Some big names in publishing are coming to Portland, and they’re going to be talking about self-publishing in the digital age. Portland is known for its small press scene and zine culture, so when the founder of Smashwords and a representative from Bloomsbury Publishing roll into town, you know they’re going to shake things up.

Smashwords and Bloomsbury Publishing are teaming up with Portland State University’s graduate program in Book Publishing, Kingston University in England, and Northwest Independent Editors Guild in order to present a one-day conference on self-publishing. The conference is scheduled for Tuesday, February 25, from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on the Portland State University campus. Speakers include Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords; Eela Devani, digital business development director of Bloomsbury Publishing; Dr. Alison Baverstock, author and course leader for Publishing at Kingston University; and Jill Kelly, member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild.

By far the most recognizable name on the bill, Coker will be speaking about why self-publishing is the most exciting thing happening in publishing today. It’s not hard to see why Coker might believe this, since the company he founded in 2008, Smashwords, has become a leading distributor for self-published books. Smashwords is known for its ease of use; authors simply upload their manuscripts as Microsoft Word files, and Smashwords converts these files into multiple e-book formats.

Drawing from research she conducted on the subject of self-publishing, Baverstock will provide a firm grounding for the hyperbole one so often hears about self-publishing. She will be discussing the publishing industry, self-publishing’s place within it, and likely future developments. Baverstock brings key insights into how self-published authors can replicate the critical elements traditionally supplied by publishers in order to create successful e-books. Her most recent book, The Naked Author: A Guide to Self-Publishing, is (ironically!) published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Baverstock will also team up with Devani to discuss how self-published authors can use social media to get their work better known. With more than 13 years on the digital side of publishing, Devani is the perfect person to lead this discussion.

But this conference isn’t all experts flown in from overseas or out of state; Kelly will provide a valuable local perspective. Among other things, she will speak to the issue of how to find local freelance editors, designers, and so forth. These local freelancers can be a tremendous boon to one’s self-publishing project.

The conference is being held at Smith Memorial Student Union (1825 SW Broadway), room 238, on the Portland State University campus. The cost is $90 and includes coffee, tea, and light refreshments; lunch is available from a variety of local establishments or bring your own. For more information and to register, visit Writers & Artists website.

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