It is worth writing a book, isn’t it?
How V&V has helped us through
You have an idea for a book and you get started. You write, you revise, you refine, you research, you rework until you are satisfied with the words. Then come the pictures. That is fun too. You trawl your albums and select those that best set off and illustrate your words. You compose others to suit your needs and fill the gaps. Then come the permissions; ah, the permissions! These take time and patience. You request, you remind, you record and you replace if permission is not forthcoming. What next? You find a publisher. Now you are going to hand over your work and they are going to put it out there for you. Not so straightforward. You now step into the discussion realm, explaining, expanding, elucidating so your publisher knows your work inside out. Good so far.
“But where does it fit? What is your niche?”
“We don’t want a niche. We are cross-curricular.”
Eventually you decide you and the publisher are not the match made in Heaven you thought you would be and you politely part company. Sigh of relief on the one hand but now you are on your own again.
“Self-publish,” everyone says, but you know that is a lot of work. You just want someone to take over and do what you don’t know how to do to get your book out there.
“Self-publish,” people continue to say, so you do… and you end up having to learn to do all you hoped someone else would do. You are not the expert here. You are the writer: the putter-in-words of ideas, not the putter-out-there.
You knuckle down and do what you are told to do. You are presented with paper sizes and weights, cover bindings and ISBNs (you need ten?). You sign contracts for storage, for distribution, for… the list goes on. You review proofs, panic when the colours are not what you expected, spend hours in online meetings, correspond with the designer, contact the printer. Then, at last, you are ready for it to go “out there”. You have dates for publication. You can organise a launch (now you have to do that – another set of skills called into play). However, now you need a presence on social media. Your existing one is OK but you don’t have enough reach.
“Who are your clients? What is their most urgent need? How can you address their need?” You need a YouTube channel. You need to make videos. You need to get your story out there. People want to know you. Now you have to become a social media expert (well at least, you have to try). That bit is quite interesting and you have a good stab at it. You get to 255 views (how do people get thousands?). You boost a post. That is $12 well spent; you get to 700 views in three days. Now you are “cooking on gas” as an old friend used to say.
Then the ebook is ready. Or is it? The copy editor checks and it is riddled with errors. Without boring the reader with the details, the ebook pings between electronic bases. Errors are removed then new ones appear in the next version. Midnight oil is burned and frustration reaches desperation levels. How can this be happening? Finally, you get the all clear, press the button and launch on Amazon. This is all duly posted on social media. You have learned that one. There is a moment of euphoria. Congratulations fill the virtual airwaves. A toast is drunk. Then comes the next email: “Do you realise there are errors in the ‘Look inside’ app on Amazon?” There are indeed. How did that happen? Despair threatens to take over but the V&V use of stillness and calming takes us through. Checking proves it is not a fault from our side; the preview was fine. The developer is informed. A forum reveals that this is not an uncommon problem on Amazon. We unpublish. Their helpdesk is contacted. We can do this.
Meanwhile (yes, I nearly missed ‘meanwhile’) the print book has been sent to us and we have held it in our hands. More photos appear on social media. More messages flood our mailboxes. We did it! We have the book ready well in time for the publication date. We fill our cars with boxes of books for distribution and head out to deliver them to donors. Then comes that dreaded email. “Do you realise that the books are not well-packed? Books are arriving looking battered. This is not acceptable.” No it isn’t.
We will get there. V&V is getting us through. The process is tried and tested and has helped thousands of teachers and students over the last twenty-five years. It is helping us now. The eight tools of reflection have been invaluable. Stillness takes away the panic and anger, bringing calm. Listening allows you to really find out what is happening so you don’t just jump to conclusions about what you assume or presume is the situation. Story lets you contextualise what is going on: what is happening becomes part of our story, the V&V story (here it is in this blog). Encounter has enabled us to engage with the new adventures we have had along this journey. Celebration: there have been lots of those moments, even in the darkest hours. Every little achievement has been a celebration: a celebration of what we have learned in the process; a celebration of all the ‘ups’ along the way. Grieving has helped us through the difficult parts and we have grieved, but grief is part of life and needs to be acknowledged. We have acknowledged our grief. Visioning has kept us focused on what we really want for V&V and ‘Three-stage Visioning’ with the crucial “What is better today?” has been a life-saver. Journalling, writing down what has happened and using ‘Working Well and Sinking Sands’ has been another invaluable tool.
Perhaps the most important of all, however, is that we have started from and held on to our values, the core of V&V. These, combined with our team’s, our community’s, values have brought us to where we are today. Last July we shared our values and used ‘Going on a Journey’ to determine what we had as a team to take us on what has proved to be a much more taxing journey than we ever imagined.
Now this stage of the journey is nearly at an end. Values and Visions: Engaging students, refreshing teachers can be yours very soon. So to end this piece, it is worth writing a book. It is.