The 3rd Anniversary of the Disaster in Japan

20140311-150752.jpgby lilsuika on deviantArt

So here it is. 3 years on from the great disaster and 1 year on from the official publishing date of the project’s book.

I wish I could report much better news, but both situations are rather disappointing. While Prime Minister Abe continues to ignore the ongoing problems in the Tohoku region, covers up mistakes thanks to the secrecy bill he passed despite massive opposition, misspends charity funds and distracts the world with the shiny waste of money that is the Tokyo Olympics, now we also have the problem of children growing up in the shadow of the disaster.

Children are suffering from the effects of not just the disaster itself, if they were alive then, but the prolonged stress of living in pitiful temporary homes and being forced to live indoors because of fears of radiation. Mental health issues are up, physical development is way down. Japanese children are already robbed of a lot of their childhood as it is, but this is so much worse.

Similarly, our book has been out for a year but sales are poor. The initial thought was that all it would take was a good idea and people would jump on board to help, but that is not the case. We were unable to raise much money in the crowdsourcing Indiegogo project and so we couldn’t afford to advertise the book much. Even so we are still just a small team of three teachers.

In truth, I didn’t want to show numbers publicly because it is kind of embarrassing, but maybe that is what it will take to get people to take some action, help our project, even with just a share, and start raising some serious money to help disaster victims.

We are selling about five books a month now worldwide, but we have only just made 100 USD in the American market, while the combined remainder of the international market is less than 30 USD.

If we were to take that money raised and give it equally to each student who contributed to the book (just as an example) then each person would get about 50 yen. That’s not even half the money needed to buy the cheapest useless piece of rubbish from a bargain store. So how are we supposed to help all these victims?

20140311-152418.jpgHow long could you live like this? 3 years?

20140311-152451.jpgWhy does she have to?

Today is the 3rd anniversary of the earthquake. As I write this, it’s just past the minute when the tsunami first struck land, wiping out over 30,000 lives instantly and damaging countless others. Let’s do something to help those who survived. Let’s make them realise they are not alone, like they think they are.

Just share this post That’s all I ask you to do. All you have to do is click. You do that thousands of times each day with no consequence other than cat pictures and music videos. So make one click count and share.

I hope that when the anniversary comes around again I can bring better news for you

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Waiting in the Wings

Ooh look! It’s a rare moment of free time. Watch, children. Don’t startle it. It’ll run away if it senses you watching. Then we’ll have to do work.

The first edition is complete, in the shops and selling…. Maybe. In fact we have nothing else to do for it, apart from on-going advertising. I am pleased to report that we will also be interviewed by the local paper this Friday. So that will help us too.

Meanwhile, the second edition is yet to be started. It is waiting in the wings. The 2nd grade students are just starting a presentation project. They are comparing Japanese anime to Western cartoons. It’s a build up to their book project. Practice at expressing their opinions in detail. This time in the safety of their groups.

It should be interesting as we are telling them to use video and slides. I am interested to see what examples they pick. I have always been a fan of cartoons. I got into anime a little but the bad storytelling puts me off now. They think its great though. I’m wondering if it will bring any otaku (anime nerds) to the surface.

Once that project is finished, they will be writing their reviews for the book, over the holiday. I wonder what we will get this year. If you check out the book you’ll see that someone reviewed Shingeki kyojin or Attack On Titan which has become the most popular anime of the year. That’s how far ahead of the curve we were.

So if you want to know what’s going to be cool next year from Japan, support our next effort!

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Presented!

So I guess I should really write a blog. I’ve been meaning to but with one issue or another it always becomes a time suck. Well here we are, still in limbo.

The first edition has been finished and in shops for a while now. Sales are trickling in but we really need to spread the word more and more. However, slowly it is happening. We are still a few weeks off writing the reviews to add to the next edition. Right now, students are gearing up for the midterm tests. So, it’s all very busy.

In May, I had the opportunity to present the book in front of a prefectural English teachers meeting, which definitely generated some interest. It’s also funny how different the stage looks from in front of the glaring lights and how hard it is to judge if the microphone is working. Still, after sitting through a two hour lecture in Japanese, the brief ideas of what I wanted to say to the group flitting through my head, I actually made a bit of a mess of this. However, I got the message across. After the presentation, which was only a few minutes, many of the teachers looked at the book and one of them even bought a copy right there.

