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Self-publish your way to a writers’ utopia

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Recently, the highly successful self-published author Hugh Howie wrote an article for Salon magazine  in which he outlined the immense benefits of self-publishing.

Especially exciting news for self-publishers, he says, is that they retain exclusive ownership of their work, which means they’ll keep profiting from their books for as long as they live. Also, their titles need never disappear from bookshop shelves and will always be available electronically or as a traditional book.  Finally, the growing irrelevance of traditional publishers means they can no longer dictate whether your work reaches the public.

I’m really pleased to see Hugh (and other successful authors) promote self-publishing as the main way for writers to get an audience these days instead of wasting their time and energy in a fruitless attempt to grab the attention of traditional publishers.

The opportunity to bypass the whims of publishing houses great and small should empower all writers to retain full control over the design and layout of their work.

With the popularity of Amazon, iTunes and Google Play as ebook distribution platforms, and with print-on-demand services like CreateSpace, authors have found Utopia. What they must do now is rid themselves of the mistaken mind-set that believes authenticity can only be granted by a dinosaur industry that rarely publishes new talent.

Not all self-published authors make money from their writing, but as Hugh points out most traditionally-published authors don’t either. Yet, with good writing, editing and promotion (together with a bit of luck), quite a number will make enough to pay their bills.

Unfortunately, danger still lurks within the publishing industry. Two colleagues self-published with services offered on the Internet, mainly because they didn’t have the confidence to learn how to do it themselves. They were charged a fortune and left with boxes of books abandoned in the spare room.

Yet, all you need to get your work out to an audience is a knowledge of InDesign, Photoshop and  Microsoft Word.

Once you understand how to use the software and the nature of file and image formats, most publishing jargon is quickly demystified.

In the new world of publishing, there is no need for anyone but you to make a living from your writing.

Midlifexpress and TasRes offer self-publishing retreats. Go to TasRes for further details.

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Author: Sue Bell
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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