How to Publish Your eBook from Word to Kindle in under Ten Minutes

by Joel Friedlander on January 18, 2013 · 150 comments

Post image for How to Publish Your eBook from Word to Kindle in under Ten Minutes

by Ed Ditto (@BooksByEd)

Ed Ditto, an experienced author and ghostwriter, has developed an extremely fast way of moving his books from Word, through Scrivener, and into the Amazon Kindle’s Mobi format for uploading to Kindle Direct Publishing. Here he steps you through the process so you can do it, too.

Author’s note:

After receiving several comments from disappointed users of Scrivener for Windows, I’d like to make it crystal clear that the process below is primarily written for Scrivener’s Mac version. While it’s adaptable for use in Scrivener for Windows, it’s not identical. That said, Literature & Latte, the developer of Scrivener, is working towards feature parity between the two versions. For more information see this thread in L&L’s discussion forum.

My e-book formatting guide is likewise Mac-oriented. I’m currently working on a Windows version, but I’m postponing its release pending upgrades to Scrivener for Windows’s ability to compile PDFs, since I consider CreateSpace and other print-on-demand services to be essential outlets for independent authors.

Thanks for your understanding.

If you’re an independently-published author then you’ve likely beaten your head against the Great Wall of Amazon that is the Kindle Direct Publishing platform, or KDP. When following the standard do-it-yourself process, your objectives may seem mutually exclusive:

  1. Trying to force Microsoft Word to generate the lowest-common-denominator format required by the KDP, while
  2. Attempting to produce your e-book in a pleasing design that reflects the care and craftsmanship you put into your writing.

It’s a bit of a Sophie’s Choice; small wonder the exercise often degenerates into tedium and frustration. You upload a .doc, check it in the KDP’s previewer, discover problems, fix them, re-upload, re-check, re-fix…ad nauseam and all too often, ad infinitum.

So how would you like to accomplish this in under ten minutes? If you’ll trust me and step back from Word, I’ll show you how to cure your KDP headache forever. (Note that what I’ve written below is Mac-oriented. It’s adaptable to Windows with some experimentation, but certain features–most notably Front Matter–are either reduced in functionality or missing altogether.)

Setup: Install Scrivener

Scrivener, the writing suite from Literature & Latte, has a trial version that’s free and fully-featured for thirty days of actual use, meaning that if you use it two days a week it’ll last for fifteen weeks. So go ahead and start the installation.

As the process runs, let me explain what makes Scrivener my application-of-choice for e-book production.

What you’ll shortly be seeing in Scrivener’s Text Editor may make Scrivener look like a “What You See Is What You Get” word processor, but Scrivener isn’t technically WYSIWYG.

In Scrivener it’s possible to write in one format and publish in a totally different one without changing the on-screen appearance of a single character. So when you decide you want to change publication formats…say you’ve imported a Word manuscript and published it to Kindle, but now you want to re-format it for CreateSpace…you simply create a new set of formatting instructions using an intuitive compilation wizard, and Scrivener does the line-by-line format conversion for you.

This means you never have to suffer through the grunt work of a document-wide formatting exercise again. Got that? NO MORE MANUAL CONVERSION. As my grandfather, a skilled framing carpenter, used to say: “Let the tool do the work.”

When the installation’s finished, you’re ready to get started.

Step one: Import your manuscript into a new Scrivener project

Time required: three minutes

Start Scrivener. From the “Project Templates” pane choose “Fiction / Novel.” Name your new project and save it, and Scrivener’s main working window will open. It’ll resemble other word processors; a menu/toolbar sits above a text editor. But it’s the Binder, circled in the image below, that you’re concerned with in this step.

Scrivener 1

Think of the Binder as a three-ring binder where you store your project materials: manuscript copy, research documents, character sheets, photos, etc.

Click-and-drag the “Chapter” and “Scene” dummy documents from the Binder’s “Manuscript” folder to the Trash. Then open a Finder window and click-and-drag the body of your manuscript into the “Manuscript” folder, as shown below. Just the body—everything between the first word of Chapter One and the last word of the Epilogue.


Here I’m using my novel Gunrunner Moon, which I’ve stored as individual chapters in .doc format. See how the chapters have fallen neatly into place in the Binder? That’s because I numbered them sequentially.

(If your manuscript is stored as one long block of text, you’ll need to split it into individual chapters before importing…or after; using Scrivener’s easy and intuitive “Documents / Split / at Selection” function. See page 191 of Scrivener’s built-in manual, available under the Help menu, for an explanation. Remove the chapter titles from the manuscript as you split—you want each chapter document to contain only its text, not its title.)

Once the importation is complete, feel free to click around in your manuscript but—and this is very important—do NOT change any of the formatting. Not because you might mess something up, but because, as I mentioned, you simply don’t need to. You’re about to set up the guidelines Scrivener will use to take care of the formatting for you.

Step two: Populate your front matter

Time required: one minute

Now open the “Front Matter” folder and click-and-drag “Title Page” and “Copyright” from “Paperback Novel” to “E-Book.” While you’re here, send the dummy “Cover” to the trash. From a Finder window, click-and-drag the cover of your novel to the “Front Matter / ” folder. When you’re finished you should see:


Step three: Edit your meta-data and enter your ISBNs if appropriate

Time required: thirty seconds

Scrivener will automatically populate your title page, copyright page, etc. using what are called “placeholder tags,” AKA field codes. These are fed through the “Meta-Data Settings” pane, accessible by choosing the “Project / Meta-Data Settings…” menu item and clicking on the “Project Properties” button. Now fill in your name, title, etc., as I’ve done here:


When you’re finished, hit “OK” to dismiss the “Meta-Data Settings” pane.

If you now click on the “Title Page” document in the Binder, you’ll see the year and author placeholder tags, and you’ll also find space for you to enter your book’s ISBN and ISBN-13 if you have them. Here I’ve entered dummy information. (You can delete the ISBN and ISBN-13 lines if they’re unnecessary.)


Step four: Start the Compile wizard to compile your e-book

Time required: thirty seconds

Believe it or not, it’s time for you to produce your e-book for upload. Click “File / Compile.” The Compile wizard will open into its “Contents” pane. This is where you tell Scrivener which documents to include in your output version, and how to include them.

Make the selections I’ve circled below:


Here I’m instructing Scrivener to publish an e-book in .mobi format (Amazon’s standard, in case you’re not familiar with it), including the front matter documents “as-is” and the balance of the novel according to the formatting instructions I’m about to issue. Note that I’ve included the “E-Book” front matter.

Step five: Set your “separators”

Time required: fifteen seconds

Click “Separators” from “Compilation Options” and make the following selection:


Scrivener will now insert a page break between the individual documents that comprise your manuscript, e.g., causing a new chapter to begin on a new page.

Step six: Set your cover

Time required: fifteen seconds

Now click “Cover” from “Compilation Options” and choose your e-book cover from the drop-down box.


Step seven: Issue formatting instructions

Time required: two to three minutes

There’s a lot of aesthetic power packed into Scrivener’s “Formatting” pane. What you’ll be setting up is a plain-vanilla e-book, but experimentation here will definitely be rewarded.

First, make these selections from the main pane:


Then click “Options” at top right. My manuscript includes centered text (a poem) so I’ve checked “Preserve alignment” and “Centered text only.” Note that by default Scrivener removes the indent from the first paragraph of each chapter.


Hit OK to return to the main “Formatting” pane, and click “Section Layout” at left of center. Under “Title Prefix and Suffix” enter the following (note that the dot indicates a space):


This will automatically generate chapter headers within your e-book (“Chapter One” and so on).

Now click “Title Appearance” and choose what follows to dress up each chapter’s title:


And finally, choose “First Page.” Here you’ll set the number of leading uppercase words for the first paragraph of each chapter…in this case, three.


Again, hit “OK” to return to the main “Formatting” pane.

