People keep asking questions about writing a book, how I found time, how I got to print etc, so I thought I’d share a few of the answers. I’m always happy to answer questions if you have any more!
Writing a book
Face to Face in the Workplace started like this. Earlier this year I was busy rebranding my business (after relocating, I decided a fresher image was needed) and was being put through my paces at a Mastermind group run by the lovely Lynda Holt,. Lynda was asking challenging questions about my niche, my skills, the work I enjoyed, and what direction I wanted the business to take in the future.
The One to One Toolkit
After a little head scratching (and brain ache) I decided, fairly easily, that I would build on the success of The One to One Toolkit. Now, this was my first book, which I co-authored in 2008. At the time, I was training a lot of advisers and mentors, and despite there being qualifications that required the students to know theories and models, there wasn’t a good textbook that broke it down and made it simple. I also had long held a whim to publish a collection of tools and strategies that advisers, coaches and mentors could use in one to one work.
The One to One Toolkit has been a success; it still sells, many organisations that train advisers still use it, and the reviews are excellent. The path to print, though, was somewhat less smooth. We were delighted when we were offered a deal by a major publisher. This was 2008, remember…suddenly the banks collapsed, the publisher went quiet and withdrew their offer.
Slightly daunted but unbeaten, we secured a deal with a smaller publisher. We got to sign the contract this time. They sold lots of books and sent us our first royalty cheque. I photocopied it and put it on the wall. Then they seemed to forget how to send sales statements or royalties. After a couple of difficult years, we threatened to sue. They paid up. Phew. We took our business elsewhere.
Publisher Mark Three was a major player in the Print on Demand scene. They sell books, print books to fulfil the orders, and send us royalties. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? It wasn’t. Their systems were so complex we couldn’t quite understand the paperwork. They were also slowwww….. the book buying public have been trained by Amazon to expect instant turnaround – our customers were waiting weeks.
It was time to take matters into our hands. We had learned so much about publishing along the way, that we set up our own company – Careertrain Publishing – to take care of our books. Over the next couple of years we added The Groupwork Toolkit and The Job Interview Toolkit to our catalogue. So far, so good.
Back to this year and the Mastermind group. My first thought of using the credibility gained from The One to One Toolkit quickly faded. I have spent far more time training managers and team leaders than I have advisers, so why hadn’t I written a book on one to one skills for them? It wasn’t quite a eureka! moment – it was more like remembering something important I’d forgotten to do – and it had to be done by yesterday. My mind was immediately full of chapter and format ideas.
I came home and did some research. Surely there must already be a handbook that gives a structured approach with an A-Z of all the common one to one interactions that happen at work? One with a light touch for the busy manager, not an academic tome? I didn’t find one. I’d learnt a lot about how readers like practical information and bite sized chunks without jargon and management speak, so I got on with the job.
I admit I was a woman possessed. I maintained focus and did as little as possible other work while I was writing. I rapidly got a very clear idea of what I wanted to achieve and stuck to my guns throughout. I went back to the beginning several times to adjust the format until I was happy. I think my conviction has paid off – reviews are excellent, and it was featured in the Sunday Times this week.
This is all well and good, but press coverage wasn’t my prime ambition; that was to produce a resource that would help people improve the outcomes from conversations and meetings at work, to provide oil on the cogs, making life easier. I’ll be glad if I’ve achieved that.
By Julie Cooper
Author of Face to Face in the Workplace
“If you deal with people you need this book” Buy your copy here