Careful! Turn your back for even a second and some pesky upstart will publish an ebook -- without asking anyone for permission. Fancy that! But Our Man says: Get with the now, grandpa! (Or something). Ultimately, the opening of the publishing world can only be a good thing for truth, justice and he Abikan Way, not to mention readers and writers (maybe not so good for the legacy publishers, but even they should benefit from an expansion of interest in reading and writing, unless they want to be all sniffy about it and sulk in their previously inaccessible paper castles in the sky). But enough about them, let's talk about us -- the readers and authors (for we are the same thing these days). And the latest is video blogger Kevin O’Shea who kindly humoured Our Man with 10 answers about how he became an author. On your marks, Kev...
1. Tell Our Man about your book. What's it all about?
Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal is basically a how-to guide for people who are interested in teaching in Japan or South Korea. It is an easy to read guide that gives them a lot of factual information about preparing to move abroad, searching for work and how to prepare yourself for the rigours of managing a classroom. The book also gives people an idea of what they might expect when they are suddenly immersed in a new culture. Along with this how-to information are a series of real-life stories from my own experiences. Readers can learn about some of the ups and downs of working in the language industry in both countries, in an amusing way.
2. Why did you feel compelled to write this book?
I have been an active blogger for about eight years. I started my first blog while living in Seoul and continued it when teaching in Busan, South Korea. While living and working in Busan, I discovered YouTube. Still in its relative infancy, I became a video blogger when not many where doing it. I filmed aspects of my life in Korea. That was in 2006. I continued vlogging once I moved back to Canada and studied in a teacher-training program at the University of Ottawa. I had been in Korea for more than five years and wanted to share some knowledge with those out there thinking of going to Korea to teach. I made a video about teaching in Korea and the different types of schools there. My “How to Get a Job in Korea” video went viral and the emails filled with questions about teaching abroad began to roll in.
After becoming an elementary school teacher in Canada, I moved to Japan. I continued to vlog and make videos about teaching. I tried to answer people’s questions about life and work in Japan and Korea, but found it difficult to do so in the limited timeframe a video gave me. I also found it difficult to get in-depth with my answers on my blog.
After years of answering the same common questions time and time again, I decided to put them into a book format. Some of my most popular videos on YouTube, where I go by BusanKevin, have been storytelling videos. I love telling stories about life abroad so I decided to add some of that flavor to the book.
Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal was about 50/50 facts and stories (true stories). Now, when people come to me and as me these questions again, I can point them in the direction of my book. I think it is a great starting point for people interested in teaching abroad. There is a lot of negative information out there about teaching and I hope this book will put a positive spin on things.
3. Why did you go the self-publishing route?
Being a YouTube content creator and a blogger, I suppose I am pretty in tune with technology. Before becoming a teacher I worked in the game development industry as a 3D artist so I have been in love with technology my entire adult life.
Recently I have been hearing more and more about the advantages and wonders of self-publishing. Once upon a time if a writer wanted to do so they had to make a large personal investment to have their own books printed. This vanity publishing would basically reach family and friends. Now, with ebooks, people who self-publish have the possibility of reaching a much wider audience. The fact that I have been vlogging for so long and have so many wonderful subscribers, I realised that I already had a built-in audience.
In 2012, self-publishing is so easy. I suppose I found it intimidating until I researched more.
4. How did you decide on the price of the book?
To be honest, I probably didn’t put a great deal of thought into this. I realised that most novels for sale on Amazon’s Kindle Store went for between $2.99 and $9.99. I know my book isn’t very long so I didn’t expect people to pay the higher range prices so I chose $5.99. I thought the amount of time and energy I put into this work justified the price. Basically, it took me 10 years of teaching in three countries (I taught elementary school in Canada between my time in Korea and Japan) to acquire the knowledge to be able to put this book together.
5. Any advice you'd give to aspiring self-publishers?
Go for it! If you have a written work that you really want to share with an audience, it is easier now than ever before to do so. It was free to publish my book on the Kindle Store. I just had to write the book and upload it! It was a little difficult to figure things out, but I was determined to do it myself. I of course had some other people help me edit it and a friend who is a graphic artist designed the cover for me. Aside from the actual writing process, publishing was extremely easy and accessible.
6. What was your approach to PR?
Luckily, I am relatively wired in to the Japan vlogging scene and have quite a few followers on my three YouTube channels. I have been talking about this project for the past few months on YouTube, Twitter and my blog. I asked my followers to support the book (by at least spreading the word) and some members of the j-vlog and Korea blogging community to get behind me.
I plan to do interviews with fellow bloggers and have as many as possible review my book. I also plan to contact some local newspapers back in Canada.
7. How many people were involved in the project?
The number of people involved in the actual writing/creation process was relatively small. I did ask several teachers in Korea and Japan to fill out a short survey for me last year. That definitely helped with a few sections. Most of the information and the stories presented were from my own knowledge and experience.
I have to really thank my mother and father with the editing/proofreading. My father, a skilled writer, did a lot of editing work and I am forever grateful! A good friend of mine, Danielle Shibano, a teacher and graphic artist here in Japan, designed the cover for me.
8. What have you learnt about yourself as a result of writing and publishing the book?
I suppose I learnt a few things during the entire process. To begin with, I learnt that I simply could do it. I suppose it is comparable to the first time I completed a full marathon in 2008. Once I did that, a new confidence formed within myself when I realised I had completed something most people may never do. Finishing this book has definitely given me an even stronger sense of confidence.
I also learnt that it could, at times, be very difficult to balance writing and family life.I am married with a very young child at home. Having a young child can be very unpredictable. Sometimes I planned to write a certain number of pages on a given night but my son didn’t want to sleep or was sick. Basically, the writing plans went out the window. Sometimes, I felt guilty for spending so much time sitting in front of a computer and not interacting with my family. It can be difficult to find the right balance.
9. What's your next project?
I am already planning my next project. This one won’t be about teaching and only a little bit about Asia. I am a Canadian and one who has lived away from home for a long time. I think I am going to take a humorous look at Canadian culture from the eyes of an expat who has been away for a long time. I think I will share stories about Canadian culture and my experiences.
This may not appeal to a lot of my YouTube fanbase since many come to my channel and blog for Japan- and Korea-related content, but I’m sure if they enjoy my storytelling style and humour, they will like it.
10. Anything else you'd like to say?
I would like to thank the j-vlogging community for supporting me during the writing process and now that the book is complete. I also want to thank all of those wonderful people out there who have loyally watched my YouTube videos and read my blog. They are the reason I wrote the book.
Now that I have completed my first book, I know that I can do it. Self-publishing an ebook wasn’t a difficult or daunting process. I am now very eager to start working on the next one.
Kevin O’Shea is a Canadian who lives and works in Japan as a teacher. He has worked as a teacher in Korea, Canada and Japan for more than 10 years. He is a marathon runner and You Tube video blogger. On You Tube he is known as “busankevin”, “jlandkev” and “runcausitsfun.” He lives in Kobe with his wife and son. His blog is HERE.
Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal is available from Amazon HERE.