Finally, select “Chapter Title” in the lower window, hit the “A” button to summon the “Fonts” pane, and click “Bold Italic” and “18.” (I like Bold Italic for chapter titles, but that’s a personal choice.)


Then dismiss the “Fonts” pane by clicking the red circle in the upper left-hand corner.

Step eight: A slight Title Adjustment

Time required: fifteen seconds

Since Scrivener will automatically generate a Table of Contents for your e-book, you need to de-check the “Override title prefix separator for updated links:” box, as shown:


This will ensure that the individual items in your TOC appear properly.

Step nine: another slight adjustment to “Transformations”

Time required: fifteen seconds

One change here: click “Convert multiple spaces to single spaces.” This is a cleanup measure to eliminate double spaces between paragraphs.


Step ten: Finish up by installing Kindlegen

Time required: varies, but nonetheless quite speedy, and only has to be done once

If this is the first time you’ve used Scrivener, the final step in your compilation will be to install KindleGen, which is essentially an intermediary application that helps Scrivener produce .mobi-format e-books. KindleGen is a “set it and forget it” app; follow the link on the “Compilation Options / KindleGen” pane, complete the installation, and you’ll soon see:


And now, believe it or not, you’re finished! Hit the “Compile” button at lower right. Scrivener will ask you for an output location, and will then get busy producing a .mobi for you. With practice, your elapsed time to this point should easily be ten minutes.

Review: Open your .mobi in the Kindle Previewer

I find it much quicker to review my e-books in the Kindle Previewer than in the KDP. Install the Kindle Previewer if necessary, start it, and open the .mobi file Scrivener just created for you. Here are a few samples from my demo version of Gunrunner Moon.

First, the book opens directly to the beginning, where the chapter title, first paragraph indent, and capitalized words all appear correctly:


Checking the cover, we see that it’s correctly sized (although unfortunately the Kindle Previewer’s display is too big to fit into my laptop screen, so all you see here is a truncated version):


And Scrivener has automatically generated a Table of Contents.


The TOC settings are governed by the “Title Adjustments” and “Layout” panes of the Compile wizard; again, I encourage you to experiment.

Here’s the Title Page:


And finally, here’s the Copyright page. Notice that the placeholder tags have been filled in with the appropriate meta-data.


And there you have it. You can now go back and make changes, or—when you’re happy with what you see—upload your .mobi directly to the KDP.


The process I’ve just shown you produces a simple, clean layout in .mobi format in a few minutes, but for a much more valuable and comprehensive approach—one that’ll have you publishing like a pro to every major distributor in just a couple of hours—please pick up a copy of my guide: How to Format Your Novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and CreateSpace…in One Afternoon.

As one reviewer reported: “This book will probably save me several hundred dollars a year in professional formatting services. It is well worth the $4.99.” And I invite you to visit my website at for all things authorship, and to follow me on Twitter.

Ed DittoEd Ditto Since fleeing corporate America in 2005, Ed Ditto has written over a hundred feature articles for local newspapers, sold two novels, edited and/or ghostwritten five fitness books, produced seven e-books for other authors, and helped clients win upwards of a million dollars in grant funding. His latest book, How to Format Your Novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and CreateSpace…in One Afternoon, is now available from Amazon. Visit his website,, for Ed’s take on self-publishing, grant writing, and good words.

Photo credit: nitot via photopin cc.

I am an Amazon affiliate, and links to that site use my affiliate code.

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    { 138 comments… read them below or add one }

    Michael N. Marcus January 18, 2013 at 12:46 am

    I’m not sure about the Mac (or Linux), but with Windows it’s possible to make a very quick upload from Word to Amazon’s KDP without using Scrivener.

    The first time might take about 20 minutes. Later on, the time can drop to less than five. This is the basic sequence:

    (1) Remove headers, footers and page numbers if any.
    (2) Create table of contents based on hyperlinks (very easy)
    (3) Save doc as word file
    (4) Save doc as “web page, filtered”
    (5) From file list, “send to” “compressed (zip) folder)”
    (6) In file list, drag and drop the doc’s “files” onto zip file name (to pick up images)
    (7) Upload to KDP and check

    I’ve used this for eleven recent books with color and lots of photos, with minimal trouble. Detailed info with color screen shots is in my new “Easy Ebooks: Start selling in less than an hour.” ($2.99)

    The book also covers e-publishing with B&N, Lulu and Apple, and includes as a “bonus” an extensive section on publishing terminology.


    Ed Ditto January 18, 2013 at 4:01 am

    In comparison to the Word-to-zipped HTML process, a time-saving feature of Scrivener’s document-wide formatting approach is that you don’t have to do any manual, in-document work whatsoever when you decide you want to change appearances or formats — meaning you don’t have to remove things like headers and footers that the KDP might consider extraneous, or then add them back in if you want to generate a PDF for CreateSpace. You don’t even have to redefine styles — you just make minor changes in Scrivener’s Compile wizard, and Scrivener applies those changes globally.


    Andrew Claymore January 18, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Thanks Ed. This is the first article I’ve read that shows me a concrete advantage over Word. I’m tempted by the idea of creating the Mobi directly from Scrivener, but the rest sounds very similar to working with word (I admit I might be missing a few important points here).

    I use a set of styles in Word that I’ve tweaked to my own preferences. If I ever decide that I want my sub headers to indent, I simply edit the sub header style once, and every sub header in my manuscript will update instantly with no need to scroll through.

    The same goes for the body text. If I want to change to ragged right or change the 1st para indent, I just edit the ‘Normal’ style and my document is done.

    How does scrivener handle images in the text? I sometimes identify a break in perspective with a small graphic or icon.

    I really want to like Scrivener, but I spent years in the corporate world and still have some de-programming to do…


    Ed Ditto January 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Scrivener offers several methods for handling images. The four I tend to use are either: 1) inserting the image statically and using Scrivener’s re-size function to scale it, 2) inserting the image dynamically/live-linked to its location, 3) importing it into the Binder for the project I’m working on (which doesn’t change its original format) and inserting into the text from there, or 4) using what Scrivener calls a “placeholder tag” to serve as a marker for the Compile wizard to replace with the actual image itself (which is another way of live-linking the image; it just doesn’t display the image itself…thereby saving you some memory.)

    Yeah…I’m all about casting off your corporate programming, my friend…


    JJ Toner January 20, 2013 at 4:02 am

    Bought your book, Michael!


    Michael N. Marcus January 20, 2013 at 5:33 am

    Thanks, JJ. I hope it helps you.

    BTW, I own a company that sells toners —

    And I’ve written about writers named JJ —


    Carol Brill January 18, 2013 at 4:34 am

    Having just gone through a hellish week of refornatting melt-down (and ultimately unanticipated expense$$$$) this is both timley, and a just a bit too late.
    I always thought I’d never have the patience or tech savvy to try this myself, but after my recent unhappy experience, with your step by step approach, I just might
    thanks, carol


    Ed Ditto January 19, 2013 at 4:16 am

    Ooooh…nasty experience. Sorry to hear about it. Care to elaborate?


    Karen A. Wyle January 18, 2013 at 5:10 am

    Wonderful step-by-step guide — thank you! I’ve been a huge booster of Scrivener lately, but I didn’t know just how much work it could save me in formatting ebooks.


    Ed Ditto January 18, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Sure thing; hope you find it helpful. And this is just one small feature of Scrivener — the software is PACKED with tools designed to make writing and publishing easier.


    Joel Friedlander January 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Karen, I can see why you like Scrivener. I just started using it a couple of months ago and it’s the best writer’s tool I’ve seen. Just using the organizational power of the Binder is revolutionary for word processors, kind of a “database of text” approach that’s incredibly useful. I’m looking forward to trying out Ed’s approach.


    Ed Ditto January 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Karen, wait until you’ve seen the Corkboard.


    Ed Ditto January 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Whoops…wrong Karen…sorry!


    karen January 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Ed – No fair! teasing alert! Corkboard? Certainly I’ll be looking for that in my new Scrivener – but do feel free to tell us all about it! LOL!


