The Benefits of Open Source Software for Self-Publishers
Having a publisher prepare one’s manuscript is often fraught with difficulties and frustrations. This is no truer than with the esoteric art of poetry, my own brave conviction, where the gist of the art and its subtle nuance is often lost on but the very best publishers. The result being, having one’s life work poorly represented and poorly marketed. Beholden to the publisher’s whim, indifference and empty promises, self-publishing became an attractive and viable option – provided one can find a practical and inexpensive desk-top-publishing software program.
After dismissing my own publisher on the very same grounds, previously mentioned, I had engaged an old university colleague to redo my manuscript using proprietary desktop publishing software. Unfortunately the software, in the past, was not frequently updated and when difficulties arose over program use, help could not be had. People could not assist us because of compatibility issues that developed when transferring and integrating our document files, created from old software, with more updated software programs of those who were rendering assistance. An example of such a problem is the resurfacing of old editing, despite saving new changes and deleting the old. Frequent updates of proprietary software, to avoid these issues, can be prohibitively expensive especially for the infrequent user and hobbyist self-publishers.
With my life’s work on hold, the option of using open-source desktop publishing software promised to breach my publishing impasse. While Googling, I chanced upon an experimental version of an open-source desktop publishing software called Scribus©, suitable for both PCs and Macs. Googling for online information, I sought instruction on how to use this particular program and was thus able to lean its idiosyncrasies.
In less than a week I was able to re-do my manuscript, from scratch, to print ready stage. The same equivalent process took my former publisher more than two years, using proprietary software, to no avail.
Like self-publishing, learning new software requires a steep learning curve but is worthwhile with open-source software if one can overcome the initial trepidation.