Developing a Book-dummy PDF – part 2

photograph copyright Douglas Stockdale –

In my previous article, I provided the stating frame work for creating a low resolution book-dummy using Blurb’s BookWright for publisher submissions or obtaining feedback from friends. For those who have used Burb to create a book pdf, you are probably aware of one of the major drawbacks that I discussed earlier; the resulting two-page spreads in their PDF are out of alignment when you view them with something like Adobe Acrobat Reader (see first screen shot below). This might be okay if you have one photo per two page spread, but this may not fully convey your artistic intent (& not create the message you intended).

One thing about PDFs, these are very hard to edit in order to change the pagination, layout, text and illustrations like photographs. Nevertheless, there is one software that can do this editing tricks; Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. After playing with the Free 7 day trial’s fully functional version, I was hooked and bought in to the subscription. Happy I did.

I believe that the very first fix you will want to implement with your new Blurb book-dummy PDF is use the Acrobat Pro function to “Organize Pages” and either add one additional page or delete one page from the beginning of your book dummy after the cover. More than likely, Blurb has inserted a blank white page between the cover and the text block. Then click Close and go back to the two-page view and now your book dummy should now be entirely in sync. A photograph that is intended to be a two-page spread will now look like a two page spread (see second screen shot below). For me, this was the most glaring deficiency with the Blurb PDF, but then again, Blurb wants to sell expensive physically printed books and not an easy to use PDFs. duh.

I have found that the Acrobat Pro software relatively easy to use and when I know that there is something I am trying to accomplish, e.g. change the photographs of a given page, that Googling that question usually provides some solid clues on what tasks to do. After obtaining my Blurb PDF, I have also mocked up new front and back covers, added some unique end-papers and added explanatory notes (both as text as well as ‘sticky-notes’). For a book-dummy being sent to a publisher, it is probably a good idea to label a blank page as just that, a ‘blank page’.

To ensure that there is no confusion about the quality of the photographs in a submission, I also title the PDF with the explanatory “low res book-dummy” at the end, just to make sure that everyone is on the same book-dummy page. It does not hurt to restate that in the submission cover page email as well. A book-dummy submission is to determine if the publisher is interested in a book project and if interest and want move to the next step, they then might request a book-dummy or a number of images with higher resolution (300dpi). This of course is a very good thing because now you know you are getting someone’s attention and traction by the publisher, which may be especially important if working with a really large publishing company.

I have also realized that making some minor tweaks to a book-dummy is fine with Acrobat Pro, but if I need to make major layout changes to the entire book-dummy, it is much quicker to go back to the Blurb BookWright file and make those changes and then obtain another Blurb PDF to work with. But that’s me.




Featured photograph; The Flow of Light Brushes the Shadow #1498 (Shanghai, China) copyright Douglas Stockdale



Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading again in conjunction with Medium Photo, September 11th, 12th, 18th, & 19th. More details at Medium Photo and where to sign up.


Screen shots of low Rez Blurb book-dummy

Out of sync Blurb book-dummy PDF, Instant Nomad Chronicles copyright Douglas Stockdale
Acrobat modified Blurb book-dummy PDF, Instant Nomad Chronicles copyright Douglas Stockdale

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