How to Create the Mindset of a Bestselling Author With Jack Canfield


jack-canfieldWelcome to the Real Fast Results podcast!  You have made a wise decision to join in today because it is our honor and privilege to bring for the words and advice of Mr. Jack Canfield.  In this episode, Jack is going to share how to develop a bestseller mindset.  According to Jack, there’s a lot that goes into creating a bestseller, but most importantly, you have to have the right outlook.  As you probably know, this man has been able to accomplish more than most people could even dream of.  Let’s see what he has to say…

Benefits to Having a Bestseller Mindsetchicken soup for the soul

For me, it has meant selling nearly 500 million books around the world.  I’ve had 47 books on the New York Times Bestseller List, and I have been able to travel to 47 different countries and give workshops.  As a result, I was in the movie The Secret, and I’ve had lunch at The White House.  I hang out with people like Jeff Bridges, and Chaka Khan, people like that who are celebrity friends that I have now.  And, you know, I’ve personally been able to stand on the first base line at a Dodger’s baseball game.  I’ve had meetings with Bill Clinton, and John Gray, and I could just go down the list of fun things that have happened for me.

Most important is the ability to make an impact in the lives of other people.  I can remember being in a hotel in New York and watching this girl walk in with a bald head, probably about 12 or 13, obviously doing chemotherapy.  I walked up to her, and I said, “I wanted to tell you that I’m supportive of you. I’m Jack Canfield.”  “Oh my God!  You’re the Chicken Soup for the Soul guy.  I’ve read Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul,  Chicken Soup for the Teen Soul, Chicken Soup for the Cancer Patient Soul…”  And, you just go like, “Wow!  I’m making a difference in the lives of others.”  That’s what really matters, the impact you can have.

Achieving a Bestseller Mindset, from a Big Picture Standpoint

Jack CanfielsYou have to believe that it’s possible for you to have something really important to say, and that you have the ability to say it.  So, a lot of it is self-esteem, self-concept, and belief in yourself.  Then, I think most people don’t think big enough.  One of the quotes that I have in my book, The Success Principles, is by General Wesley Clark, who used to be the head of the NATO forces in Europe for the United States.  He said that it doesn’t take any more effort to dream a bigger dream than it does to dream a small dream.  In other words, you can think of five zeros after a one, or six zeros after a one, or eight zeros after a one, in terms of your income and in terms of impact.

I just set a goal to train one million trainers to do my work by the year 2030.  People think I’m crazy, but we’ve already trained 1,500 people since last November and certified them.  So, we now have people in 79 countries teaching our work.  When I told my publisher, we wanted to sell a billion books by 2020, he thought we were freaking crazy.  We’ve sold a half a billion books, and it’s only 2016.  The “hockey stick curve” is taking off.

Jack CanfieldYou have to dream big and believe big, and I think you also have to have an attitude and a mindset that it’s going to take work.  You have to learn how to market, you have to learn how to do a podcast, you have to learn how to be on Good Morning America.  You have to learn how to do internet marketing.  You have to have a mindset of studying.  You have to be willing to learn.

Quincy Jones, who’s 83 years old, the producer of Michael Jackson, “We Are the World”, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, etc., said something.  He said that when he decided to do television, he went to UCLA, and this was in the 60’s or 70’s, but he said that he took six months of courses in screenwriting, producing, and directing.  He said that every field has a structure and a science to it, and you have to study that if you want to be successful, whether it’s music theory, how to be a bestselling author, etc. What is the craft of being a good writer?  What is the willingness to get feedback?  You have to be able to get feedback.

One of the things that I tell people all of the time is that most books get published when people have read them: The writer, the wife/husband, the acquisition editor at the house.  Well, with Chicken Soup for the Soul, we had 40 people read every story and grade them on a scale of 1-10.  We put that on an Excel spreadsheet, and everything that averaged less than a 9 never made it into the book, including stories that I wrote. It’s like you have to have the willingness to get feedback and get off your ego trip as well.

How Can I Make Myself Feel Like I’m Worthy of a Bestseller?

Here’s the deal.  Everybody has a message.  Every life has lessons that people have learned. You have to be willing to share that, and if you are willing to be clear that you have something valuable. Now, if you don’t work on yourself, if you don’t do self-introspection, if you don’t take seminars, if you don’t do therapy, if you don’t meditate, etc, your awareness of what you know and how much you know is going to be limited.  So, #1, you have to be somewhat committed to growth, somewhat committed to constantly learning and never-ending improvement.  CANI, as Tony Robbins likes to say.

