The accessibility of self publishing

Wednesday, 1 February 2017 12:52pm

Dr Scott Hollier, Media Access Australia’s Specialist Advisor, Digital Accessibility, self-published an inspiring book Outrunning the Night late last year. He shares some very helpful practical advice on his journey of ensuring that the finished product was accessible across multiple formats, with MAA’s Philip Jenkinson in a fascinating podcast article.

Image of a book within a computer screen

Image of a book within a computer screen

Listen to the complete interview where Dr Scott Hollier shares some great tips with Philip Jenkinson from his journey of accessible self-publishing.

mp3

Read the transcript of Dr Scott Hollier’s interview on accessible self publishing.

Today, self-publishing is becoming the new normal, and can reach a very wide audience through print on demand, audiobooks and eBooks across a myriad of platforms. So what about accessibility? Dr Hollier self-published a book late last year and waded through all of the challenges that can occur when trying to ensure the final product remains accessible across a number of different document formats and publishing platforms. So how did he go about selecting the right self-publishing tool, what were the key considerations and which ones did he shortlist?

Dr Hollier self-published a book late last year and waded through all of the challenges that can occur when trying to ensure the final product remains accessible across a number of different document formats and publishing platforms. So how did he go about selecting the right self-publishing tool, what were the key considerations and which ones did he shortlist?

“Great questions, and ultimately there are a lot of self-publishing options out there,” said Dr Scott Holler. “And if anyone is considering going down this path and they have a great story to share, I’d certainly recommend doing it. For me, after investigating about 10 different platforms I shortlisted it to two that have a very wide distribution, being Lulu and CreateSpace.”

“One reason is because CreateSpace is owned by Amazon and so if I went down that path I knew that my book could get to Amazon and, through Kindle and some other bookshops,” said Hollier. “But secondly, when I investigated the interfaces, it became quite clear that CreateSpace was the more accessible of the two. And after doing a bit of investigation, I realised that if I was going to go down this path, then I probably stood the best chance, accessibility-wise, of getting my book completed by myself using CreateSpace. And despite some challenges, it got there in the end.”

After overcoming the accessibility challenges associated with the process of self publishing, Dr Hollier offers a few tips to avoid trouble in ensuring that the finished product is accessible to everyone.

“Just make sure that right from the very beginning you include accessibility,” he advises. “So even if you’re just doing your interior initially for print, and you’re looking at eBooks later, I’d still recommend making sure things are correctly styled, that your headings are in place, your table of contents is properly generated and another thing to make sure is that that alternative text is definitely put in place.”

“That was probably one of the big things that tripped me up with two areas of alternative text in Word… just make sure that you put it in the description field. And make sure that you have lots of options in terms of distribution of your book, so in my opinion, the more you’ve got, the better. And a very important tip I would chuck in is make sure you have a good editor. If you have a good editor to keep you honest, continue cracking the whip and has expert knowledge, it can turn what may be just scrawls, into something that actually reads like a book and I’m very grateful.”

 


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