With that done, there isn’t much on the horizon until we start the project with the next lot. S unless we have a staggering increase in sales or the book spontaneously combusts or something, we’ll keep our head down.

Please share news of this project with anyone you think might be interested.

Publishing

Good morning, afternoon, good evening and good night, depending where and when you are reading this.

Again, its been a while since I could last sit down and write a full blog post, so I hope you have been following our Facebook page. A lot has happened too. So where to start?

First of all, after finishing the book I sent it to Amazon to check. They had a few minor quibbles which I fixed, and then we ordered our proof copy. It arrived within three days! I was totally surprised, but it was also great to see it.

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However, we spotted straight away that there were a few problems. For some reason, the front cover was a lot lower quality than the back cover. Perhaps it was something to do with how I imported each part into the full cover template, but I corrected it by copying the procedure I had done for the back cover. Also, I had previously misspelled the Principal’s name and had corrected it (I remember doing it!) but it was wrong again in the book and some of the contents pages were wrong. So I corrected those again and sent the new file to Amazon.

Meanwhile, with some physical copies of the book we were able to show the students what they had accomplished. So yesterday, I visited some classes and let them have a look. They seemed very impressed. I think a high number of them had either not believed it would happen or had given up on it because it had taken so long.

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I don’t blame them really. The whole process has been much longer and more difficult than I expected. Mainly this was because of Japanese laws of copyright and safety concerns about the students (which is why there are no names or pictures of them in the book)

Lastly, and perhaps the best news as it shows that others have finally understood the importance of this project, I want to tell you about a meeting that took place yesterday.

Our school, Mukaiyama, is a model school in the prefecture for advanced English teaching which the BOE hopes that all high schools will soon adopt. So it is the job of one of my teachers to report on classes, projects and materials to important figures in education around the country. Yesterday, he had one such meeting and, with a copy of the book to show, he talked about our publishing project.

He says (I wasn’t there) the members were very impressed and the lead advisor mentioned that it was an important achievement in all of Japan, so he wants to help promote it and tell people about it. It looks like the project might finally get some of the support it deserves!

Stay tuned for more information. The final book is with Amazon now and approved. We are just writing for it to appear in the online stores. We are told it will take about a week!

Finished!

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Morning folks,

Last week I finished editing the book at long, long last. It had been hanging over me for 6 months so I was ecstatic to get it done! I wanted to dance. So, after that, I had a relaxing weekend and the other teachers checked the copy to make sure there were no problems.

They came back to me with a typing error (somehow I got the Principal’s name wrong even though I copied it from a paper) and concern about photographs. It’s the first time any of us have published a book with photographs so naturally we are a bit worried. Even more so because this is Japan, which as everyone should know, is super strict and has a variety of specific and needless rules. Honestly, you would not believe some of the requests that the owners of Doraemon’s image gave us to use their character’s picture! However, all photographs have been found using Flickr’s Creative Commons license search feature and are available for commercial use with full credit given to the photographers. The other pictures are either my own, granted by Danny Choo of Culture Japan, or random drawings done by students. So I can’t see any problem.

Even if there is something wrong, we can easily edit the file and reap load it at not cost. It’s not like the old days where publishing was set in stone. Though the caveman era might be going back too far….

So today, I’m going to add text to the book cover image and upload that. I hope to finish today.

Final leg

Hi there,

It’s been almost a month. All that time I’ve just been trying to squeeze in bits of edits here and there but I absolutely must get the book published before the end of the school year! It would be sad to keep the students waiting.

So to bring you up to speed, the school has decided not to do further fundraisers. Partly this is because how terrible the Indiegogo project went. I can only blame myself for not knowing how to market it properly, but it did surprise me how few people were interested. I thought we would reach our target easily.

Anyway, using the ~500 USD we got from that, we are going to buy about 50 copies of the book and keep some in the library. The rest will be distributed to other schools in Sendai. I’m really sad that we couldn’t at least get a copy for each of the students who contributed. I hope they will be happy.

As for the editing, I’m just adding the final pictures. The Japanese teachers have set up the Createspace account with Amazon, so I then just need to upload it. The problem is how long it will take for Amazon to ship the preview copy to us.

So I’ll get on with that. You keep supping your tea. You can also enjoy some illustrations done by students that will feature in the book.

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Last Chance

I’ve formatted half of the book now. The traditional section is actually very long. The movie section is quite short, Most movies are by the two animation greats of Japan. Do you know who they are? If you don’t you should definitely buy our book, and if you do, you should buy our book to check!

