Saturday, February 23, 2019

Controlling the Presses

March 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Publishing, Self publishing

As a young copyeditor working in London in the 1980s, I belonged to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). Posted on the notice board by my desk was a postcard I had bought at an NUJ event. It showed a middle-aged woman operating an offset printing press. The caption read:

“Freedom of the press belongs to those who control the presses.”

 © Kathy Wynn |

© Kathy Wynn |

What I loved about that postcard was the sense it gave me that the writer (and even then I aspired to be one) was in control of her own destiny. At the end of the day, if I couldn’t find a publisher for my writing, I could print it myself!

Fast forward twenty-five years and the ways that writers can “control the presses” have exploded beyond anything we could have imagined. Readily available com­puter software means that, with a modest amount of training and practice, any author can produce professional-quality book layouts. And the explosion of com­panies offering self-publishing services on the internet gives authors easy and inexpensive access to the presses to produce good quality printed editions of their books in modest quantities and at reasonable prices. Since 2008, more books are being self-published by authors and community organizations than are being published by the mainstream commercial publishing houses.

Self-publishing offers great possibilities to the memoirist, but it also has many pitfalls for the novice. If you’re new to self-publishing, start with the Self-Publisher’s Glossary, which explains the difference between a traditional publishing company and the new publishing services companies that serve self-publishers.

The rules of the self-publishing game are changing constantly as POD compa­nies compete, new ones arrive, and others go under.  If you’re serious about self-publishing, it’s important to try and follow industry news and trends.

“Controlling the presses” offers many benefits to the memoirist and is now within reach of any of us, even if sometimes we need a little help to navigate the process.

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