Following 10 years of headship I embarked on a professional doctorate, choosing to focus my research on the transition from deputy headship to headship. I tracked the progress of six new headteachers through their final months as deputies and into their first two terms of headship, and reported my findings of their experiences.
I tried to record honestly the challenges they faced and strategies they adopted. Though the participants were anonymised, I’d captured a significant amount of detail about them and therefore withheld the online publication of my thesis out of respect for their confidentiality.
However, I felt that what I’d learnt about moving into headship would be useful to new and aspiring heads, as well as governors. Keen to communicate these messages to a professional audience, I approached Crown House and asked if they’d be interested in publishing a book.
Drawing on my research findings and
prior headship experience, I wrote Making the Leap – Moving from Deputy to Head between January and June 2016 and it was published in November that year. The advice I’d offer to other educators wondering whether they might have a book in them would therefore be as follows:
1. Develop a clear idea of what you hope to communicate and a sense of what your target audience will gain from reading what you intend to write. Think also about structure – I dedicated time in the first month to organising my material, carefully considering the content of each chapter.
2. If you’re clear as to the nature and shape of your proposed book, you’re ready to approach an educational publisher. You’ll probably be asked to submit a written proposal with details of what will make your book distinctive from others in the market, your intended audience, how you might promote the book and who might be prepared to review it.
3. If you get the green-light from a publisher, you’ll then receive a contract to sign before discussing appropriate deadlines. Often these will include the submission of early chapters for scrutiny and comment while the writing is underway. Naturally, you’ll need to be sufficiently motivated and disciplined to meet those deadlines and keep going. Don’t agonise over what you write – focus on getting your ideas down, then edit and refine later on as needed. Once the draft is complete, you’ll liaise with a copy editor who’ll highlight necessary corrections and suggest some potential amendments.
4. At this stage you may be asked to suggest possible reviewers. Their job will be to read and provide feedback on the existing draft and supply potential comments for the cover, opening pages and/or promotional material once the book is in print. I chose 14 individuals I knew to be aspiring heads, heads-elect or new heads, since they formed my primary audience. In some cases you’ll also help decide who to approach for a foreword, write your acknowledgements and decide on a dedication, should you wish to include one.
5. Finally, your publisher will discuss with you the physical look of the book and front cover. As the printing process commences, consider the book’s launch and how it will be publicised – some authors choose to hold a launch event.
Needless to say, receiving a copy of your published book and holding it in your hands for the first time is an incredible thrill. So … do you have a book in you?
Jill Berry is a leadership consultant, author and former headteacher