Since releasing Fail Your Viva in January I’ve enjoyed talking to people about it, and sure it’s been nice to see people buy it too. It was great to see some reviews come in on Amazon, but today was really special for me, because today it was reviewed on The Thesis Whisperer!
This witty guide is filled to bursting point with nugget after golden nugget of important viva survival material.
Of course I’m going to say “go and read the review!” because it’s for a book I created – but also go to The Thesis Whisperer because the site is full of amazing resources for postgraduate researchers. And check out Literature Review HQ, the site of Ben Libberton who reviewed the book for The Thesis Whisperer – his site is an excellent place for PhD students at all stages in their research.
I released Fail Your Viva last week and set up a page here to say more about it; it is currently available exclusively through the Amazon Kindle store. I’m really pleased to have got it done, got it out there and think that it is a really helpful resource for people preparing for their viva.
In the space of two days it went to the top spot of the College & University Education chart, and almost went into the top 10 for Education, which was really exciting. There are some good reviews of the book, and people have been very generous in tweeting about it too. I’ve started working on another book already (I’ve done a lot of writing in the last two years, now I feel like I can do something with it), and am looking at ways to make writing more a part of my business.
My next big question is “do I make a print version of the book?” Despite the book being on sale for less than a week I’m already getting some questions about where else people can get it – which is a great problem to have!
What are the options for print?
I could do a print-on-demand version, but am concerned that that might make the book too expensive for the size of it. Another thought is that I might canvas opinion to see how many copies might realistically be wanted and then do a limited print run. This might be best facilitated through something like a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign, but I’d need a little time to think through the logistics of that. I’m spending some time thinking about this now and despite a busy schedule in the coming months it might be something to do sooner rather than later.
But what do you think? Would you buy a paperback version of a viva preparation book? What might you be willing to pay? (you can see how much the ebook is here) Are you someone from a university who might buy multiple copies? Any thoughts, questions, opinions – please let me know, either in the comments box, over email or on Twitter!
The jury is still out (I think) on whether or not we have skipped straight to winter. It certainly feels that way! It’s a couple of months since I mentioned what was going on around here, so thought now – a rainy, windy, cold Monday morning – was as good a time as any to bring you up to speed.
How does the summer go by so quickly? Am amazed that it is the 20th of August already. Before you know it Christmas will be here.
It’s been a strange couple of weeks around here, mostly because I’ve not been delivering workshops at all. I find myself going a bit stir crazy after a few weeks. And it seems like there will be a few more before my regular clients need me to deliver workshops, so I could be really loopy by the time I’m back in front of a seminar room full of PGRs.
There have been lots of things going on around here of late, which has been great but has meant that I’ve not had the chance to write about them!
KESS GRADschools: in June I directed three GRADschools for the KESS programme. Directing is a bit strange; on some programmes, despite being front-and-centre for a lot of time it can feel like you’re a bit removed from the group. I’ve talked to other people about directing in the past, and of course this can vary wildly, but I’ve heard other people say similar. I didn’t get that a lot on the KESS GRADschools so far; what makes them really interesting is how personal they can feel. With smaller cohorts you can really get to know people a little more – and at the very least get to know everyone’s name. I’m facilitating on another KESS GRADschool next week, so am hoping that the weather improves!
Viva Survivor: I was in Manchester yesterday to deliver a Viva Survivor workshop; it’s two years since I did the first one, and I can’t believe that it has been that long, or quite how many I’ve done since that first one. It was doing Viva Survivor that I really started to feel confident with my facilitation style, and it’s been a motivator for lots of other ideas and opportunities since then. Including…
Viva Survivors: …this one! The Viva Survivors Podcast is going well; with so much work for KESS and then a short holiday, it was tough to stay on top of editing new material to put out. But last week I was able to upload two new podcasts, interviews with Dr Jennifer Cromwell and Dr Julia Collins. I’m conducting more interviews in the near future, and always on the look out for more people to talk to, so please get in touch! And follow @VivaSurvivors on Twitter (and me too).
New Ideas, New Challenges: August is going to be a quiet month in terms of going out and delivering workshops; I kind of expect that now, it’s part of working in the kind of area that I do. So, a month long holiday, right? WRONG! I’ll be working on new resources, a couple of projects that I have started, working even more to try and make Viva Survivors a really valuable resource for PhD candidates, and I’ll probably end up doing some odd jobs around the house as well.
