Using Scrivener to make .mobi and ePub files (for Kindle and Nook etc.)

I recently mentioned how easy it was to use Scrivener to create the ebook files for The Demon You Know, and several folks asked me to go into more detail.

I am nothing if not cooperative 🙂

So here, for your viewing pleasure, is a video I made of how to set up Scrivener to make your .mobi files (and the ePub is just about the same). Smashwords files must be created outside of Scrivener, but I’ll post a video on that soon, too. (The Smashwords guide is great, but sometimes just seeing the visual helps).

And, of course, I should point out that the sample I’m using for the video is the raw Scrivener file for Dead Friends and Other Dating Dilemmas, which is brand spanking new on Kindle and the Nook and Smashwords. Only 99 cents, folks. Hope you check it out!

Here’s the hyperlink to YouTube in case the embed isn’t working: http://youtu.be/Ibybm0W9Oj0

I hope the video is helpful! I did the cover for Dead Friends on the fly, and will be posting soon about how I did that. I’m learning as I go and happy to blog about the process. If you have questions or topics related to eBook publishing, formatting and/or marketing, drop me a comment and I’ll see if I can address it!

33 Comments

Julie

You’re very welcome. I’ve written all my books in Scrivener for years now, and I LOVE it. The ease of creating eBooks is a plus.

I also use it for organizing blog post ideas and for creating story bibles. It’s very versatile!

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Sara Walpert Foster

That was amazing. It seems very easy, especially since my chapters are already in separate Scrivener files. Not that I know whether I will self-publish or not. But when I decide, I know I can come back here for a refresher. Thank you Julie. I hope you’ll do more of these. 🙂

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Julie

Excellent!! Glad it helped! I was so annoyed with myself for waiting so long to tackle stuff…turns out it’s uber-easy!

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Kendra Mareva

Thanks so much for posting this, Julie! Just got Scrivener last weekend and am learning to navigate around. So far so good! 😀

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Julie

you go, girl!!!!

I haven’t even utilized all the features. It’s sooo versatile.

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Tam Linsey

Cool! I’m bookmarking this. I love Scrivener, but had no idea you could format to self-publish with it. Thank you for teaching me.

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Richard Stiennon

Great job. The best thing about the Compile feature is that it is so easy to go back and forth between your book and the output version. I do it throughout the creation process to check on page count and just to get a feel for what the finished product will look like!

Thanks for the screencast.

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Julie

You’re very welcome. And yes, I love the Compile feature because of that.

And for the ability to have separate pages for different editions/distributors. Makes it so easy!

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Katie Elle

That was fantastic! I particularly appreciate the attention to different ebook formats. I’ve been writing in Scriv, but reverting to Word to html to calibre for the different versions.

Makes me want a Mac though.

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Julie

I heard! Haven’t used a PC in years but I know a lot of folks are very excited!

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Dori Zavala

Wow, thanks so much for taking the time to post this! I’ve been using Scrivener for awhile and had no idea that it could compile into an e-book format! You just saved me a lot of money paying someone else to format my book! Thank you!

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Julie

You are very welcome! If you don’t see the option when you go to compile, then you need to upgrade to the most recent version (a painless process, I promise!)

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April Steed

Because of this post I decided to take the plunge and buy Scrivener. Thank you! It makes compiling short stories so much easier, and I’m just delighted. Not to mention how much easier it makes novel editing. 🙂

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Julie

I’m so glad! Yes, it’s an awesome program! I probably only use about 60% of its features and it still blows me away!

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Yasmin Selena Butt

Hi Julie
Thanks for this post on Scrivener.

I’m about to format my debut novel and was going to use Smashwords guide to format it using MSWord and then distribute it to ebook stockists via them, but am I right in believing if I use Scrivener to format my novel I cannot do that because it doesn’t follow their system?

You mentioned doing a video for Smashwords, but totally appreciate you might be too busy to do that right now. I would love to use Scrivener, I have a trial version for Windows and if this goes well will happily buy it. I just hope i can use it in the way I’ve planned. It was recommended to me today.

In the video, you mentioned Level 1 in the Formatting section but I am not sure what that means? Please could you explain?

I know you used a short story for your example but wondered at what point in the process I would format Chapter headings and a Contents page. Would I just refer to them as ‘scenes’?

When I import my novel from Word and it’s already formatted in bold/italics, different font/sizes for chapters etc does Scrivener just accept them as they are?

Many thanks, apologies, hope you don’t mind the questions. The video really was very useful! Good luck with your novels.

Yasmin x

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Julie

Hey! So glad the video helped you! I’m on deadline at the moment, but I’ll do a Smashwords video (and a more detailed response to your questions) as soon as I can. Until then. …

Yes, you can use Scrivener even if you’re uploading to Smashwords. Simply “compile” your Scrivener file to a word document. It’s actually a very clean Word file and you can then apply the techniques in SW’s handy guide to finalize the word doc.

The “levels” are going to depend on how you set up your document. Experiment a bit by clicking and unclicking until you get the Chapter heading and text that you want. (You can compile to Print) and just look at the image that pops up. Basically, you’re deciding if you want the chapter name and the scene name and the body text by what you click.

For chapters, I use folders for chapters (I let Scrivener number then and don’t title them, but if you do, just name the folder) and then the scenes in that chapter are text files below that. You can do it at any time BEFORE you Compile the document.

I usually create a document in Scrivener, so I’m trying to remember the last time I imported, and I am 99.9% sure that it retains the formatting.

One thing I might suggest is that in your Finder (or My Docs or whatever it’s called in Windows ) you duplicate the Scriverner file and Label it something like “EXPERIMENTAL” Then you can go in and fiddle with all sorts of stuff without worrying about messing up your REAL document. Scrivener isn’t difficult, but it has so many features that it can seem overwhelming. You probably only need 25% or less of what it can do. So fiddle with chapters and scenes, play with compiling, and see how it goes. After an hour of goofing around with it, my guess is that you’ll be pretty comfortable!

Hope that helps!

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Kirsten

Excellant video explanation!

Can this ePub file be read on the stripped down Nook Simple Touch ereader?

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Jean Oram

I could give you a huge hug–soooooo helpful!!! Thank you for taking the time to share what you know about making these files. 🙂

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Diana Layne

Thanks for this! I use WriteWayPro to write and format in b/c I have a PC, but since Amazon has started requiring a Table of Contents, there’s a glitch at the moment in the Go To TOC for WWP (which they said should be fixed soon). In the meantime I’ve been trying to reformat in Scrivener and having all sorts of headaches until I watched this. Then figured out what I was doing wrong. Yes! Now, it appears to have worked great and I’m about to re-upload to the Zon-cross fingers! Thanks again!

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