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The sadness of Word & how it’s damaging self publishing — 27 Comments

  1. I wonder if you are putting the blame in the right place. I have seen some very horrible pages come out of InDesign. Maybe what you are seeing is that a person who lacks the right mindset or design skills can not see and will not care about the difference. People who promote XML and ePUB may be totally unaware of quality issues. If given better tools they would be incapable of using them.

  2. Hi Tom,

    Yes, I suspect you are right. I’m afraid that many of them think the bookis done when they are finished writing. It’s hard to get them to realize that the book design is so important.

  3. My self published book (createspace) was formatted in InDsign by someone I paid because I never used styles orignally and my word processor corrupted the manuscript. It was just everywhere. I don’t use InDesign and completely lost control of my own work. Every little thing had to be handled by the formatter, and although it’s really good now there are two typos that I’m unable to fix because I can’t do it myself. I can’t get the book into kindle myself because it has to be converted with their free download——again, I have no control, so I have to pay someone to do it. Now I’m about to start my second book and don’t know whether to learn InDesign, or commit to styles. I’m not a happy camper! Thanks for your incredible post and generous sharing.

  4. I agree. It’s a lot to learn. But there is a lot of fun in it once you understand the basics. You might be able to get an old copy of InDesign 5.5 on eBay or something like that to learn the basics. You might be able to talk to the person you had format your book so you could be using styles in Word that he or she could reformat more easily and therefore a little cheaper. Bu the standard is around $2 a page for pro formatting.

  5. David—Thanks for your comment and great advice. The problem was that the book was in word, and then converted to InDesign. Typos, amendments, and additions, all out of my own control,took ages to apply. I can get a student priced copy of InDesign 6. I’m really computer literate, and could learn, but need to make a decision which program gets my commitment. I can’t see myself going through the whole thing twice! BTW, my book (276 pages)is doing phenomenally well in the short time it’s been available. I have to start the much-requested sequel ASAP and am doing nothing because of the program decision!

  6. You’ll need to learn styles vntually even in Word) & you can’t imagine how frustrating styles are in Word. But then I do all my writing in InDesign. Try to think long term.

  7. That’s exactly what I’m trying to say—if I have to learn styles then I should be doing one or the other, but not both. For KDP (kindle) they wouldn’t accept my InDesign file (I have all my files) without the free download plug-in/conversion. It’s frustrating that I couldn’t do such a simple conversion, and now have to pay CreateSpace to convert, with my two typos intact! They won’t repair, and I don’t want to re-upload my successfully published printed book. thanks for your appreciated input.

  8. Yes, InDesign has a free KindleExport plug-in, so all you do is export your Kindle KF8 file. There’s some stuff to learn, but it’s real easy to adjust your styles for the Kindle export. Once that’s done the same file is used for the ePUB export for the iBookstore, Nook, and Kobo.

  9. I haven’t given the order yet for CreateSpace to convert to Kindle. It just seems such a waste of money, costing almost as much as the student cost of InDesign CS6, and only good for their own program. I’ll still be at square one, having to pay again for conversions to the other digital sites. I guess I’m stalling and hoping for some fairy godmother to show up! I did attend a one day seminar on InDesign—difficult to learn without having the program at home. I understand the principals…

  10. I know I’m prejudiced, but I can almost guarantee you’ll be glad you did it. Let me know what you decide… Once you have it, and learn it, all your formatting costs are gone…(after a little studying and work, of course) 😉

  11. So do you think I should buy the program and do the kindle conversion myself? It will take a while to learn—not sure how long. I just want the kindle available for people requesting it. As it is, CSpace takes up to a month to convert. You are so helpful—thank you.

  12. Yes, I already have all my files. I’ve always had them, both print and for kindle, but can’t work on them without the program. At one stage I uploaded to Kindle and when I saw the messed production on amazon I pulled it right away. Have a look at my print edition if you like: Hiding in a Cave of Trunks: A Prominent Jewish Family’s Century in Shanghai and Internment in a WWII POW Camp.

