Hi Friends, I’ve got an interesting story to tell you today! Funnily enough, it’s a story that is metaphorical of our journey of change: excitement, disappointment, grief, hope, hard work and discovery. It’s a bit of a read so grab yourself a cuppa, put your feet up and relax for a bit!
If you have a copy of Voices of Pain and the Voice of Hope you’ll notice that on each Selah Page, there is a sticker. These stickers weren’t an original part of the book. They’ve been added post-printing. Let me tell you why.
Last December I had a delivery of 1000 books to my door. A year and a half of hard work, sacrifice, excitement, disappointment, determination and hope had FINALLY ended with my beautiful book in my hand. It was perfect – more than I ever hoped it could be. I was ecstatic! I gleefully started sending it out to people who had pre-ordered as well as friends and family who had supported me throughout the project. The feedback I received was excellent – people loved it!
A few nights later I received a phone call from my friend Grace. She had been reading the book to her daughter and discovered a few spelling mistakes…….did I know about these? No I didn’t!
On two of the Selah pages there were some glaringly obvious grammatical errors. I was devastated! My perfect book wasn’t perfect any more. It was flawed. How could I sell this to people? How could I promote it knowing that it had these mistakes in it? What was I going to do with the 1000 books sitting in my garage? How was I going to recover the costs that I had outlaid?
How had this happened you ask? Good question.
When the book went to print, I was at a conference in Australia. I was distracted and communication with my designer was difficult. But the process that had taken so long had an end in sight! I had a deadline I was trying to work towards (a book show where I could launch the book at) so our time margins were slim – especially as I was getting the book printed offshore and had to factor in shipping times. The final step was to get the book proof-read and colour checked. The guy we originally were going to get to do this was unavailable so we found another and I thought it was all sorted. What I totally missed was that the new guy only did the pre-print colour checking – not the proof reading. Proof reading is very important. When you know the project inside out you aren’t able to look at it with an unbiased eye. You see what you know should be there – rather than what is actually there. And so these mistakes were missed – and the book was printed.
Lesson #1 from this process. Never rush things that are important. Make the time to do it right.
Back to the story. Devastation. Depression. Frustration. A sick feeling in my gut. What was I going to do? People told me not to worry – most people wouldn’t even notice the mistakes! But I knew that many would; and I wouldn’t feel comfortable promoting a product that I knew was flawed. It just so happened that the two mistakes were on the pages with the least writing – the pages where the flow of words was most important. I couldn’t just leave it.
Lesson #2: Never let shame keep you stuck. One of my first reactions to the mistakes in the book was shame. I was afraid to tell people what had happened. I wanted to hide the books away and avoid the world. So I moped for a bit but I knew I couldn’t let myself stay there. I had to find my hope again and climb out of the hole I’d put myself in.
Here’s how it happened.
Out of this place of hopelessness came the idea of stickers. I just happen to have a designer who is a creative genius. Why not get him to make something to cover up the mistakes? And so the sticker journey started. At the beginning it was a bit of a pipe dream – a last-ditch attempt to cover a mistake. What it turned into, however was a new and beautiful feature of the book; not to mention an awesome story!
The mistakes were on the Selah pages so we decided to make seven stickers – one for each Selah – for continuity. That makes seven stickers in each book, that’s 7000 stickers! They would have to be manually added to each book. Each would cost money to produce. Ouch.
So we created some stickers. Henoch (my designer from Creed Creative Services) has this incredible ability to just draw something beautiful in a ridiculously short period of time. He designed a sticker that would correspond to each Selah page. You can see the originals throughout this blog post.
And I got a quote. It was going to cost me between $700 - $1000 to get these stickers printed. But that’s ok - It was going to be worth it. Just before I confirmed the order Henoch advised me to get another quote from a different company – just in case. So I emailed Kevin at Presson Labels . I didn’t tell him anything about myself or the project, just that I needed 7000 stickers printed. I got an email back a day later saying that yes, he can make these stickers for us but that he would do it at no charge! All he would require in return is two books to give to people in his life he knows that need them!! How cool is that?? He had obviously looked at my website and read up about the project on his own accord. So not only was I going to get the stickers printed; I was getting them printed for free! Even though the project turned out to be much bigger than anticipated, Kevin still honoured his offer and did them at no charge. I was totally blown away!
Lesson #3 Commitment Holds Power. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!” Goethe. When you make a decision, set your mind to it and start moving – things happen.
A week or so later I had 7000 stickers in my hot little hands. They were brilliant! What’s more, they actually added something new and beautiful to the book. The Selah pages are about mindfulness. Using your senses to ground you in the moment. The stickers on each page have become another sensory experience to the book. Sometimes, when I watch people reading these pages, their eyes read the words but their fingers ‘read’ the sticker. It’s brilliant to watch.
Lesson #4: “Never, never, never give up!” Winston Churchill. Often a situation seems hopeless; but we are only seeing with our own limited perspective. What if an answer, a new opportunity or something beautiful is just around the corner? This is the creative genius of God – that He can turn a seemingly terrible situation into something that is better than the original!
Now there is one problem left. Sticking 7000 stickers onto 1000 books. They’re tricky. They’re sticky. It takes a LOT of time! If you don’t know me, I’m the kind of person that tends to be very capable and self-reliant. I’m pretty good at getting things done on my own. Added to this was the afore-mentioned shame: “If I let people in on my secret – they might not think as much of me or the book anymore.” But this project of mine is about moving away from lies – towards hope and community. So I decided to reach out.
Lesson #5: Honesty, openness and sharing problems creates Community.
Admittedly, I did bribe them with a glass of wine or two; but when I put out a last minute request to some of the lovely ladies in my life, they responded. They gave up their Sunday night and came and stuck stickers into books with me. It was brilliant…Beautiful...Community. Here are some photos:
So this is the Story of the Stickers! Something that was terrible has turned into something beautiful. Something that was a weakness has turned into something that strengthens and gives depth. Isn’t that a powerful metaphor for change!
Someone asked me, “Will you put stickers in the next run of books you print?” If I’m honest, probably not. I’ll probably try and find some way of adding the sticker drawings in as a textural element in the actual printing process. Manually putting in 7000 stickers is just too much work!!
So if you have a book with stickers – consider yourself fortunate to have a limited first edition copy! If you haven’t got one yet – get in quick before they all run out!!