Press Kit

Here is the Press Kit details for Michael O’Grady and the Max Your Degree series of books for undergraduate students.


Author Bio

Michael O’Grady is a Principal Lecturer at The University of Huddersfield working as Subject Lead for the Games and Web courses (Digital Media) in the School of Computing & Engineering. He has taught at Huddersfield for the last 16 years and also worked as a Lecturer at Leeds Polytechnic for over three years (now Leeds Beckett University) on the Building and Quantity Survey degree courses in the 80s.

Born in Huddersfield, Michael still lives on high ground on the Pennines, “…firmly in Yorkshire!”. Originally qualified as a Chartered Civil Engineer and with a Pavement Engineering PhD at age 24, Michael has been writing technical and semi-legal reports, investigations and proposals for most of his working life and is well on the way to his first million words.

The Max Your Degree book series was born from the realisation that an electronic book (principally the .epub variety) is merely a zipped series of folders and webpage files. In short, ebook formats use webpage technology. “I decided to include this self-learning in teaching to my Web students… but what to use as a class-based demonstration? So, whilst on holiday in Spain several years ago, I started drafting a Contents page and chapter text for something I knew well – the student journey inside Higher Education.” These all provide lessons for undergraduates to get the inside-track on how to excel in their degree.

This 20 to 30 page idea for an in-class demonstration soon became an eight-headed monster in excess of 150k words – eight planned books; the first being Think Smart. Work Smart. The voice used in the book is informal, friendly and very much aimed at the 18 to 25 undergraduate demographic. Michael is very much an empathetic lecturer and course leader and has dealt with a wide variety of student experiences. As a seasoned academic, he is well-able to advise and refer students to specialist support colleagues, as necessary. This first book is a focused distillation around how students should be thinking about and tackling their degree studies. As the front cover indicates, it is a definitive work on how students can do less and get more from their studies by being smart and strategic.


Why this book is relevant

It’s a basic guide to surviving and thriving on an undergraduate degree at University.

It’s a basic primer to expose a lot of the rules and shortcuts in Higher Education as well providing a vehicle for that most essential of things… self-development. It is also aimed at increasing the reader’s ability to reflect and to boost those illusive yet highly desirable soft skills.

It also proposes to the reader that they differentiate themselves from their cohort, course and other job applicants – to stand head and shoulders above others is a sure-fire way to get what we want!

It is a book for any student on any  year of any undergraduate degree… whether it is to be sharper and smarter or merely to see the academic wood for the trees. Want a First or to improve your grades and get a better classification degree? Do you want to not  fail? Want to have more time for fun whilst still taking care of business?  Think Smart. Work Smart. is the book for students!

It’s also a great primer for 16/17 year old students looking for a fast-track route in to the university way of thinking.


Author Q&A

Q Where did you get the idea for this book?

I saw that electronic book formats are merely specially formatted zipped collections of files and folders containing web-based technology (namely html and CSS). This allowed me to introduce the learning to students to augment their web creation knowledge and also give them insights relating to self-publishing, self-marketing and entrepreneurial activities. Having the skills to make and edit ebooks also makes my students more employable.

Q Did any of your inspiration for this book originate in your real life experiences?

The start of the writing was very engaging and rewarding, but as I fleshed-out the things I wanted students to know, I realised just how much I didn’t know. The filling of all those knowledge gaps to make coherent chapters was similar to the processes our students go through, so the whole process has been very enlightening and fulfilling.

Q What bits of the books did you have the most fun with?

I decided early on to insert inspirational quotes. I’ve got some real corkers in the books. I’m constantly amazed how a few simple words can crystallise enormous emotions and experiences. There’s so much wisdom in the public domain, some of it many hundreds of years old and much from people still living. I’ve tried to go for people who the vast majority of readers will recognise, but many are from modern-day authors, many being journalists and life-commentators.

Q What made you decide to self-publish?

As a Yorkshire man and having been raised in a ‘make do and mend’ family, spending lots of money or getting a traditional publisher to give me a pittance for my book sales doesn’t appeal. I’m also intrigued by the different print-on-demand and ebook platforms on the market as well as their different business models. I intend to investigate them all… and pass on the learning to my students. I’m really interested in the data behind all the web and book sales activities, the analytics of web visitors is fascinating – you can learn so much about your website visitors. I am eager to discover how web marketing and social networking will transfer in to book sales.

Q Why are you giving your book away?

I’ve put so much effort in to the Max Your Degree series (five more parts already written and typed with various levels of editing required, four as yet unpublished) and I want as many people to read it as possible. The number of ebook copies downloaded is a signifier of prestige and esteem and counts highly in Higher Education circles. So it’s helping my CV and career progression! So I’m happy to let many thousand copies of the ebook go for free. In fact, I would love for all the Yorkshire university students to know about and to download a copy… how awesome would that be! I’m also interested in making a bit of money from the venture, so I’ll experiment with print copies too and marketing strategies… and pass all this along to my students.

Q Are there any specific authors whose writing styles or subject matter inspired your book?

I was really inspired and entertained by the ‘kick-ass’ and ‘no bull-sh*t’ style of Dan Kennedy. He is a web marketing guru that the gurus consult. He really is one focused man and his writing style takes no prisoners. I’ve been reading his blog for years and he utilises web marketing in very sophisticated ways.  Let’s face it, having a book titled like this really does say a lot about an author’s confidence and knowledge: No B.S. Direct Marketing: The Ultimate No Holds Barred Kick Butt Take No Prisoners Direct Marketing for Non-Direct Marketing Businesses. Say no more!

I was also grappling with a fairly theoretical book on personality and ego for the Part 2 book Healthy Body and Mind, then discovered the really readable and entertaining book called the Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters. It puts the behaviour of myself and others in prefect context.

Q Do you have another project in the works? If so, what is it?

Yes, the Part 2 Healthy Body and Mind is already in Adobe InDesign chapter files and needs some major tweaking. Apparently the first book takes ages (mine did) and they come fairly fast after that. I hope to publish Part 2 for winter 2017. Part 3 dealing with finance, money tip, jobs and careers is largely typed-up in Word and waiting on the InDesign  treatment. And there’s a Bumper Book of Student Tips just waiting to be written!


Book Sample

There’s a sample of the book below for downloading. “But let me tell you a little about why I think it’s so beautiful on the inside. I really love my fonts and keep showing my students all the web fonts freely available for them to use. I like tall elegant fonts, I like visual changes between sections on a page and I like colour. Being an ex-engineer, I also like symmetry and regular patterns, so the chapter hearers always start on the right page and there’s a luxurious blank space above the chapter number and title.”

So in the printed colour book and many of the ebook versions, the chapter numbers, quotes and pull-quotes are all in a lovely orange. The fonts are all ebook friendly – that means they are optimised for the eye on mobile and tablet devices (for inside buildings and outside) as well as being mathematically optimised for lower demand on the processor. Below are a few pages as graphics.

Graphics to be provided shortly.

Book Cover

“I really love the orange gradient of the front and back covers. I’m going through an acid-colours phase with acid-green, acid-orange and acid-magenta as highlights in my home. It’s definitely going to stand out on the shelves and in browsers!”

The cover graphic, shown below, comprises the rear, spine and front covers (l to r) in one piece. This is how it is submitted to Amazon’s CreateSpace, for example. The Book Cover files attached contain a pdf of the front and back cover.

Press Kit: Think Smart. Work Smart. Part 1 of the Max Your Degree series- Full Cover
Think Smart. Work Smart. Part 1 of the Max Your Degree series- Full Cover

Files for sharing

To follow soon.