HTBU has been described as "smart" (Chicago Tribune), "engaging" (The Washington Post), "helpful" (New York magazine), "frequently hilarious" (The Guardian), "pretty terrific" (January magazine), "sharp [and] witty [and] brimming with advice" (Minneapolis Star Tribune), "odd" (The Montreal Gazette), "fortuitous" (Utne Reader), and "clever and, as the title promises, useful" (Newsweek).

As long as I’m keeping a running list of “how to be useful” mentions…

Posted: December 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | 4 Comments »

How to be useful = a trait which can’t be cultivated by accident, tends to be learned alongside independence. Says a mom.


4 Comments on “As long as I’m keeping a running list of “how to be useful” mentions…”

  1. 1 Blue said at 6:19 pm on December 28th, 2009:

    As long as you’re keeping a running list of “how to be useful” mentions…

    Your book was the inaugural book in my my reading group.

    I also mentioned it as a very useful graduation present.

  2. 2 admin said at 7:23 am on December 31st, 2009:

    Really? Fantastic! And nice to hear. Let me know if I can contribute to the discussion in any way. I’ve been thinking about revisions lately, and what points I’d make clearer or omit altogether, given the chance to write it over again. (Which the paperback publication may provide.) It would be interesting to get more direct feedback.

    Thanks for writing.

  3. 3 Blue said at 7:47 am on January 9th, 2010:

    Thanks, Megan. I actually do have a suggestion for a revision:

    Would it be possible to change the book’s subtitle?

    Here’s why: we have a Professional Development Book Club at my office, and yesterday we were all discussing which book we should read next, and I mentioned How To Be Useful and said it was about “how to pay attention to what people want, how to help people in the office without being intrusive, how to know what to say and what not to say to your boss, how to write letters, how to make small talk, etc.”

    And everyone in the group was all “wow, I’d really love to read a book like that,” so we picked How To Be Useful as our next book.

    Then I go to pull up the purchase info for HR, and realize that your subtitle is “A Beginner’s Guide to Not Hating Work.”

    And now I feel like a huge goober for telling all of my colleagues that my favorite professional development book is a book about how not to hate work. :(

    The “beginner” part of the title is also a little problematic in this case because this group have all been in their positions for about 2 years.

    I specifically think you should change the subtitle because the type of people who are likely to really get excited by your book (ambitious people, as you note in your intro) are also the type of people who are not going to want to be carrying around a book that implies they’re a beginner who hates work.

    Now that I’ve said that I feel like I should make a few alternate suggestions, so:

    1. How To Be Useful: How Giving Them What They Need Will Help You Get What You Want

    2. How To Be Useful: A Career Guide For The First Five Years

    Anyway, thank you again for writing the book and my team at work is very much looking forward to reading it, even if we have to walk around the office hiding the subtitle with our hands!

  4. 4 admin said at 9:15 am on January 11th, 2010:

    Hi Blue! I’m so grateful for your interest. And I think you’re absolutely right — the subtitle is ALL WRONG. Long story as to how it came to be chosen, and I won’t bore you with the details, but as a friend said to me over dinner recently, blank and mildly annoyed look on her face, “Well, it’s just not what the book is about.”

    So yes, the paperback version — when and if it happens — will have a new, improved subtitle. I’ll send you one of the first copies!

    PS. Keep me posted.


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