    Thomas Rydder January 18, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Splendid article! Every indie who has published has gone through this whole process, and is convinced writing the book was easier. Being a newbie, I was unaware of Scrivener, but you can bet I’m making a beeline there now :)

    Well done!
    Thomas Rydder


    Ed Ditto January 19, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks, Thomas.


    Karen January 18, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Fabulous! And thank you for this! I have just purchased Scrivener. I’m working on a middle grade novel with pictures / images on the chapter title page – is there any info available on how to get these into a Kindle? Many, many thanks!


    Ed Ditto January 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks! See my previous reply to Andrew Claymore for more an overview of working with images in Scrivener, but my formatting guide (linked at the end of the article) has a special section on working with images that includes very detailed, easy-to-follow procedures.


    karen January 18, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Oh Yay! And thanks so much for all this wonderful information!


    Linda K January 18, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Just about to finish up my first publishing project and all along I’ve been wondering if there wasn’t an easier way to skin this cat. Thanks for the information. I’m definitely going to try it out on my next project.


    Ed Ditto January 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Good luck!


    Barbara March 19, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    Good luck, and better luck next time to the poor cat. As an animal rescuer and communicator, I look forward to the day when people will stop using antiquated, animal abuse related phrases like this one and, of course, the still popular, “you can’t flog a dead horse.” There are so many nicer ways to express oneself.


    Jordan J April 25, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Oh get off your soapbox you PC thug. It’s just an expression and no harm is meant by it. I am pretty sure that Linda would never skin a cat.


    Linton Robinson January 18, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Wow, that’s pretty exciting. And $40 isn’t bad for that.
    One thing I wonder is if it has a html step along the way so you can tweak the html directly like you can using the Windows-html-prc route.


    Ed Ditto January 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    If you’d rather compile to HTML instead of .mobi, you can certainly do that.


    bowerbird January 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    $40 isn’t bad at all. scrivener is worth every penny.

    then again, sigil will do the same thing, and it’s free.

    and my tool is ready, if you want to see a preview.


    that’s a live sandbox. feel free to edit the text to
    see how it works. (it’d be nice to the next person
    if you copied all the text out first, so that you could
    so you could later paste that original text back in.
    but i also regularly go back and restore it myself.)

    my tool is free. but i am taking it to kickstarter,
    so if you feel like contributing to such a project… ;+)



    Michael W. Perry January 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    To ask the most obvious of questions, why would anyone write a book in Word and just use Scrivener for the formatting? Scrivener is vastly better for writing. It is THE tool for writing, with versions for Macs, Windows and (soon) the iPad/iPhone.

    Someone that’s interested in saving time and who writes in Word might look into Smashwords. It takes .doc files from Word and creates files in the proper format for all the major ebook retailers, including the iBookstore. The only hitch is that Amazon is being a pain and only accepting a few of the better-selling ebooks from it. Smashwords isn’t the way to reach Amazon, but it will reach almost everyone else with a minimum of effort. And you get complete control over pricing and distribution along with a handy way to coupon books.

    For my latest book, Hospital Gowns and Other Embarrassment, I used InDesign for the trade paperback and to export ePub and mobi versions for direct to Apple and Amazon publishing. Then I laboriously exported the text to Word and reformatted that to get a .doc version for Smashwords to reach B&N, Sony, Diesel, Kobo and some library distribution services. That last step is no longer necessary, since Smashwords will, with some limitations, now accept ePub files.

    Write in Scrivener, layout in InDesign CS6–both marvelous for there chosen task–is now my workflow. And what’s great about that is that there’s only one text flow to correct for all the output formats.

    If InDesign only allowed me to output ePub formatted for iBook’s pop-up notes, all would be well. My up-and-coming Tolkien book has about 800 notes that’d be much better as pop-up than in a long list in the back.


    Linton Robinson January 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    I’ve been very interested in this, but you lost me when you mentioned InDesign. I consider that program a tool of Satan.
    An expensive, quirky program that ends up making huge amounts of non-necessary work and screws things up… and why?
    Absolutely not required for Kindle, CreasteSpace, SmashWords. You can even get around it with LSI.

    That thing of having one matrix MS to correct, exportable to all these formats is a huge winner.


    Ed Ditto January 18, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    You’re absolutely right — Scrivener is VERY powerful; formatting for publication is only one of its many talents. This article’s mainly about introducing it through this particular function. I use it for my entire workflow — from composition through publication.


    Jordan McCollum January 21, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I experimented with Scrivener for my Nano novel, and while I’ll probably pick it up at the Nano winner discount, I couldn’t make it my only writing software. While it’s got some nice features for writing and research, Scrivener’s power for editing is very limited for the way that I work. I was underwhelmed with the actual word processor, and my favorite editing methods, which take only a couple clicks in Word, are impossible in Scrivener. (My full take on Scrivener is herE: and those editing methods are here: )

    So IF I decide to write in Scrivener in the future, I’ll be exporting the novel to Word for the editing phase. I might import it back for the formatting, or I might not. I’ll have to try a couple methods before I settle on which workflow works best for me.

    And that’s what it comes down to: finding a workflow that works for you. If Scrivener’s flagship features aren’t solving problems for you (drag and drop chapters and scenes? I rarely move them.), it’s not as impressive, especially if you’ve already developed advanced workflows in other programs.


    Ed Teja January 18, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    I’ve been using Scrivner for over a year and love it. Unfortunately you are incorrect that this adapts to the Windows version. I have the most up to date version and the compile menu has no provision for adding the cover nor installing kindlegen. There are several other features missing in the Windows version as well. Although it is a great program, the features, some which are important, take a long time to get into the Windows version. Even some external apps, like one that does timelines, that I would happily buy, are not available with the Windows version. I love Scrivner but not Macs and have to use other programs to do this. The ebook compile in the Windows version just doesn’t make it.


    Ed Ditto January 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks for the comment; I could do with some clarification here. Have you tried passing a book through the compile-to-.doc process rather than the process, then uploading the .doc to the KDP and adding the cover in the KDP itself? It sounds weird to go from .doc to Scrivener and back to .doc, but see if that helps you side-step the formatting tedium.

    I agree with you on Scrivener’s Windows version development lag–and so does Literature & Latte; it’s something they’re working to address. See the thread below for more information:


    Ed Ditto January 18, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    One other thing…you say you’ve been using Scrivener for over a year…what version are you using? Instead of that .doc trick, above, you might try upgrading to the latest 1.5 beta from here:

    where you should be able to use KindleGen to compile .mobis.

    See this article for more info:

    You’ll notice that this article describes the 1.5 beta for Windows and the very first image shows a .mobi being compiled using KindleGen.


    Ed Teja January 18, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Okay that part worked and the features are included. Unfortunately it now means that I have to pay attention to the fact that my software expires next month right while I will be travelling and unable to update it. I was eager to find out what was in it, and didn’t notice the Beta expiry date until I ran the program. Sheesh. I just make books and I seem to spend half my time dealing with the software. That sort of thing can make the time saving illusionary.


    Ed Teja January 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Actually, what I do is write in Scrivner (I would never go back to Word for that), then output the RTF file to Word to format and do last edits, output to a web filtered file and use Cailbre (which is a great free program) to convert to EPUB and MOBI formats because it will put the cover and metadata in (neither of which Scrivner does running in Windows) . If I want to upload to Kindle (a separate issue than just making a MOBI file) I just use the web filtered file and seldom have a problem.


    Karen Inglis January 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Perfect timing! – I’ve been polishing the draft of my next children’s book in Word and had downloaded the trial version of Scrivener and was wondering where to start! Thank you so much! Can’t wait to try it. And I wholeheartedly agree about the KDP platform suggesting it’s plain sailing… I spent days and days going around in circles trying to format my first two children’s books and in the end outsourced the work. If this method really is as straightforward as is implied I will be over the moon!


