For writers, the future lies in electronic publishing – so we’re told. Traditional mainstream publishers are struggling. They don’t want manuscripts from new authors unless high sales volumes are virtually guaranteed. So if you want your work to reach the public, e-publish it. If it isn’t the only way now, it soon will be.

This is tough advice for technophobic old coots like me. I wouldn’t have a website, still less be able to post blogs, if I didn’t have expert support, i.e. someone to create the website for me and tell me how to operate blogging. So how am I, and how are other technophobic old coots, supposed to master the craft of e-publishing?

On September 18th I attended a one-day workshop in which we were instructed in the use of a user-friendly e-publishing package called Sigil, which is free to download. I was sure even I could use it. I came home and tried to download it – but couldn’t because my computer lacked an item it required. Having identified the said item I attempted to install it but couldn’t, apparently because I needed Windows Installer 3.1. So I downloaded Windows Installer 3.1, then the missing item; and then – to my delight and amazement – I installed Sigil.

But Sigil wouldn’t open. Or rather, when I tried, it immediately announced it had encountered a problem and been obliged to close. The announcement was made in shockingly ungrammatical language, but of even greater concern was the growing conviction that I, as user, was the problem that obliged the package to close. Repeated attempts yielded no progress.

I took the matter to my local computer expert, who said I needed a new computer with Windows 7 as operating system because Sigil wasn’t going to work with XP. He proved to be correct – though on the Sigil website it declares XP to be a compatible O/S. Hey ho. Don’t believe everything you read!

So I’ve bought a new computer, which is half the size of its predecessor, is twice as fast and has four times the memory. And I’ve downloaded Sigil with no trouble at all. Since downloading it I’ve made an e-book, or at least the text thereof, out of several silly bits of verse and prose passages I’ve written over the years, and Kindle Previewer tells me it’s worked satisfactorily. I’ve engaged the collaboration of a cartoonist to illustrate this absurd book, and once we’ve worked out how to do it (we need to photograph the cartoons and insert them as jpeg files, I believe) and designed a cover, we can attempt to put the minimum opus on to the market via Amazon. It will probably take a few weeks or even months to get to this stage, but I’ve now persuaded myself it’s really going to happen.

Sometimes I amaze myself. At this rate I’m going to end up entering the twenty-first century.

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