I'm a big fan of Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I've submitted stories for many of the titles in this anthology series. And I've been very fortunate to have my work in 17 of these books. I've also had plenty of submissions there that have not made it. Competition is fierce with sometimes thousands of stories submitted for one book.
One reason I've had success is that I keep up with the latest book topics on the Chicken Soup website. Every now and then, I go to the Possible Book Topics page to see what new topics have been added and what others are gone because of the deadline being past.
Another reason is that I follow the guidelines. There are quite a few do's and don't's so I check the guidelines page before submitting a new story to make sure I've followed the guidelines and that there have been no changes made since my last submission.
I also revise and edit the story I send several times before hitting that Submit button on the submission page. I never write the story and submit it right away. I let it simmer for a few days before revising and editing. It helps me submit the best story I can write.
I try to make these creative nonfiction stories full of sensory details and attempt to bring emotion to the reader, whether it is a laugh or a tear. Aim for the heart might be a good motto when writing a Chicken Soup story. I know that the editors also like to see some dialogue in the stories so I include it in my submission.
Looking at the list of possible book topics today, I found a real variety and numerous titles. You can read more details for each by looking at the Possible Book Topics page. On some, there is a list of suggested topics for a particular theme. Even reading through the suggestions might give you an inspiration.
The main themes and deadlines for the present book topics are:
1. Alzheimer's and Dementias Family Caregiving October 30, 2015
2. Angels and Miracles September 30, 2015
3. Military Families November 30, 2015
4. My Very Good, Very Bad Cat August 31, 2015
5. My Very Good, Very Bad Dog August 31, 2015
6. Random Acts of Kindness July 31, 2015
7. The Joy of Less October 30, 2015
8. The Spirit of America November 30, 2015
Don't be afraid of submitting to this anthology series because of the competition. You might have the perfect story, one that touches the editor's heart. You won't know unless you try and if your first story doesn't make it, don't give up. Just remember to aim for the heart.