    Karen January 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    I’m working on children’s books too. I’m so hoping Scrivener will work and that the key – using images – will be doable with reasonable amounts of effort.

    Reply January 18, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    So many Karens today!


    karen January 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    One can never have too many Karens!


    J S January 18, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    I compose on LibreOffice (plus trade edits) and saving to .doc (97/2000/XP) I just upload directly to KDP.


    Katy Pye January 18, 2013 at 11:47 pm


    Thank you! An e-pub sky of grey clouds just blew away from my debut YA novel launch. One thing I noticed in following along with Scrivener and reading your instructions here is that the command to download KindleGen came right after I told Scrivener to compile for mobi, not at the end of everything. No biggie, just different.

    I look forward to more details in the book.



    Ed Ditto January 19, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Thanks, Katy!


    Caimin January 19, 2013 at 5:33 am

    Excellent post, Ed.

    I’ve been using Scrivener for a few months and am constantly recommending it to anyone who’ll listen. In fact, that may be why several of my friends have moved to far-off Asian countries.

    One thing, you mentioned adding a cover in Scrivener before compiling. I’ve found it’s better not to include a cover if you’re creating a file for KDP because there’s a separate option for uploading a cover image under Bookshelf.


    Linton Robinson January 19, 2013 at 11:16 am

    I noticed that, too, Caimin. Same goes for Mobipocket Creator. You don’t have to add all that mega-stuff.
    In fact, I’ve been in the habit of having a black and white cover version lead off every MS, partly because on SmashWords, you never know if somebody on Kobo or wherever is seeing your cover. But kind of on Kindle. Except some covers don’t look so good in B&W and you get a second chance with an “inside cover” optimized for monochrome.

    I’m adding you to all these “votes” for getting into Scrivener.


    Ed Ditto January 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks, Caimin. I’m just in the habit of doing it within Scrivener; but you’re right, either way works.


    bowerbird January 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

    caimin said:
    > I’ve been using Scrivener for a few months
    > and am constantly recommending it to
    > anyone who’ll listen. In fact, that may be
    > why several of my friends have moved to
    > far-off Asian countries.

    you funny. :+)

    but scrivener _is_ the type of program that
    – if you like it — you _love_love_love_ it…

    it has many tools, and if you find ‘em useful,
    you will probably find them _very_ useful and
    come to be quite dependent on them to write.

    and hey, anything that helps an author write
    is a _good_ thing. so if it helps you, _great_.
    keep on using it, with my _official_blessings!_

    but if you’re like me, and a lot of people are,
    you like a “no-distraction” writing environment.

    that too-busy scrivener interface makes me run
    far, far away, screaming. what i want instead
    is a simple typing field that gets out of my way,
    and lets me write. really, just get outta my way.

    and i don’t want to be bothered formatting either.
    i wanna type in straight text, just like a typewriter,
    and have the _program_ format it, so that it looks
    all nice and pretty, works in e-readers, and so on.

    simple, really. i type, and the app makes it nice.

    so of course that’s the type of program i wrote…

    write in a field on the left side of the screen, and
    your text is formatted and shown on the right side.

    then click the “easy” button to save your edits and
    have the text automatically converted to e-books.
    (the output formats: .html, .mobi, .epub, and .pdf.)

    seriously. that’s all you have to do. click a button.

    i know, i know, you don’t believe that’s even possible.
    ok, i guess. but the proof is right there, sitting online.
    you can go over there and click the button, or _not_…

    the live sandbox, again, is here:

    but i shoulda pointed you first to this explanatory page:



    Ed Teja January 20, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    I live in a far-off Asian country and love Scrivner.
    If what you like is such a simple interface (and you can press F11 in Scriverner to do exactly that, by the way), then why not type in word pad and just convert your text to your zen format. Even less junk in the way.


    Caimin January 22, 2013 at 1:46 am

    Scrivener does have a distraction free editor, just hit F11 (on Windows).


    JJ Toner January 20, 2013 at 3:57 am

    My book uses a lot of special characters (umaluts, mostly). Does Scrivener handle these correctly? The way I publish at the moment, I have to go through the manuscript substituting html entity names. It took me about 2 days to publish my latest eBook and it lacks TOC.


    Linton Robinson January 20, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Whoa! What how are you doing it?

    BTW, I don’t think using “automatic” TOC’s is a substitute for setting up a TOC linked to chapter titles, with links back. It takes time to place two links and a bookmark for every chapter, but it’s far more useful.


    Ed Ditto January 20, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Wow…that’s a LONG TIME.

    You can insert umlauts and other “special characters” in Scrivener, and although I haven’t tested every one into Kindle, the common ones (accents, tildes, umlauts, etc.) do work.


    Judith Atwood January 20, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Thank you so much for the great tutorial!


    Ed Ditto January 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    You’re welcome!


    Matt Syverson January 20, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Ed, I went to purchase your book and saw (For Mac) at the end of the title. Does the information you provide translate to Windows?


    Linton Robinson January 20, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I’m concerned about this, too. I’ve seen it discussed, but don’t see a clear-cut answer to the question, “Does this program work as advertised on Windows computers?”


    Ed Ditto January 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I feel like this is really three questions, so let me tackle them one at a time.

    1) “Does the information you provide translate to Windows?” Yes, it translates, but not seamlessly. There are differences — Scrivener for Mac is more feature-rich than Scrivener for Windows, and since this article and my book are step-by-step illustrated guide, I caution you against expecting either to match up exactly. That said, the processes will still be quite similar, and you can use the article and the book as roadmaps.

    2) “Does this program [meaning Scrivener?] work as advertised on Windows computers?” Scrivener for Windows absolutely works as advertised on Windows computers. Again, though, expect a feature lag with respect to the Mac version.

    3) I am in the early stages of prepping a step-by-step guide to publishing to Kindle et. al. specifically for Windows users.


    Andrew Claymore January 20, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Ed, I’ve been poking around the Scrivener windows boards and it sounds like they’re aiming to reach parity with the Mac version by this summer.
    I’m going to give it a try after I publish my next title (I’m at 80% on first draft right now and would rather try this out with a new project).
    A mod did suggest that I might need to tinker a bit to get the NCX and TOC to work the way I want (if I’m picky).


    Ed Ditto January 21, 2013 at 12:16 am

    Thanks, Andrew. That’s another reason I’m not in a rush to produce a Windows version of my book…the idea of publishing that version and then almost immediately having to revise it doesn’t appeal.

    Dr. Z January 21, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Note to users of the Windows version of Scrivener: According to the forum entry at under the subtopic “Compile,” there is “No concept of ‘Front Matter’ in Compile in the Windows version.”

    I spent a while wondering why I could not find the Front Matter referenced in the above post. Gwen Hernandez’s, Scrivener for Dummies, covers Front Matter on pages 194-95, but leaves out it is absent for the Windows version.

    That said, Scrivener has been changing how I write (and all for the better). Indeed, I have saved this post into my favorites. While new to the world of indie pubbing, the Book Designer website is always terrific for helping one understand this Brave New World. Semper Pax, Dr. Z


    Ed Ditto January 22, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    The front matter function is indeed Mac only, but it’s easily remedied for .mobi by simply including your front matter after the body of the book. That way the front matter won’t become the beginning point of the ebook (for initial opening purposes), while still being represented in the automatically-generated table of contents.

    I think that the concepts of “front matter” and “back matter” lose meaning in an ebook, but that’s a subject for another post entirely…


    Melinda January 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I used Scrivener for NaNoWriMo and fell in love with the program. I don’t think I’ll ever use another program to write a novel. I do save a copy of each chapter and move them to Word as an extra backup, and to use the “track changes” feature in Word when I send it for proofing by partners.
    The corkboard is fabulous for saving research, organizing websites I want to revisit for accurate data, and pictures for visualizing my settings. Having all those files in one location is priceless.
    I formatted and designed the interior of my first novel – a long hard process. I’m working on the next book and anticipate a much easier task for both print and ebook conversion thanks to Scrivener.


