Skip to main content
Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
 
No. of Recommendations: 0
G'd Morning All:

I'm in the process of putting together a major writers conference for next June. One of the sections will be on "rolling your own book." These are communicators ranging from those just in the game to old gray beards like yours truly.

When writing your self published book, what word processing program do you use and why.

I'm considering a computer workshop to go along with nuts-and-bolts sessions.

Now back under my rock.

Spence, who is up to his eye's in conference stuff.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
>>>>When writing your self published book, what word processing program do you use and why.

Spence: Forgive me if this is off-topic, as I'm not self-published. But It seems the reasons for using a particular WP would be the same whether someone is self-published or planning on being commercially/traditionally published.

I went with MS Word for my book for one simple reason: That's what most business people use for word processing, which means most businesses have it; if not on every desktop, at least on some. This means that it is unlikely that I would sent a manuscript to a publisher that can't open the file and read it (assuming that they take electronic submissions, either initially or after reading the printed version). If I were to use a wonderful, yet relatively unknown WP, there is a good chance the publisher wouldn't be able to do anything with it in its native format, so what's the point.

From a self-publishing standpoint, if someone is planning on releasing the document as a PDF file, Word integrates wonderfully with Adobe Acrobat. All it takes to create a PDF file is to click on the Acrobat icon on the Word toolbar and give the file a name. It couldn't be simpler.

Word offers a number of features to "pretty up" a document (borders, clipart, fancy fonts, "word art" and the like), but I don't normally use them. They might be more useful for a self-published work, where the author would be trying to make the document look fancier.

I don't know that this post helps any, but maybe it'll serve as a starting point: all the reasons to pick something other than MS Word.... <g>

Mark.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Mark

Would a PDF file be better if you do not know what WP your recipient uses? I'm not sure if you can assume Microsoft Word is going to be on the machine. In my experience one of the last Apple hold outs seems to be in publishing. They also seem to be very prevalent among professional writers. Apple seems to attract the artistic and non conformist types. Off the top of my head the examples that come to mind are Moby, Tony Hawk and the Late Douglas Adams.

A PDF is going to be readable no matter what platform it is received on. Look to submission rules, but I would think the last thing you would want to do is to send a Mac fanatic a .doc file.

Ford
Long on AAPL, sort of how I know this stuff
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
A PDF is going to be readable no matter what platform it is received on. Look to submission rules, but I would think the last thing you would want to do is to send a Mac fanatic a .doc file.

PDFs can't be edited, which is both good and bad. If you want something in an editable configuration, go with RTF. RTF also works on every platform out of the box, PDFs often require a special download.

-Hook

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
>>>>Would a PDF file be better if you do not know what WP your recipient uses? I'm not sure if you can assume Microsoft Word is going to be on the machine.
>>>>A PDF is going to be readable no matter what platform it is received on.

Ford: If you are self-publishing, PDF is the way to go, not only because the end-user might not have Word installed, but because you don't want to give away your source file (easily editable by anyone).

On the other hand, if you are submitting to a publisher you should use whatever format the publisher wants it in. But, of course, if you don't know who the publisher is going to be at the time you are writing the piece, then it's a crapshoot.

Apple may indeed be prevalent in the publishing business, but if you don't happen to own an Apple computer, I don't see how you are going to be able to submit a manuscript in Apple format. Most PC users have Intel/AMD computers with Windows (although Linux is starting to make inroads in the desktop market). Most Windows users will probably have a copy of either MS Works or MS Office, both of which would give them MS Word.

There are plenty of free/cheap alternatives available, but there is no guarantee that the publisher will be able to use the format. As the lowest common denominator, the piece could be sent as plain text, but then the underscores (representing italics) will be lost, requiring a fair amount of editing on the back end to put them all back in.

Just my thoughts on the subject. I don't claim to be an expert on the subject.

Mark.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
>>>>PDFs can't be edited, which is both good and bad. If you want something in an editable configuration, go with RTF. RTF also works on every platform out of the box, PDFs often require a special download.

Hook: That's fine if you are submitting to a publisher, but RTF really isn't an alternative for self-publishing. Aside from Acrobat, there are other programs that can produce one of several e-book formats, but then you have the issue of what type of e-book reader the user might be using. Each one seems to use a different, proprietary, format.

This was one of the reasons I decided not to try to self-publish a book of puzzles I was working on a few years ago. PDF is probably the most universal file format for publishing directly to end-users, but it's really only designed for PCs. If someone wants to read it on a PDA, an 8 1/2 x 11 type format wouldn't do. But there are programs that will create e-books specifically for various types of PDAs. It gets pretty tricky to figure out which one(s) you want to publish to, and which program(s) you need to do so. (It can also get expensive. I haven't priced the other e-book creation software, but Acrobat is $249 list.)

Mark.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Just to throw my two cents in:

Mac vs. PC: Mac users are very loyal to their brand and sales for Apple are usually people that want to upgrade. The iMac did bring a few more converts, but still their market share is 10-15%. However, artistic people (not sure if this would include publishers) do like Apple.

