The Rule of Five Swings

This is quite possibly one of the greatest success principles I've every learned: "Millions of people, including me, have been inspired by the stories in Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield's Chicken Soup for the Soul books.  I think most people would assume that publishers were breaking down their doors for the opportunity to get those books to market.  Not a chance.  It was a huge struggle.  Hansen and Canfield had a very difficult time getting anyone interested in publishing the first book.  Then, when the book was in print, they had a tough time getting anyone to buy it.  They did a lot of research and talked to a lot of successful authors.  But what finally helped them turn the corner was advice from a teacher name Scolastico, who told them, 'If you would go every day to a very large tree and take five swings at it with a very sharp ax, eventually, no matter how large the tree, it would have to come down.'  

From that advice, the authors developed what they call the 'rule of five.'  Every day they did five specific things that would move them closer to their dream of selling books.  They write:

'With the goal of getting Chicken Soup for the Soul to the top of the New York Times Best-Seller List, it meant having five radio interviews or sending out five review copies to editors who might review the book or calling five network marketing companies and asking them to buy the book as a motivational tool for their salespeople or giving a seminar to at least five people and selling the book in the back of the room.  On some days we would simply send out five free copies to people listed in the Celebrity Address Book - people such as Harrison Ford, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Steven Spielberg, and Sidney Poitier.  As a result of that one activity, I ended up meeting Sidney Poitier - at his request - and we later learned that the producer of the television show Touched by an Angel required all of the people working ont he show to read Chicken Soup for the Soul to put them in 'the right frame of mind.'  One day we sent copies of the book to all the jurors in the O.J. Simpson trial.  A week later, we recieved a nice letter from Judge Lance Ito thanking us for thinking of the jurors, who were sequestered and not allowed to watch television or read the newspapers.  The next day, four of the jurors were spotted reading the book by the press, and that led to some valuable public relations for the book.  We made phone calls to people who could review the book, we wrote press releases, we called in to talk shows (some at 3am), we gave away free copies at our talks, we sent them to ministers to use as a source of talks for their sermons, we gave free 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' talks at churches, we did book signings at any bookstore that would have us, we asked businesses to make bulk purchases for employees, we got the book into the PXs on military bases, we asked our fellow speakers to sell the books at their talks, we asked seminar companies to put it in their catalogues, we bought a directory of catalogues and asked all the appropriate ones to carry the book, we visited gifts shops and card shops and asked them to carry the book - we even got gas stations, bakeries and restaurants to sell the book.  It was a lot of effort - a minimum of five things a day, every day, day in and day out - for over two years.'  

Was using the rule of five effective?  You be the judge.  The Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise has 170 titles published in forty one languages and has sold 112 million copies.  If you can have similar kind of tenacity and consistency for that duration, I bet you'll see great progress toward your dream too!"  
-Put Your Dream to the Test, John Maxwell, pp. 178-180