PW: Although you're best known for the inspirational Chicken Soup for the Soul series, you've been writing instructive self-help books like The Success Principles throughout your career.

Jack Canfield: My first book, a collection of self-esteem activities for classroom teachers, came out in 1976. I was co-writing two books, Dare to Win and The Aladdin Factor when the first Chicken Soup book came out [in 1993]. That book took about a year and a half to hit the bestseller lists, and we spent that time finishing the other two books and brought them out about the same time as the second Chicken Soup book.

How closely do the principles you write about match up to what you learned working with self-made millionaire W. Clement Stone early in your career?

I would say about a third of the book reflects things I learned from him about having goals, taking action, being clear about your values, persevering in the face of resistance. But over the years I've also taken courses on things like neurolinguistic programming, quantum physics and guided visualization, and how they can relate to success.

All that studying shows up in your extensive reading list at the back of the book.

Just this morning I had my staff count up the number of books on my bookshelves, and it's more than 3,000. One of the principles I teach in the book is that you need to turn the TV off for at least an hour every day and read. If you read a book a week, in 10 years you've read 520 books, and I usually read a book a day. I take two hours every morning, and I've learned to speed read.

You thank your chiropractors and massage therapist in your acknowledgments. What's the story there?

This book took more out of me than any book I've ever written. I just didn't realize what a huge task I'd taken on. I became almost a hermit, and even canceled my Christmas vacation. I worked most weekends and saw the sun come up way too many mornings from working all night. I didn't do a word count until about a month before it was due, and that's when I realized I'd overwritten the book by another half, so I had to go back and pull out a lot of stories.... I was getting two chiropractic adjustments a week because of the amount of time I sat hunched over my computer, and a massage every week to deal with the stress that comes from being on deadline and knowing you're not where you should be. But it was worth it. I really consider this my magnum opus. I'd wanted to write it for years, and finally my staff convinced me that I should do it now.