The family that markets together stays together

Shaun Attwood and his mother Barbara, at a book signing at Waterstone's Manchester Trafford Centre

You have to admire the Attwood clan in their joint effort to help build their son and brothers “cautionary tale” empire. I am referring to the family of Shaun Attwood, a British stockbroker whose rise and fall in Arizona is well documented. Last summer he read excerpts from his book at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival.

Since his release from an Arizona prison in 2007 where he was known as English Shaun, he’s been working hard to rebuild his life here in the UK. Not only has he written a well received book “Hard Time – A Brit in America’s Toughest Jail” but is in demand as a motivational speaker in various institutions including schools and prisons.

On a recent visit to his site,  I noticed his mother has been appearing at book signings with him for some time and even gives talks alongside him.  And now his sister Karen Attwood, is also cashing in on the whole affair by writing a book on how his  incarceration effected the family, something Shaun somewhat covered in his book as not only were his family’s finance hit hard, but his mother suffered a nervous break down after his arrest.

A sign of the times when everyone want’s a piece of the limelight, cathartic, slick marketing ploy or an attempt to help others? You decide.

Shaun Atteood talks to pupils at Wolverley CE school in Kidderminster. Photo credit: Kidderminster Shuttle

You see while I’m behind his endeavours I’m not in total awe of  Attwoods recent achievements. Why? Because unlike your garden variety drug dealer or perp, he really wasn’t destined to fail. The guy has a degree, he’s driven, more of a leader than follower and he has a very supportive family. All this is evident in the way he has skillfully mastered marketing of his book – it was a given he’d come up trumps.

Unlike a lot of people who don’t have a point of reference, I do. I too was in a US  prison, years before Attwood. It goes to say that while I never witnessed any of the horrors he did, I got to know women who had the odds stacked against them their whole lives. They walk out of those prison gates just as ill-equipped as when they came in. Seeing them flogging their book and being interviewed by the press? Now that’s what I call beating the odds, turning their life around –  a helluva achievement.

The USA has a dismal record for rehabilitating offenders, which accounts for the high rate of recidivism in prisons and county jails. Attwood never had the odds stacked against him, the way many of his prison buddies had.

From the internet to the book signings where he engages with shoppers, his book signings are mini-events complete with a remote-controlled cockroach (cockroaches are a big part of his book), cockroach ink stamped on shoppers hands, even getting shop staff to dress in prison stripes.  Shaun Attwood has a cozy deal with Waterson’s – a win win for both of them…he could teach other authors a thing or two about marketing.

I mean we are talking about they same guy who gave former Mafia hit man and FBI snitch,  Sammy “The Bull” Gravano a run for his money which led a local Phoenix paper to report: “Law enforcement sources now agree that while Gravano had muscle and flash, he was no English Shaun. Gravano lacked Shaun’s intelligence, organization, and diverse array of products, they say. They also claim that Attwood easily moved millions of dollars’ worth of meth, ecstasy, pharmaceuticals and marijuana through parties and raves in the Valley over the past few years, and they are careful to qualify that estimate as conservative. English Shaun was bigger, in other words, than Sammy the Bull”.

As for the Attwood Family involvement, I guess it’s only fitting seeing that it was them that started the blog while Shaun was behind bars.


Here is his blog: Jons Jail Journals

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