Transmedia Storytelling with Amy Newmark image

Amy Newmark is publisher, editor-in-chief and coauthor of the book series Chicken Soup for the Soul. By curating and editing inspirational true stories from ordinary people who have had extraordinary experiences, Amy has kept the twenty-two-year-old Chicken Soup for the Soul brand fresh and relevant.

Amy was always a writer. She started writing stories in kindergarten. Her first career was as a Wall Street analyst, where she hoaned her storytelling skills still more. Wall Street analysts find companies they think are good investments and then write stories about them.

In 2007 Amy and her husband were looking for a new challenge. They both completed successful careers in business, and just sent their youngest child to college. Rather than retire, they opted to purchase the Chicken Soup for the Soul publishing company from founders Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen.

Jack and Mark were looking for people who could bring the Chicken Soup for the Soul Brand into the Internet age. That’s just what they did. Chicken Soup for the Soul survived a recession that saw Borders fail, Barnes & Noble close a number of stores, and hundreds of independent bookstores closing.

In this podcast interview we talk about the power of storytelling, brand strategy, and transmedia storytelling. We also discuss how Amy launches a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, and how to submit your writing to be featured in the next book in the series. This is a podcast packed with information.

The Power and Importance of Storytelling

Storytelling part of everything that human beings do. In business, it’s important to tell the story of your product in a compelling way that communicates its value. Telling stories is the way we pass down wisdom, culture and advice.

The Chicken Soup for the Soul Brand

Chicken Soup for the Soul was founded in 1993 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. They built the brand over 15 years, and began looking for a successor in 2007 to guard their legacy and bring it into the Internet age.

Amy and her husband took over in April of 2008 and since then Chicken Soup for the Soul has put out 134 books. Now they average a book a month.

Several people have tried to imitate the Chicken Soup for the Soul brand without success. Chicken Soup for the Soul has the integrity, longevity, good distribution channels, and reach in popular culture.

It is because of all of these factors That Chicken Soup for the Soul can get thousands of submissions for every book they publish.

Transmedia Storytelling

It’s important today to find as many different ways to repackage and repurpose your products and brand in as many different ways as possible. Under Amy’s leadership Chicken Soup for the Soul has branched out in many different areas.

  • In the publishing arena they have skinny books and guided journals.
  • This Christmas Wal-Mart sold a gift basket with a box of soup, a mug and a skinny version of a Chicken Soup for the Soul book.
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul started a nationwide bullying prevention program. The curriculum has been approved in Dallas and New York City. The focus is on teaching the values of tolerance, respect, compassion, and kindness to crowd out bullying behavior.
  • The curriculum has already been rolled out for grades 1 through 8 in the high school curriculum will begin in 2017.
  • This is a nonprofit venture supported by The Boniuk Foundation
  • They work with other nonprofits such as the Alzheimer’s Association, The Humane Society, and The Boys and Girls Clubs of America
  • They allow book contributors to buy books at a discount and sell them for fund-raising.
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul has two shows on television. Project Dad which can be seen on the Discovery Channel and TLC, and Hidden Heroes a Saturday morning television show on CBS.
  • A movie is also in development.
  • Finally stories from Chicken Soup for the Soul can be read for free on chickensoup.com

Curvy and Confident: A Book Launch Case Study

Curvy And Confident has 101 stories about loving yourself and your body.

It all started in 2015 when the Natasha Stoynoff introduced Amy Newmark to Emme. (Emme was the first plus size supermodel.) The three of them began talking about writing a Chicken Soup for the Soul book that address the issues plus size women have in this society.

Amy agreed that it sounded like a good idea for a book. From there she asked everyone she knew if they would buy a book on the subject of body image. Everyone she asked said they would love to buy a book like that.

From there, she e-mailed 6000 people on Chicken Soup for the Soul’s mailing list and asked for submissions on the website. Often, they will make a book idea if they don’t get enough stories to go through. In this case Amy got thousands of stories, it was evident this struck a chord.

From there a team of editors chose about 300 finalists. Amy, Emme, and Natasha chose their 101 favorite stories. Natasha did the first round of editing, and Amy did the final round. Then they put together a coherent manuscript with an arc.

Completing the manuscript was only the beginning. After that comes distribution and publicity. Because Chicken Soup for the Soul is an established brand that has sold millions of copies of the last 22 years, they have their distribution channels already. But publicity is as challenging for them as for anyone.

The team is promoting the book through articles in the press, TV interviews, and radio interviews. Natasha Stoynoff is doing most of the press in Canada because Canadians prefer Canadian authors. Emme is doing television interviews, and Amy is doing radio interviews.

Submit Your Work to Chicken Soup for the Soul

If you want to submit your work to Chicken Soup for the Soul it’s a very simple process. First write your story in word. Go to their website (link below). On the story submission page they have a story guidelines, possible topics and deadlines, as well as a submission form. All you need to do is copy the text of your word doc directly into the submission field.

The best thing to do if you’re thinking about submitting a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul is to pick up one of their books. That’s one sure way to get a feel for the kind of narrative nonfiction storytelling they want.

If they want to use your story they will contact you. They don’t send out rejection letters because they don’t have the logistics to do that. Also, just because they don’t use your story right away doesn’t mean they won’t use your story in the future. They may like your story but it’s not an exact fit for the book is submitted for.

Chicken Soup for the Soul pays $200 for every story they use. They also give contributors 10 free copies of the book their story appears in. Most importantly, every author in the Chicken Soup for the Soul book keeps the copyright to their story.

Having a story printed in a Chicken Soup for the Soul is a real career boost for nonfiction authors. Several others have gotten book contracts, and recently one just got a contract to write a TV show.

Links and Resources Mentioned in the Interview

http://www.chickensoup.com/ — The chicken soup for the soul website

Chicken soup for the soul submission guidelines. — Go here first before you write your chicken soup for the soul submission. http://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/story-guidelines

Possible book topics and deadlines

The chicken soup for the soul submission form. — Fill out the form completely and follow the instructions. You can write you were submission in word and Copley directly from your word document into the submission field.

Buy chicken soup for the soul guided journals

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Christmas: 101 Holiday Tales of Inspiration, Love and Wonder

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident: 101 Stories about Loving Yourself and Your Body 

The Boniuk Foundation supports the nationwide program against bullying that Chicken Soup for the Soul put together for schools.

Project dad — a show about celebrity dads reconnecting with their children

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hidden Heroes — A show that highlights Chicken Soup for the Soul’s anti bullying program

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