Choosing software..Other writers experience!
In order to get a macro view of the writing landscape, I took a glimpse of what other writers ran into and felt about what tool they were using. Here are some of the pain points and advice from a blog by Joel:
Stephen: I’m presuming that you’re speaking of print versions of your books. First off, Word is not a viable tool for professional book design and layout. For one thing, it’s a word processor, not a page layout program. So it’s tools on not designed to optimize all the elements that go into a book. When you use Quark or InDesign there are Book options that allow you to do each chapter separately, keeping files sizes more manageable, and then joining them in a Book folder. Then, too, when exporting (or distilling) a PDF for the printer–we don’t generally send InDy orvQuark files out to printers anymore–there are some options for optimizing graphic files for the purpose of bringing their sizes down. But perhaps most important of all is to optimize them in Photoshop before importing them into your page layout doc.
Bill: Joel, Stephen, or anyone who can help me, I have written/published three books on golf and golf courses. I used Word exclusively. I was able to accept the layout compromises and the limitations of image manipulation, and I am satisfied with the products. There are pictures on every page which leads to very large files and the reason for my question. Several times as the files got over 300 KB, the program crashed, and I split the book into sections based on the size of the file.
When I combined the sections, the manuscript had to be compressed.
Now I am getting to create a second edition of one of the books, and I need to be mindful of the size of the section files. How should I handle the large files?
I like th Word product, for obvious reasons which you identify, but the size of my files is a problem. Thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks, Bill
Roger: I started with Microsoft Word but have moved onto Scribus. Its a good program, yes there is a learning curve but it does all I want for text and images. I can even show the bleed area on the page, something I could never do in Word. Of course the best part its free and they are always updating the program. InDesign is costly and probably harder to learn. I am completed 8 books now and even my first couple in Word I have redesign them in Scribus. Its good for layout of images, resizing, etc. Last 2 books have been hardcover with a dust jacket, Scribus does it perfectly for me. Forget Word its a battle to do want you want in book design, go for Scribus.
Roger: I also agree with Stephen, Word is not a good tool to use in designing a book. Word does crash when the file is too big and you can lose all you work.
When designing a book I use Scribus and find it great. Some books I have produced have a many images which makes the file very large. So when I export the PDF file to be printed it can be over 1GB. I just divide it into a couple of PDF files to send to the printing company.
Designing a book will be so much easier using another program, I will never use Word again, its a battle.
Stephen: Mike, doesn’t really matter what program you use, as long as you produce a printer-ready PDF at the end according to Amazon’s (CreateSpace’s) specs. That said, a typical workflow that is the start of professional results would be Microsoft Word for writing, vector drawing art done in Illustrator, photos worked in Photoshop, and page design and layout in InDesign or QuarkXPress.
Sandra: Joel, I need some help. My husband and I are editors for our local genealogical society and we publish a quarterly journal, which has about 48-52 pages plus front and back covers. It is really difficult using Word for the layout with all the elements we have to incorporate. We bought Publisher thinking this would be easier, but lo and behold, it doesn’t let you create an index, and we must have an Index at the back of each Journal!! Do you have any suggestions for us?? Thanks for your help.–sandra s
Tom: Serif Pageplus will let you index as well as generating ToC. Well worth looking at and excellent value for money – a fraction of the price of InDesign and, I understand, almost all of its features.I’ve used it more for family history than genealogy and I can’t understand why it is not better known. Usual disclaimers other than a contented user for over a decade now.