The reality is that you’ve got to be a learner, and then you share what you’ve learned. The belief is that you’ve got something of value. Mark Victor Hansen used to always say to me, when we were co-authors of Chicken Soup for the Soul… I’d say something, and he’d say, “You have to write that down.  Write a blog.  Write a chapter.”  I’d say, “Mark everyone knows that,” and he’d say, “No Jack, they don’t.”  Often, we figure that everyone knows what we know, and the fact is that we all have a lot of unique knowledge.

I think that whether it’s through affirmations, through meditation, whatever it may be, you’ve got to start with the idea that, “I have something to share, and I am worthy of success.”  My wife is writing a memoir right now, and she has had some amazing lessons in her life.  She’s so afraid that people are going to judge her for where she used to be in the earlier chapters of her book. I told her, “I’m going to steal the freaking manuscript and publish it behind your back if you don’t publish it because it’s so good.”chicken soup - dial down the drama

I think the main thing is to have other people read what you’re writing, and they’ll tell you if it’s good or not.  It doesn’t mean that you don’t have something to say, it just means you haven’t written it yet.  Most people, the feedback they get is, “Oh my God!  This is so valuable,” or “Oh my God!  I wish I had read this book 20 years ago.”

I was counseling some writers the other day, and one of the women had written a book called: Dial Down the Drama: Reducing Conflict and Reconnecting with Your Teenage Daughter–A Guide for Mothers Everywhere.  She is a woman who was a child psychologist, and she was working with lots of, I think, 20,000 teenagers, but when her daughter hit 12, it was like “Uh-oh”.  Now she’s in it, right?  So, she negotiated those teenage years.  Her daughter is now 20, and she wrote a book based on her experience.  The only people who are going to be interested in that book are going to be mothers with daughters, but that’s a lot of people.

You may be someone who had a special needs child, and you had to learn how to negotiate the educational system.  That’s a valuable message.  You may be a meditation teacher, but you’re only going to attract a certain kind of person.  Maybe they’re Christians, maybe they’re Buddhists, maybe they’re teenagers that are getting off drugs, but everybody has a group that will resonate with your message.  You have to believe that.  Also, don’t compare yourself to someone who has a universal message, like the Dalai Lama, Tony Robbins, Lisa Nichols, The Secret.  You know, we’re not all meant to be billion dollar bestsellers, but we’re all meant to get our message out there and be bestsellers in certain categories, for sure.

The Path to Feeling Worthy

First of all, you can’t feel worthy or unworthy.  You feel mad, sad, glad, and scared.  That’s it.  What you think is that you’re unworthy.  So really, you have to address your thoughts.  Self-esteem comes from the Latin word “aestimare”, which means to estimate.  We either estimate that we’re good or we estimate that we’re bad.  It is a thought.  It is a thought that most of us picked up either from our parents telling us, “You’ll never amount to anything,” or “You’re a bad kid,” or we made a decision because we got rejected by our girlfriend, we didn’t make the debate team, we didn’t get into Harvard, you know, whatever.  Then, we tell ourselves, “I’m not okay,” or “I’m bad.”

chicken soup - tappingYou know, maybe you had an abortion when you were 16 and now you’re judging yourself as a bad person, but that’s you making a judgement.  The fact is that you can simply replace that thought with another better-feeling thought.  So, it’s a matter of repetition.  Thoughts are things we think, and we can change them or replace them through repetition.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with EFT tapping, where you tap on these 9 acupuncture points while you think your negative, limiting belief.  Literally, you can disappear a limiting belief.  I’ve seen people do it in 10 minutes or less, using tapping.

I wrote a book called Tapping Into Ultimate Success about tapping with a tapping expert. You can go on YouTube and type in “tapping”, and there’s like 5,000 free YouTube videos teaching you how to tap.  But, the main thing is that it is a choice.  You do not have to suffer with low self-esteem anymore because it is simply a thought that can be replaced with another thought through repetition, through tapping, through self-hypnosis; there are a number of things you can do.

Bestseller Mindset: Write the Book

Well, I think it’s simply, you have to write the book.  And, part of the mindset has to be, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to make it good.” That’s where I really am a big believer in feedback.  I know one couple who wrote a business book, and they invited 15 people to come to their apartment in Aspen.  Every morning they had to read a chapter and give them feedback, and in the afternoon, the other people went skiing, and they edited the chapter based on the feedback.  The next morning, they did another chapter.