OK, so in and amongst all that I might find time to take a day off…
A very short post, just to tell you that the Viva Survivors Podcast is online and already getting some nice traffic. It took me a few extra days than I had planned originally in order to get it up and running, but decided that that was the best thing, especially with the Jubilee Bank Holiday.
The first two podcasts in the series are up, and I’m planning on getting the third up hopefully by the end of next week. Episode 1 features my former officemate and good friend Shaine Bushell, and Episode 2 features Anna Tarrant, who is the managing editor of PhD2Published, a great site for helping academics to think about getting their work published.
Stay tuned: this is just the beginning!
There’s just one thing that I want to talk about in this post: the Viva Survivors Podcast. I’ve interviewed four people so far, and I think I have a few more in the pipeline (once I get times sorted out), and the hosting for it has now been secured. If you like, you can visit the site here (at the time of writing there is not much there) – and I would encourage you to visit it from next Wednesday, 6th June 2012, which is when the first two podcasts should be up!
GRADschool: Last week’s Manchester GRADschool was great! Great to be doing a GRADschool, great to meet so many researchers doing interesting things, and great to be working with talented and wonderful people. The Low Tech Social Network that we set up at the start created a bit of a buzz; I forgot to get any pictures of it, so am hoping that I’ll get some sent through. The main project task of the workshop was really interesting (producing videos about communicating impact or social media skills to researchers), and it was fun to see how the teams met the brief in so many different ways. Long live #MancGrads12, roll on #MancGrads13!
Viva-related Things: I’m off to LJMU tomorrow to deliver a Viva Survivor session, and in the next hour I’ll be recording my fourth interview for the Viva Survivors Podcast. Things are on track at the moment for me having the basic Viva Survivors Podcast site up and running by the end of the month, with the first few podcasts going up then, and a regular posting of links, podcasts and other material should follow.
Collaboration: I really enjoyed seeing the efforts/results for some Collaboration Challenges that I ran during the GRADschool last week, and am wondering if this was perhaps the first dry run of a new NonZeroSum iteration… Maybe! I am delivering Creating Effective Collaboration twice in the next week and a half, and it’s very likely that I will get the first run of the four team version that I developed.
New Ideas: Following the GRADschool I’m feeling a bit supercharged. Perhaps the long weekend after it helped as well. I’ve got a book of ideas, and I should be developing them. I should be doing something with them. And I have a growing sense that there are possibilities and ideas just out of reach, I just need to take a few more steps. I need to juggle concepts – or perhaps throw all of my ideas in the air and see what I can catch… I’ll think on this some more, and more than that, take some actions…
Manchester GRADschool: that’s really on my mind! I’m off to Manchester tomorrow, and you can follow news and updates on it by following the hashtag #MancGrads12. I’m leading on two of the sessions in the first two days, and I’ll get some pictures to show how things go with them.
Viva Survivors Podcast: I recorded my second interview for this project on Friday! Very exciting, and I’ll be recording number three today. After this week I’ll start to edit the interviews, and towards the end of the month I will be launching a separate website to host them. If anyone wants to contribute their viva and PhD story to the podcast please get in touch! And if you’re a PGR and have any questions that you want me to ask people or cover in the series, drop me a line.
Back in Action: I’ve been on holiday for most of the last two weeks; my wife and I had a great time in Fuengirola, walking around, enjoying the sunshine, catching up on some reading (more on that in a paragraph or two) and just generally relaxing. The next few months are going to be busy (which is a good thing!), not least because between now and the end of June I am involved in five GRADschools, including directing three of them.
Out of our Minds: My first piece of holiday reading was the updated version of this book by Sir Ken Robinson. I used a lot of Post-It notes as I went through. The thing that rang most clearly and eloquently from it all was the statement that education is an investment: rather than constantly try to save money, we need to frankly take onboard the investment being made both in the person and in society. Education starts with children but needs to go on through an entire life, and it needs to be done in a way that it resonates with people: people need to be allowed to find their passion, and then enabled to take it further. Lots of food for thought.
Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman: I have been meaning to learn more about Feynman recently, having been completely captivated by the Feynman Series of videos (and also the Sagan Series). This book did not disappoint, and made me want to learn even more about the man. It also gave me a real hankering to start looking at things from a different perspective.
Manchester GRADschool: Once I’m all caught up on email, admin and the like, I’ll be turning my attention to the GRADschool that I’m facilitating on next week. I’m also leading on (and have designed) some collaboration exercises, and so I’m interested to see how they go and what people make of them.
I’ve had lots of little ideas sparked during my holiday time, so I’ll be exploring those over the coming weeks. I’ll write any stray thoughts I have on here.