Conquering Word to PDF conversion… Finally!

Well, after years of carefully constructing a Word document within a Create Space template (which isn’t necessary I found… don’t bother with the template, just make sure your page layout conforms to the Create Space book sizes) and then converting that beautiful document to a PDF file using Word/File/Save as Adobe PDF, then realizing that all my beautiful little flourishes and icons ended up at less than 200ppi, which of course meant that I would have to painstakingly re-insert those little images one by one within the final PDF document… and since you can’t just ‘center’ an image in that format, I have to add the grid feature so that the final image is placed appropriately, I have finally found the correct procedure… finally!!!

For most books it didn’t matter because there weren’t but perhaps 2 or 3 images in the final PDF. However, some had literally hundreds of tiny lions as scene change icons, little cameras as chapter heading icons… steer heads, running horses, feathers, arrow points as well as author PR shots. I’ve also included photos of harbors, canals, palaces, beaches; I love images. And of course when I do memoirs, that’s a whole other level of image enhancement.

None of this stuff matters when you’re doing an ebook. There all you’re concerned with is the size of your final file. I try to keep my creations under 1MG. It’s an Amazon thing. So resolution of images usually falls in the 72-96ppi range to get the smallest sized file I can.

But when I’ve finished one of the image-heavy tomes for a client for print on demand, gotten it all tucked into the final PDF (with all the images in the correct resolution, adding them one by one because the resolution got skewed in the conversion), and my client says—wait! I forgot to include a dedication page… or… I need to add a paragraph to chapter 52. And this precious little book has a decorative image under each d#%@ed chapter heading or at each scene change location. These changes mean I have to go back to the original Word document (before PDF conversion) and add that dedication page or that missing paragraph. Do you see where I’m going? PDF is an image and not flowing text… it has very limited editing features, so if you drop in a whole paragraph, weird things begin to happen.

Before my ‘Halleluiah’ moment today, I had to do those changes in Word, save as an Adobe PDF (from the File Menu/Save as Adobe PDF) then eye-strainingly attempt to re-insert all the 300ppi precious little steer heads or feathers or cameras or dancing fairy images into all 20 or 40 or 100 chapters. Hours of work, again, because I re-inserted those little beauties already when I first converted this book to PDF!


Well, here’s the trick:

1. Get that Word.docx file perfect (I use the newest Word extension because it saves faster than Word.doc files)
2. See that ACROBAT heading at the very top of your Word page along with HOME, REVIEW, etc.? Click on that, then click on Preferences (on the left right after Create PDF)
3. When you see the Preference menu, the first choice is PDFMaker setting: Conversion Settings.
4. Change the default setting from Standard to High Quality Print.
5. Then you can check on Advanced Settings and make sure the resolution is 2400 dpi/ppi which is the default on this hi-res setting.
6. Then close that out (it will ask you to save your new setting and if you don’t rename them then it will just give you something like High Quality Print(1). This will be the default setting until you change it again.
7. Now move your finger over to Create PDF, to the left of Preferences and click on that and voilá… you have your perfect PDF file to upload to Create Space.
8. Here’s another choice… you can re-save that PDF/A to PDF/X which I understand is the standard for Ingram Spark. That’s a good thing to know.

So now bring on those embellished print on demand projects. We’ve got them covered!

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Those pesky optional hyphen characters

Well, like a good little formatter, ever since I started making eBooks for clients I have started this way… if my clients sent a print copy for me to scan.

(1) Scan the print with a sheet feed scanner.

(2) Run the resultant PDF file through Optical Character Recognition software (we use Omnipage) and save it into a Word ‘docx’ file… NOT a ‘doc’  Saving it into a ‘doc’ file will loose the italics.

(3) Then take that ‘docx’ file and with find/replace in Word   Find: optional hyphen (it’s in your ‘special’ list)  Replace: put nothing here… then Replace all.

Straightforward of course, but I never asked myself where those optional hyphens came from. They look like a hyphen but with a hook on the left end.  Today I found out what they are. I have a Word file which was auto-hyphenated in preparation for saving as a PDF file for print on demand (POD). I had to make edits to the file when I received my proof copy from Create Space.

Well it seems that those hyphenation locations stay hyphenated which is okay unless during edits you add a line or a paragraph which moves the line (that is hyphenated automatically) to another position… and the auto-hyphenated word ends up within a line and not at the end.

Wow, there’s that optional hyphen!  In the middle of a line of text. Because Word doesn’t accommodate any changes once you click that Auto-hyphenate button. So this is how you find those Pesky Optional Hyphens if you’re editing an automatically hyphenated manuscript.

Find/Special/^- (that’s the symbol for optional hyphen)  DO NOT HIT THE REMOVE ALL BUTTON… JUST GO TO NEXT AND DELETE IT IF YOU NEED TO.