What we did was send our stories to our 40-reader panel.  Urban, rural, black, white, brown, Asian, old, young, conservative, liberal, independent. You know, trying to get a really universal feedback thing.  Most people are afraid to put it out because they are afraid of what they’re going to hear.  Treat everything as a first draft.  Just get words on paper, and then you can go back yourself and edit it, like, a week or two later, when you’ve got some distance.  Then, give it to people and let them bleed all over it.  You’re not in school, you’re not going to get a grade, you’re not going to fail.  You’re just going to get feedback.  “Here’s where I’m confused,” “You said this in another chapter,” “I don’t know what you mean here.”  You know, that’s how you make it better.

The guys who wrote The One Minute Manager, they would take their book, print 5,000 copies, sell them for cost to all of their clients, get feedback, and only then would they rewrite it and send it to a publisher.  You’ve got to be committed to doing the work, and again, your message is worth the work because once it gets out there, it’s going to last forever.  We all have life lessons that someone coming along behind us can benefit from.  Whether it’s an 80-page book or a 500-page book, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is getting your message out there.

I think another thing you have to deal with, in terms of a bestseller mindset, is you’ve got to get over Jack Canfieldyour fear of rejection because you’re going to get rejected by editors that are going to acquire your book, the publishers.  You’re going to be rejected by people who won’t have you on their podcast.  You are going to have people read your book and give you critical reviews.  But, you’re going to reach so many more people.  I just did a book called The 30-Day Sobriety Solution.  It came out in January.  It’s got 95 reviews on Amazon.  Ninety-three of them are five-star reviews, and three of them are one-star reviews.  So, you’re always going to have people that are going to go, “This doesn’t work.  These guys are full of it.”  You’ve got to develop a thick skin.

Your message isn’t for everybody.  You know, if I had a message for fundamentalist Christians, that might turn off the New-Agers living in San Francisco.   If I had a new age message, it might turn people off, you know, going to Joel Osteen’s church in Texas.  So, you’re not going to please everybody, and you just have to confront that.  Get over that fear.

Really spend time on getting a great title.  You know, the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” title came in a meditation.  Originally, we got rejected by a lot of people, but that title is now a brand worth almost a billion dollars.  You know, there’s “Chicken Soup for the Soul” cat food and dog food.  It’s ridiculous what has happened with that, and we actually won a brand management award in Asia for the best brand in books and so forth.

I was counseling some people that were writing a book, and it was about how to avoid your children, declaring you incompetent and assigning you to an insane asylum so that they can take your wealth.  They had some big, legalistic title that nobody would pay any attention to.  We ended up with, “How to Protect Yourself from Your Own Children in Old Age”.  So, people are like, “Stop.  What is that?  I want to know what that is.”  Really invest in a good title.  Sometimes you might have to pay a consultant to brainstorm with you.

Your book is going to be sitting on a table somewhere, or spine out on a shelf.  You want something that’s going to grab you.  We did a lot of research on titles.  You can actually muscle test titles.  Put covers of a book in front of somebody and have them muscle test it.  If they go weak when you push down their arm, when they’re looking at your book, they won’t but it. They will look at that cover, and they won’t know why they didn’t buy it, but they won’t buy it.

We had a guy that had a book called Dumpster Diving for Wealth.  People were throwing away valuable things in their dumpsters, and the cover was a guy’s butt sticking out of a dumpster.  Everyone we tested with that cover went weak.  When we took the guy out of the dumpster and had him standing next to it with something valuable, everyone tested strong.  Nobody wanted their face in a garbage bin, basically.  So, there are a lot of tricks like that you can learn along the way.  You’re sending a message to people emotionally, and you don’t even know you’re doing it.  That’s, I think, a critical piece of it too.

Another thing is to set big goals.  You’ve got to dream big.  Set a big goal.  We set a goal to sell a million and a half books in a year and a half, and our publisher laughed at us.  He said, “You’ll be lucky to sell 20,000.”  We said, “No.  We’re going to visualize it.  We’re going to affirm it.”  We put mock New York Times headlines all around our office.  You know, “Chicken Soup for the Soul Sells 1.5 Million”.  We made up fake bestseller lists with our book #1 in the New York Times.  Now you can do it on your computer, but then we did it with whiteout, back in 1993.

