Sunday 27 July 2014

No One Buys Short Stories

"Some people fold after making one timid request.  They quit too soon.  Keep asking until you find the answers.  In sales there are usually four or five "no's" before you get a yes." (Mark Victor Hansen)

How did a poor kid from West Virginia become the editor of the most successful non fiction series ever?  He refused to take "no" for an answer.

Mark Victor Hansen assembled a book of feel good anecdotes called "Happy Little Stories" in the early 1990's.  When it came time to market the book, he was told:  "No one buys short stories".  Besides which, it had no sex or violence.  But Mark persevered.  Rejection after rejection came in the mail until he had a total of 140.  

Mark decided it was time for a different approach.  He and his business partner Jack Canfield attended an American Booksellers Association Convention armed with 200 manuscripts.  The first day, they handed out dozens of copies, but no one seemed interested.  However, on the second day, they got their big break.  An editor from Health Communications, which was on the verge of bankruptcy, was interested in "Happy Little Stories".  

After a name change, the book was published and put on bookstore shelves.  Within fourteen months, Chicken Soup for the Soul was a New York Times bestseller, a position that it occupied for almost two years.  The original title spawned a sequel, and then another.  Someone suggested that Mark and Jack create themed Chicken Soup books:  Teenagers, Mothers, Grandparents, Cat Lovers, Dog Lovers, Teachers, Golfers. The list is endless.  There are at least 250 other Chicken Soup titles.  

Chicken Soup for the Soul has been published in 43 different languages.  It has sold over 500 million copies worldwide.  Health Communications is still its publisher (but it's not going bankrupt anymore).  

The poor kid from West Virginia has appeared on Oprah, CNN and the Today Show.  He has written other bestsellers including The One Minute Millionaire.  But success would not have happened if he had given up. His determination paid off. 

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