Author Topic: Professional Diaries #4 with Gary Bandy, professional PFM writer  (Read 2043 times)


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Professional Diaries #4 with Gary Bandy, professional PFM writer
« on: January 13, 2023, 11:45:38 GMT »
For this new instalment of Professional Diaries I have the pleasure to welcome Gary Bandy.

‘Helping accountants to write better’ is the statement on his Linked’In page. Not a small feat for us consultants in the PFM realm, struggling to keep a fine balance between being analytical and being clear in our assignments.

Gary is a chartered public finance accountant and has worked as a freelance consultant in public financial management for public sector and voluntary organisations since 2005. As well as advising public organisations on any aspect of their financial management he teaches at university level and he writes books, courses and articles (find out more at and ).

His diary, among other topics, will focus on the process that led him to publish the third edition of his book ‘Financial Management and Accounting in the Public Sector’.

Dear Gary,
The floor is yours. We, PFMBoarders, will follow your posts with great interest in the coming weeks.

[A reminder to the readers: diaries are not meant for a conversation, we have the fire-side chat for that in the PFM Board. Yet any registered PFM Boarder is free to make a comment on any of Gary’s posts below.]
« Last Edit: January 13, 2023, 16:34:34 GMT by Napodano »


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Re: Professional Diaries #4 with Gary Bandy, professional PFM writer
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2023, 10:25:58 GMT »
December 2008

In December 2008 the global financial crisis was underway and I found myself in Juba, the capital city of what is now South Sudan. Back in 2008 South Sudan’s independence referendum had not yet taken place but there was a n autonomous government in place under the terms of the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement that ended more than 50 years of conflict.

I was in Juba as part of a team from Warwick Business School that was delivering a five-day course in public finance to 50 civil servants from the Ministry of Commerce and Development.

My connection with Warwick Business School goes back to 2002 when I enrolled in its part-time Master’s of Public Administration. I completed the degree in 2005 but remained in contact with the business school as many alumni do. In the 2000s Professor John Benington and others from the business school were involved in various capacity building projects in fragile states, including South Sudan.  In 2008 he put out a call for a public finance expert to go to South Sudan and I volunteered.

I had been an independent public finance consultant since 2005 so I was free to take on any project that interested me. Although I had given many presentations in my career by then I had never delivered a lecture. It was a challenging and rewarding week in a hotel beside the River Nile.

There were (and are) no direct flights between South Sudan and the UK so the team had to fly home via Nairobi. In Nairobi we had a 12 hour stopover during which John and I had a conversation about teaching financial management. It included this exchange

John:         For the MPA we have a textbook for each module except the financial management module.

Me:            Why’s that?

John:         We’ve never been able find a suitable one.

Me:            I guess they’re a lots of accounting textbooks aimed at people who want to be accountants and there are all those books with business tips that are sold in airports.

John:         Yes, but they’re not public-sector focused.

Me:            I see there is a gap in the market.

John:         Why don’t you write a book to fill the gap?

Ultimately, two things came out of my trip to Juba. First, having proved myself in the classroom I was invited to teach public finance courses at Warwick Business School. Second, I wrote a book proposal. That’s the subject of the next diary entry.


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Re: Professional Diaries #4 with Gary Bandy, professional PFM writer
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2023, 11:26:51 GMT »
July 2009 to February 2010

Non-fiction publishing is not the same as fiction publishing. In 2005-06 I wrote a novel. It was set in a city council and was called 'Power, Corruption and Lies'.

The way fiction publishing works is that first you write the book and then you send it (or usually just the first three chapters) to agents and publishers and hope they like it enough to ask to see the rest of the manuscript. JK Rowling was rejected 80 times before getting a contract. I gave up after about 30 rejections.

Those rejections came after I wrote 8 drafts of 100,000 words. That’s a lot of effort. Non-fiction publishing, I was relieved to discover, works the other way around: you get a contract before you write the manuscript. This is much more time-efficient.

The way to get a contract is to send a book proposal to the publisher. A book proposal is a lot like a business case. In it you have to explain the core subject matter and approach and back it up with a description of the audience for the book (the market), analysis of similar books (the competition) and your social and professional networks (the sales strategy). Appending a draft chapter to prove you can write clearly can help, too.

In 2009 I wrote a proposal for a book that would explain public sector financial management to non-accountants. I had in mind something like the business books you see in airport booksellers. It was called ‘Ten Rules for Managing Public Money’.

I sent the proposal to 3 academic publishers. One said no thanks. The second said it was a good idea but they did not know how they would sell it. And Routledge said they were looking for a finance book to fit into their Masters in Public Management series. (This is a much better feeling that getting 30 rejection letters!)

