Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.
When I was 14 years old I got badly bitten.
I was bitten by the writing bug.
And I knew I was going to be a writer.
I spent most of fourth form writing a 1,000 page novel about me and my friends (which is still hidden in the back of the wardrobe!) and then continued to write more novels and stories.
In 2001 I got my first direct report and became a people manager. And I discovered how difficult it was. And so I wrote a book to help others. It took me 4 years to write Management Bites – scribbling away at weekends, after work, in my lunch breaks, on plane flights and in boring meetings. And when the first draft was done, I decided to send it into HarperCollins.
Now I didn’t have an agent, and I knew my manuscript would go into the slush pile. I expected I wouldn’t hear anything for months and then it would probably be a rejection letter.
But a few weeks later I got a phone call.
And they told me they wanted to publish Management Bites. It was one of those moments when you just want to yell the F word very, very loudly!
And so I met with Lorain Day and Tracey Wogan from HarperCollins and Lorain asked me why my name was familiar.
I told her that I’d sent in a novel to her the previous year and she’d rejected it.
“Oh dear” she said “Well we thought this one was much better”.
It then took 8 months to edit Management Bites and another 6 months to get into print. Finally in March 2009 Management Bites was launched in NZ bookshops. I had a publicity tour arranged and was interviewed by a whole load of radio stations. I still remember going into the Radio NZ studio to be interviewed by Jim Mora and to Radio Live to be interviewed by Bill Ralston in his final week. It also got reviewed by various magazines including the Air NZ mag.
I also had a book launch. It was a cold and stormy night (how like the start of a bad novel that sounds…..) but we had a fabulous time.
Me with Tracey Wogan, HarperCollins non-fiction editor, my publicist Lise and Craig Lewis, author of Lead to Succeed.
Tracey introducing me and Management Bites to the world.
Me finding out that presenting in front of 70 people I was suddenly nervous!!
I remember saying that people think that being a manager is common sense. But you’ve got to have some knowledge to get common sense. It’s like if you see cows in a field and a storm is coming. Should you move them to higher ground, put them in a shed or leave them in a low field? A farmer would say that it’s ‘common sense’. To me with no experience of cow farming, I have no idea. So people management is not common sense, and I hoped that Management Bites would actually give people some practical tools, techniques, ideas and case studies of how to do it well. I didn’t do that well the first time I was a manager and hoped others would learn from my mistakes and also examples from hundreds of managers that I’d worked with or trained.
Then it was time for the book signing.
Signing 70 books does give you a sore hand!
But I was still smiling….
And excitingly, Management Bites became an NZ best seller. Over time it’s sold steadily until last week we reached 10,000 sales.
Now compared to people on the NY Times best seller list, I know that 10,000 books is tiny. But in little old New Zealand it’s a pretty good show and I am really proud of it. I love that so many people managers have told me they’ve found the book really useful and what a difference it’s made. That’s why I wrote it!
In a strange twist of fate, last week Otago University Bookstore purchased a bulk order as Otago are using it as a text book. But the book buyer is Bruce Caddy who was my manager back when I was 18 years old and in my second job out of school, working at London Bookshops. Bruce inspired me back then with his love of books and knowledge of the book trade. Who knew 20+ years later he would be buying my book? Isn’t life funny!
And now I’ve rewritten Management Bites for the UK and will be launching it there this year along with the Management Bites programme. I always wanted to write novels (and hopefully will still get some of my novels published one day) but never dreamed that writing a business book would be so rewarding and help so many people.
Here’s to the next 10,000!
Angela Atkins is a best-selling author and business entrepreneur who has a passion for providing development and training for HR and people managers through the Management Bites programme Mgmtbites.com, HR Conferences www.hradvisorsconference.co.uk and other events www.elephanttraining.co.nz