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 expensive proprietary desktop publishing software. Unfortunately his software was not frequently updated in the past and when difficulties arose as a result 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 Macintosh© OSX operating systems. Googling for online fora, 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, leaning new software requires a steep learning curve but is worthwhile with open-source software if one can overcome the initial trepidation.

Cheung-Ling Wong


Cheung-Ling Wong is a poet who performs regularly on community radio 3WBC 94.1 FM, in Melbourne, Australia. He has recently self-published a book of his early poetical works under the title: ‘Dream Shadows’ – Chapters of Inspirational Verse. ISBN – 978 064 656 536 1(hbk)

Details of the book are at www.cheunglingwong.com 


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One Response to “Articles”

  1. Rogelio says:

    This is so weird and please try to beilvee me when I say this.I was wondering last night you know, lying in bed and forcing dreams into my mind about my amazing publishing success when people will grovel at my feet for more (in the future) that I should ePublish my short stories in one collection to get a taste for what reaction my audience has for my writing. I was thinking either for free or for $0.99. I’m not sure which will serve me better yet.I’d be really happy to help you with your queries. You might only find me helpful as a pat-on-the-back-type support because I haven’t self-published before on the internet, but I’d love to connect with someone like you who is heading in the same direction as me. I got my idea spark whilst writing my latest post, Art of Writing 1: Swapping character voices & publishing paths .Good luck with publishing!