There’s only 3 days left on our Indiegogo campaign! We’ve raised less than a quarter of the meager target!

So I don’t know what else to say except PLEASE share this link like crazy: http://www.indiegogo.com/letspopculture

If not for me, who has, by the way, worked so hard for this project I might seriously have depression if it completely fails, then do it for the students who desperately need help but don’t even realise it, and all the disaster victims who need new homes.

Please! Just two seconds of your life can change so many others for the better.

20121129-102734.jpg if you don’t help, this cat will hate you forever, and probably die horribly cursing and screaming your name…

Have a nice day!

Closing Time

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Hello,

Sorry for the long delay in blogging but I hope you have been following our Facebook page. I kept meaning to update here as well but opportunities for important advertising kept cropping up and stealing my free time. Not to mention work.

Well, first up, I’m sad to say that we are in the final week of our IndieGoGo fundraiser, but we have only raised a fraction of the target. It’s very is heartening but if I’ve learned one thing from this project it’s that you can have the best idea in the world and you can have incredible passion for a subject but that doesn’t mean you can make other people like it. It seems people would rather pay for mind reading headphones than help people get out of poverty and the ruins of disaster and help a disillusioned youth gain a passion for education. Well, I kind of knew society was like that all along.

I’ve tried though. I have been and I still am posting regular tweets and contacting groups who might be interested in our work. This has included a competition run by IndieGoGo themselves to find the campaign with the best perk. I ended our campaign but just like the fundraising, the competition is tough. The winners get a cash boost to their project. What is more important is that it offers lots of closure and free advertising. If you want to vote for our project, then go here. Voting is open until Wednesday and you can vote once every hour, you can even vote again from different devices. So if you have spare time you can really push us up the charts! Thank you!

So this is it. The final push. I know we aren’t going to meet our target, but it is said that over 60% of funds for these things come in the last few days. So we might still get a high total yet. Plus, whatever we raise, every $5 will buy one book to distribute here in Japan and who knows how many disparaged students that might inspire! So please don’t be shy, spread word of our project and donate if you can!

http://www.indiegogo.com/letspopculture

Cheers

Format

Hello folks,

I recently published a video on YouTube showing how I am formatting the book and its current status. I’m writing this blog from school though and while the school computers block YouTube (which is completely bizarre because it’s an incredible resource for teachers) andmy iPad cannot access anything but the YouTube app or mobile site through which I cannot get the embed code. So for now, here is a link:formatting video I’ll add the embedded video when I return home to the land of unrestricted Internet. Boy, am I glad I’m not living in China!

I’m still formatting, but its progressed a little bit. We’ve had a few new founders thanks to the article published about us last week, but we are still far behind. http://www.indiegogo.com/letspopculture so please spread this link!

In other news, I’m doing a speech project at my other school and on Monday a boy gave a speech on his favorite type of music. It’s Visual-K, a very Japanese mix of glam rock and heavy metal. For the speech he drew some very cool pictures. So, I asked the teachers if I could get permission to use his pictures in Mukaiyama’s book. They agreed and so did the boy. He’s from the wrong school but I’m desperate for more illustrations so I don’t think it matters too much! He’s still a Japanese student.

I’ll keep working, and post another update before the weekend.

Like Butter

Hello again!

It’s been a busy week. So busy I took time off yesterday for a minor illness and still did lots of promotion for our IndieGoGo fundraiser. In fact, I scored us a guest blog feature on a publishing blog. It’s called The Masquerade Crew, and while they focus mainly on fiction they cover all sorts of publishing efforts. The Organiser was generous enough to advertise my latest novel a lot on Twitter, so I asked about this project too. You can read the article here.

While I continue to find other ways to advertise our fundraiser, I am a bit worried that we have received no donations in the past week. I think the proverb ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink’ really applies here! I understand other people are not as passionate about this subject as us, but I am genuinely surprised that there has been no small contributions of $1 or so. I mean, what’s $1 dollar really? You’ve probably lost more money down the back of your sofa, and it could really help change people’s lives here.

I just don’t want everyone here to be disappointed.

So, I’m going to make a short video now about the earthquake and the damage done to our school. I’ll post it here and on the IndieGoGo page when it is ready.

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Fundraising ends!

The EndDecember 1st, 2012
Our big fund raiser is coming to an end... Here's when. Thank you for all the support! We all really appreciate it.

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