… Because you can’t do it all (nor should you want to) – so just do what works for you.
We live in a world that provides ample opportunity for distraction. And as in life, the same goes for any project we undertake.
According to Richard Koch, in his book The 80/20 Way, the 80/20 principle is not a theory but simply an observation of reality.
“Unlike a spiritual or philosophical law, the 80/20 principle works whether you believe in it or not” – so I find it useful to keep in mind at the many decision points you may find yourself at when self-publishing a book.
“This principle states that 80% of results come from only 20% of efforts. It’s known as Pareto’s Law (because it was originally pointed out by the Italian economist Pareto). And the more awareness you bring to this, the more you will start to see it everywhere,” for example:
When you started your business you would have, no doubt, brought some amazing skill-sets with you. You may have started your business off the back of your design talent, inspired writing, your artistic genius – it’s often those talents that motivated you to step out into your own entrepreneurial pursuits – in order to do more of what you love.
And then maybe, as you progress through your business journey there is a time when other skills need to be brought in to complement your own, to keep the business growing and to keep up with best practice in your industry. And it is this point that brings a choice, HOW do I want to bring this skill into the business? Do I skill myself up in this area, or do I pay someone to do this skill for me?
It’s going to cost you time and money no matter what decision you go with – so make sure you are making the most efficient, leveraged decision for the business.
There are so many things we could be doing, but how do we know what we should be doing? By doing absolutely everything yourself (that is, content creator, editor, typesetter, designer, marketer, project manager, web developer, salesperson, bookkeeper), you can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking you are being smart and saving money by not needing to hire in external help.
The problem with this is that all your projects often move extremely slow, and that may translate to a slow return on the project’s investment because you have too many things going on and not enough time to do it in – and especially if this book is an extra project you are fitting into your already busy day.
So the 80/20 principle can be a useful to dial into because 20 percent of the things you can choose to do in a venture will get you 80 percent of your results. And if you defer these choice points and just continue to do everything yourself, you will probably spend a heap of time doing the 80 percent of the activities that will net you only 20 percent of the results you COULD be getting on this project.
We all have only so much time in each day (and still try to have a life!) so if we can summarise this principle down into a few simple actions, it would be:
- Is this activity worth doing? If it’s a ‘YES’ then:
- Is it worth doing by ME?
- If not me, then whom will it be?
Because some activities may get you a result, and are worth you doing.
However, some activities may get you a result, just not if it’s done by YOU. For example, just say you have written your draft and you think it could probably do with some editing.
So, is it worth having your book edited? Absolutely. Books with poor grammar and riddled with typos prompt bad reviews by readers on the online retailers, which has a negative impact on sales.
In contrast, a properly edited book helps the book flow, so it is more easily read, which means it is more likely to be read all the way through, which will increase it’s chances of getting a good review, which in turn helps sell more books to others who are encouraged by the positive effect it has had on someone (after all, social proof is a powerful motivator).
So, should it be edited? For you, that may be a resounding YES. Should it be done by me? The answer to this is: probably not. If you have toiled over your 50,000-100,000 words – writing, reading, re-writing, re-reading… your eye will start to forgive small grammatical errors or typos as you read it over and over. You just won’t see them, no matter how detailed a person you are. So it is always good to get another set of eyes on it – even if it is just for a final proofread – or perhaps a bit of editing if writing a book is a bit different to your normal writing style (say, if you are normally delivering your written content through blogging, or writing course manuals for trainings).
Are you creating lots of busy work for yourself or are you taking action towards your outcome? It’s all about Action versus Motion.
So that leads to the final question, ‘If it’s not going to be, whom will it be?’
And that will depend upon the task at hand. By learning to work with a team and be more strategic, your results for each project will improve.
You will be taking the right action, rather than creating a lot of motion. And that is when you become not only time efficient, but also time effective.
Time effectiveness is crucial for not only getting your book published according to your set deadlines, but also once your book is published and you are then looking to optimise. You may find that approximately 80% of your revenue will stem from 20% of all sources. In other words, 20% of your sales channels will lead to 80% of all book sales. Finding those profitable channels quickly and optimising that opportunity will gain you valuable momentum.
This is why it is useful to bear this principle in mind and ruthlessly look at the data, look at the activities you have to undertake every day to maintain this asset (your book), and through this lens determine which ones are actively serving your business and which ones aren’t generating results.
The more attention you pay to the 80/20 principle, the more you’ll see it play out.