  13. It looks good. The only changes you’ll need to make for Kindle is make sure the images are 600 pixels wide JPEGs (127K max size), and inserted into the text inline, with the captions in the paragraph following.

    It would seem to be an easy conversion.

  14. I really don’t know whether I can do this! It’s almost easier to pay amazon and start differently with any new writing. Thanks for the encouragement. I think you must be very adept…

  15. Hi there,

    Like you, I also started from nothing, and have learned to the point where I’m now creating complete documents, illustrations, layouts and my own font, the first of which I completed (more or less) in the winter.
    I love your book, Practical Font Design, I’ve been reading it on Kindle. It’s just great, it’s so wonderful to find a clear book specifically about font design. I also love my kindle. It seems to me like the winter of 2012, when the kindle fire came out marked a huge milestone. All of a sudden people can get a high quality, inexpensive e-reader that fits in your pocket. The potential for humanity just amazes me.

    Anyway, I found my way to this website out of curiosity and saw this thread, so I thought I’d ask a question. I was wondering if someone out there has some good experience about marketing PDFs online. I’m working very specifically on materials to help teachers, which I’ve not completed yet, which they need to print out for the children. But I still haven’t found a good way to get PDFs to market online, with good copy protection. Does anyone have any ideas?

  16. For sales, Lulu has been the best at selling PDFs over the years. Lately, I’ve been using Gumroad to sell downloadable archives with DRM-free PDF, ePUB, and KF8 packages. I get a lot of eyeballs with Scribd, but few sales. I have heard some good things about Teachers Pay Teachers (http://www.teacherspayteachers.com) but I’ve almost quit doing curriculum work.

    Does anyone else have anything?

  17. InDesign can be very intimidating at first, but I absolutely agree – there is nothing that compares for publishing a book!

    For those just getting started, I would recommend signing up for the Adobe Creative Cloud service – at $50/mo, you get access to InDesign, Photoshop, and everything else they offer (and they occasionally run “new subscriber” specials).

    As far as actually learning the software is concerned, Lynda.com offers unlimited software training – on video – for $25/mo (or $37.50 if you want exercise files). Lynda.com is how I learned InDesign, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, PHP… you name it, they have it – and it is high-quality stuff. 🙂

    Good luck – and you can totally do this!!

  18. Hey there David,

    Thanks very much for the advice (^-^) I find that the biggest problem with PDF is the lack of copy protect. Selling teaching materials, especially to less developed societies with a copyright-theft-culture (you know who you are!) would be problematic, I think..

  19. Oh, note that the smiley face →(^-^) above came out looking a little non-plussed. I didn’t realise the hyphen would come out slanted. But, he’s meant to be happy.

  20. Thanks for still keeping me posted. I haven’t as yet converted my inDesign manuscript to digital format, and now am getting mixed messages about the value of inDesign v Scrivener. The latter is receiving great praise lately from a number of writers. In the meantime—I have no ebook, but only a print book that is still going at a greatly successful pace. What to do? http://amzn.com/1479165387

  21. Darryl, you can password protect your PDFs, but sites like Scribd cannot sell them in that case.

    Ester, for novels Scrivener might do acceptable ePUBs, but it is really limited as far as formatting is concerned. I’m using Scrivener as a source for an RTF of the copy I will format in InDesign. I just export my ebooks directly out of InDesign CS6 or better.

  22. Hi David
    Lost this posting for a few months and refound it today after googling my name! Here’s an update: gave the ebook formattting job to someone else and now have a kindle book that’s doing very well after only a few weeks online. I haven’t uploaded to Kobo etc. because I’ve been debating whether to use KDP Select. Have pretty much decided against it, so I’ll probably be uploading pretty soon to all the other e-readers. I’m amazed at the success of my print book, and am invited to speak at many venues.
    Re Scrivener, I have the application, and will attempt to learn it. Perhaps in the end I will go with inDesign—who knows.
    BTW, thanks for your in-depth responses. Much appreciated.

  23. Pingback: Book Designer Confesses: The Truth About Word Processors — The Book Designer

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