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The consensus on our next publishing project is for a Purim publication. Purim this year is on Sunday, March 16. What do we want to do between now and then to bring this about? Same as last year but with more time? Do we want to change anything about how we approach it?

To recap (and working from memory so please correct any errors), this is what we did last year in a span of about two energetic weeks:

  • We collected candidate questions on a meta post. Some tags were suggested as starting points. Some notes were made about which section of the haggadah they fit in.

  • We determined a format for individual questions, such that they could be imported into the final document, and posted a template. Meanwhile, Jin made us a Word template for the final document (thanks!).

  • People who wanted to help chose questions they liked, from the list or not, and edited them: copy-editing, choosing an appropriate subset of the answers, expanding abbreviations and links, and pulling out user-profile links for contributors. (As with all posts, others were free to edit and sometimes did.) People voted on these, but we ended up using all of them.

  • Somebody wrote an introduction (I think as a meta post?).

  • After a declared freeze date, a dedicated volunteer imported the meta posts into Word using Jin's template, organizing the questions into a logical and pleasing order and assembling a contributor list from all the profile URLs. He and others commenced to do further proofreading and copy-editing.

  • A PDF was produced and made available for download, people spread the word, and much happiness ensued.

We might want to look at some changes for the Purim book:

  • We could start earlier. :-)

  • There was an obvious, logical organization for the haggadah; Purim might not be so obvious, so we should think about structure. Tied to this: how do we anticipate people using this publication? As study material? As material to be shared at Purim celebrations (like Purim Torah)? Other?

  • Do we have thoughts about how large a publication we'd like? (Page count? Question count?)

  • How will we spread it? If we want to advertise it anywhere (beyond the informal word-of-mouth we did last year), what are relevant deadlines?

  • Are we happy with "download and print the PDF"? If not, what would we want to do in addition?

What else have I missed?

3

I think the method of organizing the contributions worked well, and we should definitely work from that foundation. I think all of Isaac's suggestions are fantastic. I may add some more ideas in another answer.

So to address your suggested adjustments:

  1. Yes :D

  2. As I mentioned in a comment: There are good ways to divide up the content. For example, we could divide it into 3 main sections:

    • Questions on the Megillah, its content and commentaries. This can be organized and sorted by chapter, for example.

    • Questions on the Mitzvos and Minhagim of Purim, probably subdivided into sections on each one (e.g., Hearing the Megillah, Mishloach Manos, Matanos L'evyonim, Dressing Up, Drinking, et al.) The subdivisions might depend on how much material we can gather for each, but perhaps not.

    • Purim Torah!

  3. This is also tied to the second part of (2). This is a tough one. Ideally, I'd like something I can stuff in a Shalach Manos basket. I think the best use would be at Purim celebrations: meals, whatever. As a Megillah read-along, not so much, and I don't know if non-Yodeyans would be using it as a pre-Purim study guide (though I certainly will).

  4. Besides in gift baskets? :D I'm really not sure on this one.

  5. Obviously we don't want to remove the ability to just download it, and I think that if we try to print them professionally and send them out, it may not be worth it financially, and we may have to push up our deadline to allow for the printer. I think a better approach might be to come up with a specific printing spec. Then anyone can walk into their local FedEx Office or what have you, and have it printed locally. This eliminates shipping costs and will alleviate deadline conflicts.


Other stuff:

  • Personally, I'm hoping to put this in some Shaloch Manos baskets, so I'd like a smaller format than the Haggadah.
  • 1
    Ooh, I hadn't thought of distributing via shaloch manot baskets; great idea! Possibly this suggests a dual publication: small version (fewer questions) for baskets, which includes the pitch to go download the full version, perhaps using "lots more Purim Torah there" as the hook? (I'm just thinking out loud here; if this doesn't seem like a crazy idea once I've had some caffeine I'll make it an answer so people can vote.) – Monica Cellio Oct 31 '13 at 12:45
  • Could you say more about what you mean by coming up with "a specific printing spec" for use at FedEx etc? Do you mean something beyond having a PDF? (I may be out of the loop, as it wouldn't have occurred to me to go to FedEx for printing.) – Monica Cellio Oct 31 '13 at 13:57
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    @MonicaCellio and HodofHod, either on an abbreviated booklet or a full-on printed publication, it'd be cool to include a QR Code that points back to the electronic source. – Isaac Moses Oct 31 '13 at 16:23
  • @MonicaCellio and HodofHod, It's worth considering concentrating on only making a single, tiny, very polished publication, perhaps even something that can be printed on one double-sided page (perhaps of 11"X17" paper). That would make it very easy and inexpensive to slip into MM, bring in one's pocket to parties, or mass produce to drop at shuls. Also, at that scale, we (or possibly a contracted printshop or online publisher) could possibly even offer stacks of nicely-printed copies for sale at cost or at cost plus funds that would go to Matanot Le-evyonim. I am starting to like this format. – Isaac Moses Oct 31 '13 at 16:28
  • ... The "click here for more" could lead to a larger for-print publication or it could lead to a Meta post with curated lists of great Purim (and p-t) Q&A in the various categories, and/or to simple links to the relevant tags. Since Purim is a weekday holiday, maybe we should really trade on the strength of the electronic format for breadth and economize on the physical medium to try to get many copies of it proliferating. – Isaac Moses Oct 31 '13 at 16:32
  • ... The mini-pub could even have a space on the cover for customization, a la "Happy Purim from _____! We thought you'd enjoy this selection of Torah and fun from Mi Yodeya." If we distribute a Word (or possibly even Google) doc, that's easy to provide for. There may even be a way to do it by PDF form. Some online publishers may offer this sort of customer data insertion as an option. – Isaac Moses Oct 31 '13 at 16:35
  • The conversation started in these comments continued in the chat room. – msh210 Nov 1 '13 at 6:19
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A drive to edit the original questions and answers chosen, to generally improve them. (e.g. formatting, punctuation, grammar, sources, dejargonificaiton). If these questions represent the best Mi Yodeya has to offer (for Purim), the quality should reflect that.

