Well, this is it – the week that BA: An Insider’s Guide is finally unleashed on the public. After having worked so hard on this project, it’s a surreal feeling to see it reach this point. By the end of the week, all of the chapters that I’ve spent so long putting together will be available for other people to read. Then, finally, those chapters can start fulfilling their purpose: to help NZ students enjoy and excel at their BAs.
Last week, I donated a pre-release copy of An Insider’s Guide to the library of the high school that I teach at. The librarian took the book and thanked me. Then she saw my name on the front cover and squealed. “It’s you! That’s amazing!”
There is something amazing about publishing a book. It’s not the recognition. It’s not about seeing your name in print (although that is nice). What makes it awesome is the fact that it’s bloody difficult to do. It requires a lot of perseverance, adaptability and – if I’m honest – a decent amount of arrogance. In order for a publisher to put their confidence in you, you have to believe that your ideas are cool, that your writing is good, that the whole concept is a winner.
Then, once you’ve finally convinced a publisher that your book is worth investing in, you have to let them convince you how it could be better. You have to let them scour your pages for mistakes, inconsistencies and patches of fuzziness. You have to listen when they tell you that you sound prudish or try-hard or nasty. You have to rethink when they tell you that the layout doesn’t work, or the title isn’t catchy, or your best story just isn’t relevant. To publish a book you have to be a paradox: humbly arrogant, confidently unsure, a servant with authority.
I’ve learnt how to laugh at myself. As in, really laugh. What else can you do when your editor tells you that the chapter title ‘Dominate Exams’ inspires mental pictures of leather-clad nerds? Or when they say that your assurance that ‘I can teach you many things’ sounds inexplicably creepy? Or that the paragraph you spent two hours getting just right is over-written and unnecessary?
I’m incredibly grateful to have a publication team who have been able to laugh alongside me. While they’ve dealt me some tough advice, it’s never been personal. It’s only ever been about creating the best product for my readers. And I’m totally convinced that by our powers combined, we have done just that.
The book that you’ll see in the stores this week is the product of a four-year journey. It started one hot afternoon in a COMS lecture, when I decided to jot down a couple of tips for some of my struggling classmates. From there to here, with the help of a lot of people, laptops and late nights, that small list of tips has turned into a book. On the eve of its release, I want to wish that book good luck on the next stage of its journey. From here on it’s no longer about me and my book, it’s about an awesome study guide and a whole country full of new BA students.
Goodbye, book; hello, readers.