Word will find all hyphens which are put in during the Auto-hyphenate step… if they lie at the end of a line as they should, then leave them alone. If it finds one that isn’t at the end of a line, and it has that little left hook on it, then take that one out… just don’t hit the replace all button.

That’s my tip for today. A tiny issue, but you want the most perfect print book that you’re able to produce, don’t you?


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Goodreads campaigns

After the Countdown deal at Amazon for Stone Bay by Min Edwards, we decided to see what an ad would do to increase readership at Goodreads. The campaigns are interesting. For a set fee (we chose $50) and a set click-fee (we chose $0.50 per click) Goodreads will display your ad to a filtered readership (Adult Fiction, Romance, etc). Everytime someone clicks on your ad, Goodreads takes $0.50 out of your budget. Often the same people who click to see your Goodreads profile, also place your book on their bookshelf to purchase/read later.

I don’t see the down-side of this at all. You budget your ad money, the ad (ads, you can run several simultaneously) runs until there’s no more money in your ad account, and I feel if readers just see your cover it’s got to be good for you, right?

However, I’m on an RWA self-publishing loop (a Yahoo Group set up by Romance Writers of America members) and there hasn’t been many kind words for this kind of campaign. I’m not sure I see the drawbacks. You make an ad, you decide your budget, voila, the ad flies until you run out of money! I’ve been pretty happy with it so far. It’s run a week and we have 6 Goodreads readers who’ve put the book in their to-be-read pile and we’ve sold books! How can that be bad?

We also discovered after our Amazon countdown sale ran it’s course… and yes, we sold books! That we couldn’t do this again until September (only once in your Kindle Select enrollment.) However, and this is cool… we can run another countdown deal at Nowhere else though. So as soon as Stone Cold, our Romantic Suspense title, is ready to publish, we’re going to do the UK thing for Stone Bay.

Marketing is hard!!! My virtual assistant had several clients, but has decided to concentrate on just my books… well, he’s my son, so of course he’d want to exclusively help his mom!

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KDP Countdown Promotion

My first promotion beginning Thursday, July 17th. For one week our author, Min Edwards (who is actually me), will have her novel, Stone Bay, on sale for $0.99. This promotion is in celebration of the sales she’s gotten, the reviews readers have kindly left on her product page at Amazon, and the successful book signing and talk on July 15th at the Lubec Memorial Library. People came, they asked questions, they were interested! And even men asked questions! I’m was so impressed, bless their hearts.

I shared the stage with two sisters, Judy Hupp and Brenda Norris, who write as Sadie and Sophie Cuffe… with a blog ‘Off the Cuffe’ and multiple books published by a small press in California. They are lovely ladies and the juxtaposition of agented and traditionally published authors and me, an indie-published author and owner of my own publishing house, was truly entertaining. I think we learned a lot from each other. And I hope we brought the audience into the 21st century of publishing.

I’m a bit nervous about the countdown promotion actually. I’ve gotten some nice reviews but I’ve heard that the cheaper the book, the more likely it will be to get bad reviews. Oh, well. What it is, it is. I’ll just not read any reviews less than 3 stars. Although I think the book is pretty good after the agony of just having it line-edited and proofed, then realizing that it wasn’t enough, and going back after the book had been up at Amazon for a few months, and getting a Developmental Editor to give it a look… then of course another proof, then a few more errors that a reader found (word usage, not actual typos), then a new version uploaded to Amazon as well as a print version. And I’ve sold some copies of those too!!!

So, now I’m a publisher and my alter-ego, Min Edwards, is an author. And, boy howdy, does that feel good. Go to this link and read an excerpt from my newest work in progress, Stone Fall, Book 3 in the High Tide Suspense series. Enjoy!


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KDP and Reconversion

The new Content menu on the Kindle is no longer the Table of Contents… I blogged about this recently, but I’m still upset by it.  On the iPad (Kindle app) that content menu shows the TOC that I construct manually and I do this for every file I format.  But now the new Kindles show the NCX table of contents which picks up the heading styles (h1, h2, h3) from the file and uses those to guide people through your book.  However, when you upload a mobi file (that’s the format that Amazon uses) to KDP (the Amazon platform) they convert your mobi all over again. And any futzing with a finished product you know can introduce unwanted things.

On our new book, Stone Bay (, our first novel from A Thirst Mind publishers,  that perfect little mobi file that we spent so much time on got tweaked by KDP on re-conversion. Now the Epilogue, instead of being an h2 style is now an h3… so that means the two excerpt headings for Stone Cold and Stone Heart are h4 heading styles. No problem you say? Well, actually the NCX only picks up the first 3 heading styles… see where this is going? Those two excerpts disappear from the Content menu on the Kindle.  They of course don’t disappear from the book and you can still reach them through the actual Table of Contents which is in the text of the book… but I’m disgusted. You work so hard to make things perfect… and then they’re not!