The process from this initial acceptance to getting a contract is somewhat bureaucratic. My first editor, Terry, had to take the proposal to a committee for approval to issue a contract and he could not do that until he had verified the idea. This required sending my proposal to some academics (anonymous to me) for their comments and advice on the idea.

I was sent the comments from those academics and in December 2009 had to produce a revised version of my proposal. It was this version that Terry took to the committee and, in February 2010, I was issued a standard book contract. This required me to deliver a manuscript of up to 125,000 words for a book called ‘Financial Management and Accounting in the Public Sector’ by 31 July 2010.


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Re: Professional Diaries #4 with Gary Bandy, professional PFM writer
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2023, 10:47:43 GMT »
July 2010

In January, when the publisher asked me how long it would take to write the manuscript I thought six months was more than enough. I thought: how hard can it be?

One challenge I had underestimated was changing my concept for the book to an academic textbook. My original book proposal is attached. The proposed chapters are all ‘rules’ such as  Know Your Budget and Be Accountable. Now I had to write something structured into the stages of the PFM cycle: budget preparation, approval, execution, etc. And, also, I had to read relevant books, articles and reports in order have a theoretical basis for the book.

By July I had written about one and a half chapters. I asked for a 3-month extension without declaring how much I had actually written. I knew it was unrealistic and I was just putting off the day or reckoning.

September 2010

By now I had finished chapter 2 but the looming deadline was causing me a lot of stress. I did not want to admit to failure, partly because I thought the publisher would drop me.

My wife gave me a pep talk. She advised me to forget about getting any consulting assignments and just be a full-time writer until it was finished.

I asked for, and got, an extension of the deadline to Christmas. I had 8 chapters to write in 13 weeks. So, that’s what I did.

I would spend every day in my home office writing and re-writing the manuscript. I had to do about 2,000 words a day. That’s harder than it sounds when you have to do it every day.

When each chapter was drafted I would print it out for my wife to review. She is not an accountant so she was the perfect reader to assess whether my writing was clear enough for non-accountants to follow.

December 2010

I had written all the chapters by Christmas 2010 but there was a couple of weeks’ work needed to collate the reference lists at the ends of each chapter. By mid-January 2011 I would be ready to submit the manuscript to the publisher.



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Re: Professional Diaries #4 with Gary Bandy, professional PFM writer
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2023, 17:44:23 GMT »
January 2011

About two weeks into January 2011 I took my manuscript, on a thumb drive and as paper, to my editor at his office in London. I don’t think I had to deliver it personally, but I wanted to because I had never actually met my editor.

The office was not in a fancy part of the west end of London. It was in a grimy part of east London, close to a massive roundabout.

I asked Terry, “What happens next?” I assumed my manuscript would be sent to some academics to be reviewed and quality-assured, like a journal article.

He said, “I’ll send it to production tomorrow.”

I panicked a little. If I’d known it was not going to be reviewed by experts I might have checked it more myself. But it was too late. The snowball was rolling downhill and there was no stopping it.

March 2011

Whilst it was the case that there was no peer review of my manuscript, it did go through a copy edit.

I am impressed at the work of copy editors. They read the material so closely and check everything. They sent back the manuscript to me with a list of queries. Almost all of them related to the references. They spot where the year is different in the text from the reference list and where author names are spelled differently. They also spot citations in the text where there is no reference in the reference list.

I don’t think my manuscript was too bad. There were two or three queries per chapter.

May 2011

After the copy editor is finished the manuscript goes to the typesetters. I guess this is much easier to do, and more accurate, in the digital age than when metal letters were assembled in racks. Authors are sent the proofs as a PDF and have a few weeks to go through every page and mark up any mistakes or other changes.

If you’ve never seen them, there are special typographic marks used to tell printers about changes to be made. As well as correcting spellings there are symbols for when to add or delete spaces, when to emphasise text and so on. The editors marks are set out in ISO5776:2022 (CHF155 if you want to buy it) but you can learn the basics from the internet. I’ve attached the two documents I was given by the typesetter showing what the marks are and how they are used.

The publishers emphasise that they only want errors to be corrected. This is not the time for an author to decide to add a few paragraphs here and remove a paragraph there.

There were not many changes or corrections for me to make but there was quite a bit of work creating the index.

The index could only be done once the book was typeset and page numbers were known. I could have allowed the publisher to do the index but the fee would have exceeded a year’s royalties. It took me a couple of days to do the work. I would think of keywords, search for them in the PDF and take note of the pages that were found.

July 2011

Finally, the big day came. The first edition was published on 11 July. A few days before that a parcel arrived at my home with my free copies of the book. There were three hardback and six paperback. The paperback cover image is attached to this post.

I kept one of each and gave the others as gifts to people who are important to me. Most of those recipients would not, I know, actually read the book. My mum, for example, has no interest in public financial management. But I did not know if there would ever be another book with my name on the spine.


