ASP 09: The 80/20 of Self-Publishing

Quote of the day

The few things that work fantastically well should be identified, cultivated, nurtured, and multiplied.

– Richard Koch

A lot has happened over the past few months. Steve is going to be a dad, and is excitedly looking forward to the birth of his child, while Barrie and Ron have been busy building a new course. But as always, the three have also been keeping up with their various projects and endeavors, and finding the most efficient and productive ways to operate. One of the strategies that they utilize is called the 80/20 principle.

What is the 80/20 principle?

The 80/20 principle originated with Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who said, “80% of results often come from 20% of your efforts.”

In other words, there are a few things that we do that lead to the majority of our productivity and success—and on the other side of the coin, the majority of what we do leads to very little productivity and success.

The key, then, is to identify the few small things that most benefit your business, and then prioritize them.

How is the 80/20 principle used in your business as an author-preneur?

Steve focuses on his productive 20% through the email marketing, BookBub, and talking to individuals who might be interested in reviewing his books. Barrie finds that big goals help keep you focused on your 20% activities, and Ron always asks, “Is this a money-producing activity?” In this way, they are all able to stay focused on what drives their businesses forward.

Each person’s 80/20 equation will be specific to their situation. So how do you decide which activity deserves your 20%?

First of all, focus on one or two activities first.

Secondly, for new authors, we suggest going to and creating tracking links for your books. Then create separate links for each website that you promote your book on. Using this information, evaluate the performance of each site and see which gets the most clicks and converts. Then focus on the most productive sites, and de-prioritize those that don’t convert effectively.

How has the 80/20 principle impacted our success?

Steve has focused on one thing over the years—writing books. Getting content out is the most important thing for his business, and he spends 60–70% of his time writing. He then spends 30–40% of his time on email marketing.

Mark Dawson (a top fiction author) focuses on building an audience as fast as you can. He even suggests giving away your first book on Amazon, as he feels that an audience is more valuable than initial sales. Mark also found ways to use empty time, and often wrote while on the train on his way to work.

Andy Weir wrote The Martian as a series on his blog, and found a way to turn this into not only a successful book, but also a Hollywood film adaptation!

For advanced authors:

Creating content is the foundation of a career as a writer. Once you have a number of books, you should then spend more time cross-promoting, branding, and focusing on marketing.

Another strategy is to schedule different activities on different days of the week. This is less mentally taxing and helps keep you focused.

It also helps if you have someone to bounce your ideas off of. A great tool for collaboration is

Why is it important to apply the 80/20 principle as a self-published author?

The 80/20 principle is not just about knowing what’s important and focusing on it, but also knowing what’s important RIGHT NOW for your immediate success. It is essential to differentiate between long-term activities and immediate concerns. Store your long-term ideas and have them available so that you can get to them when you have time, but in the short term make sure to prioritize the activities that will show the most benefit TODAY.

It is also important to know how to say “no.” There will always be someone asking something of you. It’s great to help people out and get involved in projects, but if that is getting in the way of your 20% activities, then you need to learn to say “no.”

How do you determine your top 20% activities?

The first step to determining your 20% activities is to research. Carve out some time to get to you’re your industry and market, and to figure out what your 20% activities include. Then apply a monthly review, sitting down each month to look at your business and opportunities, and reevaluate your 20% activities. And finally, find someone to model yourself after. Choose someone who is successfully doing what you want to do, and follow their example. Authority Self-Publishing Facebook group is a good forum for this.

Have a monthly review – sit down and take a look at your business, opportunities, etc.

What should you outsource as a self-published author to take advantage of your top 20%?

Steve outsources virtually everything except writing. There are great providers out there who specialize in things like editing, formatting, and cover design. These are THEIR 20% activities, so let them do the work for you, while you focus on YOUR 20% activities.

A final word of advice from Steve:

Write down every single thing that you do to track how you spend your time. You will be amazed at how much time you waste, and how this simple activity can keep you on track and help you prioritize your time better.

There are a number of upcoming self-publishing courses that will soon be released to our listeners and readers. We have six different modules with 70+ videos covering topics such as how to get into the market, how to figure out what you want to write about, and much more. Keep an eye out for these courses! You can sign up for the wait list at

And as always, our FREE 46-point checklist is available at

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