I’m fond of Chicken Soup for the Soul and other inspirational books as a writer. They make it possible for writers to truly ‘write what they know.’ I did just that and I have a story about my experiences during the college admissions process in a new Chicken Soup volume: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In. . . to College.
This post isn’t just about plugging my own work, though. I really do think that inspirational books are an absolutely ideal opportunity for most freelance writers. Writing stories for these books are a matter of remembering your own life experiences — you don’t have to worry about any research and you can often write the quite quickly. The story that I submitted to Teens Talk Getting In…to College took me perhaps an hour to write and revise: it’s a memory that I think truly shaped me and I’ve spent some time thinking about it. If you have those sorts of memories — and I think most people do — take a few minutes to write them down. Mine got me $200, and there are several other publishers beyond Chicken Soup that will also buy such stories. They range in pay from $50 to $200. HCI’s Ultimate Books and LaChance Publishing immediately come to mind.
I prefer to work from the list of calls for submissions that each publisher maintains on its website. That’s because I find it easier to write with a particular topic in mind. I’ve had a few submissions that have been rejected — but the great thing about inspirational stories is that you can also find lots of other places to publish them. Many magazines publish a story or two in each issue (often labeled as personal essays), and offer fairly decent pay.
So give it a go: see if your personal experiences can pay off. And if you’re looking for a holiday present for your favorite high school senior… well, I’d recommend Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In. . . to College.