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.

Released!

This is it! The book is now available in all Amazon stores. So I guess our release date is now. As of 20th March, 2013 ”Let’s Pop Culture! o(^0^)o A guide to Japanese culture written by real Japanese high school students in English!” is released!
goo.gl/N4zf6 (US) goo.gl/HehUf (UK) goo.gl/m66yT (JP)
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It’s been a long, hard road.

Today I’m visiting classes to give them the good news, show the book to those who haven’t seen it, and deliver my annual ALT prize for those students who made an effort with English this year. I made some key rings featuring the panda mascot of my Japanese culture blog (http://sakurapandateatime.blogspot.com). Hopefully, they will have the sense to get curious and google it to find out what Sakura Panda Tea Time is. It will be good study for them to try and understand what I am saying about familiar topics.

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Yesterday, I sent out the exclusive PDF version of our book to the Indiegogo backers. I’ve already had one person come back with how happy they are,so that’s really nice to hear. I hope the others are suitably proud.

We’ll be able to fulfill the other perks when the school receives its first shipment of books. That should be April 1st.

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!

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.

That’s a wrap

Today I finished filming the video to promote the project. The students ran their annual half marathon leaving the school nearly empty. So I took to doing some location shooting without interruption. I finished my bits quite quickly. I had some speeches in the media room, I had some speeches in the halls, I even had some speeches while writing on the walls…. wait! No! Don’t got complaining to my school. I actually wrote on the blackboard and did some (almost) stop motion animation, but walls rhymed a bit.

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After that, I was stuck marking until the students returned from their run and were ready to film their part. At first we only had a few boys volunteering, but while we were waiting for some organization we all tried to rope in any girls who passed by, to give the project some balance. It’s bad enough having no students in the video and people thinking there is just me on this project, but neither did I want just boys in the video as its supposed to represent the school, and guess what?! We have girls! So we all kept asking girls if they anted to join in, but even though faces would be hidden, everyone was very shy. Eventually we got three girls to join in and filming got underway.

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It took a few minutes to explain what I wanted to do, but they are smart kids they got it. We had a practice and then filmed it three times before we got the perfect run. Then we filmed a goodbye message at the school entrance. This was more fun because other students were running around and we had to try and avoid them, but they got to see what we were doing.

Now this weekend I had to edit it, then it should be up on YouTube in a few days. It’s a week until the Indiegogo page goes live. So, I think, we will be ready! Please check it out.

The making of the introduction video

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Hey viewers and welcome to another exciting edition of “It’ll Be Alright On The Night”. I’m your host, Matthew Rowe, and… I guess I got carried away with the whole video making thing.

I’ve been filming clips for the Indiegogo project introduction video. It’s been fun but harder work than I imagined. Now, I try to make a short video on YouTube about my daily life every day, well, five times a week, but I don’t spare much time for production because I don’t have that much time every day. However, for this video I want it to look good so I’ve been practicing lines, setting up shots, dressing the set and patrolling security too.

The results are quite good, I can’t really tell until I edit later, but there have been a lot of bloopers. I never realized how hard it is to remember and deliver lines correctly, and then it’s even hard to remember what you are supposed to say after a difficult bit. So, if there is enough room on my iPhone and iPad to save the clips, I might make a bloopers video as a bonus later. It’ll be nice to post on Indiegogo.

Slowly, I’m getting there. The wrapped footage – ooh, look at me, I used a proper filming term – is piling up. I just have to work out a few location problems. Basically, I want to do a walk down the corridor as I talk through a few points, but they keep having lessons in the extra lecture rooms so I can’t disturb them. Hopefully, in today’s last period I will have the space I need.

Very soon, I’m going to visit the classes to instruct the students who want to appear in the video. Due to permission problems and personal safety, students will be appearing wearing masks, but still I have only had a handful of volunteers, and all boys! I want to get some girls interested for the sake of balance! So I’m also thinking of how best to use students in masks. I might get them to do something else funny. We’ll see what happens.

And that’s it, production continues.

Covered

Hello again,

Sorry to keep you waiting for almost a week. I have spent the past 3 days at work marking exam papers. It was exhausting. Each day my brain just could not take in any information. Then last night, I went the other way and I got all hyper. My brain was racing! Anyway, I’ve calmed down a bit now.

I posted on our Facebook page that I had received the final image for the book’s cover and promotions. Now, I finally ave time to post it here. So please have a look and let me know what you think.

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It was drawn by the talented Chevi. I asked for a group of students cheering on as a crowd, in the iconic Japanese school uniform even though my school doesn’t have a uniform, with the school mascot, the triangle headed guy. She delivered!

Over the next few days, between more marking, lesson planning, book formatting, work training and extra jobs, I’m going to play about with the lettering and get the text for the cover sorted. I’ll post some samples here and I’d like you to tell me which one looks best. So please stick around, visit regularly and help us out with our huge, life changing project.

Cheers, me dears!

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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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