Hosted by Carole Owens, with Hester Velmans, Jana Laiz and Melissa Batalin
Stockbridge Library, 6–8 p.m.

A look at self-publishing as it has evolved over the years, from a poor second choice for authors to a canny business decision. In the rapidly changing publishing landscape, the stigma of the vanity press has begun to fade as authors discover the value of bypassing the gatekeepers of the large profit-driven publishing companies and striking out on their own. More and more authors these days are embracing cheap e-book technologies and social networking strategies in order to take their destiny into their own hands and find their niche audience.

Carole Owens is the author of The Berkshire Cottages and seven other published books. She has written features for numerous magazines and writes a biweekly column in the Berkshire Eagle and The Berkshire Record. In 2006, she was named Scholar in Residence at the Massachusetts Foundation fo City r the Humanities, and between 2006 and 2008 she mounted three exhibitions on Berkshire history: Pittsfield During the Gilded Age, Fertile Ground: Berkshire Artists and Writers, and Rockwell’s Vision of Melville’s World. Owens has been a consultant to or featured on A&E’s America’s Castles and Confidential, PBS’s Chronicles, and other programs.


Jana Laiz is the author of the award-winning novel, Weeping Under This Same Moon: Elephants of the Tsunami, written to raise money for tsunami relief, and the coauthor of A Free Woman on God’s Earth: The True Story of Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, the Slave Who Won Her Freedom. Fascinated by other cultures, Jana studied anthropology and Chinese language at University. Her cautionary faerie tale, The Twelfth Stone, a novel for adults and young adults, is making its debut. Both Weeping Under This Same Moon and A Free Woman On God’s Earth have been optioned to be turned into films. See


Hester Velmans is a Netherlands-born novelist, editor, and translator of French and Dutch literary fiction. Her translation of Lulu Wang’s The Lily Theater was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and she was awarded the Vondel Prize for Translation for her rendition of Renate Dorrestein’s A Heart of Stone. Hester’s first book for children, Isabel of the Whales, was a surprise national bestseller. By the time the sequel, Jessaloup’s Song, came along, the publishing landscape had shifted, and she decided to give self-publishing a try.

Melissa Batalin has always been an avid reader — as a young girl, she would often end up reading bedtime stories to her parents. Eventually, her love of art and design combined with her passion for reading led her to book design. Although there were many nay-sayers who declared that books were dead, she soldiered on. She attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute then joined up with two long-time independent booksellers to help authors self-publish professionally and affordably. Melissa has been with The Troy Book Makers since its founding in 2006 — and has designed books, covers, websites, and promotional materials, ebooks as well as coordinated book production for over 400 authors.