Change. It’s a strange thing, isn’t it?
I was talking with someone over the weekend who is currently going through a destructive divorce. “There was a song,” he said, “where the lyric was something like ‘true love takes a little longer.’ What they don’t tell you in these songs is how quickly things can end. One minute you’re visiting the Tower of London, and the next minute you’re fighting over who gets the couch! Why can’t things stay fresh?”
He’s right. You can be married in March and divorced in May in these turbulent days. Even if it is true love, even if it’s your one and only, the sheen can wear off and leave one of those married partners feeling lost, lonely and ready to throw in the towel.
It’s sad… and yet, here I am supposed to be talking about books. Western books. How does this relate? Well… think about it. You and your book have a special relationship—you both spend a lot of time together, you are in love with each other. The book is released and finds love from other readers, and the moment comes that you’ve been dreaming of—the book goes into the charts. That true love is blooming and blossoming in ways you never dreamed of… but then something happens. It starts to fall apart. The book starts dropping off the charts. It’s been read by the majority of the readership, and it’s starting to lose ground. Readers have found other loves.
You still love your book, but readers have moved on to other books. They’ve discovered other book friends to indulge. Now, some authors can get discouraged at this point. They lose confidence and feel downtrodden, like a jilted lover. It seems that the good times will never come back.
However, some authors know that the time a book will be highly popular is finite, so they have a new book already in motion, ready to strike as soon as their current release starts dropping. WHAM! They release that new one. WHAM! It hits the chart. WHAM! Readers keep reading and the love keeps pumping!
And we call this the “three-month rule.” All good things have to end—don’t they? We all would love books to keep selling forever, but that’s not likely in this world of constant change. That’s why many writers have something new ready to go when that sheen wears off their current release, and readers start moving to new books and fancies. Sticking to the three-month rule means that readers don’t have to wait long for something new from you—and each time is like the first time. The love stays brand spanking new.
“Only a fool ignores the three-month rule,” is a common mantra. You had a good thing, but all those good things have to end, don’t they? You have to play the game until you win. Just keep the three-month rule in mind, and have a new release ready to roll. If you can keep your good things going, then the good times will never end.
So, keep it in your mind that a book has a three-month run as a major seller, and have something new ready to come out towards the middle or end of that three-month run. What you’ll find is that those readers will keep coming back—and not just that. Continued success will keep bringing new readers in to read your previous books. That’s the power of the catalog—a whole different discussion. Perhaps I’ll do a blog about ‘catalog’ next. I rather enjoy talking about the book business.
So, keep in mind, if you currently have a book on the charts, you may want to consider working on that all-important follow-up. The three-month rule will serve you well if you listen to it. You’ll likely have a run of hits.
You can always contact me via the contact form below. I’d love to hear from you and hear your thoughts about the three-month rule. Hell, I’m currently on a reading binge, so send me a link to your book, too—I’d love to give it a try.