    Ed Ditto January 22, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Melinda…having everything in one “binder” is indeed priceless. Seems like in Word I spend half the time managing my file structure.


    Louise Charles February 1, 2013 at 2:52 am

    If anyone has gone through this process using Scrivener for Windows would love a step by step process. Am trying to convert my writers group anthology (short stories, poems, articles) and it is definitely taking longer than 10 minutes, but I shall persevere!!


    Ed Ditto February 1, 2013 at 5:52 am

    Hi, Louise. Even as we speak I’m working on a Windows version of my book “How to Format Your Novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and CreateSpace…in One Afternoon (for Mac)” (linked here: So hang in there…it’s coming.


    Lin Robinson November 9, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Crossword puzzles


    David Alastair Hayden February 8, 2013 at 10:47 am

    This is basically the same way I make my ebooks, though I learned a few small tips from this article. I use slightly different methods for a few things.

    However, I don’t generate .mobi with this method. I generate an ePub and then convert the ePub to ePub and .mobi using Calibre. The reason for this is that Scrivener generates fat ePub and .mobi files with multiple style sheets. Not anything wrong with that. They work, but I prefer it to be optimized. Calibre cleans everything up to one style sheet. And the smaller file size is nice since Amazon charges a delivery fee.


    Ed Ditto February 9, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Interesting — I haven’t tried that. Have you tried compiling to .mobi from Scrivener and comparing that .mobi to a calibre-converted, as you describe, for appearance? If so, how do the two different files stack up?


    David Alastair Hayden February 9, 2013 at 10:55 am

    The books look identical on my iPad and on the Kindle Previewer app. I’ve never had any problems with the extra style sheets. Theoretically it could be a problem, but it hasn’t been one on my device I’ve tested it with. I used to do my books with extra stylesheets and no reader complained. I mostly do it just for the smaller .mobi file size and it’s easy to do.


    Ed Ditto February 13, 2013 at 6:51 am

    The KDP does allow for direct epub uploading, which would in theory allow skipping the calibre step, but this is something I haven’t done a great deal of experimenting with given that Scrivener makes .mobi creation so easy. One interesting question about that epub-to-Kindle method would be to what degree the epub’s richer table support would transfer.


    Peter Noah Thomas February 26, 2013 at 6:59 am

    Wow. This was a very helpful article. I just started using Scrivener a couple months ago on Windows and I was wondering if its formatting function was adequate. It is great to hear that it is. I am going to pick up your book too Ed Ditto. Thanks.


    Ed Ditto February 26, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Hi, Peter (Noah?) Thanks for the good word.

    I don’t want to dissuade you from picking up my book, but before you do you should be aware that there’s a feature lag between the Mac version (more advanced) and the Windows version (less advanced) that means you’ll be trying to retro-fit my book’s Mac-based procedures to your Windows version. The three main areas where this will affect you will be the Mac’s front matter feature, the Compile wizard’s formatting pane (especially the placeholder tag functionality), and the CreateSpace procedure (where in my opinion the Windows version’s ability to compile PDFs isn’t ready for prime-time.)

    That said, again, there’s plenty of material in my book that you’ll find helpful. And I’m available for Q&A via email — see my website for contact info.


    Peter Noah Thomas February 26, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Yes, thank you Ed. I read that on the description at Amazon. I think I will be able to pull some relevant information out of the book though so I am going to buy it anyway. Eventually, the Windows version with “catch up” to the Mac version so the book will remain a great resource. I will pick up your Windows version too if you come out with that. Thank you again.


    Andy Farman April 8, 2013 at 6:06 am

    If you have a PC then don’t waste your time with Ed’s guide, its only for MAC’s.
    I spent several very frustrating hours trying to find ‘Front Matter’ and ‘Tables’

    If Scrivener was that great then why can’t you do all this great stuff on a PC too?

    Keep your credit card in your pocket, don’t waste your money.

    Trial version assigned to the trash can.


    Ed Ditto April 8, 2013 at 6:20 am

    Hi, Andy.

    I feel your pain, so to speak…and so do many others. You’re absolutely right: Scrivener for Windows isn’t yet as advanced as Scrivener for Mac (although in my opinion the Windows version still makes formatting for Kindle/Nook/Smashwords easier than Word/Writer/etc.)

    Literature & Latte, makers of Scrivener, are working towards feature parity and from what I understand hope to achieve it later this year or early next. Which doesn’t help you now, of course.

    But I encourage you not to give up on Scrivener before you investigate its other features. Compiling a project for output is FAR from the only thing it can do…again in my opinion Scrivener is unmatched when it comes to storylining, composition, the gathering and storing of research and other materials, and especially in its online support (at

    Thanks for the comment.


    Andy Farman April 8, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Ed, I used to work for the government so I know all about screwed up systems and retrograde practices put in place by people in authority who are there only so a box could be ticked and not because they could do the damn job. But in those forty years all I heard from the private sector was smug statements about how superior and efficient they were on their side of the fence.

    “They lied!”


    David Alastair Hayden April 8, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Andy, I don’t really understand your anger. But something you may have missed out on. Scrivener is not made by a big company. Scrivener began as Mac-only and was done by a one-man programming team. He still does all the programming for the Mac version himself but now has other people to work the business side of things. He doesn’t program for Windows at all. That’s outside his skill area. However, there was a lot of demand for a Windows version so after a few years he hired someone to make it happen. Scrivener was already at version 1.5 when the Windows version began to take shape. It’s taking a while for the Windows version to catch up on every feature. The code base is entirely different between the platforms so a lot of work is necessary. This is the private sector and entrepreneurship at its best. One man making a great product and expanding sales due to demand.


    Andy Farman April 8, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I don’t need it for anything else Ed.
    Two and a half books in a trilogy are already written. I just had a frustrating time with bad advice reformatting the books in word and the hype for Scrivener looked like just the ticket, but its not, not unless you have a Mac, and the hype doesn’t tell you that, that only gets mentioned in the site comments.
    Not your fault mate. In Taoism terms its just another character building experience…..with colourful language at the end.


    Joel Friedlander April 8, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Andy, sorry your experience with Scrivener for Windows didn’t work out too well. Another solution you might want to evaluate is our new templates for Microsoft Word. For a small investment they solve most of the formatting problems authors run into when trying to typeset books in a word processor. You can check them out here: Book Design Templates


    Ed Teja April 8, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    If you do them in word, then it is a piece of cake to pop them into Caibre, which is free, to make EPUB, Mobi, LIT and so on files. I don’t use Scrivener for formatting myself, just for writing. Then I create an RFT file, do a simple formatting, output that as a web filtered file, and Zip it. That makes an upload file suitable for Amazon. I use the zip to make the other formats (and a more compact mobi file) that I sell elsewhere. I distribute through Smashwords, and go back to the RTF file, add in the obligatory Smashwords edition stuff (I have it as boilerplate) output that as a word doc (not docx) and it works great as the upload file.

    Try Scrivener on your next WRITING project. The cork board makes plotting more fun.

    Ed Teja April 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I agree. I use the Windows version and it offers me a lot, especially for longer books. As a project organizer (more often as a reorganizer) it is fantastic. There are things it doesn’t do as well as I would like, places where it is counter intuitive, but it is a useful writing tool, given the way I work and, at the price they ask, I find it a great value.


    Andy Farman April 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    David, Ed, do not mistake anger for frustration. All I need is a way to reformat painlessly into an uploadable form to Kindle, so I can publish the damn thing at long last and move on.
    The Internet is like life, many claim to offer wisdom in their advice but true wisdom is recognising which of those are talking out of their posterior.
    For example, My trilogy contains three pages of ‘Terminology & Acronyms’ in table form (its about a third world war, so technical in places) and speech in italics for radio transmissions. One helpful souls step by step advice turned my 1323 paqes into 13230 pages of un-stylised crud.
    As I said, its been a character building experience thus far :))


    Andy Farman April 8, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Many thanks for the link Joel!


