My students did a crowdsourced editing of the galley proofs for Writing About Literature in the Digital Age today. We actually used paper for the first time all term, with two copies for each piece getting read by the author's and by fresh eyes. The design team entered the edits as fast as the papers were handed to them. It took just over an hour.
Meanwhile, our publishing team (Bri Zabriskie and Derrick Clements) pinned down the details on how and where we can post our eBook for distribution. To our disappointment, it appears our free, creative commons-licensed eBook is not welcome on the Kindle store at Amazon (though it can still be downloaded and read on Kindle devices). Should we have really expected a commercial enterprise to allow us free distribution of a free book? Bri gives details about each of the outlets she and Derrick researched on her blog. Importantly, Derrick got instructions from librarian Elizabeth Smart about how to archive our eBook in BYU's institutional repository, ScholarsArchive.
On to marketing...
I have long stated to my students how critical it is that we not simply complete our eBook, but that we make a good faith effort to get it into the hands of those who would find it valuable. So, in the last few days of our term, marketing is our focus. This has two components: 1) advertising the eBook through an email campaign; and 2) showcasing our eBook in a free webinar.
The email campaign.
As mentioned in my previous post, I assigned my students to use a form I'd put up on a wiki for our eBook where they could list individuals as potential readers for our eBook, together with their contact info and a clearly stated reason for why they would be interested (we are NOT spamming people!).
I was delighted to hear Carlie talk about getting word of our eBook into her home town's newspaper in Idaho, and Ashley Lewis has discovered a conversation on Twitter so relevant to what we are doing that she is now going to create a Twitter list based on those having that discussion about education and multimedia. So far, students have entered 174 names onto our potential readers list.
But making the list isn't enough. Each student will need to create emails and send these out to those they have listed. To help them with this, I promised to post some boiler plate invitations that they could adapt as they saw fit. Those invitations will need to include 1) a brief blurb about the eBook; 2) instructions for downloading it for multiple formats; and 3) an invitation to the webinar scheduled for Wednesday, 6-15-2011, where we will be formally launching and discussing it.
I will post the boilerplate emails on this blog in the morning once the design team has handed the finished eBook to the publishing team and they have secured a permanent URL to access the book in each of its incarnations (.epub, .mobi, and .pdf).
The final exam for this course will be the launch of our eBook via the free webinar now scheduled for Wednesday, June 15, from 5:30-6:30pm (MDT). Today we hammered out the format for the webinar, which will be moderated by Taylor Gilbert. Each of the 16 students (and I) will take one minute (yes, 60 seconds) to introduce our chapter of the book. This should not be hard, since each student created a "tweethis" (a tweetable thesis statement) that gets to the heart of their chapter. I asked each person to show a little personality and enthusiasm, relating one quick thing about their chapter or their experience with creating it that could get people interested in reading it.
We also plan to have the team leads for editing, design, publishing, and marketing each take about 2-3 minutes. We hope that our visitors will have their curiosity piqued and will engage us with questions. In order to have ourselves better prepared for participating, those who have not been part of a webinar before were invited to attend one tomorrow so that they can get a better feel for how it works. Taylor showed a screencast of the recent webinar with Troy Hicks that several of us attended, and showed us the schedule for the ones tomorrow.
I tried to impress upon my students that our webinar will be a permanent archive documenting the launch of our eBook and they need to keep in mind the later audiences, and not just the handful we can reasonably expect from scheduling this so late. Of course we wish we'd thought of doing all of this earlier, but our learning curve has been pretty steep and I am just delighted that we've found a service that accommodates free educational webinars (LearnCentral / Elluminate). We will do the best that we can with it.
Here is the blurb that we have to summarize our book, something that we can use in emails or press releases:
We also should have a Twitter-ready press release for students who are on Twitter and for others to spread to their social graph on Facebook, etc. That won't be ready until we can insert a stable URL for the published book. But here's a draft of some tweets to advertise the Webinar, and to advertise the eBook. (It occurs to me in writing this that we should join the Tuesday #edchat discussion tomorrow at 10am and 5pm [MDT] and see if it would be appropriate to mention our webinar and our eBook)Writing about Literature in the Digital Age is a collaborative effort by students at Brigham Young University who are pushing boundaries of traditional literary study to explore the benefits of digital tools in academic writing. This eBook is a case study of how electronic text formats and blogging can be effectively used to explore literary works, develop one’s thinking publicly, and research socially. Students used literary works to read the emerging digital environment while simultaneously using new media to connect them with authentic issues and audiences beyond the classroom. As literacy and literature continue their rapid evolution, accounts like these from early explorers give teachers and students of literature fresh reference points for the literary-digital future.
Meet the authors of free eBook on Writing About Literature in the Digital age at free webinar 6-15-2011 http://bit.ly/jQjIcY
Free student-created eBook, Writing About Literature in the Digital Age http://bit.ly/bunches/wakingtiger/4 [this link will be updated soon...]As exhausted as I am from staying up late to finish my own chapter (and thanks again, Nyssa, for your rapid editing today!) -- I must say I am getting very excited to start spreading word about this book. I really do have a long list of colleagues and peers that I know will be very interested, whether they can attend the webinar or just peruse the eBook when they have time. Fun stuff!