“My so-called career is a series of injustices, mistakes, debacles, political backstabbings and painful memories that are stitched together to form a tapestry I delude myself into believing tells a wonderful and compelling story” From Business Rules: The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords
Back in 1998 my first true bestseller, Cubicle Warfare, was released. It was an in-depth book on the warm and fuzzy subject of office politics. For me, writing a book on business was a great way to blend my daytime career with my writing career.
The book was widely received. I was interviewed by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and did stints on national TV and radio discussing office politics. I was interviewed and featured in Fast Company Magazine – how cool is that? I sold a lot of books. Life was good, though the company I worked for was somewhat less-than-enthusiastic about the subject matter I had chosen and my notoriety. You would think that being a bestselling business management author in a major firm would have advanced my career. You would be wrong.
I wanted to follow Cubicle Warfare with another book. I proposed a number of variants of the same concept – a book of business rules which would help people navigate their careers and work. I wanted to write them with a cynical (humorous) tone to make the book more palatable. Publishers and my agent were luke-warm to the concept. After all, the economy was booming. Was there a need for such a book? The market I was targeting was not leaders, where traditional books of this type aimed their sights. Instead I was looking at the rank-and-file of every company.
I felt there is a market there. The traditional publishing community felt differently. They wanted business books from high profile industry leaders with their tips at a strategic level for what managers needed to do. My thinking was that the real need was not at the top of the organization, but where the real work is done – with everyday folks working in Cubeville. The big publishers wanted to write about men like Jack Welch. In the real world, most companies are staffed with people that will never rise to that ultra-top level of a major corporation. Their aspirations are more realistic yet painfully frustrating. Those were the people I wanted to write for.
I ignored the traditional publishers and started work on the book, adding to it every week or so. I shared snippets with people I worked with and they laughed so I knew I was on track. Every now and then I pitched the concept to a publisher, only to get shot down. One summed up his thoughts – “We write books for leadership, not for the worker bees.” In other words, they were ignoring the bulk of the potential market. I wanted to write a book that anyone in college could pick up and it would give them a leg-up on their first job. I also felt that the book needed to be an entertaining read. A bit tongue-in-cheek, a hint of humor, and a splash of snarky-ness would make the book palatable. I wanted to avoid abstract stories about moving cheese or melting icebergs. Those parables were cute but I felt a tad insulting to readers. This had to be a blunt book from the heart.
So I continued on – chipping away at the book for years. I kept the faith. Writer’s do that. Like Pit Bulls we can lock our jaws on a concept and hold on until the bitter end. Some of that is ego – another bit is we have an inner conviction that we’re right and the desire to prove it. It was my special “Top Secret” project, a dirty little obsession and toyed with every so often.
Then the publishing industry changed. Suddenly the shift to digital publishing and print-on-demand came to the forefront. Books were being released via Kindle Direct Press and other channels and were becoming runaway successes. The old-school publishers were suddenly moved to the stature of dinosaurs nearing extinction. Self-publishing lost its stigma almost overnight. If I wanted to publish this book, I could. The market would determine if it had any value.
My response: “Freaking sweet!”
So I hired an artist to do my cover…and worked with a friend to edit my work (both factors are seen as critical to the success of such projects). I dusted off the manuscript, polished it, and began the road towards self-publishing Business Rules – The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords.
For me, this is a test. Does this new paradigm for publishing work? Was my idea solid? Did I identify my market well? Was my hunch to write it in an entertaining format the right way to go? How was my marketing? All the risk is on me – as is all of the rewards. I had my moments of silent doubt; I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that. I wondered if people would equate the rules to my current employer and what the implications of that might be.
Business Rules is written as a single-source for the principles that successful individuals use to get work done. It’s everything from meeting management to outsourcing. I dealt with careers, leadership, reorganizations, change management, and even the mysterious and baffling world of the IT Department. I tested some of the chapters with readers and got back positive feedback.
The bottom line: I am really excited to finally get this product out and I hope it is well received.
Last week I released the Kindle version of the book without announcing it. I wanted to hold off until I had the paperback version ready. Surprisingly Business Rules shot up onto Amazon.com’s Organizational Behavior bestseller list…all without me even saying anything! I got caught with my proverbial pants down and fired off a quick announcement on Facebook. It would seem, at least at these early stages, that there is a desire for such a book.
It took a long time to get to this point, but I’m pleased to say that Business Rules is ready! Make sure you connect to my Twitter (Bpardoe870) for additional rules that will be released every so often as part of the book roll out. There will be a period sometime in the next month when I offer the Kindle version free for a few days to generate buzz, so watch my Twitter and Facebook for details. Personally I’d recommend you just buy the book…but that’s just me.