A lot of people love Scrivener – but then get confused when you talk about formatting a book with Scrivener. It’s nice for organizing a book, especially in the developmental stages, but not ideal for formatting.
Scrivener Features: there’s a “CorkBoard” feature so you can add notes. It’s like a big binder to help organize all your characters, plot lines and story ideas. That can be useful if you’re a discovery writer struggling with plot. It might help you feel sane.
Personally, I still prefer writing in microsoft word (although I do writing sprints on my iphone with a bluetooth keyboard).
But there aren’t a lot of other contenders for “best writing software” – lots of authors have depended on it for years; others like me, don’t see the magic.
I actually know of a new writing app that’s pretty awesome, much more modern than Scrivener and I’m looking forward to sharing it (it’s based on my 24 chapter plot outlines.) But it’s not ready yet.
In the meantime, you can try my Scrivener Template.
Can you format a book with Scrivener?
No, not really.
Sure, you can export as an ebook easily, which is pretty sweet, as long as you don’t need to make changes. But you can’t do advanced stuff like fancy fonts or chapter headings.
And it just doesn’t work for print formatting – for which you should probably embed some fonts, and control the margins, spacing, headings, etc… none of which you can do easily in Scrivener, so you’ll need to export it into Word or InDesign to format your book for print.
*I think you can save as a .doc file but I haven’t tried in a long while; You can also customize some styles… I’ll dig into it again soon in case it’s been updated, but I’m pretty sure everyone will agree that Scrivener is a writing app, not a formatting tool…
Which makes Scrivener less than an ideal solution. For writing books and getting started, if you get used to it, it’s great. But for designing your books for print and ebook, it’s rudimentary at best, and probably not good enough to actually get the job done.
A Comprehensive Guide to Writing and Formatting a Book with Scrivener
Scrivener is a powerful writing tool designed specifically for writers. It offers numerous features that make writing, organizing, and formatting your book easier than ever. Let’s break down the process of writing a book with Scrivener:
Getting Started with Scrivener:
- Create a New Project: After opening Scrivener, start by creating a new project. Choose ‘Novel’ from the templates if you’re writing fiction. For non-fiction, you can choose ‘Non-Fiction.’
- Familiarize Yourself with the Interface: Scrivener’s interface is divided into three main sections: The Binder (left), the Editor (middle), and the Inspector (right). The Binder is where you’ll organize your chapters and scenes. The Editor is your writing area, and the Inspector is where you’ll add notes, links, and other metadata.
Writing Your Book:
- Create Your Chapters: In the Binder, create new folders for each of your chapters. You can do this by clicking on the “+” sign at the top of the Binder.
- Create Your Scenes: Within each chapter folder, you can create different text files for your scenes. These scenes can be moved around freely, giving you flexibility in structuring your chapters.
- Compose Your Text: Click on a scene in the Binder to select it, then start writing in the Editor. Scrivener automatically saves your work.
- Use the Corkboard and Outliner: Scrivener offers two powerful tools for organizing your book. The Corkboard gives you a visual representation of your chapters or scenes using index cards. The Outliner lets you view your manuscript in a structured outline format.
- Set Targets and Track Your Progress: You can set word count targets for your overall manuscript and for each writing session. Scrivener will track your progress, which can be incredibly motivating!
Formatting Your Book:
- Applying Styles: You can format your text using the various styling options in the Format Bar. Scrivener also allows you to create and save custom styles.
- Compile Your Manuscript: Once your manuscript is complete, you’ll need to compile it. This is where Scrivener shines – it can export your manuscript into various formats (including ePub, Kindle, PDF, and Word), and it allows you to control how your manuscript looks after it’s compiled.
- Choose Compile Settings: Scrivener provides a variety of compile presets. If you’re self-publishing, you might choose ePub or Kindle. If you’re sending to an agent or publisher, you might choose Word or PDF.
- Fine-Tune Your Formatting: After selecting a preset, you can adjust specific settings. For example, you can set the font and spacing, add headers and footers, adjust the layout, and more.
- Compile and Save: Once you’re happy with your settings, click ‘Compile.’ Choose where you want to save your compiled manuscript, and you’re done!
Remember, Scrivener is a very robust program with many features beyond what’s covered in this guide. Be sure to explore Scrivener’s tutorial (under ‘Help’) and other resources to get the most out of this powerful writing tool. Happy writing!