Twenty one years ago, two old friends were sitting across from each other having breakfast. Both guys were key note speakers who had met on the “circuit” of speaking engagements. I am going to refer to them as John and Mike. Mike asked John what was going on and he said that he was working on a book.
[John was inspired by a recent attendee at a speech he delivered to a group of educators. One of the audience members came up after the speech and asked about one of the stories he told. She said she would really love to share that story with someone and wondered if it were published in a book somewhere. John told her that it was just a story he had heard and used frequently in his motivational speeches. On the plane flying home that day, John started writing down the anecdotes that he shared with his audiences and when he was done; he had amassed 68 stories.]
Mike loved the idea and told John that he wanted to co-author the book. John was taken aback. He was like, why would I let you join me in this when I have almost completed the book. Mike retorted that the reason was because John had stolen most of those stories from him. He also said he had a lot more that he had not shared yet. John thought about it and told Mike that if he would write 32 stories to add to the 68 already penned stories he would agree to the joint venture. Mike did exactly that.
John and Mike set out to sell the book. They pounded the publisher pavement for a solid year. They were rejected by over 120 publishers (I have heard two accounts 123 and 144 turn downs…not sure which is accurate). Their agent gave up and said it couldn’t be sold. Do you think J & M gave up? No way!! They took it to a bookseller’s convention in Anaheim, CA. At the convention, they visited nearly 4000 (yes, thousand) booths. Finally, a small publisher out of Florida said the magic word….YES!!
One year after this fateful meeting, the book hit the shelves in July 1993. John and Mike asked the publishing exec what his projections were. The exec thought they would be lucky to sell 20,000 books. When J & M told him that they expected to sell 150,000 copies by Christmas ’93 (6 months time) and 1.5 million books by Christmas ’94 the exec laughed in their faces…out loud!!
By Christmas of that year they had sold 135,000 copies. In a year and a half, they had sold 1.3 million copies & the book made the New York Times Bestseller List (September ’94). The publisher continued to laugh…..all the way to the bank!!
The books did not fly off the shelves magically. John & Mike promoted the hell out of them. They committed to doing 5 actions every day to sell the books. They gave away free signed copies, spoke at church events, wrote letters to magazine publishers. The list goes on and on. You see, a psychic told J & M that if you took 5 swings every.single.day at a tree, no matter how large, at some point….that tree WOULD fall. Boy did that ‘rule of 5’s’ pay off for John and MIke.
The first book went on to sell 8 1/2 million copies in the US; and, 10 million copies around the world. Have you guessed it yet? Does a little title called “Chicken Soup for the Soul” ring any bells? Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen have gone on to write 200 titles in the series (w/some very esteemed co-writers, I might add). It turned into a BILLION dollar brand. 100 million books (& counting) sold in 54 languages!! All because they had an idea that they believed in; and they never gave up. Through their tenacity an entirely new “literary genre” was created. Oh, and they made the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most titles on the NY Times Bestseller List. Powerful stuff, wouldn’t you agree?
PS I love this song…It’s called “Soulshine” by The Allmann Brothers Band. I have personally seen them in concert several times and they are amazing!!