Publish Your Book In PDF

    August 14, 2003

For those of you who don’t have your acronyms cap on yet, “PDF” stands for Portable Document Format. Over my personal good wishes, this is a widely used electronic book file format originally developed by Adobe. Many books, reports and documents are created in PDF for no better reason than because it works across many platforms. Technically speaking, if you can print your document on a printer, then the PDF file created from that document can be “read” EXACTLY the way you create it by IBM based computers and also by MAC computers. The Amiga computer can run almost anything anyway so there is no need to mention it.

PDF is great when you WANT your document to look exactly the same, no matter who is looking at it or printing it. The one real drawback for the budding author wanting to produce his own electronic book has always been the prohibitive cost usually associated with purchasing from the major supplier. Today’s prices have come DOWN to $179 for version 5.0 but that is still high for many struggling authors.

However, there is now a new pdfMachine 8.7 available from Broadgun Software, an Australian company. At a mere US$49 per license the new pdfMachine 8.7 is also a great value for your money, especially when compared to a direct purchase from Adobe.

This is a Windows print driver that produces quality PDF files in seconds with a user-friendly interface that is compatible with almost any Windows application. The pdfMachine utilizes the print driver on your computer to convert a print stream from any application that will normally print on your conventional printer — converting it directly into a pdf file.

Once you have installed pdfMachine, all you have to do is open ANY application that you want to convert, then click “print”, selecting the “Broadgun pdfMachine printer” instead of your “default” printer.

According to the company, that’s all there is to it. Well, unfortunately, it isn’t. I’ll get back to that in a few minutes. Right now I want to tell you what is GREAT about the new software.

The new pdfMachine software:

* Is simple to install. The download takes less than five minutes for most modems and installation takes less than a minute.

* Produces quality PDF files which preserve the integrity of your original documents.

* Carries no installation costs

* Has no complicated configuration options

* Integrates MAPI compliant mail clients (e.g. MS Outlook)

* Supports bookmarks and Mail Merge

* No training required — uh, take that with a grain of salt.

* Runs on Windows 95/ 98/ Me/ NT/ 2000/ XP

You can download your FREE trial version from: and see for yourself how much difference the new pdfMachine 8.7 can make in your publishing career.

Okay, now let’s get back to some of the nitty-gritty details. The first question you should be asking yourself is WHAT are you paying for when you obtain a license? A license (from Broadgun Software anyway) is the right to use the software on ONE machine. You are not authorized to make copies and put it on another machine even if you are networked. That’s fine. I’m sure that 96.723% of the authors in the world will be satisfied with that.

What about us publishers though? That is NOT spelled out adequately and the disclaimer makes it all too clear that any part of the license is subject to change without notice, well, there is a little bit of notice, but not nearly enough. Of course, as every writer knows, disclaimers are only designed to make lawyers happy. The buying public can safely ignore them in most instances. In any event, Browzer Books will now be publishing books in PDF, when the author insists upon it.

Now let’s get back to that part about all you have to do is: click “print”, selecting the “Broadgun pdfMachine printer”.

That, is not all you have to do. In the first place, in many cases you will not be given the opportunity to select printer you will be using, your regular printer simply begins printing. That is easy to fix. Simply open your COMPUTER, then CONTROL PANEL, the PRINTERS. Make the Broadgun your default printer until you finish making your files, then switch the default printer back to your original printer.

Now let’s start with the groundwork you must do to PREPARE your material for making the file. Your pretty files done up in .html are not going to come through nearly as beautiful. Your background colors, for the pages, and for the cell backgrounds too, are going to vanish while the contrasting ink color you chose will NOT change. i.e. YELLOW ink is STILL yellow, but the background is suddenly white. Yellow ink, I probably do not need to inform you, is nearly invisible on a white background.

Furthermore, embedded links are NOT automatically embedded in the new PDF document. No, NO. The COLOR of the link is there, but it don’t do nothing except sit there on the page, frustrating reader and author alike. If you want your link to Browzer Books to show up in THIS PDF application you will need to spell it out for the readers . . . – for example. That is simple enough to correct, and that IS okay if you own your own domain, or if you don’t mind the readers seeing your affiliate link nomenclature jumping out at them.

Your email addresses are ALSO made clickable only IF you spell them out., for example will be clickable while Lin Stone just sits there with an impotent grin appreciated by none and all.

Your margins — especially when you are converting from .html or from .txt files, will revert to standard-sized pages. That’s okay, even great, but it is also something you should be prepared for. Now, your margins can easily be set manually in the software you are now using for creating documents. If it is three inches wide, that’s what you get. If it is set up to render margins 30 inches wide, that is what you get.

Our file is now ready, we can NOW point to PRINT and we click. The next thing you see is a definite “DUH” if I ever saw one. Authors are confronted with a “broken link” emblem and are likely to give up with a simper of defeat.

But it is not a DUH, it simply has not been explained that this is the beginning of something very, very beautiful that the author has FULL control over.

>From this new screen you can enter your copyright notice, install a password, enter all kinds of other information, arrange your pages, rearrange your pages, and even insert bookmarks.

Click on the “Options” button and now you have a menu where you can see all the bonuses you have available! The watermark, the security, why you can even set it up to automatically fling a message off in an email. Gee Whillikers. All this for only $49.00?

One bad point I must add is that the “HELP” button in the first screen won’t do a thing to help you learn to apply this program. The software company’s web site isn’t much more help.

But let’s get back to the good points. Use your “Save As” button in the first screen, after you have set everything up in the second screen, of course, and save your NEW PDF file where you can find the thing.

This NEW FILE can then be uploaded to your web site for instant downloads by your buying public, or set up for for viewing directly from the web, EXACTLY the way you create it. You can also click on the file on your computer and the latest version of Acrobat Reader (which I admit MUST already be on your computer or put there soon) that you have will AUTOMATICALLY LEAP to open the document on your computer screen.

So, even though it is not as simple as point and click, the new pdfMachine 8.7 available from Broadgun Software is easy to use and it is very powerful.

Download your free version today, and see for yourself. I believe you’ll end up buying it, as I did.

Copyright 2003 by Lin Stone

Lin Stone is an author, writer, and photographer from Mena Arkansas.
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