You have to have that big dream, and then visualize it.  We used to visualize bookstore windows where the whole window was filled with Chicken Soup books, just like you see them when the new Harry Potter book comes out.  Well, three years later there were bookstores with whole windows full of Chicken Soup books.  People underestimate visualization.  See, you want to live in that dream as if it’s already true.  This is basic “Law of Attraction 101”, but it works.


There are two things that are important: 

  1. You want to have a vision board where you have some external images.  For example, you sitting next to Oprah.  You can Photoshop it.  I just was on Super Soul Sunday in December; I had Oprah on my vision board for a year before that.  I wanted to be on Super Soul Sunday, so I had that, and in September I get a call out of the blue.  We weren’t even talking to our editors and producers.  Images of a headline with how many books you’ve sold.  Pictures of your books you can mock up.  You can go on Fiverr and have someone for $5 make all kinds of images for you.
  2. Then, what you want to do is maybe have 3×5 cards, or index cards, with your affirmations.  “I’m so happy and grateful that I’ve sold a million copies of Real Fast Writing,” or whatever it is. You read your affirmation with enthusiasm, close your eyes, and then visualize what you would see from inside your eyes as if you were looking out at the world, with some iconic image that says, “I’ve made it.”  So, whether it’s the $1,000,000 check, the headline, your cover on Writer’s Digest.  You know, Success Magazine or whatever it might be.  Visualize that, and feel the feelings that you would feel if you already had that experience.

The feelings are the gas.  The feelings are the turbocharger.  It’s like a car.  The destination, you put in Waves or your GPS, is the goal.  The gas that moves the car forward is your emotions.  So, feel the emotions strongly, believe it’s possible, and do that for a couple of minutes.  Then you just go live your day, but pay attention because you’re going to get downloads of ideas.

I was over in Hawaii, after the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book came out.  I was in Turtle Bay Hilton.  I remember this, and I was visualizing our book having sold over a million copies.  And, I did that for about seven minutes.  I was just really into it, and then I came out, and all of the sudden I was just flooded with ideas.  “What if you put a book in the back of every limo driving to LAX?”  And, the limo driver, he would start to read the book, and the person would say, “Where can I get this?”  The limo driver says, “I’ve got a box in my back car.”  You know, “Sixteen dollars, you’ve got one.”

What if they were in every salon where people are waiting for their nails and their hair to dry?  They could sell them to the people there.  Well, we had sales people going into every salon on Ventura Blvd selling our books.  Doctor’s offices, Chiropractors’ offices. We were in bakeries, Shell stations, etc.  Places where you wouldn’t expect to find books, which we later called “bypass marketing,” bypassing the book stores.  Now we have Amazon, and websites, and all that stuff.  That wasn’t available to us in 1993.  So, those ideas will start to come, and then you have to act on them.  That’s another thing about the mindset; it has to be an action-oriented mindset.

I always say, “Birthing the book is the feminine quality.  Marketing the book is the masculine quality.”  A lot of people give birth to their book, but then they put it in the dumpster behind the hospital.  They don’t raise it.  I actually have a son who wrote about getting through his drug experiences as a teenager, called Long Past Stopping.  It’s a fabulous book, and he refused to do media.  He was just too shy, and the book never did well. You know, here I am, his father, teaching him all of this stuff, but he was so shy and so afraid of rejection, he wouldn’t do it.  You’ve got to do the sales stuff.  You’ve got to get out there and talk about your books.

Additional Steps: Marketing

I have a handout that I give out at writer’s workshops called, “How to Market a Bestselling Book”.  There are 37 steps, which we don’t have time for.  Just some other steps that are important. Read books on marketing. John Kremer wrote a great book called 1,001 Ways to Market Your Books.  Well, when we did Chicken, we took about 900 of those, that we thought were relevant, and made a Post-it for each one.

I had two staff people writing them for days.  We put them on a wall, about 12 feet long, and every day we took a Post-it off and did it.  It took us two years to get through all those post-its, but by the end of that, we were #1 on the New York Times list and we stayed there for three years.  Then, the second book came out, and it was #2.  It was there for three years.  At one point, we had #1, #2, and #3 on the New York Times list because we kept doing those things.

I think hiring a media coach [is important] because most of us don’t know how to make good media; there are secrets to that.  I’ll give you one.  John Gray taught me this–the guy [who wrote] Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.  You talk about that your life’s going along at a certain level, then something bad happens.  You have an accident, you get cancer, your daughter gets pregnant, you lose your job, bankruptcy happens, you lose your mortgage. Then you’re down in the pits, down here.  Then you discover something that gets you out of the pit.

