Scrivener, Part Deux

(Here’s Part One)

While getting Snarled Threads ready for ebook release, I made a few more notes about Scrivener specifics that I’d forgotten from the first time around (which less than a month ago, so I have a pretty sad memory). So, here it is: How To Format Your F#%&ing Ebook Without Losing Your Mind, Part II.

Naming Chapters

Fig. 1

See the grey sidebar on the left, hereafter referred to as the binder? Notice how I’ve opened a few of the folders so you can see the documents inside them. I labeled the folders with chapter numbers for ease of navigation and labeled the documents inside with “[Numeral]. Title” for the actual Table of Contents, which Scrivener creates for you.

Fig. 2
Fig. 2

While I was compiling the ebook, under “Contents” I selected the texts from the folders but NOT the folders themselves (see the checkmarks?). This gave me a Table of Contents that listed the chapters by numeral and title, just like the titles of the documents.

Fig. 3
Fig. 3

I retained my formatting, including my chapter headers (bold, centered, 18-pt, double space above text) in the Formatting checklist. See all those boxes? Check ONLY the ones in the “Text” column. Make sure all the other boxes are unchecked. And see that dropdown menu that says “Custom”? It can say “Ebook.” Make it say “Custom” unless you want your entire text to be left justified with indented paragraphs and no paragraph spacing. I prefer full justified text with spaces between paragraphs in an ebook. Plus, as you’ll see, I had some sections that required special formatting.


Several chapters in Snarled Threads feature poetry. Some of it is my own, and some of it is borrowed from a public domain translation of the poems of Sappho. Keeping the verse format and putting proper citation in footnotes was essential. Here’s how I did it.

Fig. 4
Fig. 4

The verse text is left justified while the main text is full justified. I inserted the footnotes in MS Word before I copied and pasted the text into Scrivener. Fig. 4 shows how the footnotes appear in Scrivener. Don’t worry, once you compile the draft into a MOBI or ePub file, you get little numbers and corresponding notes at the end of the book just like your original document. Just make sure you select “Text” for Formatting during the Compile stage like in Fig. 3.

Random Weird Stuff

Part of Snarled Threads is told through physician’s notes made by a doctor who blacked out her patients’ names and struck through some of her medical observations. Warning: The next image contains plot SPOILERS.

Fig. 5
Fig. 5

Scrivener kept the strike-throughs from Word, but I had to redo to the black highlight marker. The ePub version I previewed in Calibre (still cannot get my NOOK app to preview self-made files) shows a black highlight over black text as in the image. The MOBI version I previewed in my Kindle app shows a black highlight over brown text, which looks even cooler imo since you can actually see what’s been “censored”.

Want to see how it turned out? Watch this blog for Snarled Threads‘ release date! In the meantime, check out my first book, A Snag in the Tapestry, for Kindle or NOOK.

Scrivener: It’s a win

Having now successfully uploaded A Snag in the Tapestry to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, I can recommend Scrivener without reservation. My knowledge of HTML is extremely limited, and my experience with HTML is pretty much just making italics and hyperlinks in blog comments. I’m not kidding when I say Scrivener probably saved me from a psychotic episode.

Before I downloaded Scrivener, I read several tutorials on using it to create MOBI and ePub files. Each of them was a little different. My method ended up being a little different, too, so I figured I’d add it to the internet.

I’d written the original manuscript for A Snag in the Tapestry in MS Word. When I publish chapters to the Thalia’s Musings website, I copy and paste them from the Word document and do a final edit in WordPress. What goes on the website always ends up being a little different than what’s saved on my hard drive. So for the ebook, instead of using my original manuscript, I created a new Word document and copied and pasted each chapter from the WordPress dashboard.

I set this new document to 12 point Times New Roman font, full justification, normal spacing. I labeled each chapter with number and title. This was just for search purposes since I’d end up formatting the chapter headers in Scrivener. I made them 18 point, bold, with two spaces between the header and the first line.

