How many of you know the type of document you are using right now for your manuscript? Microsoft Word, right? Are you familiar with the other types of documents out there, and their properties? For instance, what’s the difference between .doc, .docx, and RTF? Or, do you know what PDF stands for, or what properties it possesses? Are you familiar with the differences between Word, Works, Acrobat, and the tools these applications provide? Of course you are! I’m the only idiot on the planet that sets out to swim in unfamiliar waters…and live to regret it, then tell the tale!
Come on…be honest. We’re all friends here, trying to help each other through this maze of technology so we can get all of this right. OK, well I’ll come clean. When I started this craziness, the only thing I cared about concerning the differences between Works, Word, and differing files, was finding the application that offered me a blank page and the ability to save it, and find it again. Pretty pathetic, I know!
When I started this blog, I knew I didn’t want it to be a site about Child Sexual Abuse. I’m woefully ill-equipped to do something like that. No…*insert sarcastic whiny voice* I wanted it to be a helpful site for fledgling authors like myself…and again, I’m woefully ill-equipped to do that, as well. There are loads of resource sites out there, better suited than I am to offer information. But I wanted to try to help others that are in my shoes, by chronicling my own self-publishing journey, while sharing any and everything I’ve learned along the way.
This has been “on the job training” for me, from the get-go. There hasn’t been a single aspect of this process that’s come easily. Maybe it isn’t supposed to be easy…such is life.
Well, anyway, I’ve made a huge blunder, so I thought I would share. In short, when I bought my computer to write my book, my PC came with Works already installed. So I used it! No…really! I soon found out I had to use Word, as it was required by Createspace and every other publishing site. Days of stressing and fruitless copy/pasting, lead me to Mr. Google for answers (we are dating, by the way, though I hear he’s not monogamous). I finally found a solution and converted forty-two different files to Word. Yes! Then I tried to upload to Createspace. You must have one large file, not forty-two individual ones. Crying, and ready to toss the lot, again, I made a date with Mr. Google and once again, found a solution, but my MS had become a jumbled, embarrassing mess. Thankfully, Createspace was able to make sense of it, format it beautifully, and publish it on Amazon and Kindle.
Amazon sent me the final PDF of my book: the document that is currently in print. The document they sent me isn’t JUST a manuscript. It is a fully formatted document. So, when I hired an editor to do a revision (clean up edit) I sent the editor my fully formatted manuscript in a PDF, as it was the only “clean” and organized file containing my MS, that I had. Big problems ensued after I did that.
The editor’s conversion of my book with Acrobat back to a Word .doc for editing, corrupted (a loose term for screwed up, not a virus) my file formatting…permanently. It can not be used. It was NOT the editor’s fault. Most people send a raw, unedited document to their editor…not a fully formatted PDF file.
Here is an excerpt of a blog forum on the Acrobat Website. The common question was like mine…“Can you edit a PDF With Acrobat?”
Question~”How do I edit a PDF file using Acrobat 9 – Version 9.4.” Bill@VT Oct 20, 2010 5:09 AM (in response to ~graffiti)
Answer~“If you can not get the original files, then it is probably best to save the files as DOC files or such. Then try to edit those. You will likely lose all of the formatting and such, but you won’t have to start from scratch. The editing in Acrobat is for minor changes only. If the changes you mention are minor, then you might consider it. In that case you would use the Touch-up Text Tool. However, be aware that the editing is not easy and things may appear to get really messed up. Acrobat is not really an editor.”
In essence, my ignorance of documents and their properties has cost me a small fortune, provided me with an edit I can not use, and taught me a very hard-learned and very expensive lesson…KNOW YOUR DOCUMENTS! Know what can and can’t be done with them. Your editor needs a Word doc, (either .doc, .docx) or RTF. They can send you the best edit in the world (mine did) but manipulating a formatted PDF is a recipe for disaster!
PDF stands for “portable document format”. It was introduced to ease the sharing of documents between computers and across operating system platforms when you need to save files that cannot be modified but still need to be easily shared and printed. Today almost everyone has a version of Adobe Reader or other program on their computer that can read a PDF file. Important: Once you have saved a document as a PDF file, you cannot convert it back to a Microsoft Office file format without specialized software or a third-party add-in. (Source~Ask a Librarian http://nwtc.libanswers.com/a.php?qid=134366)
*Note…I did download a trial version of Acrobat 11 to try to do some minor editing of my edited, PDF. It still altered the formatting, making sentences overlay on each other.*
Word (.doc, .docx)
Docx is file format extension of Word document files (.docx) created using new Microsoft Office Word program from Microsoft (2003 and earlier). It replaces .doc format of file extension used in older Microsoft Word program. As a result, docx Word document files do not open in older version of MS Office software. Ideally, one would require latest Microsoft Office Word software program to open, edit, and read docx format Word document files. (Source…http://www.tothePC.com)
Rich Text Format
The Rich Text Format (often abbreviated RTF) is a proprietary document file format with published specification developed by Microsoft Corporation since 1987 for Microsoft products and for cross-platform document interchange. It’s and earlier format with many variations since it’s inception.
(Source~Rich Text Format – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
So, now you know! IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS! When your editor asks you to send your MS, send them a copy of your Word .doc (or .docx). It will save you and your editor a lot of grief and misery. Next week, I’ll share my cover art nightmare…Did you know that even if you paid Createspace to make your cover, you DO NOT own the files!
I want to publicly apologize to my revision editor. I gave you a mess and you happily did a wonderful edit. I’m so sorry for the headache. I hope you can forgive my ignorance.
To all who read this, I hope my sharing helps…
Write with passion!
Ah, who am I kidding? Nothing will make this mess go away. I’d kill for a do-over…