My book, The Success Principles, may have helped you, and for someone else, it may have been a book on cancer, or nutrition, or how to eat holistically.  Then, when you put that into action, not only did you get better, you got better than you were before.  Now, you’re up here, and this thing you discovered is what my book is about, and it’s going to help you because you’re down here and you’re in the same situation.  You don’t know what to do with your kid, you’re divorced, you’re laid off, you just got a new job as a manager and you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.  That’s what my book will teach you to do.  That little model will get you through any talk show, any podcast, and people will identify with you because they identify being down in that crater.

I’ve got this great idea, and everyone tells me I should write a book.  Now I’m depressed because I don’t know what to do. They discover you, and you help them get their book written.  Now they’re up here, and they’re wealthy, and they’re on Oprah.  So, it’s that kind of a thing, and you have to have your little success stories.  You can tell them not just about your own life, but about all the people that you’ve helped so far with this methodology, technique, book, or whatever it might be.

4 hour work weekThere are other points like, “How do you get on the covers of magazines,” and “How do you get in the airline magazines?”  The world today is a podcast world.  Tim Ferriss, who wrote The 4-Hour Work Week, understood that very quickly.  Bloggers and Podcasters are the new book tour.  So, you have to know how to play in that world and become one so that you have the respect of the other people.  Tim started forwarding everyone’s blogs a year before his book came out.  I actually mentored him in the writing of his book.  He’s now far surpassed me in the marketing side for, you know, the younger generation.  But, the reality is that you should study the people that have been successful.

As Tony Robbins says, “Success leaves clues.”  I’ve left clues. John Kremer is leaving clues.  There are a lot of people who are bestsellers leaving clues.  So study that.  I watch an hour of Ted Talks, and podcasts, and YouTube videos every single day.  There’s so much information out there that we have to be lifelong learners.

Here’s a real cool thing one of my friends does.  He does a three-minute video blog every single day.  He was here in my house a couple of weeks ago.  He was in the guest room, I thought, and I walk into my office, and he has his camera out, and he’s going, “I’m in Jack Canfield’s office, and if you’ll notice, there’s 3,000 books in here.  Leaders are readers.  Look at all of these books.  You need to be reading.  By the way, one of the books you need to read is…” And then he promoted some book.  He does this sort of thing every single day.

He went from having 600 people at his workshops to 800, to 1,000, every single day, all around the world.  When I met him, he was making $140,000 a year.  He makes over a million a year now.  Again, he took a little course with me on how to be a bestseller, and then he applied this one technique better than anyone I know, and he’s got a huge following.

Learning More From Jack

I just want to say one thing about the Bestseller Blueprint.  I got together with Steve Harrison, and we, not only with myself, but with about 10 other bestsellers, we put together a course, literally from A-Z. The course teaches you everything you need to know about how to write the book, how to name the chapters so that they become hooks for the media, how to market the book, how to get on radio shows, how to get magazine interviews, etc. I mean, there’s so much in there.

So, I really want to encourage people to check that out, and you can just go to  Go to for my workshops.  I do two “Break Through to Success” seminars every year, and then we are doing some one-day workshops around the world.  We have books, and tapes, and all of that good stuff.  But, my parting line would be this:

“You have everything you need to do everything you want.  All you have to do is believe that and take action on that.  And, if you follow the principles of taking action, responding to feedback, and continuing on and never giving up, you can achieve every goal you want in life.  I’m proof of that, and there’s millions of people around the world that are proof of that.”


Some of Jack’s Books:
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul
Chicken Soup for the Teen Soul
Chicken Soup for the Cancer Patient Soul
The Success Principles
Tapping Into Ultimate Success

Other Books Jack Mentioned:
Dial Down the Drama: Reducing Conflict and
Reconnecting with Your Teenage Daughter–
A Guide for Mothers Everywhere

The One Minute Manager

Long Past Stopping

1,001 Ways to Market Your Books

The 4-Hour Work Week

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

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About the Author ()

Daniel Hall is a bestselling author, speaker, publisher, nurse, attorney and host the Real Fast Results podcast. He is also the creator of other highly popular “Real Fast” brand of training products. He left law practice 10 years ago to build his publishing business and has never looked back. Daniel is a true serial entrepreneur and his list of URLs is longer than a piece of paper, so you can check out Daniel’s hub at or the podcast right here on this site!

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