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What Can You Do?

4 July 2011

If toucan, I can, we can, you can!

If toucan, I can, we can, you can!

I remember being asked this by a TA Supervisor, during a conversation about being stuck and wanting to make progress. She looked at me and said: ‘What can you do?’

An easy question to ask and often an easy question to answer, because it’s not inviting us to change the world; instead we can look around us and find a simple step to take.

For example, I went up to London recently to see my publisher about the launch of How To Keep Your Job and before our meeting I went to The Guardian offices to have tea with a journalist friend.

Lacking a copy of the new book to take with me, when packing my bag, I looked round the office and spied a row of My Boss is a B@$T@*D parked on the shelf. Instead of saying to myself ‘I can’t take anything as I don’t have a copy of my new book’ I had a think and realised ‘I can take my first book’ …so I stuck a copy in my bag to hand over as a gift.

Last week my journalist chum emailed and asked for some PR copy as there’s a new film coming out called Horrible Bosses, which she wanted to use as a peg to write about dealing with poor managers. And in doing so give a large mention for my book.

How happy am I?

By asking myself the question ‘What can I do?’ I was able to do something positive (in taking an older book) that has generated some useful PR for me.

The article is due out on July 23rd in the Secrets Of… column.

And this week, if you’re grumbling, or getting stuck with something… stop complaining and instead ask:

‘What can I do?’


How To Sell Books

26 June 2011

I wonder how many of the authors in this picture do something everyday to sell their book?

I wonder how many of the authors in this picture do something everyday to sell their book?

To be a successful author you have to both a) write your masterpiece and b) sell it.

This can come as a shock to a new author, as it did to me when I was first asked how I would be selling my own book. Me? Sell? Surely that’s the job of the publisher?

Alas not. Well, not quite.

Publishers are great at knowing the market, offering practical advice and turning a rough manuscript into a saleable product. And they’re busy people, constantly on the run from project to project, meeting new authors, commissioning work and travelling to book fairs and sales meetings. It’s not a bad life, but it is hectic and when they are presenting your book to a client it will probably be one of 30 and so they’ll have about 10 seconds or less to introduce it.

This means that the author has to shoulder a heavy sales burden and do much of the longer term spade work to make sure they sell books, once past the initial PR frenzy.

If you have a book* you wish to sell then here are my 5 top tips to get copies flying off the shelves:

1) Be nice to people on Twitter. Some selling is okay, as we all have to make a living, but 25 robo-tweets a day just irritates people. Less is more.

2) Use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to point people to your Amazon page. If you do a good job of 1) they’re more likely to trust you and have a browse.

3) Invite people to review your book. Or just to¬†‘Like’ it. More traffic here does help to build trust.

4) Write another book. Nine years ago I was told that you need to publish (not just write) five books to consider yourself a fully-fledged author. There is wisdom to this, which is that publishers like to invest in author-brands and also the general public repeat-purchase books from authors they like. In combination these two facets help to sell books.

5) Do something everyday. Check your Amazon rating, write a PR piece, make a new friend, tell someone about your book, tweak your author biog…or anything else that grabs your fancy. So many people give up after three weeks, but the real pro’s keep at it for years. If you want the sales you have to put in the leg work.

Clearly this post has nothing to do with the fact that my exciting new book, called How To Keep Your Job, is available from 14th July in all good book shops, a few dodgy ones and of course (cue angelic chorus)

It also has nothing to do with me needing to write up the submission for book five, which is due out this time in 2012.

…This post is just here to be helpful to writers everywhere.

*Or other products.



Click cover to view details on Amazon


Riding the Rocket

How to manage your Modern Career

Published 2013 Marshall Cavendish



Bouncing Back

How to get going again after a career setback

Published 2012 Marshall Cavendish



How to Keep Your Job

Brilliant ways to increase performance, stay employed and keep the money rolling in

Published 2011 Marshall Cavendish



Job Hunting 3.0

Secrets and skills to sell yourself effectively in the Modern Age

Published 2010 Marshall Cavendish



Leave the Bastards Behind

An insider's guide to working for yourself

Published 2007 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish



My Boss is a Bastard

Surviving turmoil at work

Published 2006 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish


© Richard Maun 2015 / Click here to contact