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I Formatted An Ebook With Scrivener

Sara General

Yesterday was an incredible day. I wrote 1154 words for a new story, I watched a Scrivener webinar (which is an amazing piece of writing software I've just started using more), I researched for a non-fiction book I'm working on, AND—I formatted my very own ebook! 


This is a big deal for me. You see, a few months ago when I was getting ready to publish The Vampire Skeleton and my short story collection I decided I would like to try and format my own ebooks. I did some research and learned there was a free program called Calibre that could help you, which I promptly downloaded and tried to use. I didn't have much luck. Nor did I have much luck formatting ebooks using InDesign. And so, because I was in my first trimester, working full-time and doing my doctorate, I figured it might be best to find an ebook formatter and work with them. And so that's what I did.  


However, I've been writing a lot more the last two years and as a result I have three other books ready for publishing (their covers are being designed in March and May) and a host of smaller stories (around 6,000-10,000 words apiece) finished as well. And since I really liked some of those shorter stories, I decided to polish them up and hired an editor to help. 


Once they were edited, I realized I had to decide what I was going to do for cover art and formatting, which we all know is both important and potentially costly. But over the past few weeks I've been binge listening to The Creative Penn podcasts, as well as reading Joanna Penn's books. She uses Scrivener a lot and after hearing/reading about it on and off throughout her material, I decided to give it another try. (I bought it three years ago but didn't use it much as it was always crashing on me). I reloaded it on my writing laptop (I write on an 11-inch MacBook Air so I have the App Store version) and away I went. My timing was good, because she was just about to do a webinar with The Scrivener Coach, Joseph Michael. I was working last week so I only got the chance to watch the replay yesterday and I have to say, it was so awesome! I learned so much in that webinar, not the least of which was some basics about compiling an ebook. After watching the webinar I kept fiddling around with the settings for my ebook. 


A few hours later (and quite a few tests runs) I had produced both .mobi and .epub files that I can use for Kindle, Kobo and iBooks—the three platforms I'm using to distribute my ebooks. One of the best parts of the whole process was that I could easily fix things for myself when there was something off in the formatting (missing italics, for example). It was amazing—I'm still excited about it. I love that you can take time to fine-tune and make the file look really great. The whole process is incredibly empowering. 


All of this means I will be soon releasing an ebook of a novelette (10,000) words called, The Fall of Ithaca. I'm so looking forward to it! And I'm definitely looking forward to working more with Scrivener. I expect I'll have some hiccups as I learn, but so far, I'm so grateful I gave it another try and also very grateful there are so many resources available at Joseph Michael’s website to help me hone my skills. Exciting times! 


What about you? Do you have any favourite Scrivener tricks? 


Til next time, happy writing everyone!