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

by | Jan 18, 2013

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 is very well thought out, planned and easy to follow. I highly recommend it to anyone facing the otherwise daunting task of formatting for different eBook publishers. Thanks Ed, you have saved me many frustrating hours with your excellent book.” 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.



  1. Alan Pipes

    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

  2. Hannah

    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

      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.

  3. Blair

    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

      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

        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

          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

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

  4. R.J. Craddock

    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

      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

        What is the solution for Windows users?

        • Ed Ditto

          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

            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.

  5. Max

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

  6. Paul Gresham

    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.

  7. Mike n' Glosta'

    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

      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

  8. Joe Berry

    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

      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!

  9. Alan Pipes

    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

      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

        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

          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.

  10. Andy Farman

    Many thanks for the link Joel!

  11. Andy Farman

    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 :))

  12. Ed Ditto

    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

      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

        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

        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

          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

            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

      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.

  13. Andy Farman

    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.

  14. Peter Noah Thomas

    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.

  15. Ed Ditto

    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.

  16. Peter Noah Thomas

    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.

  17. David Alastair Hayden

    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

      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.

  18. David Alastair Hayden

    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

      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?

  19. Louise Charles

    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

      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.

  20. Melinda

    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

      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.

  21. Dr. Z

    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

      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…

  22. Matt Syverson

    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

      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

        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

          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

            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.

  23. Judith Atwood

    Thank you so much for the great tutorial!

    • Ed Ditto

      You’re welcome!

  24. JJ Toner

    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

      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

      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.

  25. bowerbird

    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

      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

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

  26. Caimin

    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

      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

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

  27. Katy Pye


    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

      Thanks, Katy!

  28. J S

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

  29. karen

    One can never have too many Karens!

  30. Karen Inglis

    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

      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.

  31. Ed Teja

    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

      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

        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

          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

        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.

  32. Michael W. Perry

    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

      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

      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

      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.

  33. bowerbird

    $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… ;+)


  34. Linton Robinson

    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

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

  35. Linda K

    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.

    • Barbara

      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

        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.

  36. Karen

    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

      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

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

  37. Thomas Rydder

    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

      Thanks, Thomas.

  38. Karen A. Wyle

    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

      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

      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

        Karen, wait until you’ve seen the Corkboard.

        • Ed Ditto

          Whoops…wrong Karen…sorry!

        • karen

          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!

  39. Carol Brill

    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

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

  40. Michael N. Marcus

    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

      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

        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

          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

      Bought your book, Michael!



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