you enter your name and address. Then you cut and paste your story right into our website. We have readers that go in there every day and read the stories and the ones that they think are good enough they pass on to me and my staff and we read through those.

Share Guide: Do people need to think of a specific topic they should focus on, or is that your work as the editors?

Jack Canfield: Just any general story that they think is inspirational, motivational, meaningful, transformational, has a lesson in it, makes you cry or whatever. On our website we have a list of all the books we are currently working on. There are about 40 that we are collecting stories for. Chicken Soup for the African American Soul®, Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover's Soul®, Chicken Soup for Divorced People's Soul®, etc. One of the books that we are just starting to collect stories for. . .I do not know what the title is going to be, but it's going to be stories of people's transformational experiences--that woke them up or were pivotal turning points in their consciousness or their path. People can go to our website and simply look at the books we are doing and when they submit their story, if they think it applies to a certain book, they can go ahead and say this is for Chicken Soup for the Music Lover's Soul® or whatever. If not, they can just say it is a general story and we will decide what would be appropriate.

Share Guide: Have you considered a title along the lines of "Chicken Soup for the Holistic Practitioner's Soul?" There are many healthcare providers in many fields.

Jack Canfield: We just finished a book called Chicken Soup for Body and Soul®. I do not know when we will bring it out exactly. Do you know who Dan Millman is, who wrote The Way of the Spiritual Warrior?

Share Guide: Yes, of course.

Jack Canfield: He is one of the coauthors of that book with us.

Share Guide: Any last bit of advice for novice writers?

Jack Canfield: You write by yourself, so it is very solitary. Writers tend to be more reclusive; some of us are a little more shy or introverted. But the reality is that we take a lot of rejection. We have to take our thoughts, ideas, and creations and put them out in front of people for review and criticism, and possible rejection or acceptance. I teach something called The Poker Chip Theory of Life which says: If you have 10 poker chips and I have 100, when we go to play poker, you are going to play more cautiously than me, because if you lose 10 chips you are out of the game, but if I lose 10 chips I still have 90 left. I want to build up everybody's stack of poker chips, including writers, so that they have more chips than they can risk, so to speak. If they get rejected 100 times, they are still in the game. The reality for writers is that it can be very disillusioning. There is a story in the Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul about a woman who goes to give someone a story and they send it back to her and they ask her to change it a little bit and to send them a picture and she does. But then they send her an envelope, and she's so convinced that it was a rejection that she never opens it. She kept it but threw it in the closet. Ten years later she went to open it and it said, we love your story, we just need you to make these final 5 corrections and we'll publish it. She wrote that for ten years she never knew that, and didn't have her story published. If she felt self-confident, she would have been able to write other things. But if she had higher self-esteem, she'd have known that rejection is nothing personal. In The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, he says one of the agreements is never take anything personally. It says something about the other person; it does not say anything about you. And so the idea is to allow yourself to just put stuff out in the universe knowing that if it's rejected, so what! If one's self-esteem is evolved and developed then it is easier to do that. We want to build up the self-esteem and self-confidence. The writers love it; these wonderful things they have to share with the world do in fact get shared.

To learn more about the Chicken Soup series and Jack Canfield, please visit


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