    Alan Pipes April 10, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Hi, thanks for the tutorial. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but when I preview the novel in Previewer, the Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc headings are not showing? any ideas?


    Ed Ditto April 10, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Hi, Alan.

    I suggest you go back to step 7 and ensure that everything you see in your own compile wizard’s formatting screen matches up to what I’ve shown above, especially the “Title Prefix and Suffix” dialogue box. Note, thought, that in Scrivener you can format each hierarchical level differently, so that if you’ve put your chapter heading placeholder tags in the wrong level they won’t appear.

    What does that mean? Basically: the little icon to the left of the words “Level 1+” in the Structure and Contents table…the first image in step seven, above…has to match the little icon next to the text you’re working with in the Binder, if you want to format that particular item (or its peers). So check to make sure you didn’t highlight, say, the “Level 1+” folder icon instead of the “Level 1+” text icon (or whatever hierarchical level you were shooting for) before you entered your placeholder tags as I’ve shown.

    Hope that brings those headers back!

    I get into this in my book…for a lot more information please see its Amazon page:


    Alan Pipes April 11, 2013 at 3:02 am

    Thanks – that’s sort of done the trick, although I now get Chapter one with 1 underneath! I’ve bought your book and will experiment more. I brought in my text as one big file and separated it using Split, naming the new files as 1.2.3 etc. It’s nearly there… i just need to find out how I can do blockquotes in another font! Wow! what a palaver – it was easier writing the darn thing!


    Ed Ditto April 11, 2013 at 5:43 am

    Make sure that you’ve de-checked the “title” box on that highlighted row…if you leave that checked, Scrivener will automatically place the title of each text (in your case 1, 2, 3, etc.) in your chapter heading.


    Joe Berry April 14, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Ed, your article was most interesting. Thanks for making it available. I also found the various comments of great value.

    My wife put together a manuscript of all the letters from her father to his family while he served as a naval commander in the Pacific during WWII. They are extremely interesting (he was very articulate; but yes, I am obviously biased) and we thought it interesting to see whether there might be general interest a book version of those letters. An abbreviated set of those letters can be seen at

    So here I am, reading lots of self-help articles on self-publishing. I’m very computer literate (I’m a software developer by profession) but am totally new to this field.

    Scrivener sounds very promising but the fact that it’s still a bit backward on a PC is disconcerting. But I will check it out. I have looked at calibre and have tried it with the doc file that contains the letters we want to publish. It seemed to do a pretty good job except for the formatting of the enclosed images. I might try text wrap-around in Word and then see what calibre does with that file.


    Ed Ditto April 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    That sounds like an interesting project…at the very least I’m sure your family would appreciate it if you compiled those letters into a Kindle book you could share with them via email. Kindle format is an easy way to create family photo albums, by the way. Good luck!


    Mike n' Glosta' April 23, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Nice article with lots of good info for the tech savvy and not so. So where do I find help, someone that’ll do this for me? I’ve written quite a bit, several novels and many short stories, all unpublished, and I’d like to make them available to the free world (please don’t take that literally). I have absolutely no interest in learning or becoming involved with all this techy stuff so if there is anyone you can recommend or others reading this who would like to name themselves as contributing agents to my writing I’d like to hear from you, or as we say in the Boston area, youze.
    I’m serious and I hope that when you respond you are too.


    Ed Ditto April 23, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Hi, Mike…as in Mike in Gloucester? Last initial B., maybe?

    At any rate, there are a kazillion people who can e-format and e-publish your book for you. I think there some starting points right here on


    Paul Gresham May 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks for that, Ed, the comments are useful too.
    I use yWriter, it can export in html or RTF, which might be useful, if I knew what I was doing.
    I’ve just tried yBook, by the same author (both of these are free) you can see what the pages of your book might, note the might, look like.
    I imported the first chapter of my novel in this and immediately saw that I should have started a new paragraph in a couple of places.
    Anyway, I’ll take a look at Scrivener, thanks.


    Max June 12, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    For what’s worth, Scrivener (the windows version) is pretty much useless for converting into e-book format, particularly kindle. So, caveat emptor.


    R.J. Craddock June 27, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Hi I read the article and downloaded the program. I was fallowing your steps and realized that I can not find a folder anywhere that’s called “Front Matter” Looked everywhere can’t find it. So I can’t move forward till I figure this out. Just curious if you could give me a hint where to find this.



    Ed Ditto June 27, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Hi, R.J. Which version of Scrivener are you using, Mac or Windows? I suspect it’s Windows, because the front matter feature isn’t yet supported in that version.


    Kim Schmitt June 30, 2013 at 11:21 am

    What is the solution for Windows users?


    Ed Ditto June 30, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Until Scrivener achieves Mac/PC feature parity the solution I recommend for Windows users is to insert the front matter at the back of the book, after the body material, and to include it in the TOC (if you’re building one in) in any order you like. I.e., list it at the head of the TOC or the back, whichever.

    This is ultimately a matter of personal preference, but if you think about it, in an e-book it doesn’t really matter where in the book you place the “front matter” because front and back are notional rather than physical. We’re talking about HTML here, not pages. Since everything’s hyperlinked, what does it matter where in the code the material lies?

    Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be a convention for front matter material placement among major publishers…I’ve seen copyright info, “also by” lists, bios, etc. both before and after the body material.

    So that’s why I recommend what I do.


    Joel Friedlander June 30, 2013 at 11:59 am

    I agree with Ed on this. “Front” and “back” have become pretty much metaphorical, and since there is no real distance between a link and its target, you can put your front matter wheverever it makes sense. I’ve seen some books where much of it has been moved to a webiste, and connected to the book with a link. This is especially important for situations where only the beginning of the book is available as a sample, and where you wouldn’t want to waste that valuable space with things like acknowledgements and shipping addresses.

    Blair July 7, 2013 at 8:37 am

    After trying to format my book to Kindle format with Scrivener I basically gave up after seeing too many inconsistencies between what was on my screen and what I would later see on a Kindle viewer; alignment, paragraph spacing and line indentation.

    I have a section where two internal dialogues are talking. I assign one to the left margin and the other to the right. It looks fine on the Scriv window, but in a Kindle viewer it’s all left aligned and therefore a complete mess.

    Given that so many self published authors also do a sideline trade in eBook formatting, it shouldn’t be this hard. Should it?


    Ed Ditto July 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Absolutely it shouldn’t be that hard. Let me deal with your specific question and then maybe you can provide some more detail about the others you allude to.

    Unfortunately there are formatting problems built directly into the e-book spec used by many Kindle devices. If in your Kindle viewer (previewer or reader?) you’re not seeing right justification/alignment/indention, I’d be 99% certain the reason is that you’re reading the KF7 version of your e-book. KF7 is the older version of the Kindle e-book spec and it’s less feature-rich than its newer sibling, KF8. This causes people to think they’ve made errors when in reality they’re working against the limitations of the specification. See this article for more information:

    As far as incorrect paragraph spacing and line indention, this may result from something you need to tweak in your Compile wizard, or it may also have to do with the KF7/KF8 differences. If you’ll be more specific about the behavior you’re seeing, I’ll try to help.


    Blair July 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks for the reply. As is typical, I solved most of the problems after coming back to it from a fresh start. My issues were solved at Formatting > Options > Text Formatting Override Options > Preserve alignment (from the Compile process).

    While I’ve got you here, how do I change the line gaps between paragraphs/finished sentences? I can’t find the option for this. The Scriv screen shows no gap after paragraphs or lines of dialogue but the finished version does. I’m viewing it all with this:



    Ed Ditto July 8, 2013 at 5:30 am

    There you go; that’s an important setting. You can also control formatting preservation through the Compile wizard at Formatting > Options.

