How to Format a Book-sized PDF on a MAC

Indie publishing is an adventure. It also comes with a steep learning curve and can cause all manner of frustration and back-aches as you sit at the computer for hours cursing and sighing, and occasionally cheering when you finally get something right. I’ve become tenacious and OCD about publishing, and I crowed last night when I finally got it.

One of the tasks that seems to give writers the most trouble is preparing their finished manuscript for upload to the distributer (CreateSpace, IngramSpark, etc). I don’t usually publish how-to posts, but as I’ve been learning, I’ve encountered so many people having the same issues, I thought I’d try and simplify the process with a few key moves.

First of all, this is for writers using a Mac. The basic question I googled the past few days was this: how do I save a pdf copy in book size on a Mac? This is what I figured out after reading a zillion threads written by frustrated Mac users. I discovered that Macs are built to do this, so you don’t need to buy Acrobat software. You just need to know how to do it.

A Word About Formatting Ebooks

Ebooks and print books need two completely different formats. Kindle Direct Publishing provides an excellent guide for formatting and uploading your ebook to Amazon. Just follow along and you’ll be successful. (Although one glitch I have discovered  is that when you use a MAC, you have to save the final Word doc as a Web Page, Filtered in order to get an HTML file for upload. Otherwise, any photos don’t appear when you proof it online.) Another format you will need to upload is ePub for Kobo, I-books, etc.) I publish through IngramSpark so I upload the ePub version on their site. You can download Calibre for free (thanks Sionnach for this tip) and convert several formats in a snap. But print books are a whole different process.

Formatting Print Books

To Sleep With Stones_eCover_Final _small_

So. Print books. First of all, the formatting is different. You want your book to be visually appealing, error-free, and set up professionally using Word styles. You have to pay every time you upload a new edition to IngramSpark, so try to get it right. (Right now, they’re offering free revisions until May 31 and a new title upload for free until June 30.)

I’m preparing to release the Hollystone Mysteries as a trilogy within the next year, so I’m setting up my own formatting guide using Word styles so they’re all consistent. The last few weeks, I’ve been re-editing book two. I decided to change the book size from 6″ x 9″ to 5.5″ x 8.5″ because I thought it might look and feel better. After editing and formatting, it grew from 276 pages to 310 pages and that meant the trim size would be off for my existing cover. My cover designer, Kat McCarthy at Aeternum Designs, graciously resized the cover for me. Thanks Kat. It took a lot of finagling to get the most white space as possible without going over those 310 pages. Last night I was still playing with this—even changing words here and there to make it fit. As I said…OCD.

When I thought I had it perfect, I drove down to Staples with my Word file on a flash drive because they said they could convert it to the size I needed in a couple of minutes. However, once it was up on their screen, my fancy font that matches my cover (Celtic Garamond Pro) didn’t show up. I’d used it for the title page, drop caps, and headings, so I was ready to scream! “Bring us a PDF and we can re-size it for you no problem,” she said. So I drove home and hunkered down at the desk again. While I was giving it one more appraisal, I noticed that on page 6 the scene break icon and the page number were not centred correctly. (This is where the OCD kicks in). I discovered that the footer style was set to “normal” which meant it had a .25 indent and that was throwing off the centring. I fixed that and played with the white space some more. Then I put it up on the big screen.

Suddenly, I noticed that the first four pages (section 1) were actually appearing in book-size; whereas the rest of the book was still showing with the text in book-size but on 8.5″ x 11″ paper. This is the problem people are screaming about on the threads. So I went back in and tried one last time. Hallelujah!  This, in three steps, is what I discovered over the last three days.

How to Save a Book-sized PDF on a MAC

  1. Go to File—Page Setup. Set the desired size (5.5 x 8.5) formatted for any printer. Make sure everything in Word is perfect. Check all styles to be sure everything is centred correctly. Check paragraph format—watch for first line indents that need to be removed that will affect the centring).
  2. Go to top screen menu: Format—Document. Check all margins and “apply to whole document”— If  just “this section” is ticked, it won’t work. (This was the clincher!) And you have to do this every time because it defaults. Even making this demo pdf of my first chapter, I found errors and had to resize the doc.
  3. Go to File—Print and in the bottom left click on “pdf” and choose “save to pdf”

This should save the document in the book size you are expecting and look exactly like the interior of your book. Here’s the saved PDF of the front pages and first chapter of To Sleep with Stones so you can see what I mean about fonts and text and white space.

Stones chapter 1

Good luck on your Indie publishing journey. If you get stuck or have any questions, contact me or leave a comment and I’ll try to help you as best I can.

with all good wishes,

Wendy

 

 

 

 

Stephen King as Mentor

Reading Stephen King’s 1991 article “The Symbolic Language of Dreams” blissed out my writer’s spirit–that seed deep in my soul that ruptures occasionally when watered with shivering truth. This phenomenon occurs too rarely and signalled that the man had something to tell me.

UnknownStephen King

 

salems-lotI remember reading Salem’s Lot in the late 1970s. It was the book that turned me off horror. Not because it was bad—because it was mesmerizingly sinister. We were living in rural southern Ontario at the time, and my husband, a musician, was on the road three weeks out of four. Our farm, set well back from the road, was a staggering breath away from Salem Road and a friend of mine dug graves less than a mile up that road at Salem Cemetery.

And so, I closed King’s books. Ironically, I’ve watched movie versions of his books over the years: Misery, Hearts in Atlantis, Carrie, Stand by Me, The Green Mile, Dolores Claiborne; and I love Haven so much I’m ready to relocate clear across the country.

But books are different. Perhaps because the images emerge from our own imagination. Words perch at your fingertips, thirsting for a stream of blood; an opening where absorbed through the flesh and synapse, they can become real.

My current Hollystone Mysteries series features some sinister vampires, so I opened the cover of Salem’s Lot and began again.

And what did I learn from the Master?
pacing: keep the reader in a slow pant so by the time you hit the climax they’re craving it like a drug
detail: slow it all down by painting graphic pictures with your words
heroes are not always leading men. In Salem’s Lot, the unlikely four who take on Barlow the vampire are: an elderly English teacher, a young novelist, a doctor, and a twelve-year-old boy who makes models of monsters.
allow your eccentric beliefs to emerge and flourish. The following dialogue from Salem’s Lot reflects a personal belief that nonhuman objects can take on the emotions of human’s actions and certain people who are sensitively tuned can feel it. I concur with the narrator in this passage; not that he hallucinated the whole thing, but that houses and landscapes absorb emotions that can manifest with the right catalyst.

“Probably I was so keyed up that I hallucinated the whole thing. On the other hand, there may be some truth in that idea that houses absorb the emotions that are spent in them, that they hold a kind of… dry charge. Perhaps the right personality, that of an imaginative boy, for instance, could act as a catalyst on that dry charge, and cause it to produce an active manifestation of … of something. I’m not talking about ghosts, precisely. I’m talking about a kind of psychic television in three dimensions. Perhaps even something alive. A monster, if you like” (42).