3

Additional ideas for modifications (partially based on Feedback for "Hagada - Mi Yodeya?"):

Up-front quality measures:

  • Be more selective about which Q&A goes in. We should keep in mind that not every answer necessarily needs to be included. If they're not well-written enough to seem worth committing to paper, they should be either omitted or improved.

Post-production quality measures:

  • Consider sweeping for and eliding instances of God's name and/or including a suggestion that people dispose of the document with care.

  • Figure out how to effectively and efficiently copy/add Hebrew quotations to the Word document and have them come out looking nice. This was sufficiently difficult in the last-minute push to produce the hagada that all Hebrew quotations were removed.

  • Include at least a couple careful copyediting/proofreading sweeps of the final document before it's released publicly. Preferably, these should be conducted by someone without previous exposure to the material.

Big sub-projects:

  • Come up with a mechanism for handling jargon - perhaps a glossary.

  • Add a print-oriented bibliography.

  • 2
    Agreed. Also, if we're improving questions or answers (as opposed to editing them just for purposes of the book), we should improve the original content, not just the copy in the book. – Monica Cellio Oct 31 '13 at 12:41
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    Proofreading should indeed be done by someone without prior exposure to the content. Yes, I am volunteering. However, someone who is familiar with the subject matter might be a better choice (or an excellent additional choice). – TRiG Nov 19 '13 at 0:48
  • @TRiG, thanks! I like the idea of one unfamiliar proofreader and one familiar-but-unexposed proofreader. – Isaac Moses Nov 19 '13 at 3:59
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Small-form book?

HodofHod wrote:

Personally, I'm hoping to put this in some Shaloch Manos baskets, so I'd like a smaller format than the Haggadah.

Isaac elaborated in comments there:

It's worth considering concentrating on only making a single, tiny, very polished publication, perhaps even something that can be printed on one double-sided page (perhaps of 11"X17" paper). That would make it very easy and inexpensive to slip into MM, bring in one's pocket to parties, or mass produce to drop at shuls. Also, at that scale, we (or possibly a contracted printshop or online publisher) could possibly even offer stacks of nicely-printed copies for sale at cost or at cost plus funds that would go to Matanot Le-evyonim. I am starting to like this format.

(See further comments there.)

I like the idea of a small book (or folio) suitable for use in shaloch manot baskets. Some further thoughts:

  • Link (and QR code, as someone else suggested) to our existing download page, which would now talk about Purim and the haggadah. (We already have a short URL from SE for this; let's use it.)

  • For Purim Torah questions in particular, sometimes the question itself is fun and people might have their own answers, so if we start the conversation we've already done something positive. For a smaller publication, for at least some PT questions just include the questions, with a "for answers to these and other PT questions go here" directive.

  • It may even work for serious Q&A to only include the questions in the pub and say "go here for answers." It'd make the pub much more of a teaser/ad than a product with self-contained value, but it'd potentially drive more traffic and allow us to cram in more questions. – Isaac Moses Oct 31 '13 at 21:03
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    We could do some of each. I think it's important to also give them a sample of the high-quality answers they'll get here -- plus, give them something they can use directly, so it's not just an ad. (Plus, I want a hook to say "if you liked this, you'll love what we've done for Pesach... (link)".) – Monica Cellio Oct 31 '13 at 21:16
0

Slight issue with Purim Torah: the new stuff will only begin to be allowed after the book is finished.

  • 1
    Right, the purim-torah questions would have to be drawn from previous years. – Monica Cellio Nov 6 '13 at 3:40
  • However, many of the "classic" types of questions (halachos of hamentashen and whatnot) have been asked and discussed in the past. – Double AA Nov 6 '13 at 5:33

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