Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Internet for Poets, Part Two: Unleashing Hell

If you've studied the steps listed in Part One: Quick and Dirty, there's really nothing much else involved technically with making your work available on the Internet. The way the Net is presently constituted, you could probably carry on this way forever and fulfill your immediate goal of finding an audience for your work.

But if you've come to the conclusion that your server's proprietary software sucks, and if you have some time on your hands because you're unemployed and your life is falling apart, you might want to elevate your presence on the Internet to a higher level. It's time to re-design your website, and in so doing you need to learn some programs that might also prove useful in the unlikely event that you ever get a day-job again.

You will  therefore need a reasonable photo editor, a web design program (or .html editor), an FTP uploader in case it's not included in the website designer, and, if want to get into printed media, Adobe InDesign and maybe Adobe Acrobat Professional, which enables you to create the high-resolution .pdf's required for printing.

Personally I use Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver 8, Cute FTP Pro, and Adobe InDesign for book design, and occasionally Acrobat Acrobat Pro.

These are very sophisticated and complicated programs, but the good news is that you'll only need to use about 10% what they are able to do, so you can probably figure out what you need from self-guide manuals and online tutorials and the like. Community college courses are of course fine, but they'll be far more comprehensive than what you'll really require.

The bad news is that these programs ridiculously expensive. IMHO the only one worth actually buying is Adobe Acrobat Pro, which is reasonably priced and is good for all sorts of things that have nothing to do with the task at hand.

But of course there are alternative ways of acquiring these programs at no expense. Go find a friendly geek in your circle of acquaintances and inquire. You'll need tutelage unless you already know the drill.

You'll also want to use MS Word to do all your text editing--because it gets incredibly clutzy if you text-edit in the other programs.You need to get really familiar with MS Word--all the ins and outs--lots more than what you needed to produce your college term papers.

If you want to make a cool website, you'll need Word for the text-editing,  the photo editor to produce nice images, your website designer program, (and possibly the FTP program) and that's it.

If you're going to produce a book, the method is this. 1) Arrange everything in MS Word exactly the way you wish it to appear on the printed page. 2) Design your book with Adobe InDesign. 3) Export the file as a high-res .pdf, and upload it to the printer's server, or cut a disk and mail it to him/her.

Thanks to print-on-demand, book printing is amazingly cheap these days -- maybe $350 for the first 50 copies of an average size poetry paperback, and reorders for a 2-3 bucks each. You can get a cost estimate for your project at

There's another piece of great news here. You can export the same file you've created for the printer as a low-res .pdf instead and then upload it to the Internet, wherever you want to put it. Thus you've created a printable book and a website text in one and the same process.

If you are able to spend the time necessary to learn these programs, you are way ahead of the pack, so it would be a shame not put these skills to work for the larger community. For personal karmic enhancement, think about  an online or printed small press magazine or anthology. The Mahayana is after all the Larger Vehicle, and you might wish to transport as many people as you can.

P.S. Don't forget to smash the State!


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