Cheap but pretty self-publishing?

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Fri Aug 31, 2007 2:26 am Post

I've mentioned this here before, but I had fantastic success using MultiMarkdown -> PDFLaTeX -> PDF ->

I printed a friend's PhD thesis in a 6x9 hardcover format, and was very impressed with the results. I modified the memoir class a tiny bit to customize some layout, and there were one or two places (in a 130 page book) that I hand tweaked the line spacing to make it look better.

Otherwise latex handled everything (bibliography, etc) perfectly.

I used photoshop to design the cover.

I have mentioned some of this on my web site, and am happy to answer questions.

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Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:21 am Post

Timotheus wrote:Is it really true that InDesign is less suited for text-intensive, long documents? I’m asking this because I’m considering buying a good design tool, and my books are of the academic, text-intensive type. So Framemaker would be in theory the best choice.

You post a difficult question to answer fully so I will be as honest as possible.

It truly depends on a few things.
Framemaker is geared towards long intensive text documents and technical documents and handles it best. This is true. But look over the features list in Framemaker 8 and you will see that the direction they seem to be heading in development for features in Framemaker 8 are DIGITAL features or multimedia. Dynamic media like flash etc. Reason. More and more technical writing such as manuals and help documents, etc or going towards a more "paperless" route. Where as it is presented to the reader via a digital media (Web, Intranet, CD/DVD, etc) and they offer more features geared towards that media. They also offer PDF export (Excellent) for the option to go the old fashion route. Printing on paper. More and more companys are no longer giving out "printed" manuals and documentation. Instead they are offer a "Digital Solution" that allows for rich media inside the documents themselves (Training videos, interactive presentations, etc.) So Framemaker is following the market you could say in that they are heading in the direction of a more "paperless" technical writing solution. They offer PDF output for publishing purposes which is really nice but that also serves the digital drive because most manuals, etc are coming in PDF format for the consumer to have the option to print out the pages they wish.

On the other side of the coin is InDesign. InDesign is a Layout/Design tool whose main purpose is for prepress or a "Paper Solution". Its main strength is for designing for PRINT. Now in CS3 they have improved a lot of the long document and text features (more info in reviews below). But what makes InDesign really shine is it's ability to prepare a document for PRINTING. :-)

You wouldn't want to type a book in Indesign, although you could if that is all you had, rather you would take your writing from other applications (Like Scrivener) and prepare your project for output. You have more control on how everything appears in InDesign CS3 than any other program out there and its ability to import all types of files and its native ability to handle PDF files is uncanny. If you have the CS3 Suite then you have illustrator which is the defacto standard in Vector Drawing programs. So you have a PDF from another source you can either choose to use Acrobat Professional or you can open it directly into Illustrator and edit it.

Another approach that Indesign has is building a "Book Project" which instead of having your whole book in one IND document you would have it say broken down by chapters. Each chapter being a separete document. You would then bring the chapter documents into a book project and have things like auto page numbering, page numbering by section, master pages assigned to sections, section numbering, TOC, Indexes, and a whole slew of other features available.

So to get around the "Long Document" problem many applications have the approach is to handle it in sections. Like how Scrivener works.

You can then import all your text in and "style it" how you want and then PDF the files out for a "Digital Book" or you can take your native files and do what is called "Packaging" which is really nice for prepress outsourcing. What this does is it makes a copy of your document into a new "project" folder, it then scans ALL FONTS used in the document and copies them from your hard drive into a folder called FONTS inside your new "projects folder" it also scans all imported graphics from wherever you linked from and copies them into a LINKS folder inside your project folder. It preflights this process and WARNS you of problems like a graphic that was placed but cannot be found, etc.

It also creates a text document that has instructions that you fill out in a window that has things like comments, directions, contact info, etc.

So in other words you have this 900 page Tech manual with color charts, graphics, photos, and tables. You used some weird font you downloaded off the internet from a website that no longer exists. And you are not a Graphic artists and have no clue about the printing industry at all. You did layout it out in InDesign to the correct size and margins and specs your printer gave you but you have no clue how to get it from your computer to a REAL paper printed Book

Simple. You do this in Four simple steps.

