Convert your ready-to-go Word manuscript into .pdf (#4 of 10)

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In the last step (#3) of this publishing series, we did the final formatting for paperback publication, which we will probably send to CreateSpace (or Lightning Source).

But here, at #4, there’s one big hurdle for paperbacks (and sometimes for ebooks). It’s that the final formatted file must be converted from Word into a neutral platform so other software can import and build from it. And since both CreateSpace and Lightning Source will only accept your opus in the neutral platform style called PDF, that’s our task here.

Today, it could hardly be easier, particularly if you are using a more recent computer that includes PDF as an installed software. If so, just save your interior material in a PDF file. (You will know because the end of the file will be .pdf, not .doc.)

Those of us with pre-PDF-included Word software have to scurry a bit more. I’ve almost always used a free version, like CutePDFWriter (www.cutePDF.com). Install it on your computer. Then review your Word .doc book interior file one last time so it is precisely how you want it to appear in print. Next, follow the simple READ ME instructions CutePFD supplies. Here are the five steps it suggests:

(1) Open your original document and select Print command in File menu of your application to bring up Print dialog box, (2) Select CutePDF Writer as the Printer to print (DO NOT select “Print to file” option), (3) You will get a Save As dialog box prompted for saving created PDF file, (4) Select a folder to Save in and enter a File name, then click on Save, and (5) Go to that folder to find your PDF file.

What you have done in PDF is lock the interior material in place. The plus: nothing will move, jump pages, or shrink or grow in PDF. The minus: if you want to make changes later (like correcting spelling or eliminating that spiteful dig at Chester or Chestine), you more or less have to go back to that “final” Word file and make the changes. Then set it again in PDF in either your modern software or by redoing the five steps above.

There may be one more quirk even if your new PDF copy is completely error-free. Sometimes the locked-in pages won’t end up exactly where you tell them to. (Shouting won’t help.) If the copy and interior contents are OK as they appear in the final PFD version, fine, just leave them. But there are times when the page break takes place in the middle of a saved image or text block (like a file), so it leaves gaping holes where readers, librarians, and book sellers want copy. That means you will have to go back to the .doc version and move the offensive item around. You may have to move some text to before or after an image, or whatever. (You might also recheck the Table of Contents to see that your fiddling doesn’t alter the page numbers.) Then go through the process again, PDFing it until it passes muster.

The only time you must go through the PDF process is when the publisher tells you to (if you want them to print and sell your masterpiece). That will be for all bound books and, sometimes, very rarely for ebooks.

One last point at #4. Let’s say you have a book that you want to sell yourself (at seminars or speeches or specific markets you have particular access to) as well as let other publishers, like Kindle, Nook, CreateSpace, also sell it.

In that case, you will want your own version saved in PDF if the books will be bound (like paperbacks). And you will want your own ebook also in document form in PDF and sold as a download so the buyer can read it on their monitor, can print it out, and can share it. In other words, once your book is in its final PDF form, you can immediately sell it as your ebook (though I would tell the buyers that yours is a PDF version so they don’t expect it to pop up on their tablet or iPhone.)

An aside. That PDF ebook that is available before the bound book appears lends itself to some special uses, besides earning you some quick sales income. If a merchant or, say, an association programmer seeking workshop hand-out material want a peek at a paperback before it is printed, you can send them an attachment of the book to review (before you perhaps increase your print run to satisfy their purchase). It’s also an excellent review copy to send to those you are asking for book testimonials or to those picking speech-givers.

In the next segment (#5 of 10), let’s create a description of your book and a biography of you, plus determine prices you want to charge for your paperback and ebook.

Besrt wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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