4/28: Final studio in HBC 227

For our last meeting today (wut?!), we’ll be in HBC 227 again. Per usual, we’ll allocate the first 15 minutes to freewriting and the rest to studio time. As you work today, please make sure you have a thoughtful plan to turn in your final DIY project by considering the following:

  • Remember #4 (the Accompanying Statement) for the DIY assignment. This is due before midnight on Thursday, May 7. See the assignment for formatting details.
  • If your project is physical (zines, book, comic, etc.), you should arrange a time to turn it in to me (or drop it off to the Writing Program office, 239 HBC, during regular business hours — 8:30-5, M-F). I am on campus most weekdays.
  • If your project is digital (blog, movie, ), email me a link to the project, whether it is on WordPress, YouTube, etc. If it is a large file (pdf, mov, mp3), I would prefer a link to Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, or some other host. Do not email me files over 2 MB.

#zinefest2k15 pics

Peter Graham Scholarly Commons
Jenn’s zines, ready to go!
Emily’s display for Shit My Cousin Says
Camille & Maggie, hocking their wares and eating cupcakes.
Katy & McMillan, showing off their goods.
Zach & Eric bringing the power.
Ciara & Whembley welcoming visitors



Final prompt

For this final prompt I want you to assess your web presence throughout the course. Note: if you answer all of the questions below in a developed fashion (~600-800 words), this final prompt counts as TWO blog posts.

  1. First, re-read the “Participatory Culture” assignment.
  2. Reflect on your blogging this semester.
    • How many entries did you post? Provide links to your favorite, least favorite, and/or average posts and perhaps explain why this is the case.
    • Did you purchase a domain name? Why or why not? Is this an address you will keep in the future?
    • Describe your process for writing these posts. What did you write about and why? When and where did you write them? How did you go about searching for or incorporating multimedia?
  3. Reflect on your tweets this semester.
    • How many tweets did you post? Embed tweets to your favorite, least favorite, and/or average posts and perhaps explain why this is the case. [Go here to learn how.]
    • Describe the content of your tweets. Were they mostly thick or thin tweets? How often and in what ways did you engage #wrtdiy?
  4. What did you learn in this unit in terms of about your writing process, DIY publishing, digitally networked writing tools, circulation/distribution, and/or the teaching of writing? If there’s something that I could do to improve this aspect of the course (i.e. teaching blogging and Twitter as forms of DIY publishing), please don’t hesitate to let me know it here.

4/14: Conferences on DIY projects

All meetings are in HBC 001. Email me a copy of your proposal by Sunday (use your last name in the filename, ex: smith_DIY.doc) and bring a copy of it with you to your conference.

Also, feel free to bring content from your zines if you want me to take a look before ZineFest2k15.

Monday, 4/13

10:45 Emily
11:15 Johnny
11:30 Eric
1 McMillan

Tuesday, 4/14

10 Bodhi
10:15 Maggie
10:30 Camille
10:45 Katy
11 Ciara
11:15 Myelle
11:30 Shelby
11:45 Mel
12 Whembley
12:15 Jenn
12:30 Laura
12:45 Zach

4/9: eBooks

We have 4 things for today:

1. Un-freewrite

List some of your rough ideas for the final DIY project and then use the remaining time to discuss the one you’re most interested in and why.

2. Conference sign ups

3. ZineFest2k15

Since we’re not meeting as a group again until next Thursday, we need to finalize as much as possible. This includes:

  • Maggie’s press release — we edited and Jason will send to the class, post the press release to the FB page
  • FB — Whembley will make us moderators so we can upload content — invite friends!!!! Then post covers of our zines and maybe some blurbs about them.
  • The digital promo plan — who are we contacting, how, when? Listservs: VPA (Mel), Radio (Mel), Writing Major list (McMillan), English major list (Jenn), Writing Program (Jason), Humanities Center (Jason), Library/Patrick (Jason), Post Standard (Shelby).
  • Physical plan — Mel is making color posters, rest of us print 4/8-up on one sheet in b+w and drop them in visible places (majors, lounges, eats, drinks, etc.)
  • Extras on the day of the event — raffle, contest for top3 — we need boxes (Mel), small tickets & ballots (Laura), zine list (title & description) & copies (Emily)
  • Food/catering — cupcakes & popcorn

4. eBooks

Today we’ll look briefly at publishing eBooks. There are a dizzying array of options for folks who want to sell their writing online. Although I’ve never published an eBook, after looking at the possibilities, I’m inclined to try.

eBooks might be most easily categorized by their formatting.

