Tools of my trade

Many people in BookVille probably know I work in MS Word 2000. After all, book designer Joel Friedlander did a whole post on how I make Word sit, fetch, roll over, and beg when I design print books. You may laugh, but I’m a born DIYer. I will find a way around a problem, and you won’t be able to tell I took the scenic route.

Thus, MS Word 2000 is my starting point for everything, from manuscript to digitization to print design.

A note: If I’m doing a manuscript-to-print job, my workflow process is digital first, then print design. It’s far more efficient.

My gimmick (for lack of a better term) is that I do all this by hand. That’s what a lot of people like to know, that I’m not just feeding their stuff into a program and giving them whatever comes out.

So here are the tools I use:

1. MS Word 2000
2. EditPlus 3
3. ActiveWords
4. MobiPocket Creator
5. Sigil

Note the absence of Adobe. I do use Adobe products, but not until print and/or graphics enter the picture, in which case:

1. Photoshop
2. Illustrator
3. Acrobat

There have been some changes to my system and there will be more as better tools come along, if they do.

I used to use Atlantis Word Processor to create an EPUB file, but I haven’t done that since I found Sigil. I do still love Atlantis, but the feature I bought it for is really inadequate for files people pay me to create. (Or it could just be that I’m too much of a control freak to not tinker with whatever’s under the hood.)

I am always streamlining my process, writing macros, building templates. Yes, I do it by hand, but there’s a lot of stuff I only need to do by hand ONCE. To that end, I’m learning AutoHotKey. Right now, I use ActiveWords for some macro functions, but I’m not sure that’s the best tool I could be using.

Now. How and why I use them is fodder for a manual…


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  2. Joel Friedlander - Reply

    Thanks for the shout-out. Your work in Word is still astounding. Interesting that in all the software you list, even the Adobe programs, there’s no layout-specific tools. Have you ever experimented with software that’s designed specifically to do, you know, book layout? There’s a reason all us designers are using tools like InDesign and Quark, I’d be interested in your boycott of this type of product.

  3. Elizabeth - Reply

    It’s not a boycott. It started out as a “I don’t have the money to buy that program.” Hence, the workaround solution. Now, it’s a “I don’t have time to climb the learning curve, especially because I have a workaround solution.”

    My degree is in creative writing and JOURNALISM, which means I cut my teeth on PageMaker. In fact, I was able to make quite a nice living for a while as a temp because I was the only temp they had who knew PageMaker. So I’m not a hater nor a boycotter.

    What you’re seeing is me saying, “Hey, you CAN do this without spending a lot of money.” It’s also me saying, “I can’t justify the money or the time to put into InDesign.”

    Unfortunately, it’s just about the money. And time. But time is money, especially at this stage of my business.

  4. Dude - Reply

    Dude knows that Elizabeth can figure out how to do anything given enough time. Dude also knows being a parent to Calvin & The Drama Princess severely cuts into that time.

  5. Benhamish - Reply

    While we wait for a manual, could we have one of your documents to look at? I suppose I could purchase one, or just go start using Word some more lol.

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