No One Buys Short Stories
For three years, Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen gathered and refined their book. By the time it was finished, they were almost $140,000 in debt. When they managed to land a literary agent—a task that can be almost as difficult as finding a publisher—it appeared they were on their way. The agent immediately began pitching the manuscript, Happy Little Stories, to thirty-three of the biggest names in publishing. One by one, the publishers rejected it saying that there was no market for the book because it was “too positive” and “not topical enough.” Another told them, “We just don’t get it.” After every single one of the publishers tried rejected them, Canfield and Hansen were hit by another blow. After only a month, their agent said he no longer wanted to represent them. “No one buys short stories,” he told them, especially ones that completely lacked sex and violence.
Instead of getting a new agent, they decided to change tactics and try the American Booksellers’ Association Convention. They knew their book would not be an easy sell and went armed with almost two hundred copies of their manuscripts. On the first day, with copies crammed into their backpacks, they ruthlessly hunted down any publisher they could find. They handed out dozens of copies, but no one seemed interested. On the second day, they continued their attack. Luck was on their side, because a copy landed in the hands of a publisher at a little-known publishing company that was about to go bankrupt, Health Communications. The publisher read the manuscript that night and called Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen the next morning. He wanted to publish the book. After a name change, Chicken Soup for the Soul hit the New York Times bestseller list fourteen months later where it remained for almost two years. The book also launched a series of over sixty-five other Chicken Soup books directed at specific audiences, which are as successful as the original. Titles from the series consistently appear on the New York Times Bestseller List and in the top fifty on the USA Today's bestselling book list.