In the past, I published two books using Microsoft Word. The books are 8.5" x 11", which was easy with the printer I was using.
I'm switching to a print-on-demand printer and none of them will accept 8.5" x 11" books. So now, I have to change my layout.
It's possible that all I need to do is change the paper size in Word to the desired size (for example, 8 x 10, or 6 x 9). Is that all there is to it? I have been avoiding this step because I feel less confident about it.
Is it okay to simply change the paper size in Word, check for windows, orphans, and similar issues, pack it up into a PDF, and send it off?
Or does Word fall apart at these other sizes? (I don't want to switch to Adobe InDesign!)
Yes, you just change the page size in Word. Just type in the Width and Height numbers into the dialog box and you'll see "Custom size" under paper size. Then create the PDF according to the specifications from the POD vendor.
Take note of any special requirements your printer may have. For example, the printer I use needs to have the total page count divisible by 4 and the last page must be left blank (so you need to check the option in the PDF for it to include blank pages).
You definitely will need to check for text reflow issues before uploading the PDF to the vendor. You'll also want to make sure you regenerate your table of contents and index, if you have one.
This article has more information about laying out books in Word:
Lay Out Your Book in Microsoft Word