Opportunities for Writers from Chicken Soup for the Soul

If you enjoy writing short, inspirational articles, you may find a market with the famous Chicken Soup for the Soul book publishers. They have lots of calls for submissions at the moment (and indeed most times).

In all cases, payment is a flat fee of $200 for a true story of 1200 words or less. You also get ten copies of the book in which your contribution is published.

And they say that, “You will also become part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul family, you will receive our exclusive contributors’ communiqué and you will be entitled to buy cases of books from us at a discount.”

Here are some projects Chicken Soup for the Soul are currently seeking contributions for. For more information, click through to the forthcoming projects page (from which the items below are copied). You can also read the writers’ guidelines by clicking here.

Alzheimer’s and Dementias Family Caregiving

We are making another book for families caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Our first book came out in April 2014 and it was so well received that we decided to make another for 2016. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia on an ongoing basis can be extremely difficult and stressful, but rewarding as well. If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, please share your best advice, encouragement, funny stories, comforting stories, and support with other people like you. We know from our last book how much these stories help! Family caregivers can feel so alone—we know your stories will help. The deadline date for story and poem submissions is October 30, 2015.

Blended Families

Are you part of a blended family, enjoying stepchildren, stepsiblings, etc.? Blending two families after a second marriage can be a real joy… and sometimes a challenge too. Tell us about your own blended families. How did you make it work? What advice do you have for other families? We are looking for true stories about all aspects of blending families—stories that will make us laugh and cry, nod our heads in recognition, and give us great advice. Tell us about your kids if you’re a parent, your parents if you’re a kid, your pets, whatever you think would enlighten and entertain someone else in the same situation. The deadline for story and poem submissions is June 30, 2016.

Dreams and Synchronicities

Sometimes magic happens in your life. You have a dream that reveals a truth or a course of action to you. You have a premonition that changes your behavior and saves you or a loved one from disaster. You meet someone at just the right time and you can’t believe the coincidence. We’re collecting stories for a second book on this topic, following our bestseller Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions. Share your stories about the amazing things that have happened in your own life. The deadline date for story and poem submissions is March 31, 2016.

Military Families

We are so proud of the men and women in the military and want to do everything we can to support them. We are looking for true stories from soldiers who defend and protect our country — both active and retired — and from their families who make sacrifices when their loved ones are far away. Those families move with them, anxiously wait for them, raise kids and grow up with a parent or child away. They are an important part of the success of our heroes. We know our readers will be overcome with emotion as they read these stories that will acknowledge, entertain and inspire. They will leave you with admiration and gratitude for our nation’s best and brightest.

Good luck, and if you have a story published by Chicken Soup for the Soul, do let me know!

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Grammarly 2015 Review

Grammarly is a service that promises to help improve your written English. Their website says it corrects up to 10 times more mistakes than popular word processors. Other features they highlight include…

  • Instant proofreading
  • Instantly find and correct over 250 types of grammatical mistakes
  • Context-optimized vocabulary suggestion
  • Plagiarism detector

The producers of Grammarly were kind enough to grant me access to their full service so I could review it, so here’s what I found…

First, you can use Grammarly in various ways. Once you are logged in to the website, you can either copy and paste text for checking, or you can choose a file from your computer and upload it.

There is also an option to download a Grammarly plug-in for Microsoft Office (or Outlook), which allows you to check documents within Word by clicking on a button in the main menu. This is the main option I used for testing purposes.

Grammarly gives you a choice of styles. The main options are Business, Academic, Medical, Technical, Creative, and Casual. In each of these categories you can choose from a number of sub-categories.

In Creative, for example, you can choose from general creative, creative non-fiction, novel, script or short story. For test purposes I used a 2500-word article I wrote for my clients at More Money Review about website flipping. I decided to select “creative nonfiction” for this.

Grammarly is switched off by default (which is good, in my view). You can activate it at any time by clicking on Enable Grammarly in Word’s main menu. Grammarly then begins its analysis. It takes just a few seconds to complete.

You are then presented with the results of the analysis. For my sample article, it listed 25 potential issues in total. These are underlined in green in the main text, and set out in more detail (with suggested corrections) in the right-hand column (see screen capture below).


Clicking on the small down arrow beside any item will reveal an explanation of the potential issue Grammarly has identified (as shown above for “will, of course,”). If you agree with this – and you won’t always – you can click on the item and the suggested correction (shown in green) will then be implemented. This is a neat, time-saving feature.

Grammarly looks for mistakes in five main categories. These are Contextual Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, Sentence Structure, and Style. You can switch all or any of these categories on or off as you wish.

You can also select Vocabulary Enhancement (which will suggest alternative words/terms you might not have considered) and Plagiarism (which checks online for similar text that may have been plagiarized). The latter is most likely to be useful if you are correcting or editing someone else’s work, of course!

One thing you can’t do is change specific types of correction, e.g. if you don’t want to be constantly reminded about use of the passive voice or you prefer to use a variant spelling for certain words. This probably won’t be a major issue for most people, though.

Some of the possible errors that Grammarly identified in my test article I didn’t agree with, and others were clearly not errors at all. For example, I had one sentence that read, “They only accept sites they believe have good sales potential, and claim a success rate of over 95 percent.”

Grammarly wanted to delete the comma after potential, but in my view that would be wrong. Deleting the comma would inject a note of ambiguity, as the reader might then think I was saying that the company in question (a website broker) only accepted sites with good sales potential AND a claimed success rate of over 95% (whatever that might mean). This is, of course, not at all what I intended.

Still, I don’t want to be too hard on Grammarly. Some false positives are inevitable with any sort of grammar-checking software, and I didn’t think the number it flagged up was excessive. And on the plus side, though I pride myself on having good grammar and punctuation, it did identify a few examples of wordiness which, on reflection, I agreed with.

