When I started writing my own books, I realized I also needed to format them. At first, I worked with a graphics artist who handled that for me and sent me a PDF file, ready for upload to CreateSpace.
A few weeks after uploading the manuscript, realized I needed to make a few changes. Readers had noticed a few typos and notified me. I had made a couple of extra changes myself. And later on, I decided to change the numbering of my books.
It soon became clear I couldn’t bother my poor designer every time I needed to edit something. So, I started looking into ways to edit my PDF manuscript myself. To my surprise, there didn’t seem to to be an easy, affordable way of doing so. Adobe’s own software, Acrobat DC, is priced at almost $20/month; a deal that was unaffordable. I don’t like subscription-based software in general, and it’s not like I needed to make changes at such a rate as to make a monthly subscription worthwhile.
I ended up buying a PDF editor called Nitro PDF. It cost me over $150. But when I changed computers a few years later, the version of Nitro PDF I’d bought would no longer work on the new one. To get a new version was as expensive as buying a new license. Even worse, the old version was no longer supported. In the end, I kept my old computer for the sole purpose of editing PDF documents; hardly an ideal situation.
That’s why I was so excited to discover PDFelement by Wondershare; an affordable–yet extremely powerful–way of editing PDF documents. Priced at only $59 for the standard version, it lets you do pretty much everything an author wants: open a PDF document, edit text, insert/remove images, crop your document, insert headers and footers, insert a background, and even insert a watermark. It also lets you organize pages (i.e. move them around), combine documents, insert and extract pages, split a document into multiple ones, etc.
If you’re looking for a collaborative tool, it also lets you annotate and bookmark your documents.
And if you wish to share, it lets you export to MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and even ePub! That way, you can better preview your manuscript.
Finally, it supports forms, something that may be useful for your communication with publishers or people helping you with your book. It also lets you protect your document, sign it digitally, and password-encrypt it.
The only downside I could find with the software is the long time it takes to get started, at least on my computer. Depending on how many PDF documents you edit, it may make sense to keep it running in the background to save some time.
PDFelement Standard vs. Pro
I’ve been using PDFelement Pro (priced at $89) for a few days now.
The main difference with the standard version is the addition of OCR. This lets you scan your handwritten manuscript into JPG images, then PDFelement automatically converts these into text. You can save the result into an MS Word document or in any of the formats mentioned above. For writers who like using notebooks (I have a stack of them), this JPG-to-Word conversion can be a godsend.
Below is a list of the differences between the two versions. As you can see, even the standard version is a pretty powerful tool for authors. With the addition of OCR, it becomes a far better product than anything I’ve used so far.
As I’ve been looking for an affordable, yet powerful, PDF editor for ages now, I just had to share the news as soon as I found out. Both versions are available for Windows and Mac and offer a free 30-day trial period, so you can try them out for yourself. I hope you find it as useful as I have!
You can find out more on the Wondershare website.
Note: As always, this is my honest opinion and I’m only sharing because I genuinely liked the product. Wondershare gave me a free evaluation copy and provided me with trackable — but NOT affiliate — links.
I just use the ‘save as PDF’ for my needs, but if I needed to do more, Adobe would have been my first thought too. Never heard of PDF Element so I’m sure that’ll come in handy for a lot of people, thanks!
A pleasure! It’s good to have options 🙂
Thanks for sharing this, Nicholas. 🙂
Thank you, Natalie 🙂
I noticed the specs were for windows. Wonder if there is a Mac option?
Actually, yes, there is.
I’ve been looking for a tool in which I can edit on a PDF format without relying on the original designer to make changes. I currently use Acrobat Pro but it has limited capability to make correction. I’m curious on how well this program converts PDF into epub. Would the epub be acceptable to download on all the online stores?
As I’m on KDP Select, I haven’t tried that. I’d love to hear from you if you do!
Thanks so much for sharing this! Software can get so expensive, and I’m still trying to figure out what I NEED- some direction is much appreciated 🙂
Yay! So glad you found it useful 😀
I am sure everything you say about this is dead right, Nicholas. But my computer skills are so basic, I have never even used (to my knowledge) Adobe Acrobat. I don’t even have MS Word on this computer. I make do with ‘Open Office’ for most of my writing! 🙂
Best wishes, Pete.
Open Office is pretty good–and free. Can’t beat that combo 🙂
I’ve been meaning to try Open Office next time there’s an MS update I don’t feel inclined to pay for. Last time my laptop died (with every out-of-date-license on it) I needed instant replacement to support my online customers so panicked (again ) and paid out for what was familiar rather than take time to learn something new. Now I’m retired, I must learn to curb such expensive impatience.
That’s really helpful – thanks for sharing. I’m currently paying Adobe monthly – my version became obsolete and increasingly unreliable around halfway through formatting our writing group’s anthology. I panicked, since the ‘save as pdf’ option on MS Word didn’t convert the font we were using and made an awful mess of the pictures on a Christmas verse of my own I was publishing for the family. I don’t intend to continue subscribing beyond this initial year, so this program sounds a good alternative.
Oh, no! I’m so sorry for your troubles! I hope that, if you try out PDF Element, it will work for you. Thanks for sharing your experience!
When I worked for local government here, I had Acrobat and used it often. Now that I’m retired, I too found it expensive to purchase, I will take a look at PD Element. Thank you.
Adobe has really priced itself out of the market, hasn’t it? I never cease to marvel at that…
Yer always saving us.
Lol–that’s so kind of you, thank you 😀