Book Editing Software

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Modern technology has made it possible for almost anyone to write, edit, publish and market his own book. All he needs is a personal computer--either an IBM-compatible or a Mac--and the proper software. Book editing is a complex task; there are several parts to the editing process, and for each you will need a different type of editing software.

Word Processor

  • The most basic piece of software you need for editing--and the piece which editors are most likely to have--is a word processor like Microsoft Word. Word processor users inevitably end up saving multiple versions of the file at different times during the editing process; this allows them to quickly return to an earlier version.

Art Programs

  • Many books require illustrations or photographs. New material is created during the original writing process; then during the editing process, extra material is created and all of it is put into final form. Two types of programs are used for these processes: Vector art programs (like Adobe Illustrator) are used for line drawings, and digital editing or "paint" programs (like Adobe Photoshop) are used to prepare photographs and bitmapped images.

Book Design/Layout

  • While some self-publishers use a word processor as their primary design program, such a book will not look like a professional production. A book design program like Adobe InDesign allows you to see how each individual page will look and allows you to control and alter a page in minute detail, right down to the spacing between two individual letters in a single word. While such control may sound like overkill, a few such editing changes can make a self-published book look like it came from a major publisher.

PDF Creation

  • Most printers will prefer to work with an electronic production file of your book, and these files are almost always PDF files. A PDF file also allows an editor to see exactly how each page of a book will appear when the book is published, so a PDF file is an essential last editing step. There are many PDF creation programs available, but be sure to check with your printer before getting one; some publishers will not guarantee good results unless you specifically use Adobe Acrobat.

The Net Effect

  • While the editing process can be linear, moving from word processor and art programs to book design/layout to PDF creation, the process is rarely so simple. Problems faced during the initial editing may require a writer to make new illustrations; choices made during layout may require a return to the word processor or art program in order to make them work; or a PDF file may expose an unexpected error in layout. This give-and-take is what makes book editing software so powerful.

  • Photo Credit writing book image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com
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