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Re: Professional Diaries #4 with Gary Bandy, professional PFM writer
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2023, 12:28:42 GMT »
April 2012

I don’t know how things work for all authors but for my books, the publisher produces a royalty statement on 31 March each year, covering sales of my book in all formats and territories during the preceding calendar year.

I got the first statement in April 2012. During the second half of 2011 a total of 304 copies were sold. Some of those were bought by university libraries but most of them were bought by regular people using their own money. They were very few sales in the US, about a third in the UK and just over half in other countries.

I had imagined my book would only sell in the UK and it is an amazing feeling to know that people all over the world appreciate something that you created.

May 2013

The first edition continued to sell about 500 copies a year and in late 2013 I was asked if I was interested in updating it to a second edition.

This is, in itself, a sign of success. And of course I said yes without knowing what was involved.

It turns out that I had to write a new book proposal setting out all the things that were in the original one, but emphasising how the second edition would improve on the first. In short, I said it would be a more international book, and some of the UK-specific material would be cut.

Spring 2014

Barely a day goes by where I don’t say to my wife that something or other I have done that day took longer than I expected. Evidently I am terrible at estimating the effort needed to complete a task, and the same was true for writing the second edition of Financial Management and Accounting in the Public Sector.

I thought it would be a case of working my way through the Word file for each chapter and making a few changes. When I read the manuscript I thought it was terrible and needed a lot more than a few tweaks.

I work digitally for almost everything (I remember the talk of paperless offices in the 1980s and I try to live that way) but for the second edition I printed the whole manuscript from the 1st edition and worked on it with a red pen. I crossed sections out, and moved others to new locations.

It took as long to do the second edition as the first. I delivered it to the publisher in early June 2014. From there the process of copy editing, typesetting and indexing was repeated.

December 2014

The second edition was scheduled to be published in January 2015. Actually it was released early and I got my copies in December 2014.

The second edition cover is my idea. I complained about the brown cover used for the first edition. my editor asked me what I would like. I said it should be orange (my favourite colour) and have a picture of an owl (for wisdom). The designers sent me several versions to choose from.

I am much happier with the second edition of the book, and not just because it has a jolly cover. I think it is better-written and the chapters flow more smoothly. I’m very proud of it. It sells a few hundred copies a year but it is getting out of date...
« Last Edit: February 15, 2023, 14:55:22 GMT by GaryBandy »


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Re: Professional Diaries #4 with Gary Bandy, professional PFM writer
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2023, 10:39:18 GMT »
December 2019

Over the years I have been impressed and humbled whenever I hear about my book being used as a text for an official course or programme. I’ve heard of its use in Austria, Australian and Netherlands, to name a few.

Its use on a course by Tom Overmans at the Utrecht Business School has involved me more closely than most. Tom’s course is designed with various guest speakers, one each week of the ten week programme. Because the course uses my book as one of its set texts he asked me if I would be the guest for one of the sessions.

These sessions were held using Zoom (back before COVID-19 made video conferencing an everyday part of work). It was great fun for me to talk to a group of about 20 students about the book. They had some questions about the content and my thoughts on current public financial management issues; and some questions about how I came to write the book and why is there an owl on the cover?

In December 2019 I made the effort to attend the session in person, on a day trip from Manchester. That happened to be a couple of days after Routledge asked me if I would be interested in a third edition of the book.

I was surprised after so long to be asked about a new edition. I had come to assume it was a book that they did not see as a viable commercial prospect any longer. However, being flattered (or is it vain) I said yes.

When I said yes, I did not think then it would take over three years to get the third edition into the world. It took almost a year to get through the publishers’s commissioning process because it was 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic changed everything.

The pandemic also changed what I put in my proposal. It became obvious that any new edition had to reflect the fact that effective public financial management is essential for governments to be able to deliver the services their citizens expect in a crisis. (This is of course equally true in normal times but it is not so visible.)

July 2021

I finally got a signed contract for the third edition on 2 July 2021. This was for a  manuscript of 130,000 words to be delivered by 31 December 2021. If you’ve read the earlier entries in this diary you will know that it was inevitable that I would fail to meet the contractual deadline…


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Re: Professional Diaries #4 with Gary Bandy, professional PFM writer
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2023, 11:58:59 GMT »
January to July 2022

The original deadline for the manuscript was December 2021. The pressure of (paying) work meant I missed it, and the revised one of March 2022. Indeed, I had barely started by then. I got a further extension to July 2022 and focused on the book 5 days a week from April.

When I started work on the third edition by digging out the manuscript for the 2nd edition. It turned out to be 150,000 words and there was little prospect of adding new material about COVID-19 and also cutting the book to 130,000 words. The first thing was to get permission to increase the word limit to 150,000.

