The Pareto Principle and Richard Koch’s book The 80/20 Principle state that 80% of results come from 20% of the inputs. This is especially true when it comes to the results you get with books—just having a book, even if it’s far from perfect, will give you the vast majority of results.
Don’t get me wrong—I believe in writing good books, but as they say, don’t let perfect become the enemy of good enough. The fact is, there is no such thing as a perfect book. You could spend your entire life researching, writing, revising, and editing, only to discover on your deathbed that your book still contains errors, it doesn’t match what everyone needs, and there will inevitably be someone who asks, “Why didn’t you include XYZ in your book?”
There’s no such thing as a perfect book, and if you try and write one you will never finish it. – David Gaughran
Good enough is good enough, and speed trumps many things, if not everything.
Consider my friend Sarah Weiss, who I interviewed for the Published Author Podcast. Sarah wrote, edited, and published her book in just two weeks!
Was Sarah’s book perfect? No, there are a few typos and she knows she could have done better with more time. Rather than getting a book deal with a well-known publisher she self-published through Amazon’s KDP, print-on-demand (POD) service, and she only published softcover and Kindle versions of her book to make things easy.
Sarah could have taken two years to write her book and publish it in every format, and no doubt it would have been a better book, but at what cost? Instead of spending years to create the perfect book, Sarah aimed for “good enough,” and good thing she did, because she landed multiple six-figure deals during the first twelve months her book was in print.
Sarah took the 20% approach and got 80% of the results. Actually, maybe it was more like 10/90, but who’s quibbling? The more important question is how can you get results like Sarah? Do the 20% to make your book good enough. Here’s what that might look like:
- Today – Get my workbook. It’s free when you sign up for weekly coaching (also free) and will help you write faster and better.
- Week 1 – Decide what you will write, create a simple outline, and start writing.
- Week 2 – Finish writing your “vomit draft.” Your vomit draft is a mess you don’t want anyone to see and which you clean up later. It takes the pressure off of getting your first draft done. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, flow, word choice, etc. Just get your ideas on paper.
- Week 3 – Revise your first draft. Rewrite and polish things up a little (but not too much).
- Week 4 – Read through it all, front to back. Revise where needed.
- Week 5 – Get someone to edit it for you. Ideally you pay someone who’s a professional book editor, but if you’re on a tight budget find a friend or someone else you know willing to do it for free or cheap.
- Week 6 – Put it out there for anyone to comment on. This can help with editing and proofreading. Listen to what people have to say, but be prepared to ignore them if they give you bad input.
- Week 7 – Design a simple book cover and set everything up on Amazon KDP.
- Week 8 – Publish.
I could write 100 different paths to get your book done quickly. If you think this sounds like a lot to bite off in two months, remember, Sarah did all this in two weeks. My workbook focuses on doing it in 90 days, but the same workbook can be used to do it in six months, a year, or six years.
Some books take six years because they should take six years. I’m working on books right now that will probably take six years from the time I thought of them until they get published. But maybe your book doesn’t need to take six years. Maybe it could be done two weeks from now. How would that feel?
One thing’s for sure, if you try to write the 100% versi0n of your book, it will become a nightmare to work on and you’ll probably never finish it. Remember Churchill’s words:
Writing a book is an adventure to begin with, it is a toy and an amusement, then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public. – Winston Churchill
Leverage the 80/20 rule, and do the 20% that gets you 80% of the results. It’s good enough, and far better than no results at all.Liked it? Share it!