MS Works is by far the most popular word processing software, but not by choice. Most PCs come with it when bought. MS Word is the word processor of choice. One problem. Even though Works and Word are both Microsoft products, neither of them will convert the other's text well. The resulting document will print the formatting codes it didn't process.

Acrobat Reader 6.0 is actually set up for ebooks now. Not sure if 5.0 had the option or not. I agree with Chapman that PDF files can easily be converted to most formats.

I, myself, still use WordPerfect. I'm trying to switch to Word, but I know WordPerfect inside and out. But from there, I can convert to whatever format they want it. Still wish WordPerfect 4.2 would work on my system. The macros were so easy to make.

Okay, maybe a couple more cents than I thought.

Apathy4All
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
>>>>Mac vs. PC: Mac users are very loyal to their brand and sales for Apple are usually people that want to upgrade.

Apathy: This thread started out with a "which WP program do you use, and why?" question and somehow morphed into a "PC vs. Mac" issue. I'm not sure that's really germane to the original question. PC users will use PC software and Mac users will use Mac software. I don't imagine most people will go out and buy a PC vs. a Mac specifically because it will help them sell a short story to a publisher.

>>>>Acrobat Reader 6.0 is actually set up for ebooks now. Not sure if 5.0 had the option or not.

Yes it does, although I don't know if it has the same options as 6.0 does. (There is one choice for "ebook", but I haven't used it, so I don't know what it does differently from the other settings.)

>>>>Okay, maybe a couple more cents than I thought.

Hey, with inflation you're good for at least a nickel.... <g>


Mark.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
This thread started out with a "which WP program do you use, and why?" question and somehow morphed into a "PC vs. Mac" issue. I'm not sure that's really germane to the original question

Sorry about that Mark. My point was that sending out a file in RTF (Hook was more correct) was a better choice because it is not dependent on platform or WP of choice.

As to which is better, I can't answer that. I've used Word, Word Perfect, Apple Works and Open Office. Apple Works wasn't that great, but the other three were about equal. I am much more of a spreadsheet jockey than a writer so others may not share my opinion.

Ford
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0

G'd Morning All:

First let me thank each of you for your contributions...I'm learning from the discussion.

The program I'm putting together is targeted toward beginning and intermediate communicators, who are just tackling their first book or are looking toward the most economical (translated: making money) method of publishing to improve the bottom line.

In my opinion, we are rapidly moving toward e-publishing, and away from receiving a contract from a publisher, with a prepublishing stipend, to produce a book.

According to my sources, most writers in my field receive little more than the stipend from the publisher, and the publisher remands the book within a relatively short period of time. E-publishing allows self-published books to be printed as ordered, rather than large printing runs a the time of the publishing.

The computer segment will have session(s) on Photoshop; a session on windows and programs associated with windows to aid communicators; and I hope to have a session on program(s) writers use to handle their publishing needs. This latter is still up in the air.

Anyway, I look forward to receiving your continued comments and discussion.

Now back under my rock.

Spence

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
>>>>My point was that sending out a file in RTF (Hook was more correct) was a better choice because it is not dependent on platform or WP of choice.

Ford: I agree. I had forgotten about RTF in my original note. (I don't think I've had occasion to use RTF for anything in at least seven or eight years.)

>>>>As to which is better, I can't answer that. I've used Word, Word Perfect, Apple Works and Open Office.

Among "significant" WPs (i.e., full-function, not stripped down) I have used MS Word, Lotus WordPro, the late/great DeScribe (for OS/2, primarily), and all did the job. Each had/has its strengths and weaknesses. I use both Word and WordPro on a daily basis at work and they both drive me crazy at times (quirks in how they do things, apparent bugs, etc.), but they both get the job done.

Mark.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Hi Chapman!!!

Okay, here's the extra cent. :o)

I apologize. My intention wasn't PC vs. Mac, but to show the popularity of one over the other in terms of submitting. IMO, if the software can convert the text with minimal damage to what the publisher has, whatever the writer is comfortable using is fine.
Personally, I don't recommend one computer over the other for writing.

Apathy4All
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1

Mark:

">>>>When writing your self published book, what word processing program do you use and why.

Spence: Forgive me if this is off-topic, as I'm not self-published. But It seems the reasons for using a particular WP would be the same whether someone is self-published or planning on being commercially/traditionally published."'

I'm showing my ignorance here...I've not published a "book." In my small section of the word, most of the book authors I know are moving toward, some have already done so completely, self-publishing. The bank for dollars seems to be greater, and the author has more control over the design of the book and marketing.

One example I've heard from a friend who has a bunch of self-published books: He wrote a book on how to build a Pole Barn (I'm not totally sure if it was a pole barn or log cabin...it's hell getting old), and sold all rights for the princely sum of $5,000, which at the time was the largest payment he'd every received. That book was published in the '70s and is still selling for the publisher. It was the last book he sold all rights, and sparked his self-publishing business he and his wife how run and control.

