The “Big Release” is one of the most gratifying phases of the OER creation process. To make the most of it, a coordinated effort allows the word to get out and the resource to get into people’s hands. However large your audience, it’s important to take your time with these final steps, to make sure the book is in the best possible shape for release.
Estimate targets, but stay flexible. Plan to have your book released one to three months before the academic term in which you’d like to use it. Set a date during the scoping or content creation phase, but remember to revisit and adjust your timeline if and when things change.
Revisit your initial goals and measures of success. Make sure that the resource meets the objectives you set out early on, in terms of both content and formats.
Preparation and planning makes everything easier. Working to build a community of potential adopters and meet accessibility standards at every stage of the process means you will not be rushing to do so during the final weeks before release.
Have fun along the way. Release isn’t all checklists and spreadsheets—it also includes elements like designing an attractive cover, writing stories about your experience making the book, and highlighting the impact the book can have, all with a great group of collaborators!
Savour the moment. Build in time for you and your team to celebrate the moment, and pat yourselves on the back for this incredible achievement. Creating an open textbook is no easy feat, but you’ve done it!
Almost everyone on the team will have a part to play leading up to the book’s release:
- Project manager: keeps everything on schedule, coordinates with the team, conducts final checks on the book, creates adoption forms and tracking sheets, notifies the community about the release
- Formatter: converts content into accessible formats for readers (minimum: web, editable, and offline formats), does content layout and styling, adds front and back matter
- Designer: creates an engaging ebook and print cover (which may also be openly licensed), makes other marketing collateral as needed (e.g., pamphlets, slide decks, videos)
- Accessibility reviewer: reviews the formatted book to ensure that formats meet accessibility standards, meets with instructional designers to make sure the book meets all learners’ needs (including those with recognized disabilities)
- Proofreader: final check after formatting, to catch any small errors
- Marketing team: updates the book description, prepares a release announcement, collects blurbs about the book to feature on the cover or in communications, creates promotion plan
- Others: help with final checks, submit the book to repositories, set up print on demand, and spread the word
Once content is finalized, you can start working on some of these processes:
- Work backwards from your target release date to distribute workload and allocate time for tasks.
- Remember technical openness—make your book available in web, editable, and offline formats.
- Also make a print-on-demand format available for those students and teachers who need or prefer a physical format.
- Create a cover that attracts potential adopters, distinguishes your book from others, and shows its personality upfront.
- Include front and back matter that complements the main content, rounds out the appearance of the book, and lends some professionally created appeal.
- Create an adoption form and encourage users to self-report adoptions, and use this information to prove the book’s impact.
- Follow accessibility checklists provided by your university or regional boards and prepare an accessibility assessment that shows your book meets these standards.
- Update the book’s metadata, check the license, and verify the information on the book’s homepage (including links to the Adoption Form).
- Submit the book to institutional and OER repositories or referitories.
- Send copies to the team if possible, or at a minimum, include them in the book’s acknowledgements.
- Execute your promotional plan and shout it from the rooftops, and ask the team to do the same!
Release is just one of the many débuts that your book will have. After you send it into the world, it will be used, expanded, and adapted in many other ways. So this phase of the process is about having confidence that the resource is ready to be shared, while also being ready for it to be taken on (and maybe released anew) by the communities of practice that form around it. Then, as it becomes part of the disciplinary landscape, start thinking about a long-term vision, including ancillaries, new versions, and/or remixes.
Keep reading to find out more about planning and implementing the Big Release.