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Hostile Work Environment Definition

New Hostile Workplace Book Cover Reveal: How You Voted

Thank you all so very much for voting on which cover to use for the new, greatly expanded version of my book.  Without further ado, here’s the winner:


The book cover image that I liked best and would have chosen came in third place!  The cover that came in first place by a wide margin and won the contest was “Breaking free of shackles”, as pictured above.  Second place in the cover voting was “Stressed worker”, which is the current cover on the book and is pictured here:


This surprised me too. It obviously works as a cover, since the book as sold well over time. But, it looks dated and not as professional to me. Perhaps I am just tired of looking at it? Anyway, the current cover coming in second place, and beating out my personal favorite which came in third place, shocked me. It just goes to show how beneficial it is to ask people what they like, want and need, rather than to just assume that you know best (although, taking the attitude of “I know best” seems to have worked for Steve Jobs and Apple).

Here is the cover that I personally would have chosen, that you voted into third place, “Fist with Clouds”:


Your Votes for the New Title

My working title for the new version of the book was “Workplace P.O.W.’s” I wanted to try to make “POW” stand for Prisoners Of a hostile Workplace. The analogy seemed right to me, but the sound and acronym wasn’t a perfect fit. Once again, it was a good thing I didn’t just run with it myself. Here’s how you voted about the new book title:

Q2. Please rank the book titles in order from the one you would be most likely to buy to the one you would be least likely to buy.
Responses  Rank 1   Rank 2   Rank 3   Rank 4  Weighted
Prisoners of a Hostile Work Environment 156 85 95 42 1(1111)
Work Laws Exposed 107 115 84 72 2(1013)
How to be a Bulletproof Employee 82 110 96 90 3(940)
Workplace P.O.W.’s 33 68 103 174 4(716)
Total Responses 383

So my working title came in last! The old book title, like the old book cover, came in second. Again that stuns me. Do people really like “Work Laws Exposed”, or is it just comfortable because you are used to it?

I love the winner: “Prisoners of a Hostile Work Environment”. I think that sums up how people truly feel when they are subjected to a bullying boss or co-worker. It feels disorienting, sickening, and there is often a sinking belief that you are trapped and alone.

I think this title really captures the emotional prison of being bullied at work.

But, as you all know, the book is about taking back control of your work life and learning that you are not alone and you do have rights. That’s where the “sub-title” comes in. My favorite of the potential subtitles was “Join the Resistance and Break Free”. Take a look at where my favorite subtitle rank in your voting:

Q3. Please rank the following SUB-TITLES in order from the one you would be most likely to buy to the one you would be least likely to buy.
Responses  Rank 1   Rank 2   Rank 3   Rank 4   Rank 5  Weighted Rank
How to Take Control of Your Job and Protect Yourself 211 101 30 15 23 1(1602)
How to Fight Back and Break Free 51 81 148 67 33 2(1190)
How to Fight Back Against the Jerks at Work and Save Your Job 84 95 46 30 125 3(1123)
How To Join the Resistance and Break Free 10 47 86 165 72 4(898)
Join the Resistance and Break Free 24 56 70 103 127 5(887)
Total Responses 383

This is why I don’t bet on horses. Clearly, the best subtitle explains exactly what problem-solving advice the book will provide to readers. And, the one you all voted for does that very well. I had liked “Join the Resistance” after a reader suggested it. For people who have read the book and want to join a movement to change our culture, “Join the Resistance” is perfect (more on that in my next post). But, for people who still feel like prisoners, “Join the Resistance” probably feels like too much work to even deal with until the intense pain of their situation stops.

So again, you all schooled me on what people really need, as opposed to what I think sounds inspiring. So, here is the complete cover, title and subtitle exactly as it will appear when the revised and expanded book hits Amazon on Labor Day.


What do you think of the final cover, title and sub title? Let me know in the comments section below what your impressions are, whether bad or “meh” or “love it.”

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  1. I missed the voting unfortunately so this the first look for me at all the titles and subtitles and imagery. And I have to say, based on the choices, I like the title “Prisoners Of A Hostile Work Environment” the best. However the subtitle I think could have been explosively better if it combined 2 of the chosen options:
    1) How to Take Control of Your Job and Protect Yourself” and 2) How to Fight Back Against the Jerks at Work and Save Your Job.

    Mashing them up I would have preferred: “How to Take Control of Your Job, Protect Yourself and Fight Back Against the Jerks at Work” and drop Save Your Job part. That may be important to many, but I found its more about fighting back and protecting yourself, than it is about saving the job because the job will be saved if the first two are conquered.

    The key is “Fight Back Against the Jerks at Work” because in the end, if its truly a Prison environment, who the hell wants to stay in a prison. I was so angry and depressed at a former job and it disrupted my life so much, it colored everything in my world and impacted negatively my personal life. When I found the undercover lawyer, it saved me in a lot of ways and I’m forever thankful. So if I was that same person once upon a time when I was in distress, and I was looking for help, for a resource, a book, a guide, anything to educate me on positioning myself to gain some power in an awful situation, and lets say I was browsing books online at Amazon or in a book store and this title, with this subtitle was displayed (along with the powerful imagery): “Prisoners Of A Hostile Work Environment” – “How to Take Control of Your Job, Protect Yourself and Fight Back Against the Jerks at Work” –> I would BUY immediately and read that sucker cover to cover!

    My .02

  2. Undercover Lawyer says:

    Thanks for the helpful feedback Jay. The book *does* explain, in a step by step way, “How to Take Control of Your Job, Protect Yourself and Fight Back Against the Jerks at Work”. Give it a try and you won’t be disappointed; it’s powerful stuff.

  3. I believe the reason the subtitle “How to Take Control of Your Job and Protect Yourself” was the clear winner is because all the other subtitles use the words “Fight” and “Resistance”, which implies CONFRONTATION and STRESS, which will result in GETTING FIRED. Nobody wants that. However, the terms “Take Control” and “Protect Yourself” suggest CONFIDENCE, EMPOWERMENT, PEACE OF MIND, which will result in KEEPING YOUR JOB.

    Kudos to Undercover Lawyer for having insight and wisdom to field test the book cover, title, and subtitle. No doubt, the book will do great. Best of luck!

  4. Undercover Lawyer says:

    Good insight, Derek, about more confrontation just being too overwhelming. People dealing with a hostile workplace need relief, and peace, not more tension. I agree with you.

  5. Jesse Serrato says:

    It looks Childish
    But than again, what do you expect from people that have no Graphic Design backgrounds

  6. As a veteran bookstore manager of 11 years, I have to agree with the voters on the cover. Covers are TREMENDOUSLY important and communicate so much to the buyers/readers before they’ve even read a word of the title.

    P.S. pre-ordered the book, very excited to get a copy! Thank you for your work!

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