Step 1 Create a folder on your desktop. This will be your "Project folder" <I name mine [Title of the book]-Package>

Step 2
You Export your InDesign Document in PDF format using the preset PDF Style nicely named PRESS QUALITY. Click ok and save it to your "Project Folder."

Step 3
You use the Package For Prepress feature from the Indesign Menu. The first thing that happens is it asks you where to save it. (Save dialog).
You select the "Project folder". It will then prompt you with an "Instructions" Dialog Window. Fill out the appropriate fields (Especially the Contact Info!) and put any special instructions in the comments box. (Example.Note on page 397 is a picture I had some problems with. If it looks terrible or illegiable please stop printing and call me ASAP!)

Once you are done and the prefilght checks ok it will do all the work. Then you look inside your project folder and you will see three things. (1) Your High Quality PDF. (2) A folder named whatever you saved the Indesign Document as. Inside that folder will be a copy of the Original InDesign Document, a Fonts Folder with copies of every single font you used in your document. INCLUDING! That really weird one you downloaded from a website that longer exists! :-). Also it will have copied all the graphics, charts, tables, etc that you placed into InDesign from WHEREVER you them saved! and places them all in a Folder named Links.
(3) A text file named Instructuions.txt that will have all the information you filled out in the dialog box :-)

Step Four is the most difficult of all steps. First you determine how BIG your Project Folder is. If it can fit on a CD burn it to CD. If it's to big for a CD then Burn it onto a DVD. If it is too big for a DVD you copy it onto a portable Firewire/USB HD. Print out your instructions.txt file

Then you deliver said media and your instruction sheet (instructions.txt) to your printer/publisher's art department and go home and drink beer.

And you can enjoy your beer because your phone won't ring with your printer on the other line angry because something is missing. Nope your only worries will be the temperature of your beer and whats on tv.

The layout department has everything they need such as origianl fonts, pictures, instructions, etc all on that one disc and you didn't have to go hunting around through all the font folders trying tofigure out where you installed that weird font. You also didn;t have to write down and remember where all your ORIGINAL placed pictures, graphics, charts, tables, etc. were and copy them over. Nope package did all that for you in a matter of seconds.

None of those hated phone calls like "This picture is low resolution and we need the original. Or "We don't have that font and will have to subsitute it with another" etc. etc. etc. Which is usualy the plague of problems people have when bring a file from home to a printer. This cause delays and increases prices!.

But see with packaging Adobe makes you a real CAMERA READY ART person. You will floor the artists and be given a grudging respect when you walk into a printshop/art department because all you need is the media you copied your project folder on and your printed instructions sheet of paper (just in case the layout person fails to read the instrucitons.txt) and if they lose the instructions and call you calmy set your beer down and tell them to printout the instructions.txt file on your media and then hang up and continue with your beer.

I will say this. InDesign is Adobe's "Quark Killer" and it is doing exactly that. So for the next few years at least Adobe will be making sure it runs as smooth as possible and will be supporting it for that same reason. They will make sure it's development is timely and rich full of features because they are depending on it to galavanize their position in being the Software Copmany for Digital Design in print and for media Rich DIGITAL design. Now since InDesign is becoming a DeFacto Standard in the PRinting industry you can pretty much guarantee that about every printshop/publisher will support submission of Indesign Files. If not they can use the PDF files.

Framemaker on the other hand is more of a niche piece of software that is still being developed but in my opinion it is heading in a more "DIGITAL PRESENTATION" direction in its development. Also since it is niche it is NOT as widely available and supported by printshops and publishers so your choices will be limited for native file submission and you would mainly have to use the PDF file submission method.