Scrivener has a novel template. I didn’t use it since it’s geared toward creating manuscripts, not ebooks. I created a blank document and made a folder for each chapter. This is what the final version of the document looked like:

Scrivener ebook project
Kindle (MOBI) version

The grey bar on the left is the binder. The main part of the screen that looks like a corkboard is Corkboard. Corkboard is where I put my folders in the order I wanted. Every time I added a new folder or page to the draft, Scrivener would automatically put it at the top. I’d go to Corkboard and drag it where I wanted it.


See the green button with the plus sign? That’s what you click to add a new folder or page to the draft. The dropdown menu lets you select Page or Folder. I put my chapters, acknowledgments page, and preview for the next book in folders. I put my title page, copyright page, and author bio in pages. I didn’t create a Table of Contents page. Scrivener will do that for you, complete with hyperlinks, when you compile your ebook files.

See the icon at the far right? The white page with the blue arrow? That’s Compile, the magic button that turns your draft into an ebook. If you’re making two different ebook files (like MOBI and ePub), you’ll want to do a Save As before you click Compile. I created two appropriately-titled identical documents at this point. I edited the Nook version so that the copyright page said Nook Edition and the author bio didn’t contain a hyperlink to the Thalia’s Musings website (Kindle allows hyperlinks, Nook doesn’t).

So then I was ready to compile my ebook. I clicked Compile and selected either Kindle or epub. The menu walked me through the metadata (I love saying that word. Metadata. Metadata. Metadata.). On the Contents menu, I opted for a page break before each folder (chapter) and each page of “front” matter. I didn’t upload my cover image to the file since both Amazon and Barnes & Noble ask for it to be uploaded separately.

I was able to preview my MOBI file in the Kindle app on my laptop. I never could get my ePub file to open in my Nook app, so I used Calibre to preview that.

Disclaimer: It didn’t actually happen like this the first day I opened Scrivener.

If you’re new to Scrivener and to ebook formatting, I recommend giving yourself at least a week before your release date to play around with the program. Plan on spending the first day going through Scrivener’s tutorial. Plan on compiling and previewing a few times before you get results you’re happy with. Do NOT skip the preview stage. You want to see what your book will look like in e-readers before you upload it to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Any questions about my experience with Scrivener? Ask away!

UPDATE: For more details about things like poetry/verse, footnotes, and Table of Contents, check out Part Two of my Scrivener adventures.

Ebook Progress Report

All the major formatting work on A Snag in the Tapestry (Thalia’s Musings, Volume One) is done! The cover art should be done by the end of the week. Both the Kindle and Nook versions should be released on (Black) Friday, November 23 right on schedule.

I’m reserving final judgment until my ebooks actually upload and go live to the Kindle and Nook stores, but at this point I fully expect to become one of the many indie authors singing the praises of Scrivener. After my ebooks are published and I’m sure what I did actually worked, I’ll write a post detailing how I did it. Based on the reviews I’ve read, every writer uses Scrivener a little differently. The common denominator is ZOMG EPUB AND MOBI FILES WITH ONE CLICK!!!

Ten more days! 😀

Fun with Formatting

Working on ebook creation is interesting when you are only vaguely familiar with HTML and have no experience in coding. I’m trying out a program called Scrivener that is supposed to take care of this problem for me. New software is always a challenge, but I’ve got to say, so far Scrivener is a lot easier on my brain than going through my whole manuscript line by line in Notepad would’ve been. If everything keeps going as well as it has the last couple of days, I should be able to give you an official release date for A Snag in the Tapestry by next Monday!

BTW, for my readers who don’t own Kindles or Nooks, there are free apps that will let you read Kindle or Nook files on your computer. Amazon’s is here. Barnes and Noble’s is here. And since my ebooks will be published DRM-free, you should be able to read them in Calibre.

Okay, back to work now.