Natasha Hawker came to Grammar Factory for our Whole Shebang editing package in 2014. Over three rounds of edits, I saw her book, From Hire to Fire & Everything in Between, become a practical, valuable manual that any small business owner could use to find the right employees, avoid the legal and financial risks of recruitment, and create a culture that gets the best from their new hires.
Why write a book?
‘To be honest, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would write a book. At school, essays were never my strength.’
Then Natasha completed the Key Person of Influence course for entrepreneurs, which focuses on five steps to become one of the most highly paid and highly valued people in your industry – pitch, publish, product, profile and partnerships. One of the outcomes is writing and publishing a book.
Using their methodology, Natasha wrote a 50,000-word draft that would become From Hire to Fire & Everything in Between. On a personal note, she admits to being competitive, ‘If someone says to complete this course you need to write a book, well I write a book!’ On a business level, she wanted to build her business and personal brand by getting her content out to the place.
The writing process
Having already been a contributor to Flying Solo, the Australian Businesswoman’s Network and her own blog, Natasha knew she had the discipline to punch out 500 words on a regular basis. The real benefit of this, however, was that she already had some material to start with.
When it came to writing new content, one of the techniques that she found worked well was using a mind map to get her thoughts into order and to prompt new thoughts. Another was the using the mindset of: ‘just type it. It will not be perfect but just get it out and on the page’.
One of the challenges she experienced was consistently sitting down day after day and typing out her ideas. I was so relieved when I got the first manuscript off!
The editing process
Natasha’s vision for From Hire to Fire was ‘for it to become a dog-eared employee “bible” for [her readers] that lived on [their] desk.’ She wanted the book to be highly useable, easy to read and easy to navigate so that her readers could quickly flick to the content they needed, when they needed it.
To achieve this, we needed to first create a logical progression through the employee lifecycle so it would make sense for those reading through it in one go. Then we needed to make it easy to navigate for those using it as a reference. The approach I took was to split Natasha’s book into three sections – hire, manage and exit – and then organised the chapters within each section to follow a chronological order from the employer’s perspective.
Beyond the overall structure, Natasha’s original draft also included quite a lot of legal and regulatory information that wasn’t particularly gripping for the small business owner. It needed to be covered, which meant that cutting it all wasn’t an option, so my focus was on making this more engaging by adding more practical, actionable content around these areas.
The rewards of getting published
Since she published her book in late 2014, Natasha’s received interviews, press and speaking gigs where she has the opportunity to sell her book at the end of her presentation. She has also been amazed to find herself selling books consistently without any PR investment, though she might consider investing in PR assistance in future.
The biggest benefit, though, is some of the large partnership opportunities she’s received where a partner has purchased her books for their SME clients, which gives Natasha the opportunity to offer a complimentary product to their clients and to start building an ongoing relationship with those clients.