Standard layouts, for example, are made eBooks up of text. These are texts that are nearly 100% alphabetic. That is, there are very few images. A standard layout might be a good choice, for example, if you are writing a traditional novella or novel. Standard is also the easiest and cheapest way to publishing an eBook since there isn’t much you have to think about in terms of arrangement since most aspects, like text size, can be configured by the reader.  There are several ways you might approach to consider publishing a standard layout eBook:

  • Smashwords is clearinghouse of sorts of eBook self-publishers. Submit your formatted eBook to them and they will distribute to Amazon, iTunes, Nook, and other online bookstores.
  • Kindle Direct Publishing is Amazon’s self-publishing interface. Here you can publish just an eBook, or you can work with them to publish a print version through their POD service, CreateSpace.
  • iBooks Author is the iTunes version of Kindle Direct Publishing, except there isn’t a POD option, though they offer a free app to help with formatting. This might be a good option is you are familiar with Apple products and only want to sell your book on iTunes.

Fixed layouts offer an option for designers who are incorporating more visual elements into their publications. Since images and tables are harder to customize for readers, fixed layouts provide more stability to eBooks. All of the above services will accommodate fixed layouts , but there is one more simpler service to consider for e-publishing: Issuu. Probably the simplest way to describe Issuu is that it’s a social networking space for magazine publishers. Issuu is a good option for folks who might want to digitize their zines without losing the formatting. As a bonus, Issuu offers easy WordPress code for embeds. Look, for example, how I used Issuu to embed my mini-zine:


4/7: The publishing industry

We have 3 tasks today.


15 minutes.

Zinefest2k15 updates

Specifically: posters, FB, and catering. We are just a little over a week away.

511ZXb9OBiLSkype with Anna Hider (@annahider)

Last year John F. Blair published Anna and Julia Hider’s Badass Civil War Beardsa printed version of their quirky Tumblr blog. Today we Skype with Anna about the book’s origins, writing and production process, and its subsequent circulation. Some questions to get us going:

  • Tell us a little about how Badass Civil War Beards came to be — how did the idea come to you and Julia and why did you pursue it?
  • To what extent do you see BCWB as an example of DIY publishing?
  • Can you talk about the process of securing images and other content from the public domain through the LOC?
  • On the surface this book seems to take an absurd idea and just run with it. But what were some of the challenges of putting this together?





4/2: Print on demand

We have 4 tasks today.


15 minutes. Let’s brainstorm a few prompts if folks are stuck.

  • What is the hardest part about making your zine?
  • What does the holiday mean to you?
  • Job/internship journey?
  • Summer plans?
  • Warm weather — old rituals return!
  • What do you think about the Espresso Book Machine and/or POD?

Zinefest2k15 updates

Let’s briefly hear updates on promotion and peep the catering menu.

Print on demand.

As you read for today you probably realized that print on demand is a powerful tool for self-publishers, even if it requires start-up capital. In order understand why, however, it might be useful to see a few snapshots of the printing technologies that preceded it, but are still in use. Incidentally, the Wikipedia page for the History of Printing is incredibly thorough.

Letterpress, for example, is an instance of one of the earliest printing technologies, traced back to Gutenberg: moveable type.

Some zines make solid use of letterpress, especially when it comes to their covers. Check out Ker-bloom, for instance.

Offset printing is one of the most dominant forms of modern book publishing. It reproduces high quality prints at high volumes.

One of the consequences of this, though, is that publishers have to be thoughtful about the number of books that will sell since the more books published, the cheaper production costs per unit. Yet, book publishers don’t want to over-produce books either. This is one of the reasons print on demand is so attractive. In essence there are two forms: On Site POD and Distributed POD. You read about one On Site POD for today: the Espresso Book Machine.  There actually happens to be one nearby at Cornell.

