Tag Archives: using Word for print book layout

Print on Demand: Get Your PDF Right

I was disappointed when my dearly beloved print-on-demand guy announced he wouldn’t print a hard copy of our first collection of Racy Books for Racy Readers because he considered it to be pornography.

That was fine, but it left me in a bind (heh!): I’d planned to take a couple of copies to a trade shindig that’s coming up on December 5, just to show off what we’re doing. The stash of books for the display would include the collected Family at the Holidays stories, plus one or two Fire-Rider collections, Slave Labor, and the cookbook.

Slave Labor and the How I Lost 40 Pounds cookbook already exist in hard copy. My guy printed a single copy of Fire-Rider: The Saga Begins and did an adequate job of it…not great, but good enough.

So I needed to find a new PoD vendor, one who was not too nicey-nice about what he runs through his computers. First search yielded another press that said it wouldn’t print “pornography.” But a Google search for print on demand erotica brought up a number of printers, including one right here in town. Not only do they print romantic erotica, they even have a little online bookstore from which they’ll peddle it for you.


Pretty clearly the technology they use is the same or similar to the first guy’s. The platform where you submit your content and cover art is similar. In both cases, you format your book in Word or InDesign to desired trim size, generate a PDF, and post that to the printer’s site. This is very easy.

Except…when I uploaded the Family at the Holidays copy, the system balked: it read the page size as 11 x 9! The trim size is 5.5 x 8.5 inches. And the first guy’s system had no problem recognizing that.

After some tergiversations — I had to go back to Friedlander’s crew, who designed the template, to figure out the problem — I finally got it up online.

The issue is that my Mac doesn’t have Adobe Acrobat and after my recent experience with Adobe (in which they ripped me off to the tune of $90) I’m not anxious to buy anymore software from them. Why was Wyrd for Mac not producing an adequate PDF?

Well, it goes like this:

If you enter section breaks instead of page breaks, you need to format each section separately to reflect the correct page size!

Why would you use section breaks in hard-copy layout? For two reasons:

  1. A section break lets you paginate the front matter in Roman numerals and the body copy in Arabic numerals, as is customary.
  2. You want the first page of each chapter to begin on a recto (odd-numbered) page. Entering Section Break (Odd Page) on the last page of each chapter insures that will happen.

To do this in Wyrd, go to Format > Document (not File > Page Setup). Select Margins > Page Setup > Paper Size. In the dropdown menu next to “Paper Size,” select “custom sizes.” In Wyrd for Mac, in the pane that comes up you’ll see a box with nothing in it and boxes for paper size & the like grayed out: it appears you can’t enter any values to set the page size.


To create a custom page size, click on the little arrow on the lefthand side of the button right below the box. A new paper size title will come up (you can call it what you will) and the boxes on that page then become life. STET the “left,” “top,” “right,” and “bottom” figures (assuming you’re using a template with the margins already defined) and enter the width and height of your trim size. Click OK.

Now you have a “Custom Size” you can apply to every section in your layout. Go through the Word document and do that manually for each section. Then save as Word and save again as a PDF.

Et voila!

Fool-proof? Probably not. But it worked this time. When I went back and uploaded the rejiggered PDF, it was accepted without a hiccup.

We’ll see how it worked when we see the page proofs. But I have good hopes.

I couldn’t use the one book he did print off (before he discovered what he was printing), because as I mentioned the other day, the cover graphics needed some adjustment. Those fixes are now made, and I think it’s gonna look pretty good:

FAMILY pkg cover LoRes

No bar code on this, because we don’t intend to sell the hard copy at retail. If we ever do, though, it’s easy enough to generate a bar code from the ISBN and stick it on the back cover.

So I’m looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. If it’s successful, I may sell hard copies of the collections through Camptown Races Press and Plain & Simple Press. Or what the heck: maybe right here!