In Publication On $0 A Day I talked about the print-on-demand publication service offered by CafePress, and my interest in using it to publish some of the stuff I've got in my head, including my novel Through Darkest Zymurgia. In this post I'm going to talk about getting here from there.
The first requisite, naturally, is something to publish, but as I've already got a candidate I shall pass lightly over the topic and go on to the next, which is creating the PDF file for upload to CafePress. This is a two-part problem. First you need to acquire a tool that can save a document in PDF format, and second you need to put your book into a form the tool can use.
In my case, Zymurgia exists as a set of plain text files (I'm a programmer, I like plain text files) and as a set of HTML files. Either of these can be turned directly into PDF by a number of means, none of which will result in a nice-looking book. So I'm going to have to massage the text into some other format.
If I wanted to take the high road, I'd buy a copy of Microsoft Office and use Word; or, better yet, a dedicated package for doing page layouts like Adobe's InDesign or FrameMaker. But that costs money, and my stated goal is to produce this book as cheaply as I possibly can. But let's suppose someone else were to buy me a copy of Office--would my joy would still not be complete. I'd have a tool that can produce high-quality output, but I still wouldn't have PDF, because Word doesn't know how to produce PDF. For that, I'd need a copy of Adobe's Acrobat Distiller, which also costs money.
(An aside--I'm writing this on an Apple Powerbook running Mac OS X. Any program that can print on OS X can produce PDF files automatically; this capability is supplied by the operating system. Very cool. Unfortunately, the resulting PDF files are optimized for display, not for printing.)
So the question is, what freeware tools exist that will produce publication-quality PDF output? On a hunch, I went to the CafePress website for an answer to this one. And CafePress pointed me at OpenOffice, an open-source office suite that produces good quality PDF output.
Will OpenOffice save the day? Find out in the next episode of The Perils of PDF.Posted by Will Duquette at September 20, 2004 04:56 PM
Of course, you could ask a design/book lover/blogger associate you know to use his Word software (or possibly his Quark software at the office) to design the book for you. Even cover design.
Grief! I meant to write designer/book lover ... I'm glad I didn't add copy-editor.
Will Duquette said:
What? And take all of the fun out of it?
Although, if anybody out there was willing to do a cover design for me, when I get that far, I'd be vastly grateful. The problem is that (as I shall relate in a future installment) I can't draw.
How about a photo of a mug of beer and a dog sitting behind it, sort of grinning or ear perked up?
Chuck Duquette said:
I happen to have a copy of Acrobat version 5.0 that I do not currently have installed since I usually do my conversions directly from Corel Draw. Of course it is not a Mac version. I might be able to help with a cover design but I would have to go and read Zymurgia since I only got as far as the first serialized chapter or so. Based on that limited reading, a dimly lit tavern might be a good venue.
Certainly, "Beverages" must be in evidence!
I thought you'd say that. I'm not an illustrator, though. I'm a designer, so I'd have to work with photos, colors, and abstract concepts.
WordPerfect prints to PDF and adapts easily to any number of custom page sizes and layout styles. It includes a pretty competant graphics suite, too. But 'taint cheap.
Will Duquette said:
Not to kill the suspense, but I think I've found a solution that's gonna work for me. I'm just going to milk it for all it's worth, blog-wise.
I forgot to mention that I might be able to put you in touch with a professionally trained artist would could run up an attractive cover quickly; she's good but incredibly lazy (can I say this about my sister in law? Yes I can) and indolent. I wouldn't trust her to illustrate an entire book but she'd probably be reliable to produce scanable cover art cheap.
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