I had to tweak the mobi file anyway to add a live link to the phrase about ‘leaving a review’, so I made sure that the guide features were correct, and that the headings for the Epilogue and Excerpts were h2 and h3 respectively. Nary an h4 in sight! We’ll see what happens and if I get comments from readers.  The changes looked good when I previewed (before KDP re-conversion) on my Kindle Fire, but who know what will happen after?

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The Table of Content view on New Kindles

Since I use my Kindle Fire all the time for previewing clients’  work, I need to be able to see what readers who buy that book will see. Previously when I had a First Generation KindleFire… but it died an untimely death last month after only 1 1/2 years of service… I loved that the little ‘menu’ icon on the bottom bar when you were reading a book took you directly to the Table of Contents. That was nice because I’m very careful about crafting TOCs in books.

But when I started using the new KindleFire HD recently, I noticed that the little menu icon had moved to the upper left corner and was displaying NOT the carefully crafted Table of Contents but the NCX file, also a Table of Contents file, but it’s built upon heading choices (h1, h2, h3) and not bookmarks and internal links. Not good. I hate this. It doesn’t even allow you to click on Table of Contents and be taken to the nice little manual beauty living in the front matter of the book!

Converting a book to an ePub version of course always gives you this NCX view and I’ve yet to discover how to make the TOC be included on this list, even if I give it an h1 Chapter Heading.  There might me something hidden in the Guide feature at Sigil that is causing this, but I don’t know for sure.

I talked to a lovely man at Amazon this morning who had to step in and help me re-register my Kindle after the first ‘helper’ had wiped everything off of it… but I digress… anyway, he knew the answer to my query right off.  The new Kindle operating system feels that the most up-to-date feature to use is the NCX table of contents… so that’s what you’ll see.  Amazon should have left what wasn’t broken alone. I loved the old Table of Contents. Of course you can still see that as well as the NCX view if you preview your book on Kindle Previewer.

If someone out there has a way to force the TOC view and not the NCX view, I’d love to hear it. This is a little thing, but I’m very particular about my eBook formatting!

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Inserting links in an ePub with Sigil

Lately I’ve been asked to get back into books that I’ve formatted and change text and links. Authors often update their websites or construct new ones, and if they have links in their eBooks then those must change too. Of course changing out the links in a Word doc (such as one you wish to upload to Smashwords) is a snap. But editing an ePub can bring in all kinds of problems.

1) If you’re going to be taking out a whole section (offset by page breaks) then you’ll end up with a blank section in your html list in your ePub (each chapter and section… anyplace you have a page break… is considered a separate html document). I haven’t figured out a way to delete an entire html document within a book and keep the ‘content.opf’ file (which is the contents of the file in code) from getting wacky… but when I do, then I’ll post the instructions immediately. And remember if you do decide to delve into the content.opf file, and change anything be sure that you address the ‘manifest’, the ‘spine or toc.ncx’ and look over your ‘guide’ to make sure that’s good. There’s got to be a way to re-organize and re-number those html lists within the ‘content.opf’. But for now if you are taking out a whole section, leaving a blank html, you might want to go back to your underlying Word to HTML file. In fact it’s probably better to go back to the document (HTMLBook.doc) that you formatted specifically for ePub and mobi conversion. Just edit that, then save as Webpage filtered… then go from there. It may actually take less time than editing the ePub within Sigil and trying to figure out how to work with the contents file (content.opf).

2) If you are changing every link in a section, but little else, then Sigil may be for you. Get into the appropriate html file in Sigil and begin taking out the links that you don’t want anymore. There is now an ‘unlink’ icon right next to the ‘link’ icon on your task bar (broken chain, unlink… strong chain, link). After you have unlinked whatever you are changing, just copy the correct link (you may have that in a Word file such as in the Smashwords file that you just edited) highlight the text to be linked in Sigil, click on the strong chain icon (link), and paste the new link using not your mouse but the paste feature within Sigil. Do this as many times as necessary for all the links you want changed. You of course can instead of copy/paste, just manually type in each link… but I’m a copy/paste freak. It takes the chance for errors out.

The files that I’m working on now have such extensive deletions and new links that I found it more efficient to go back to the HTMLBook.doc, correct them there, save as Webpage Filtered, edit the Book.html file which you got from this save, run it quickly through Calibre to get yourself an ePub, then open it in Sigil and do your normal tweaking (Guides, removing the instances of embedded fonts which is important for the mobi but not so much for the ePub). Don’t forget to save your epub file and don’t forget to validate it either within Sigil itself or through the IDPF website (

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