Two Buses

Hello folks, how are you doing? Summer vacation is almost here and that will mean some downtime for the blog, but before we go, I just wanted to update you on whats happened recently.

As you know, we’ve been finding advertising the most difficult part of this book project. I think we have a really great idea, with a really unique method and we can help a lot of people in all walks of life here in Japan, but it practically means nothing if people don’t know about us. We’ve not had any good marketing opportunities for ages and then, just like buses, two appeared at once.

Recently, the local newspaper, Kahoku Shinbun, came to the school to interview us. They visited twice. The first time they spoke to me and the Japanese teachers about the project. Then they came back to interview some of the students. This week, the article appeared in the paper. It was a small section on page 17, but advertising that article on Facebook has got us a lot more views and likes. Unfortunately I had to take it down due to copyright issues. I was going to post it up here too but I can’t. You’ll just have to take my word for it that it was cool, because heaven forbid more people should actually read the article that they wrote for the express purpose of people reading it! When will japanese companies stop thinking so small? We could help so many more people if we could show the world what we were doing.

However, I’m just happy that It’s been a good time for marketing the book at the moment.
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Our second opportunity was that yesterday, Katie Adler of English with Katie interviewed me on her live Internet radio show. It was mostly in the name of my Japanese culture blog, Sakura Panda Tea Time but we talked a lot about my writing and the books I have published too. She was very interested in the school’s book project so we talked a lot about that.

If you want to check it out, there is a link to the recording here: link

So that’s it until the end of August. The students are working on their anime presentations and I’m off to China for a couple of weeks. I’ll update Facebook when I can, but otherwise, see you in the new term!

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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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Delivered!

A quick update for you. It’s still spring vacation and I’ve been enjoying throwing off all the stress of this busy year, and most of that has come from this project! However, I went into school to discuss next year’s lessons and I was pleased to see that our order of 65 books arrived. It’s great to see the finished, final version. The cover is all glam and corrected. Even the interior looks much better but I did nothing to that. It’s just psychological.

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So, we’ll be getting those signed as soon as students return to school and shipping them off to our Indiegogo backers. We also need to discuss what we are going to do with all those copies. Some will go in our library, the rest will probably go to other schools.

We also discussed doing the project again this year, with the new second grade. We’ll create a bumper second edition that will feature 200 more reviews. That’s double what we have now!

So, audience, you’ve barely had time to digest the first edition, but we want to know: for a few dollars more, would you be willing to buy a bigger, new edition next year? Leave your comments below.

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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Happy New Year Delays!

20130108-100030.jpgChristmas lights here in Sendai.

Hello! And a Happy New Year,

The new term has started. All the students and teachers at Mukaiyama wish you a successful and productive new year!

I’m afraid that the winter vacation proved to be busier than I expected. So I wasn’t able to complete the book on time. As such, our new target for sending it to the publishers s the end of January. Please don’t be concerned. This doesn’t affect the quality of the book at all, we just want to make sure we finish a quality product.

It’s coming along nicely, though its important to me that we have a finished product before the end of the school year (March, here in Japan) as I fear some of the students will forget about this project!

That’s it for now. I’ll resume more regular updates as I get settled back into work!

New Japanese Culture blog

Hello, hello.

Things are progressing slowly. Tomorrow is the last day of school before the winter vacation. So I’ll finally be able to have more time to devote to formatting the book. I’m almost done. I hope to have it complete and ready by the end of the vacation.

However, I also wanted to promote my new blog and YouTube channel that I am starting with my girlfriend. We have both been living in Japan for several years so we are going to make videos about Japanese culture with the aim of helping newbies and presenting differences to foreigners. So if you are interested in learning even more about Japanese culture, please head over to the main site. There you can find links to all our sites on the web. The address is:

Http://Sakurapandateatime.blogspot.com

We’ll release our first video next week but our twitter and tumblr is already active.

Take care, with the end of the world and all, and have a good Christmas! Though I’ll probably blog again before then.

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!

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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