Since these machines cost about $90k, most bookstores or libraries cannot afford them (yet, I think it would be cool to pressure SU’s Maker Space to get one!). Hence, we have Distributed POD places, like Blurb:

Activity: DIY with POD

So are POD services DIY? Are they as DIY as letterpress, for example? For the rest of our time, I’d like to see you explore some of these POD services. Get into 4 groups and look at one of the following.

  • Blurb
  • Lulu
  • Amazon’s Create Space
  • Bookbaby
  • IngramSpark

Once you find a potential service, research it:

  • What are the costs in terms of start-up, prices per unit, and other variables (like color covers)?
  • What do you like about this service? What turns you off?
  • What kinds of projects might it be good for?
  • Would this service be feasible for your final project? How might you use a crowdfunding source to support your project?

3/31: Crowdfunding

We have four items on our agenda today:

1. Web Presence

Nearly all of you are struggling with your web presence. Let’s start today with a conversation about that. We’ll review the requirements and strategize how we can work together to get these grades up without ruining writing!

2. #Zinefest2k15 update

As I mentioned in my email to you on Thursday, thanks to Patrick, we have reserved the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons for our Zinefest 2k15 on Thursday, April 16. We have the room from 10:30-12:30. Patrick reminded me, though, that we need review the library’s room policies — specially those that affect some of our plans about food and presentation. Once we clarify these, it looks like we can begin to advertise the fest on Facebook, Twitter, and mini-zines and flyers.

3. Do It Yourself

Today we begin our last unit, Do It Yourself, which aims to revisit some of the issues raised on the first day of the course when you read The Economist‘s “From Papyrus to Pixels.”  This is a short unit that introduces some of the things we haven’t explored so far — crowdfunding, print on demand, and ebooks — and then shifts into a studio for two weeks that helps you see your own projects through.

4. Crowdfunding

As the Broken Pencil article you read for today points out, crowdfunding can be far from glamorous. They tell the story of the Montreal band Lakes of Canada whose album was 30% funded by family (a trend satirized on Portlandia). What is the potential for crowdfunding for self-publishers and what are some of the realities?

For today I asked you to browse the publishing/comic/writing categories on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, especially if you are unfamiliar with crowdfunding. What are some of the cool DIY publishing projects you found? How might these inspire or deter you from using a crowdfunding tool in the future?

3/24 & 3/26: Find & Copy

This week we’re playing catchup from the last two weeks, starting with the Zine Fest conversation.


You guys did a killer job planning last Thursday and I loved that you worked in groups and came together to form a consensus. Really proud of you for this. From what I can gather from the Google Doc, Twitter, and email, it sounds like the Fest will:

  • have the hashtag #ZineFest2k15 and will be promoted on Twitter and FB — we will also use lists, radio (Mel!), personal contacts, and a press release to the DO
  • be held Thursday, April 16 from 11-12:30(ish) in Jabberwocky
  • have a donation jar out — proceeds will be split, I assume
  • feature music (Whembley), food (Mel, Em, Katelyn), and drink (Katy)
  • feature a contest among 4 finalists, decided by the class ahead of time

Does that all sound right? Some questions remain for me, though:

  • Who is responsible for what? That is, who is writing the press release?
  • Is the name Syracuse Zine Fest 2k15?
  • Have we secured the location for the date and time? If not, is starting that process?
  • Is there a FB page? If so, can someone tell me where it is? Who is admin?
  • How many zines will each of you have at the Fest?


Let’s make some final decisions on this today and push on to finishing your zines. Speaking of which, I want to share two resources that I found in the last few days:

Find & Copy

In a few minutes we are going to make our way to the library so that I can show you some ways about gathering source material and make copies of your zines. Use the handout to guide your activity:

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 8.42.51 AM

I will congregate near the first floor copy machines to help you as needed. All of the floor maps of the library can be found here.


If you are looking for a specific subject area, check out the LOC guide.