Saturday, July 31, 2021

How Can Authors Follow The 80/20 Principle?


Authors wonder what the secret sauce to book marketing success is. Is it some combination of time, money, luck, savvy, and initiative? Most definitely, but what it really comes down to is how well authors follow and live by Pareto’s Law.

Pareto who? you say.

In 1897, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto discovered that 80% of the economy comes from 20% of the people. Essentially, he saw a consistent mathematical connection between money and the population. Since then, other experts in a variety of industries, decided the same thing, and applied it to their business model. They believe 80% of the productivity comes from 20% of their employees.

Now, carry it a step further. Perhaps authors need to examine their efforts, connections, investments, and activities and book to see where their 80/20 fault line exists.

Richard Koch, who penned The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More With Less, Third Edition, writes:

“There are two routes to achieving this. One is to reallocate the resources from unproductive to productive uses, the secret of all entrepreneurs down the ages. Find a round hole for a round peg, a square hole for a square peg, and a perfect fit for any shape in between. Experience suggests that every resource has its ideal arena, where the resource can be tens or hundreds of times more effective than in most other arenas. The other route to progress-the method of scientists, doctors, preachers, computer systems designers, educationalists, and trainers-is to find ways to make the unproductive resources more effective, even in their existing applications; to make the weak resources behave as though they were their more productive cousins; to mimic, if necessary by intricate rote-learning procedures, the highly productive resources. The few things that work fantastically well should be identified, cultivated, nurtured, and multiplied. At the same time, the waste-the majority of things that will always prove to be of low value to man and beast-should be abandoned or severely cut back.”

It all boils down to authors realizing that the majority of their efforts have little impact, while a small minority have a dominant effect.  

So how can you figure out what actions or investments produce the greatest yield? 

1.    Stop making assumptions or guesses. Look at the date. Track things. Make charts. See reality.  

2.    Avoid making predictions of what should work. Look at what actually works for other authors and for yourself. Don’t envision ideal scenarios. Dreaming up results won’t yield them. 

What will make you more effective?

1.    Do what advances you to your goals, whatever they may be.

2.    Look to innovate, not just cut corners and maximize efficiency on the margins.

3.    Be bold and take a risk to deliver the biggest potential pay-off.

4.    Collaborate with those who can perform at a high level, connect you to bigger markets, or show you how to grow.

5.    Hire others to do what you can’t -- and hire others to do what you could do, but that frees you up to do bigger and better things. 

“Employ as many value creators as possible,” says Koch. 

He also writes: 

“You will not escape from the tyranny of 80/20- the likelihood that 80 percent of your time is spent on low-priority activities-by adopting conventional behavior or solutions. A good exercise is to work out the most unconventional or eccentric ways in which you could spend your time: how far you could deviate from the norm without being thrown out of your world. Not all eccentric ways of spending time will multiply your effectiveness, but some or at least one of them could. Draw up several scenarios and adopt the one that allows you the most time on high-value activities that you enjoy. 

Basically, for the 80/20 Principle to work for you, please do as follows: 


  • Acknowledge this principle and recognize how you can apply it to all aspects of your life, particularly your writing career and book marketing approach.
  • In order to target where your 20% exists, be aware of what results from what you do.
  • Be prepared to let go of the things that lack huge pay-offs. Remove any emotional ties and just look at things realistically.
  • Think of each area and where you benefit most from: What you spend your money on, what you spend your time on, the people who work for you, anyone that you partner with, and took or resources used to execute your book marketing campaign.
  • Set goals visualize attainment, analyze progress, make adjustments in your efforts and goals, and see what actually keeps you busy but not productive. 

Koch also suggests that you:


  • “Look for the shortcut, rather than the full course.
  • Strive for excellence in few things, rather than good performance in many. 
  • Delegate or outsource as much as possible in our daily lives. 
  • Only do the thing we are best at doing and enjoy most.
  • In every important sphere, work out where 20% of effort can lead to 80% of returns. 
  • Make the most of those few “lucky streaks’ in our life where we are at our creative peak and the stars line up to guarantee success.”

Bottom line: 20% of your time/money leads to 80% of your success. Figure out what works and do more of it.


Need Book PR Help?

Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has 30 years of experience in helping thousands of authors in all genres.


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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2021. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: 


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