Want to edit a large PDF for free? Here’s how…

Last year, I updated the cover of my first book to match subsequent volumes.

It went from this….to this:

Matchy, matchy…

I happily uploaded my new cover to Amazon KDP print and ordered a handful of author copies. When they arrived, I realised that I also needed to update the cover designer attribution on my copyright page. No problem for the ebook – just update the text file and upload.

The paperback, however, was another story entirely.

THE PRINCES’ MAN was my first published novel, back in 2013, originally published by Createspace, which at the time was Amazon’s print arm.

Between then and now, my old laptop died, forcing the purchase of a new one (which sadly now seems to be running on borrowed time – they really don’t last long!). Yes, I have cloud back up, so the PDF file of Prince’s Man is sitting there ready for me anytime I want it.

Because PDF is the format in which you upload a paperback to Amazon. It appears I didn’t bother to save the Word doc. from which the PDF was saved, and therein lies a headache: without a paid-for programme, you can’t easily edit a PDF.

Oh yes, several people have shown me free programmes that allow this – but when I’ve tried to use them, it turns out they can’t handle a PDF the size of a novel.

Sooo frustrating, when all I wanted to do, was to change one single line of text!

I then decided the only way to deal with this was to totally re-do the paperback interior. I spent hours cutting and pasting into the new Amazon KDP print template (see my earlier post on how to format a paperback), finally wrestled it into shape – and then noticed the number of pages was significantly different!

That, of course, is no good, because the wraparound print cover is then the wrong size. Oh duh. I realised I had used a different font.

By this point I no longer had the time to work on it, so it went on the back shelf. I don’t sell huge numbers of paperbacks, but there are definitely a small number of rogue copies out in the world now, with the incorrect attribution, which I feel bad about.

I’m currently up against a deadline for my commissioned equestrian book, HOWEVER, into my mail box last week popped an email from Dropbox. Now I don’t actually use Dropbox as my back up – I have another paid service – and recently their messages have been all about how near I am to the capacity for their free programme, trying to sell me more storage space. The headline of this mail, however, caught my eye: ‘Editing PDFs just got easier’.

And so I sneaked a morning out of my schedule to investigate, and YES! This was the answer to my problem! So here goes – if you have a large PDF you need to edit, Dropbox is your answer.

Here’s the initial link to take a look at: https://help.dropbox.com/files-folders/sort-preview/edit-pdf

Because I’d downloaded the PDF I needed to edit from storage onto my new laptop, it was already in my Dropbox.

Sign in, click on the PDF, and then click ‘Edit’.

Next, you get this:

I realised then that the only way to edit was to insert a new page and delete the old one.

Not so difficult you’d think, but at first attempt I couldn’t get it to upload my new page. I puzzled over it in frustration for a bit before it clicked: I had been trying to upload the new page as a Word document. I needed to upload it as a PDF.

After that, it was plain sailing. I created a PDF of the new copyright page with the new cover artist’s name, clicked ‘insert new page, uploaded it and clicked ‘done’. I then used ‘delete page’ to remove the original, et voila! Done!!!

I saved the edited PDF, uploaded to Amazon KDP, ordered author copies, and it all worked!

Don’t they look pretty?

And now they are accurate – phew!

Oh, and this week also celebrating reaching 1001 people signed up to this blog – thank you folks, love you all!


  1. That is amazing. Didn’t know editing large PDFs was different from ‘other’ PDFs–never tried it. I have Adobe Pro version but maybe that wouldn’t matter.

    More amazing was that you had all this trouble because of attribution for the cover. I don’t even do that! Good grief do I need to?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I didn’t know either until I tried it! None of the (several) free programmes I tried would open a PDF of this size. So frustrating when I only needed to make such a tiny change on the second page,
      I guess it’s up to you whether you credit the cover designer inside your book, but I always do. I know I’ve looked at covers in the past and wanted to know who the designer was, so I might see if they would suit my books, and the only way to find out was to contact the author directly (that’s how I got my first designer).
      Putting the attribution in there costs me nothing and might bring the designer new customers.
      I like to help.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I checked a few books and some do have cover references, others not. Hmm… I like that you do it to help the designer.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this super informative post Deb, even though you went through headaches. And I couldn’t be without Dropbox! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nothing in this business is ever simple, is it? Just glad we can pool our knowledge so easily 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I am grateful to all the sharers. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great article I didn’t know about it. Thanks For sharing informative post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, me neither until the email popped up in my inbox!


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