    For output, line spacing between paragraphs and sentences can be controlled in the Compile wizard’s Formatting Editor. The FE is intuitive to use, but I’m going to refer you to the built-in help manual (Help > Scrivener Manual) for a complete discussion since it’s quite powerful.

    Also: be aware that there are user controllability differences between various Kindle apps and devices. For instance, a Kindle 3G running Kindle 3.4 offers user line spacing control while a Kindle reader app version 1.10.4/Mac doesn’t. This is why I recommend using both hardware and software to proof your book.

    And a further point: in general you want to be careful about fix-formatting elements like font and line spacing, because in doing so you remove the user’s ability to control them — something that can affect the reading experience for the visually impaired, for example.


    Ed Ditto July 8, 2013 at 5:33 am

    Sorry, neglected to cite a specific help manual section. It’s 24.11.2.

    Hannah July 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    10 minutes or 10 hundred frustrated hours if you have the pc version and not the apple version of Scrivener that almost all on-line tutorials are geared toward! I kept thinking “My screen does not look like his screen shots in this tutorial!” Gnashing of teeth and pulling out of hair ensued.
    Writing a book takes a lot of time.
    But learning to decipher tutorials geared toward different versions of programs and then apply the “almost right” information takes more time than writing the book! ;)
    Alas, it’s all part of the journey.
    My whinging aside–I appreciate the book designer site so much and have spent many hours learning from this site!
    Also I’ve picked up a few helps from Ed Ditto’s site. So thanks to both of you :)


    Ed Ditto July 8, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Preach on, sister.

    Seriously: the Windows parity lag is a frustration for many, many PC users who have heard how great Scrivener/Mac is. It’s frustrating for me too, since I have the Windows version of my formatting guide about two-thirds ready to go, but I don’t feel like I can release it until Scrivener/PC becomes better able to compile CreateSpace-ready PDFs.

    That said, the folks at L&L do excellent work and I’ve always found that their updates exceed my expectations. So I, like so many others, am counting the hours.


    Alan Pipes July 9, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Hi, I just wanted to thank you for the tutorial and the book. I wrote a novel a while back and wanted to get it out there, but the hoops you had to jump through put me off. Well, i followed your steps and put it on Amazon, and it’s already earned me serious cash money (I wasn’t expecting anything, particularly as it was a free download for three days!). The saga has been blogged here Anyway, if anyone out there is still hesitating, do it! Fred


    Ed Ditto July 9, 2013 at 5:15 am

    Hi, Alan. Thanks for the good word, and I’m glad you took your NaNoWriMo project through to completion.


    Simon McCullagh July 17, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    I have just spent three hours following your ‘ten minute’ guide. Maybe your guide is not up to date with the current version of scrivener but I am really angry. I’m really annoyed with myself for following your ‘guide’ and downloading your 24 page report.

    You tell us to Click and drag of the text from your novel, well word on windows 7 isn’t compatible. Like wise creating chapters within the body of text is a complete pain in the backside.

    Opening a ‘Finder’ window is specific to macs and you don’t suggest an alternative.

    Populate your front matter doesn’t work because it doesn’t exist in the version I just downloaded. Even the manual doesn’t contain the phrase front matter.

    I’ve spent three hours of my life messing around with this slow, cumbersome, crap software because you sold me the idea that it is quick, easy to use and labour saving.

    I am very frustrated and very angry. I don’t know if my anger is misplaced but I’m not in the right frame of mind to know that yet. Have you anything to say to me that might help or is in any way of an apology (like I say I’m quite blinded by my anger at the moment and an apology may not be required).


    Joel Friedlander July 17, 2013 at 3:32 pm


    I’m sorry you feel that you’ve wasted your time, but I don’t think the author is to blame for that. If you look over the post and the many comments from other readers, the issue of the Windows version of Scrivener not being the same as the Mac version is discussed repeatedly. Despite your frustration, Scrivener has—rightly in my opinion—become one of the best tools for writers I’ve ever seen in over 30 years of working with software. Ed’s innovative method for producing ebooks quickly has helped dozens of writers get their work done better and faster. I’m sorry it didn’t work for you.


    Simon McCullagh July 17, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks for your calm, measured response. I can see why you would have that opinion of scrivener, but that’s really for the writing process rather than turning your manuscript into an ebook. And if the issue of the windows version has been a thorn in so many sides then obviously a rewrite of the article and/or its title would be the moral thing to do, rather than people continuing to waste their time. If your site (and therefore your pocket) is benefited by the numbers of visitors coming to this page, and a large proportion of those visitors are pc users then you should really put a caveat in the title of the article. That would have prevented me from wasting three hours and becoming unduly stressed. Thanks again for your response and apart from this issue I enjoy this site a lot, hugs.


    Bob August 17, 2013 at 4:56 am

    This is driving me crackers. I have got a MOBI FIle and it works fine

    How do I publish it on Amazon??? Saying “Upload it” is no help

    So how do I upload a mobi file so that punters can buy it????


    Ed Ditto August 17, 2013 at 6:17 am

    Hi, Bob.

    Glad to hear you were able to compile a .mobi file. Publishing it on Amazon is a multi-step process, but not a difficult one.

    Amazon’s Kindle publishing portal is called the Kindle Direct Platform, or KDP. It’s home page is You can access a good explanation of how the process works by clicking the “Get Started” link in the center of the page.



    Bob August 17, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Yes, already done that but it asks dozens of questions that are already incorporated in the mobi file (via the OPF file)

    So, do I have to wade through all that? I was hoping to just FTP it somewhere or maybe send as an email attachment?


    Ed Ditto August 17, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Yes you do. I think “dozens of questions” might be on the high side…I haven’t counted, but I think that in the two main steps there are roughly twenty, including checkboxes…but these are crucial and the majority of them aren’t contained in your book’s metadata. You’re writing the book’s description for its Amazon page, opting into/out of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, setting up your rate structure, etc.

    Hang in there, man…you’ve done something like 99% of the work already in writing your book and setting up its .mobi version. You’re almost there!


    Bob August 18, 2013 at 1:38 am

    I really do appreciate your time and effort answering.

    Amazon’s efforts on this are an object lesson on how not to let techies write an instruction manual

    I am a computer programmer by background and have also built a lot of complex websites and I sweated blood to get the OPF file and HTML files to work. How people without this background can do this is beyond me

    Anyway, when I get finished I will write an idiot’s guide to how to take the OPF and HTML route (I know there is an easier route via conversion but that is a bit like writing a book in English and then letting Google translate it into German. If you already speak fluent German you should write in that language)

    The advantage I have now is that I can see precisely how to adjust things. I can also just copy the MOBI file to my Kindle and do a final run before publishing

    Robb Cadigan September 17, 2013 at 10:28 am

    I just want to say that this article was absolutely fantastic. I really appreciate the time you took to put it together. The instructions were very easy to follow. I just converted my .doc to .mobi via Scrivener for Mac, messed around a little with formatting (for personal taste), and I’m off and running. Thank you for saving me so much time! I’ll be buying your book now to help with other formats.


    Ed Ditto September 17, 2013 at 10:33 am

    What a great compliment! Thanks much, Robb.


    Alfredo September 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    REALLY great post. Everything worked well. However, I am encountering an issue and have not been able to find the answer anywhere. When I create an e-book (or Kindle .mobi), I encounter ‘Untitled Document’ on the ToC for a chapter or two, even though those chapters also show up on the list. Any ideas?


    Ed Ditto September 26, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks, Alfredo. To diagnose that problem I’d need to see a few screenshots. If you’d like, you can get in touch with me through my website, linked above. Thanks…


    Alfredo September 26, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Thanks Ed, and thanks for the amazing post and instructions!


    vicki sterne September 30, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I have created an iPhone travel app: Kauai Beach Guide. I would like to make a Kindle version, knowing that some of the iPhone features won’t work. I have a number of photos that I would like to use, and would pare down to one for each beach mentioned (24). When you mention images, does this include photos? I hired a developer to do the coding, so I personally am not tech-minded.