Overall, I was very impressed with the 2015 version of Grammarly, which is a considerable improvement on an earlier version I looked at a few years ago. I am now using it regularly on my own work to give it a final check and polish. Of course, it’s by no means a complete substitute for a human editor, but it can undoubtedly help spruce up your writing and identify possible issues.

Grammarly is sold on a subscription basis. You can choose to pay monthly, quarterly or annually, with the latter (obviously) being the best value. There is a seven-day money-back guarantee if you find that it doesn’t meet your needs.

If you have any comments or questions about Grammarly, please post them below and I will do my best to answer them. Thank you again to Grammarly for giving me the opportunity to review their service. Please do click on any of the links in this article for more information.

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Infographic: How to Avoid Copyright Infringement When Sharing Images on Your Blog

Today I have an infographic for you from my friends at Intella in association with the design agency Vound.

Images are, of course, essential for any blog, but you can’t just use any old image you happen to find online. In particular, if you breach the photographer’s copyright you could find yourself with a hefty legal bill.

There are, though, millions of images online that you can potentially use, just as long as you respect any terms the photographer (or agency) has specified. The infographic explains the basic principles that apply here…

Copyright Infringement: Images You Can and Can’t Share on Your Blog

Copyright Infringement: Images You Can and Can

Source: http://www.vound-software.com/blog/copyright-infringement

I would just add that on Entrepreneur Writer I use images from various sources, but I am always very careful to respect the photographer’s rights. In some cases I use Creative Commons licensed images (which you can search for here). I also use my own photos, and others that are in the public domain.

Recently I have also been making a lot of use of the Canvakala WordPress plugin. This lets you search for images you can use on your blog from various sources, including Flickr and Pixabay.

You can edit the photos in various ways, and when you come to publish them, any attribution required is automatically inserted. It’s a very cool piece of software – check out my full review here.

Thanks again to Intella/Vound for allowing me to reproduce their excellent infographic. Any comments or questions, of course, please do post them below and I will do my best to answer them!

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Why Now is the Time to Start Promoting Your Amazon Associate Links Extra Hard!

If you’re reading this blog, it’s quite likely you have a book or e-book on Amazon. If that’s the case, you should be promoting it extra vigorously right now. And, specifically, you should be promoting it as an Amazon Associate (as Amazon calls its affiliates).

There are various reasons why promoting your book as an Amazon Associate is a good idea. The obvious one is that any sales generated through your link will attract commission from Amazon. Assuming you’re earning royalties on sales as well, in effect that means you’ll be getting paid twice over for every sale.

But there’s another particular reason to promote extra hard via Amazon just now, and that’s because you will receive commission from Amazon for ALL purchases made by a customer who visits the store via your link.

And in the coming weeks, in the run-up to Christmas, Diwali and Hanukkah, many people will be buying multiple items as gifts. If they do some or all of their gift shopping via your link, you will earn multiple commissions.

Admittedly, Amazon doesn’t pay a fortune to Associates. Commission starts at just 5 percent, rising to the dizzy heights of 15 percent for some products. By way of comparison, the affiliate program run by my publishers The Self Development Network pays up to 70 percent on sales.

Even so, if someone spends a lot of money on a visit (and it happens at this time of year) the returns to you as the referrer can be substantial. Darren Rowse (aka Problogger) regularly lists surprising products people have bought from Amazon on visits via his links. Here’s one eye-opening list he posted a while ago.

If you’re not an Amazon Associate already, you can easily join by scrolling down to the foot of the Amazon homepage, clicking on Associates Program, and following the instructions to sign up. Note that you will need to join each national store’s Associates Program separately to promote there.

Once you’re in, Amazon have a huge range of banners and widgets you can use on your blog or website. They include, of course, simple image ads such as the one below for my latest Kindle e-book on Amazon.com…

You can also have all manner of other widgets, including slideshows, word clouds, best deals boxes, and so on. Here’s an example of a rotating banner widget for Kindle ebooks and accessories. If you refresh the page, a different banner will be displayed…

Note that if you are receiving this post by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to see the sample ad and widget.

Of course, it’s possible that all you want is a simple text link. Oddly enough, this isn’t as straightforward as you might think with Amazon. For text links Amazon give you about five lines of code which are designed to display your link in a pre-formatted, Amazon-approved style.

If you don’t want their complicated and largely superfluous formatting, here’s a simpler alternative. Use the following framework to construct your link:


Or for Amazon UK use:


The ASIN is the unique identification number every product on Amazon has – you will find this in the product details. My own affiliate ID on Amazon UK is nickdawswriti-21, so a basic text link for my e-book above for the UK store would look like this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00DP8HKLQ/?tag=nickdawswriti-21

One slight drawback of this method is that if your visitor is located somewhere with a different national Amazon store, they won’t automatically be redirected. If you are targeting a multinational audience (very likely online) you might therefore like to use the free Geniuslink or Booklinker service.

Both of these are run by the GeoRiot organization. They create a single link that detects where visitors live and automatically forwards them to their own national store, with your affiliate link included if you have entered it for the store concerned.

I wrote about Geniuslink in this recent post, and Booklinker in this one. Geniuslink has a few more bells and whistles than Booklinker, but once your links are generating over 1,000 clicks a month you start paying for the service. Booklinker is a more stripped-down service, but it is free however many clicks your links attract.

Here is a sample link created with Booklinker for my Kindle e-book on plotting: http://mybook.to/ThreeGreat. Click on this and it should take you straight to the appropriate page of your own national Amazon store. Do try it and see 🙂

Good luck on Amazon, and I hope you sell lots of book, e-books and more expensive items as the festive season approaches!

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