I’ve been using Scrivener as the software tool that I’ve chosen to write my books in. The reason I did this was because I read ages ago that it was the best tool for eventually converting your manuscript into a finished eBook version. After deciding to get it for that reason I thought I might as well write in there as well.
The benefits that I’ve seen, which I’m sure are minimal compared to it’s full capacity, are the ability to write in scenes, write in a non-distracted view, set daily word targets, and easily convert to which ever output you so desire. This baby covers all of the main formats; Kindle, mobi, ePub, and also produces manuscripts etc. But it’s converting to Kindle that I will cover here.
First of all, if you’re reading this because you are about to actually compile your novel then please watch this video instead. I watched it and it gave me all I needed to know.
Ok, so I’m going to make this blog post more useful for readers by explaining the pitfalls that I ran into that have taken a whole morning to rectify. Most of these are things that if I’d known up front then it would have been much easier. It’s just part of the learning curve for me but if I can spare someone else a little time then all the better.
1) Chapter Layout
There’s a few things to choose when you’re going to publish a book. One of the inconsequential biggies is what you want your chapter indicators to look like. Just a number, Chapter #, Chapter #word, Title etc. so you need to think about this. I wanted Chapter # but because I had written all of my chapters in just a different text file Scrivener would not collate these as chapters (or I couldn’t find out how to do it). What I suggest is that you create a new folder for every chapter and then hold a text file underneath with the words in. If you do this as you go then you won’t have to spend a mind-numbing session doing it for forty-six chapters in one go.
This is totally my fault, hands up, sitting in the corner with the D hat on right now. I spent ages creating a special formatting for some flashback chapters that I have. I thought it would look cool if a different era looked and felt different on the page, but then I realised that when you convert to a Kindle format, or any other eBook format, that special formatting gets replaced by standard. Hopefully the printed version will hold the original plan.
3) Front Matter
This is the name given to all that stuff that comes at the front (and back) of books. You know the stuff that you flick past without giving it a moments consideration. I’m talking about Cover, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Foreword, Introduction, Note from the Author, Other titles available etc. I hadn’t thought of any of this, which I suppose is right when you’re up to your elbows in writing, but as you get nearer the business end don’t forget it.
I am one of the least observant people I know, my wife calls it ‘man-blindness’. I read books, I remember the stories (sometimes) but I pay no attention to how it’s laid out. I’m talking about things like how dialogue looks on the page, I know it’s different in different books but which one do I prefer? I have no idea. Do I want one of these ‘, or one of these “? Is there a correct one? You see both. How about a double space after a full stop? I don’t do it but I notice that some do. Indents for paragraphs, lines between dialogue… aaaahhhhhhhh. So, before I publish anything I need to work all of this stuff out. I’ll probably only have to do it once and then it’ll be set for all books in the future.
Now, I know that only part of this post was to do with Scrivener particularly and the rest were just formatting issues that occurred when I compiled, but either way if you want to save time at the end you’ll have answers for all of these up front.
Who else uses Scrivener and can pass on any other tips or pitfalls that I’ve yet to find?