Indie Authors who have an arsenal of tools and experience in their back pockets can utilize open source programs instead of resorting to spending $$$ on popular programs, such as Adobe’s Creative Suite.
Hope you all had a good holiday weekend! My husband and I spent the weekend together enjoying quality time, something that we both needed dearly.
Today I want to tell you all about Open Source software and give you a few suggestions of programs that I use as a writer and graphic designer.
Per, wikipedia (lol yes, wiki, because it had the most straight forward definition of what OSS is):
“Open-source software is computer software that is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to use, study, change, and distribute the software and its source code to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner.”
In short: they are free (depends on the program but I will only be suggesting those that are free) software alternatives to some of your favorite programs such as MS Office Suite, Photoshop, Illustrator, In-Design, and so many more.
No longer do you have to pine over whether you can justify a monthly expense just to make a book cover. No longer do you have to deal with MS Word constantly telling you it needs a product key. You can just do it for free, because others who can code also wanted to do it for free. The catch is that there is a learning curve to these programs, as copying a published program line for line would be copyright infringement at the minimum. The programs I will discuss can do all the functions of their more pricey, well known counterparts, it’s just the mechanics of how to do that (buttons, drop down menus, etc.,) will be different from their pricey counterparts as well.
Now, like explained above, not all OSS programs are free, as there are innumerable OSS programs in existence and more being coded every day. Here is a list of my favorite FREE programs.
1) LIBRE OFFICE
Libre Office is a free OSS version of Microsoft Office which includes a comparable program for each of MS’s programs. As a writer, my most used Libre Office program is Libre Writer, basically an exact replica of MS Word. My second most used program would be Libre Calc, their replica of MS Excel. I used Libre Calc to make my writing tracker, something that I use daily when writing to track my word counts, projects, quarterly goals, and progress.
2) GIMP (GNU IMAGE MANIPULATION PROGRAM)
GIMP was a program that was introduced to me back in 2008 by someone who wanted me to stop using my cracked version of Photoshop CS3, something that I was unwilling to do at the time. By the time I was 17 I had spent so much time in Photoshop (CS and CS2 before) that I knew exactly what tools I needed and how to work their functions. Attempting to translate that knowledge over to GIMP, a very similar, and yet, different program proved too tedious for my underage self, and eventually the computer that had that copy of CS3 died, killing my cracked version with it.
Now that Photoshop is behind a paywall and I’m an adult fully capable of being prosecuted by the fullest extent of the law, GIMP has become my program of choice for graphic design. It has the same functions as PS, and you can even upload PS brushes in GIMP for use! Just be aware of the steep learning curve with how the tools function, Luckily, there are a TON of resources online about GIMP and its tools, and how to use them achieve whatever you need. I will admit, there are times where GIMP lags, but I had that problem with PS. I’ve never had a graphics project ruined or had GIMP crash on me in the middle of a design. I am also VERY aware of how many individual layers I have, and I work to compress them as I go. Remember, be patient in getting GIMP to be your gimp (lol, I couldn’t help it I had to).
Inkscape is a vector graphic design program, the equivalent of Adobe Illustrator. Admittedly, this is not a program that I use at all, just because my projects haven’t required vector work. However, anyone with an eye for marketing can see the vector trend running rough shot over the entirety of the contemporary romance and YA cover styles at this time, and if these are your genres and you’ve considered doing your own cover, this is the program for you!
I am including this program in my review as it was suggested to me by a friend who does graphic design work with vectors, she had nothing but GLOWING reviews about this program and the sample work she showed me came out really great!
Keep an eye out for the next installment of Dejavu tomorrow! Hope you all have a blessed day and thank you for reading!
2 thoughts on “Blog Post #26: Open Source Programs & Why You Don’t Need to Pay $50+ a Month to Be an Indie Author”
Great list. It’s always a good idea to have free alternatives to not be bound by the market. I myself use Vim and Pandoc (both free, open source tools) for my writing and exporting to different file formats. And I use Canva for all my image needs, even though that’s not OSS. Anyway, thanks for this post!
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