Also you have to be careful what Adobe's path indevelopment is. You will notice that InDesign is starting to obtain "Framemaker" features and down the road Framemaker may morph into a completly digital solution or Adobe may pull a fast one on you and drop it complelty and push the "Technical Writers" towards the CS Suite and Indesign just like they Did to web developers with CS3 release (Adobe dropped Image Ready and no longer develops it. They now recomeend using Fireworks)

In the end I would say that overall you would probably benefit more in the long run from InDesign CS3 because of its wide range of abilities where as Framemaker puts you into a niche that may become vaporware down the road because in the end Adobe's number one goal right now is to sink the Quark ship. They already have the web design development market becuase they bought macromedia. In doing that in the past year they have stopped development on GoLive and dropped it completely because they now own Dreamweaver. They dropped Image Ready because they own Fireworks. And they dropped Freehand because of Illustrator. The only thing really competing with them in Web/Print Design and Layout is Quark. So Adobe is fully focused on taking over that market completely. They have everything else BUT complete domainance in Page Layout (Quark Xpress). Now Quark is hurting bad and is falling from grace. Quark 7 is bug ridden and full of crud. They are already on 7.3 and still can't squash the problems. People are jumping ship over to the Adobe camp and Adobe is going to do everything they can to get people to switch from Quark to InDesign so they are going to put ALL their effort over the next 5 years in making Indesign a solid application and full of every feature you could dream of.

Dreamweaver - Adobe
Cold Fusion - Adobe
PDF - Adobe but becoming open standard
Fireworks - Adobe
Flash - Adobe

Photoshop - Adobe
Illustrator - Adobe
Acrobat PDF - Adobe
InDesign - Adobe
Quark Xpress - Quark

Macworld Review (Indesign CS3) ... /index.php

Creative Review (Indesign CS3) Detailed review on many features

A forum posting on the MacWorld Review.

Code: Select all

I have to disagree somewhat with the review writer here.
Having used FrameMaker for some 15 years for long and complex documenting projects, it seems to me that InDesign CS3 WILL ACTUALLY MOVE IN TO NEW GROUNDS, namely that of FrameMaker´s. (I would call InDesign CS 3 as v. 1.0, to stirr up some conversation.)
Especially the list and numbering, table style features and text variables will make InDesign CS3 a formidable competitor for long document production.
Although some things are missing in text variables and cross-referencing (as stated by the writer). One omission (vs. FrameMaker) that comes to mind is the ability to AUTOMATICALLY assign a master page when a certain paragraph tag is present.

Our little design firm has up to this point used InDesign (Quark before that) for graphical design projects and FrameMaker for long-doc assignments.

(Though some others may still need it for a long time, SGML and so on)
Boy, have I wished for this to happen!


That was a direct quote from a user on the Macworld Forum (post 12) ... =collapsed

Timotheus wrote:And yes, if you have any suggestions on topics like How to make a good dummy, or Tips on self publishing, it would be a pleasure to hear them!

I can gie tips on this but for now my short forum novel has grown to such a length I may fear Keith may ban me for typing such a wall of text. :-) So I will post tips on dummy making soon. (Maybe I will make a PDF and just post a link so users don't ahve to look at Wock Novels of Boring Stuff.


Hope that helps.

PS: YOu can download Free trials of Both the Framemaker and Indesign CS3 if I remember correctly. Maybe try them both out and decide for yourself what may best fit your needs. In the end it all depends on your own personal likes and needs.
The wheel is turning but the hamster is still dead.

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Sat Sep 01, 2007 7:39 pm Post

Thanks a lot, Wock, for your thorough and convincing (so it seems to me) explanation. I’ve read it carefully through, together with the reviews on MacWorld you’re referring to, and now I’m confident that with InDesign I’ll make a good choice.

To be true, I am in no urgent need of a tool like InDesign: I usually send my manuscripts as a simple pdf or rtf to my publishers, and they take care of the layout and all the rest.

But … I love beautiful, well designed and well printed books. And in my experience, many publishers of the present day, including publishers in the scientific realm, who publish no doctor novels, but books destined to last, are not really interested in making beautiful books. They are interested in making beautiful profits. In the catalogues of highly esteemed publishers nowadays it is not difficult to find thin books with a high price, which on closer inspection are rather poorly designed and printed, on rather cheap paper.

Recently, I have gone through some rather disappointing experiences in this field, and I find it a challenge to try to design the layout of my next book myself, and to deliver it ready for printing to my publisher. I’ll begin with some readers for my students, and we’ll see where it ends!
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