The 80/20 of Publishing a Bestselling Book

3 min read (795 words)

Note: This is a reprint of an email I sent to paid KDSPY users. It was in the context of a larger set of emails based upon the foundation of marketing to your audience by first adopting EMPATHY from their POV.

On a weekly basis, I’ll get questions from many of my 20,000 customers made up of authors and self-publishers…

All looking for ways to sell more books, make more money, and have a greater impact with their work and in their business.

Rarely, though—when looking at their book—are they asking the right questions to help them achieve what they want.

Let me just come right out and say it:

  • Finding profitable keywords…
  • Identifying winning categories…
  • Sending out copies for reviews…
  • Or 101 ways to launch your book…

Are not the winning “mechanics” of what will make your book a raving bestseller.

Of course, many of them are important, too.

But, after reviewing hundreds of books, this is not where the FOCUS should be for them (initially, anyway).

The foundations are.

There’s a reason 95% of businesses go “OUT of business” in the first 5 years of trading…

And it’s the SAME reason 95% of books don’t sell more than a couple hundred books in their lifetime.

The truth is—nobody WANTS it.

It goes deeper than this, but that’s the essence. And the reason is, that many businesses, authors, and self-publishers outright FAIL to put as much effort into creating the book…

As they do into understanding (through EMPATHY) the MARKET itself and … what they ultimately WANT.

Whenever I sit down to write a new piece of work…

I’m always reminded of a book by Seth Godin.

Like a powerful vision in my mind, I picture the very title and the “vivid description” of what it conveys right on the cover.

Ready for the title?


The beautiful thing is—you don’t even need to read the book to understand the message. (Although I highly recommend you do).

It’s simply this:

Crafting a great product (book)—and marketing the bee-jesus out of it—simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

In today’s world, you must create something so remarkable that your readers simply have to share it with others.

That’s how you succeed in today’s crowded, “highly-distracted” world.

Picture it now:

Imagine that you’re driving down the road and seeing a “purple cow”. That would get your attention, right? Not only would it get your attention, but you’d also most likely pull over to take a closer look to ensure that your eyes are not deceiving you.

In addition, when you get back in your car, you’d call your significant other and immediately begin the conversation by saying; “you’ll never guess what I just saw?” … and that still wouldn’t be the end. That cow would be on your mind for the rest of *the week*, and you’d tell everyone you came into contact with about it.

It was something you’d never seen before…It immediately “shocked” you enough to get your attention … and you couldn’t help but tell others about it.

Sure, in a business sense, when writing a new book—this is difficult to do. That’s not the point of me telling you.

It serves as a WILD example of what we’re trying to achieve.

If I need to spell it out, here goes:

Create “remarkable” books. Ones that your readers can’t help themselves but tell others about.

Not what YOU think makes a remarkable book. What your customers will find remarkable for themselves.

And the only way to find out what will make a book remarkable in your reader’s eyes—is to have a deep, intimate understanding of what they WANT, their challenges, and their emotionally driven desires (empathy).

Only then can you put the “winning mechanics” together into a comprehensive piece of work.

Another quote from Seth Godin (I’m a fan) is where he states:

Are you focusing on your market or your marketing?

That phrase—so eloquently presented by Seth Godin in his book ‘This is Marketing’—sums up what I’ve been trying to teach in this space for over 5 years.

What I’m preaching is not:

“Build it (write it), and they will come”.

I’m saying that traffic (eyeballs) is the simple part of the equation— EMPATHY is the missing piece for most, if not all, those struggling.

Once you gain that understanding of your market (empathy), you’ll have the ammunition you need to infuse EMOTION into your title, description, cover, introduction, TOC, etc…

Or—what I like to call; The ‘Influence Mechanics’ of your book.

All human decision is based on EMOTION.

Those that understand this (in a marketing sense) will thrive.

Those that don’t will find the new ATTENTION economy we’re in to be an uphill struggle.

Hopefully, this will shed light on how unimportant all the other (marketing) stuff is in publishing a bestselling book—without FIRST adopting empathy with your market and readers.

It’s just the 80/20 principle in action.