pareto principle book publishing

by | May 20, 2020 | self-publishing

V1: Apply the universal law to sell more books with less effort.
V2: How can you sell more books but, with less effort?
V3: How do you maximise book sales?

Discovered in the 19th century by Alfredo Pareto, who had written a mathematical formula for income distribution in Italy. The Italian economist realised that wealth concentrated disproportionately and predictably. The formula stated that 20 percent of the people owned 80 of the land.

Today, the law still applies, not only to income but to everything – including selling books. When it comes to selling books, the majority of books get sold by a minority of authors. And, only a small amount of effort on the right things lead to massive results.

Out of all the many things we as authors can do, there are only a few vital things we can do that will lead to real results. The rest are flurries of activity that feel as though we are productive, yet leave us empty-handed. As more time is spent on the majority of things that don’t give us much. Over time, we burn out or give up.

Remember this law when it comes to creating your book and marketing them after. Focus your efforts on the small causes that lead to the most results.

What I discovered working with hundreds of authors was that the situation in the book world is quite similar…so I came up with my application for the book world.

And here it is.
The 80/20 Rule Of Book Marketing:

  1. 20% effort brings 80% outcome
  2. 20% of the effort involves spending 80% of your time on writing the book. Spend the other 20% on the 7 book marketing keys. (covered in my previous article).
  3. Although, 80% of importance relies on the book keys when purchasers make a buying decision.

What do you think about this rule?

What are your experiences?

(Share in the comments below..)

Out of all the limitless things you could be doing, not everything will work.

Your effort in most things will fail and the same effort in other things will work phenomenally. It comes down to focus. You can do everything and get nothing, or do what is important, relevant and necessary – and get the biggest slice of the cake.

Though stated as the 80/20 rule, it can be taken to the extreme. e.g. 90/10, 99/1 etc. usually once you find the 20%, you can find 20% of the 20% and on and on until you find a single thing that is more important than everything else combined.

This is the core idea of Gary Keller’s book, ‘The One Thing’. In all you do find the ‘one thing you can do that makes everything easier or unnecessary’.

Ask yourself this question all the time. What’s the one thing I can do to…?
...become a better writer?sell more books? What one marketing channel that’s the most cost effective and will give me the most attention?

Getting perennial book sales is like creating a domino effect. You set off a chain reaction of falling dominoes that can not only topple many but bigger things. By doing the single most important thing everyday, your results compound and over time you will achieve extraordinary results.

Boiling it down to three simple steps: your first one thing is time writing a great book. Then, your next one thing is packaging the book with the 7 book marketing keys.

Finally, out of the multiple marketing platforms, a few of them will get the results you want. Your last one thing is to find the one channel that will get you the result you want.

Writing A Great Book

To repeat the point of my previous article ‘Why 99/100 Book Projects Ultimately Fail?’, spend the most time mastering your craft as a writer to write the best book possible.

Put simply: Write every day and get better. Like everything in life, the cream rises to the top. If you are a really good writer, you write a great book that resonates with your readers and can get rave reviews – you have a greater chance of selling a lot of books.

The first practical way of applying this law is to improve your writing by saying more with less. Why use more words than is necessary?

Say what you want to say in a sentence rather than a paragraph. It saves the reader from using too much brain power – resulting in a much more pleasurable reading experience. Or, at least less painful and thus making them more likely to keep reading.

Most of the content of non-fiction books are only a few pages worth of text and the rest is filler content to drive the main point. As well as to make it more marketable. Who wants to buy a 25 page $10 book?

Packaging Your Great Book

I cover this in much more detail in my previous article, ‘How to Make A Good Book Great.’ In it, I go over the 7 book marketing keys: cover, title, description, layout, author/publisher, reviews, marketing strategy. Often the effort put into these keys is way less.

We often take this even as a byproduct of finishing a book. This is especially true if we start with the manuscript and add on the 7 keys at the end of the process. Then we are often already out of energy or even funds. We just can’t wait to see our baby on the shelves and online.

Most of us are investing too much time into something that does not bring much of an outcome. When it comes to swaying the buying decisions of your target readers, 80% of the results will come from 20% of your effort directly from the 7 book marketing keys.

Marketing & Selling Your Great Book

Finally, you want to turn your focus on to find 20% of marketing channels that lead to the most amount of attention from targeted readers. There are many ways of getting people to your book – social media, word of mouth, bookstores, ads, SEO etc. Though, only a select few marketing channels will bring you the most amount of traffic.

Out of everything you could do for promoting your book, what is the 20% that will get you 80% of the traffic? Make a list of everything and start prioritising. Where do your readers tend to congregate online? Google it.

You can start by testing the most accessible and cost-effective channels. Then, let the numbers dictate which basket to put your eggs in. Though, don’t test everything at once. It’ll be too much.

Test two things and give it enough time. After a couple of weeks, if you see that platform B has more traffic than A. Platform B is the winner and becomes your new A. Then repeat the process with a new platform to test against.

Remember, not everything is equal and neither should your efforts with writing, packaging and promoting your book.

Your next mission is finding your 20%. Apply this universal law to your advantage or have it work against you. What is your 20% that brings you 80% of the results?

Book Marketing Secrets

Book Marketing Secrets : The 10 fundamental secrets for selling more books and creating a successful self-publishing career

"This article is based on insights from the book "Book Marketing Secrets". Get your copy on Amazon and find the insights for selling more books and creating a successful author career."
Albert Griesmayr

Albert Griesmayr

Founder & CEO of the book publishing startup Scribando & Novelify.

Previously Albert was Head of Digital at Dorotheum and consults companies and authors in digital strategy, digital marketing and book promotion.