Having the view that the second edition was a much better book than the first edition, I did not expect to need much time to update the existing chapters and drop in some new material. I was wrong. I spent more than 200 hours on the manuscript.

Some parts needed a lot more work than others. Chapter 1, the introduction to the main concepts of public financial management, was completely re-written to reflect the new-found importance of PFM during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chapter 9, on auditing, also had a major re-write because I have learned a lot about auditing since 2014. Chapter 10 was deleted. Deleting it was easy enough but there was a lot of wrestling in my mind before I made the decision. I spent time and effort to write the chapter and it’s hard for anyone to throw away something they have invested in. I reached the conclusion, though, that it did not add much value and something had to give if I was to hit the 150,000 words limit.

The remaining chapters needed more updating than I had anticipated. In part that is because a book published in 2023 can’t be based only on books and articles written more than ten years earlier. I needed to include up-to-date views about PFM. It was also because one item of feedback about the 2nd edition was a request for more exercises. I therefore wrote some new exercises for every chapter and included suggested answers in a section at the back of the book.

Finally, on 8 August 2022 I sent the manuscript files to my editor, for the copyediting and typesetting processes to be commissioned.

March 2023

I am writing this diary entry just a few weeks after I got a message that the typesetters had finished and the book is “in press” and one day after my “author copies” arrived (see photo). Later this month it will be in readers’ hands. If you want it you can get a 20% discount if you buy it at using the code AFL01. This is valid until 30 June 2023.

Conclusion: has it been worth it?

From the point of view of business, no. I earn royalties from sales but it is a niche topic and the annual sales are in hundreds, not hundreds of thousands. If I converted my cumulative royalties into an hourly rate for the hundreds of hours I spent writing the book they would fall well below the UK’s minimum wage.

But there are a lot of qualitative benefits that more than make up for that. First, I can tell people I am a published author. People recognise what an achievement that is even if they have absolutely no interest in PFM and would never read my book.

Second, all the editions are published in the UK and USA and that means the copyright libraries, including the British Library and the Library of Congress, have copies. And they’ll have them long after I’m dead.

Third, it’s a great feeling when you’re teaching a class to be able to give your own book as a prize for a test or a task.

And lastly, it has led to opportunities. It has made my name more widely known as both an expert in PFM and someone who can write clearly about it. This has helped me to land some very interesting and rewarding assignments. I hope that continues with the third edition.


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Re: Professional Diaries #4 with Gary Bandy, professional PFM writer
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2023, 17:37:55 GMT »
The third edition of Financial Management and Accounting in the Public Sector is published on 14 March 2023. It has changed in many ways since the first edition came out almost 12 years ago.

The enclosed PDF shows the table of contents for the first and third editions.

You can see that chapters 1 to 9 of both editions are broadly the same in terms of subject matter although the titles have changed. They still keep to the sequence of an introductory chapter, then budgeting, then chapters relating to execution and finally chapters relating to accountability, evaluation and auditing. The third edition, however, makes this thread much more evident in the text. It also moves quite a lot of material about accounting from chapter 1 to chapter 8

The 12-year gap between the editions means that the data used for tables and charts has been updated. There are also references to more recent books, reports and articles to ensure the new edition feels like a current book, and not just an old book in a new cover.

A lot of material has been removed. The first edition included many references to British local government. It included explanations of the council tax levied by British local government and the history of the District Audit Service.

Including this sort of material reflected the fact that I started my career in local government and I think like a local government officer. I think that the local level of public administration is the most important because that is where the services are delivered, whether by a local council, a school board, a charity operating health clinics, or whatever. However, I have to recognise that readers of the book wanted something that focused more on central government and was more international.

New material was added for the second edition and yet more has been added in the third. The third edition has about 100 more pages than the first.

The most notable additions are references to the COVID-19 pandemic and its relevance to PFM practices. The third edition also has more material about public procurement as a result of re-focusing the chapter on all procurement and not just public-private partnerships.

There is more material in the auditing chapter, too. Again, it is less British and more general, and it also has more material about the process of auditing (such as an explanation of how Audit Risk can be assessed).


To celebrate the publication of the third edition I am going to give away a signed paperback copy of the book. To be in with a chance go to <> and let me have your email address. The competition is open until 31 March 2023. After that, I will select a winner at random from all the entries and then contact the winner to ask for their postal address. Good luck.


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Re: Professional Diaries #4 with Gary Bandy, professional PFM writer
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2023, 16:32:31 GMT »
One final post to close this diary. The signed book draw took place this week. The winner was a graduate student at Georgia State University and the book is already on its way.

Thanks to Mauro for the opportunity to write this diary. And thanks to you for reading it.

Best wishes,


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Re: Professional Diaries #4 with Gary Bandy, professional PFM writer
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2023, 09:43:00 GMT »
Our PFMBoard community thanks you, Gary, for the interesting experience shared with us.
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