    Ed Ditto September 30, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Exactly. The term “images” would include photos.


    pd workman October 15, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I used Scrivener to produce my Kindle file for my new book, tested it out in the Kindle reviewer app, on each of my devices, etc. until it was perfect. Submitted it to Kindle yesterday, and downloaded the commercial file today.

    - on my phone, the fonts in the front and back matter are the wrong size
    - on the Amazon “Look Inside”, the formatting is awful. No page breaks, tiny font and long lines, just awful. I have to figure out how to produce and resubmit a file that will work!


    Ed Ditto October 15, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Hi, PD. Tough to know exactly what’s going on without more detail, but a couple of thoughts.

    First, the fact that the file you submitted looks perfect on your previewer app and on your devices but not in the “look inside” sample–this makes me wonder whether you’ve previously submitted a pre-Scrivener version to Amazon? If so, know that even though the actual commercial file will update very quickly on Amazon, the “look inside” sample can take quite a while to do so.

    Second, are you saying that the font in the front and back matter differs in size from the font in the body of the book? Forgive me if this is an unnecessarily basic point, but remember that on an e-reader the user generally has control over the font size and not the author. That said, there are ways to force font sizes through, and perhaps you’ve inadvertently done that.


    pd workman October 15, 2013 at 11:24 am

    1. No, I hadn’t submitted any file to Amazon previously.

    2. I used the “as is” setting in Scrivener for the title page, copyright, bio, and preview extract, as you did in your example. So the title page has a large font (and when I load the mobi file on my phone/ipad/whatever, it looks fine — but on the commercial version downloaded from Amazon the title page font is so large that the title splits over two phone pages) and the back matter is in a font probably one or two points smaller than the text of the book, just barely noticeable.

    I’m downloading Calibre right now so that I can look at the html coding of the mobi file.


    Ed Ditto October 16, 2013 at 9:40 am

    I’ll be curious to hear how the Calibre read-through goes. Mind keeping me updated?

    One other possible place to check for the cause of the front matter/back matter font issue would be the Formatting pane’s Structure and Content table (SCT). If a Binder structure has the front and back matter at different hierarchical levels or as different types (folder, multi-text, text) then it’s good to make sure the formatting across those different levels/types is homogenized.

    I have a more in-depth article about the SCT at my website:


    pd workman October 16, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Unfortunately, I am not well enough versed at html for the Calibre conversion to be any help.

    I did a complete redo, and instead of using Scrivener to produce a file that I couldn’t be sure of, pasted plain text into a new Word document, created the styles I needed, inserted an active TOC and the appropriate bookmarks, and saved as filtered html which I reviewed and uploaded to Amazon. Some issues that I found:

    - I had a couple of inserted graphics that were mis-sized and caused problems, I just took those out completely, but I obviously need to look at graphics settings to see what can be done for other books in the future

    - Inserting a ‘Start’ bookmark to mark the Beginning does not work real well. I had to move it around half a dozen times before the file behaved appropriately in the preview program. If I put it as the first “character” of the first page of chapter 1, it would start on my dedication page instead. It ended up working if I put it in about the second line of text.

    - My preview file is better now, but still not perfect. For some reason, it is still putting all of the text in italics. I must have a hidden code in my file somewhere. I had initially italicized the dedication, but when I un-italicized it and submitted again, it is still italicized. But maybe my most recent file still isn’t showing up in the “look inside” dialog, even though Amazon says it has been updated.

    How can I download the updated file to my device from Amazon to make sure there are no other quirks in the actual book file? I have archived and re-downloaded, but still have the initial file.


    Roland Denzel November 3, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    PD, if you are getting the file from Amazon, you will always get the version you initially ‘purchased.’ They do this so that readers don’t lose notes, bookmarks, and highlighting. You can request the latest from them, however. It’s a manual process.

    I was trying to fix my book over and over again. When I looked at it in the previewer and kindle app on my pc, it was right, but when I redownloaded it to my Kindle via Amazon, it was the old, bad version.

    I contacted Amazon and was told that readers get the first version they ‘buy’ unless they request the newest OR the author makes a major revision and alerts Amazon to tell all purchasers (this process takes weeks to months, however).


    John S November 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Ed, thanks for taking the time to put together this information. I have the latest Windows version of Scrivener and am running into lots of problems. The one I’d like to ask you about involves the table of contents and chapter headers. When I create a chapter in Scrivener and leave it blank then Scrivener automatically numbers it for you. In other words, if I leave the first chapter untitled then Scrivener will automatically fill in Chapter One in the output, including .mobi. Well, here is the problem, if I leave the chapter title blank in Scrivener then the compile document prints Chapter One on the first page of the chapter but then in the .mobi document the table of contents reads “Unknown” for that chapter. Conversely, if I name my file Chapter One in Scrivener it will then print it in the table of contents but Chapter One is typed TWICE on the first page of the chapter. Does that make sense? I can’t win! What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks again,


    Eve December 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Ed, thank you for this very informative post. I’ve read through all the comments but haven’t seen my particular problem discussed: I can’t figure out how to get KindleGen installed. I’ve tried to follow the directions in their ReadMe, which is opaque to say the very least, with no success. I feel like an idiot. There’s not much you can do about that, but perhaps you can suggest a way (or direct me to a site that can suggest a way) to get this ever-lovin’ blue-eyed utility to install?



    Eve December 1, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    (And, by the way, I am using an Intel Mac with IOS over 10.5, which they specify.)


    Ed Ditto December 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Hi, Eve. Have you tried what I’m about to describe?

    The first time you use Scrivener’s Compile wizard to create a .mobi, it’ll walk you through the installation process. So try it now: in Scrivener hit File > Compile, choose “Kindle eBook (.mobi)” from the “Compile For” dropdown box, and click the KindleGen option. You’ll find the instructions right there.

    Hope that helps.


    Eve December 1, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Ah. Well. In the (amazingly short) time it took you to answer my question I had a lightbulb go off and I dragged the KindleGen icon to my Utilities folder. Bingo. In addition to my practice file I also got some stuff I didn’t want (like Scrivener’s sample pages), but that’s easily fixable. Thanks!


    Bobby March 26, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Ed (or anyone),
    First, I’m planning to buy both your’s and Michael’s e-books, thanks for the leads! I have worked with Scrivener for about a year. The one thing I can’t seem to accomplish in a conversion is that, if I italicize a word or sentence in Scrivener, and then compile it to Word or Kindle, it comes out as underlined rather than italicized. I am using the Windows version.
    Any idea?


    Ed Ditto March 26, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Hi, Bobby. Make sure that in File > Compile > Transformations that you don’t have the “Convert italics to underlines” box checked.


    Bobby March 26, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Wow Ed. That was easy, after a year of not being able to figure it out. Love Scrivener. Look forward to reading your book!


    John March 27, 2014 at 8:04 am

    I love this article and got your formatting book. It’s really wonderful helpful little user guide. I imported from MS Word Mac 2011. I had Scrivner and hadn’t really used it much, but now I’m appreciating it’s power.

    I have two questions:
    I’ve got everything the way I want, except in my output file, the Contents page is right the Cover image page and before the copyright page and dedication page. Is there a way to put the Contents page after the other front matter pages?

    Also, i tried importuning from MS Word Mac 2011 and I had written with tabs i word, which did not import well and looks funky when compiled. Is there a way to clean that up without doing it manually – or import so it cleans that up.

    Thanks for writing a great article and user guide!


    Clare May 18, 2014 at 7:39 am

    I have followed these instructions to the letter twice – but unfortunately my chapter headings are not centred and my tavle of contents just lists the words – Title Page and The title itself – no links to chapters of other front matter.
    Im using a Mac OS x 10.9.2 and am a Scrivener user (although to date have used it only to write)
    Can you tell me what I’ve done wrong? I am going slightly crazy! I thought your instructions were very helpful and clear – yet it hasn’t worked!


    Steven Greffenius July 26, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Outstanding article!


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