Welcome to my adventures and experiments in creativity. Where writing is like running: sometimes I know where I'm going, and sometimes I see where the mood takes me.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Self Publisher-ing

Over Christmas, I wrote a 12,000-word guide to creative lessons that can be learnt from the sport of football. It’s not perfect (yet!), but it only needs a couple of weeks more work before it is ready to be unleashed.

The main thing I need to think about is presenting it; moulding the words I’ve so carefully crafted into something appealing and readable. I’m aware of Adobe InDesign, and I’ve read about Scribus, an open source desktop publishing program. The former would require a lot of expense and learning. The latter would merely require a lot of learning.

Either way, a lot of learning…

Just before Christmas, I bought a book to teach myself HTML and CSS programming. I’ve flicked through the book, and the prospect of learning it excites me. But then I settled down to doing actual writing and the programming suddenly didn’t seem quite so important. For now, my time is better spent doing and learning other things.

Some of the advice I’ve read about getting involved in the world of self-publishing can be boiled down to this: find your own method. Do it YOUR way.

So that’s what I want to try. The other day, in a quiet moment at work, I started playing around with Microsoft Publisher 2010. With a quality photograph downloaded under a Creative Commons license, I was able to mock up a decent-looking front cover for the guide. In the space of a few minutes, I went from Publisher? Yeah, right, to, This might be a genuine option.

I’m not saying it’ll be a long-term option. I might find the whole process harder than it needs to be. Hell, just writing a blog post in MS Word can be a frustrating experience at times! One day I’ll probably want to learn something more complex but now, while I’m finding my feet, it may well be the way I want to do it.

If I really want a challenge, I might mess around with making the guide in my ‘retro’ copy of Publisher 2000. I haven’t done the same upgrade at home that I’ve been given at work. The 2010 version of the Office suite can be bloated and frustrating, even impenetrable at times. But, to its credit, it does offer some features that could be considered attractive (while still offering the WordArt that screams ‘school project’ any time you see it used).

The onus, however, is on readability with these sorts of documents. Optimised for browsers and tablets, lots of white space, that sort of thing. Keeping it simple is the name of the game. Publisher 2000 might be enough.

I could have this all wrong. It could be that lots of people out there use Publisher for similar things. It seems unlikely, given the plethora of Apple products in the design world and the general attitude toward Microsoft, but I’d be happily proved wrong. If it turns out to be viable though, that might be a lesson that’s every bit as valuable as learning something three times as complex from scratch.

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