I use WP as apposed to Word; have both, but hate Word. I end up translating from WP to Word, when I transmit articles to my editors, because all of them has Word, and many can't translate WP docs. And, I suspect that most writers use Word; but there seems to be other programs being used by self-publishing authors.

Anyway, this has been a good thread and I thank all of you for your inputs.

Now back under my rock.

Spence

P.S. I sure wish the Fool Boards had spell checking...I can't spell or type worth a damn.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Even after reading the whole thread, color me cornfuzzled. Original question on self-publishing, which as I understand it covers a very wide territory. But about half the thread seemed to be about only e-publishing?
Eons ago, I set up a translation between the word processor I had at the time (DisplayWriter) and the publisher of our training manuals. Have kinda fallen back on that experience ever since. I write in emacs, these days xEmacs, and format with my own generic formatting codes which can then be used to translate the text according to the format of the receiving platform. Some collections of essays have been printed and distributed on paper, some translated for various e-book softwares available for the Palm Pilot, some turned into HTML for publishing on web sites, and so forth.
While my experiences are worthless in terms of advice for being paid for writing, perhaps they can benefit others from the angle of the writing itself. As in, throughout changing technologies I have not had to retrain my fingers to do "this" for bolding when they used to do "that", and so forth. Let the translating software figure how to get from here to there; what's what computers are good at, innit?

I'm InLivingColor
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
>>>Eons ago, I set up a translation between the word processor I had at the time (DisplayWriter) and the publisher of our training manuals.

ILC: Do you actually mean the dedicated DisplayWriter machine, or the DisplayWrite software for the PC? They're both pretty ancient, but I believe the hardware died out several years before the software.

>>>>I write in emacs, these days xEmacs, and format with my own generic formatting codes which can then be used to translate the text according to the format of the receiving platform.

You could probably make a lot of money developing a series of import/export filters to convert from one WP format to another. There are several companies that supply filters to all the major WP vendors, and all of the filters suck. I have tried to convert to/from Word, WordPro and several Linux WPs, and always there were significant deficiencies. (Tables of contents were lost, or everything past page 2 disappeared, or all highlighting changed or was lost, etc.) I have yet to be able to convert to/from Word without having to manually clean something up. As usual, I'm sure the problem is Microsoft's reluctance to open the kimono (and reveal the secret codes within), so the filter developers have to guess how MS does things in the program, and frequently guess wrong.

Mark.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
ILC: Do you actually mean the dedicated DisplayWriter machine, or the DisplayWrite software for the PC? They're both pretty ancient, but I believe the hardware died out several years before the software.

Both, actually. My office-clerical jobs started with the dedicated DisplayWriter, and then later I worked some place which used DisplayWrite for PCs. I got the original idea on the DisplayWriter when the government agency I worked for had laws change too late for work to get to the printer, so I produced camera-ready copy. Then later took the ideas from that experience to save typesetting costs by doing it directly through DisplayWrite software and an ASCII modem transfer.
Yes, the dedicated hardware died out before the software gave up for WordStar, WordPerfect, et al.

You could probably make a lot of money developing a series of import/export filters to convert from one WP format to another. There are several companies that supply filters to all the major WP vendors, and all of the filters suck.

Wow. I knew folks had already done the filtering before I was ever in a position to do it for retail, but had not realized that the existing filters suck. Hmmmmm.

Doesn't Open Office do a good job of reading/writing Word .doc files? I don't swap files much, actually, except in ASCII, so had not realized there was a problem.

Seriously, thanks for the heads up on this. Will add it to my list of programming projects....

ILC
who notes that her corkboard is getting filled up with notecards!
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
>>>>Wow. I knew folks had already done the filtering before I was ever in a position to do it for retail, but had not realized that the existing filters suck. Hmmmmm.
>>>>Doesn't Open Office do a good job of reading/writing Word .doc files? I don't swap files much, actually, except in ASCII, so had not realized there was a problem.

ILC: It's possible that things have changed in the last three years, but when I wrote a series of white papers on Windows-to-Linux migration in 2000, I tested Hancom Word, AbiWord, ThinkFree Write and StarOffice Writer. All had significant problems with importing Word 2000 documents. StarOffice Writer came the closest to a clean conversion, but it dropped m-dashes, did weird things with list bullets and lost the last page of my 30 page document. Other programs variously didn't support tables of contents, trademark symbols, even the Ariel font.

Going the other way wasn't any better. MS Word consistently garbled documents created by the other programs. (Whether due to the export filters of the Linux apps or quirks in Word I couldn't say.) Even when going between established Windows apps, like Word 2000 and Lotus WordPro Millennium (9.0), each app's import filter messed up the formatting of documents created by the other program in their native formats. That's still true of WordPro 9.7 and Windows 2000 (I haven't yet used Windows 2003).

Mark.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
but I would think the last thing you would want to do is to send a Mac fanatic a .doc file.

No problem. And it hasn't been a problem for years.

Just for the record
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Thanks for pointing out that post. I overlooked it.

I send .doc files between my PC at work and my Mac at home all the time. No problems.

CK
Print the post Back To Top