Canfield: Make a Million as an Author

By Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.

The Chicken Soup… series of books co-authored usually by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen are a major source of Canfield’s more than 500 million books sold. Even if it were only a dollar per book profit, we are not talking chicken feed, but real money, money most authors never come close to earning. On March 8, 2012, I attended a telephone seminar by Canfield, “How to Get Where You Want As an Author/Speaker,” part of a series sponsored by Steve Harrison’s Bradley Communications group, whose teaching programs are available through, teaching programs Canfield credits for getting him well started in his writing/marketing career.

Later, I Googled “chicken soup for the soul,” an early best-seller, and got 17 million hits. Here’s a surprise: Canfield and Hansen were rejected by 144 publishers before they got one who said yes, making that gentleman a multi-millionaire. Rejected by one hundred and forty-four publishers and yet they persevered! It still took eighteen months for this book to make the best-seller lists. During that time, Canfield and Hansen studied such successful authors as Ken Blanchard, Scott Peck, John Grey et al. They looked for patterns in successful promotions. Eventually, they reached #1 on the NY Times  best-seller list and sold over 10 million copies of the English-language version alone.

Canfield had been a school teacher, dedicated to motivating his students, often by raising their self-esteem. His mission became to inspire and empower people to live to their highest visions with love and joy. He has done well by trying to do good.

Some secrets of his success include:

- big goals are needed

- envision future achievements

- make your own luck; attract it

- meditate

- don’t be reluctant to sell what you have created

- provide solutions for people

- make your goals specific and challenging

Canfield quoted Gen. Wesley Clark , “It takes no more time to dream a big dream than to dream a small one.”

Canfield was also influenced by Chicago billionaire businessman W. Clement Stone: 1. Think big. 2. Do it now. 3. Visualize success and affirm you will achieve it.  4. See #2.

Canfield and crew specify a specific charity to receive some of the proceeds of each book. To succeed, one must give. What goes around, comes around, and often these charities have helped publicize the books to their members. Non-members like the idea that some of the book price goes to a good cause. One hand, it seems, washes the other. Often, Canfield and Hansen have donated articles they have written or chapters from their books, and have given away untold numbers of their books to those who will help spread the good words.

Authors, he emphasizes, must get out of their offices and talk with people if they hope to increase their book sales. Join organizations. Network. Read Speak and Grow Rich by Dottie Walters. Talk beats print for selling.

Canfield greatly benefited from Harrison’s Radio-TV Interview Report, which helped him to do over 600 interviews his first year. After that, he “cut back” to about 300 per year, so interviews lasting as long as one hour, and these longer ones are the most productive.

Can’t get bookstores to let you have a book signing? Not to worry. Only 1 out of seven Americans go to a bookstore in a year. Look for other places to put your books, depending on topic. Any place where people wait is a candidate, and you split the profit with the proprietor or even let him have it all, as word-of-mouth advertising is precious.