One of the best reasons for using Scrivener to write, edit and complete your book is the functionality it has to compile your work into whichever format you require. As self-published authors we have a few advantages over the big boys and one of those is speed to market. We can finish our novels and over the weekend we can publish them across the world. This would take months, even years, with traditional publishers.
However, with great power comes great responsibility. Publishing is now easy, fast and you’re in complete control, but this is where perceived quality kicks in. If your book looks cheap and nasty, formatted like a car crash and smelly then you’ve just wasted all that writing time. Formatting is the key to a book looking like all other books or looking like a school project. Let me tell you how I format using Scrivener.
So many options
Scrivener is great for its flexibility. You can pretty much have your book looking anyway you want but herein lies a potential pitfall. If you don’t know what it should look like then you have a massive opportunity to ruin it.
Most books look the same on the inside. Don’t over complicate, or make it cluttered with creative ideas that will set it apart. Setting apart may not always be a good thing.
Ebooks and Printed Books
These are different. You need to concentrate on formatting a printed book so much more than an ebook. I’ll post a specific article on ‘how to format for a printed book’ separately because you need to be aware of so much more. The font in ebooks is manipulated by the reader, so as a writer all you can do is give them the words as simply as possible.
Front Matter and Back Matter
This is the stuff that comes before and after your story. It’s very simple and can be copied from nearly any other book. Here’s my headings for my new novel.
- Title Page
- Message to reader
- About the author
- Title Page
It’s not rocket science and you can just hold a separate text file for each in the Scrivener binder tree down the left hand side.
This comes down to personal preference, genre expectations etc. However, I’m going to tell you what I’ve used and I believe this to be relatively standard for most people.
- Font: Times New Roman 12pt
- Chapter Headings: Times New Roman 18pt
- Page Padding: 2 lines
- First line indent: 1 indent
For ebooks you can ignore margins.
How to make these adjustments in Scrivener
- When you are in the manuscript itself make sure that you have set the first line indent for the entire document by highlighting it all and then going Format/Text/IncreaseDecrease Indents/Increase or Decrease First Line Indent
- Then you need to open the Compile for Export or Print option at the top of the screen.
- The first step is to use a Preset Format in the Format As box at the top. Select ‘Times 12pt with Bold Folder Titles’.
- A couple more changes then need to be made on the Formatting option on the left hand side.
- Put your cursor next to the Title in the bottom half of the box and then click on the capital A on the toolbar directly above. This is where you can change your title to 18pts.
- Also, on this screen you can increase your page padding to 2 lines, halfway up on the right hand side.
- Then you’re done.
Using Format Presets
Once you have carried out these few changes once, I recommend that you then save these settings as your own Format Preset.
Click into Format As again. Then choose Manage Compile Format Presets… at the bottom. Click on to Project Presets tab. Then the + button. Name it something like ‘ebooks format’ or ‘Kindle’ and then save.
I then Update it by using the button at the bottom, but not sure if this is needed.
Making sure you can use this preset for all future books
The best thing about writing lots of books is that you should be able to reduce the learning curve, or at least the time consuming parts of publishing. By saving these presets as Global Presets you will be able to use them time and time again. Here’s how to do it.
- Select your preset format under Project Presets tab and then click on Export.
- Save it somewhere.
- Go into the Global Presets tab and then click on Import.
- Choose the file you’ve just saved.
- Now you have your format in the Global Presets.
- It also appears in the initial drop down under a section called My Formats
This will save you so much time in the future that it’s definitely worth doing.
I know how much time I’ve wasted in compiling files on a trial and error basis just to see what they look like in various formats. These options work and will hopefully save you some of your time.
Paperback formatting for CreateSpace is a whole different ball game though and I will post a separate article on that subject later.