If you are thinking about becoming a desktop publisher, but are unsure of your computer hardware and software needs, simply ask the experts, such as members of the Publishing Forums on CompuServe. The forums provide discussion groups, technical support, and other information for all levels of desktop publishers--from experts to beginners. For this column, forum members participated in an online roundtable discussion about starting a desktop-publishing business, with a focus on the right combination of software and hardware.
Thanks to computers and software, desktop-publishing tools enable one experienced and talented individual to do the work that, in pre-computer days, was done by five specialists: the graphic designer, the illustrator, the typographer, the retoucher, and the stripper.
The forum members emphasized that there are two keys to being a successful desktop publisher today: You must receive good training, and you must work with the proper tools. Don Arnoldy, the owner of Board Room Graphics in Santa Clara, California, and the manager of the desktop-publishing Forum on CompuServe, says, "There are people who have purchased a computer and some software, and, with no prior experience, have begun successful desktop-publishing businesses--but they are the exception, rather than the rule. I advise beginners to work for an experienced desktop publisher for at least three years before going freelance. Once you start your own business, you are no longer `just' a desktop publisher, or designer, or illustrator--you are also the bookkeeper, the sales rep, the customer service department, the marketing and advertising manager, and the janitor. If you do not have the necessary production skills down cold, these other things will so overwhelm you that you won't be able to handle it all."
Here are some of the computers and software programs that most experienced desktop publishers use.
Sandra E. Eddy lives in upstate New York and is the author of several computer and Internet books.