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PDFs are the most commonly used file format to send manuscripts to the printers. Unfortunately, many people don't work with them very often so they can be confusing and hard to use. Here's some of the more common questions we've been asked about them. Don't hesitate to ask your own questions in the comments below.
No, you will write your book using a book writing program or word processor such as Word, Pages, or Scrivener. This makes it easy to edit and change your manuscript. Once you are ready to publish you will export the entire book as a PDF.
When you export the book to a PDF file, the PDF should look exactly the same as the manuscript file did. So if you have an image placed in your manuscript, it should remain in the same location in the PDF file. The same holds for fonts, colors, margins, and everything else.
No. You only need a single PDF for the manuscript of your book. You will also need a separate PDF for the cover of your book.
You will write your book using Pages, and save everything in that format because it's easy to edit and change. Once you are ready to publish you will export the entire book as a PDF.
There are two ways to save a PDF file on a Mac.
1) Under the File Menu choose the "Export" then "PDF" options. Make sure image quality is set to "Best" (changes in image quality should be done outside of pages, it is horrible at resizing them, and NEVER use the File -> "Reduce File Size" option unless you don't care image quality). Then click "Next" and choose where you want to save it. This is the way I save all my PDFs to send to CreateSpace
2) Under the File menu choose "Print". At the lower left there is a button with "PDF" on it (this is part of the operating system and exists for most programs on the Mac). Click on the button and choose "Save as PDF...".
As part of submitting a book there is usually a "wizard" you can fill out that has a standard web upload form to select your PDF. You will also need to create a separate PDF of your cover that you upload in the same way.
There are many ways to reduce the file size of your PDF. The easiest is usually to make sure your images are the proper size. If you copy over a large image and then re-size it in your word processor there is a good chance the image is taking up a lot more room than need. I highly recommend scaling all images in Photoshop or another photo editing program before placing them in your word processor. If you are using Pages, NEVER use the File -> "Reduce File Size" option unless you don't care about image quality.