How to Use Scrivener to Write Novels, Short Story and eBooks

| | September 14, 2023

Are you tired of struggling with clunky ebook creation software? Do you want to streamline your writing process and create a professional-looking novels or eBooks with ease? Look no further than Scrivener.

In this article, we'll guide you through the process of using Scrivener for your writing needs.

We'll cover everything from getting started with the software to organizing and formatting your content, to exporting and publishing your finished product.

By the end of this article, you'll learn how to use Scrivener to write novels, short story and even eBooks.

Let's get started.

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How to Use Scrivener

What is Scrivener?

Scrivener Literature Latte

If you're a writer, you may have heard of Scrivener. It's a powerful writing tool that helps authors of all kinds organize their work. With its flexible interface and full-featured tools, it can help you write anything from a novel to a screenplay to an academic paper.

Scrivener is designed to make the writing process easier and more enjoyable. Its intuitive interface allows users to focus on writing rather than formatting or organizing content.

Additionally, its robust set of features provides writers with everything they need to create, edit, and publish their work in one place.

If you've never used Scrivener before, don't worry; this guide will get you started in no time.

You can get Scrivener at a one-time price of $59.99 each for both Mac OS and Windows OS. I would recommend you to try Scrivener first by joining its 30 days free trial. It will allow you to get used to the platform and see if it is best writing software for your need.

Sign up for the free trial using the link below.

Installing and Setting Up Scrivener

Scrivener for Windows and Mac OS

In the above screenshot you can see that Scrivener is available for these platforms - Mac OS, Windows and iOS.

The first step in using Scrivener is downloading and installing the software on your computer. So, depending on the operating system you're using on your computer, download the Scrivener software for the selected OS.

You can find it on the Literature & Latte website for either Mac or PC. Or visit this link - Scrivener.

After the downloading the software, look for the Scrivener-installer file in the Downloads folder in Windows. Double click on the file to start installing Scrivener on your computer. 

Once installed, launch the program and take some time to explore its features. When you first launch the software, it will ask you to Choose Backup Folder. It will help you to backup your projects automatically whenever you close a project.

It will ask you to take the interactive tutorial so you can understand the platform and its features. You can skip this and access this tutorial later from the Help menu.

Scrivener License Prompt

Now, Scrivener will ask you for license (see the above screenshot). If you don't want to purchase now, you just need to click on Continue Trial. By doing this, you will get access to the premium features of Scrivener for full 30 days.

The next step is setting up your project in Scrivener. 

When starting a new project, you'll be prompted to choose between several different template categories:

  • Blank
  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • Scriptwriting
  • Miscellaneous
Scrivener Template Categories

Choose any category and you'll see different templates under the category you selected. Now click on Create and enter your file name. ScrivenerDashbaord (or user interface you may like to say) will now load on your screen which will look like the screenshot given below.

Scrivener Dashboard

From there, name your project and choose where you want it saved on your computer.

Scrivener has many customization options available for preference settings such as font preferences, spelling, grammar, and auto-correcting options, etc. I would advise you to explore each of the menus and its options to get familiar with the software.

Initially you may find the user interface a bit hard to understand, but as with all types of software, after using it for a while you'll get used to it. Also, as I said earlier, you can always go to the Help menu to access the video tutorials, manuals and interactive tutorials.

Scrivener User Interface

The Scrivener interface may seem complex at first glance but it is very intuitive and can help you reduce the time spent on formatting and organizing content.

The Toolbar at the top of Scrivener allows you to access frequently used features such as formatting options and compiling options. Additionally, Scrivener's full-screen mode gets rid of any distractions and creates an immersive writing environment.

The main screen is divided into three parts: the Binder on the left side of the screen, the Editor in the middle of the screen, and the Inspector on the right side of the screen. 

Thus, the interface is divided into three primary panes where you will work on your project:

  1. the Binder, 
  2. the Editor, and 
  3. the Inspector
Scrivener User Interface

Scrivener User Interface

Binder: The binder is located on the left side of your screen and functions as an outline for your project. You can use it to organize your work into different sections like chapters or subtopics.

Editor: The editor pane allows you to view and edit your content. Thus, it is where you’ll do all your writing.

Inspector: The inspector pane is located on the right side of your screen, where users can add notes, comments, descriptions about their projects or any other information that doesn’t fit into a specific section of their work. It also provides information about your document, such as its word count and a synopsis. 

A unique feature in Scrivener is its ability to split your Editor pane into two or more sections. This can be useful for viewing multiple documents at once or referencing research while writing. Users can also customize their interface by changing font sizes or colors for better readability.

Now that we've covered some basics let's delve deeper into Scrivener features.

Key Features of Scrivener

Scrivener is much more than just a simple word processor. It's a powerful tool that can help you organize and manage your writing projects with ease. Here are some of the key features that make Scrivener stand out from other writing software:

Document Management

Scrivener allows you to work with your documents as separate entities, and it's easy to move them around within your project as needed. This makes it easy to organize your thoughts and ideas, and to keep track of all the pieces of your project in one place.

Additionally, as already stated, Scrivener has a "binder" feature that allows you to see an overview of all your documents in one place.

Research Capabilities

Scrivener has many built-in tools for research, including the ability to import web pages directly into your project.

It also allows you to store images, quotes, PDFs, notes, web clippings, and other research material within Scrivener so that everything is kept in one central location.

Corkboard Mode

It allows writers to visually organize their ideas and plot points for easier manipulation and editing. It is especially helpful for writers who work on longer-form projects like novels or nonfiction books.

Word Processor

It also includes a powerful word processor that lets you write and edit your work, format it with fonts and styles, insert images, and also includes a spellchecker, and a thesaurus.

Overall, these key features make Scrivener a great choice for anyone looking to create a novel. With its powerful document management tools, research capabilities, corkboard mode, word processor, and more, it's no wonder why so many writers swear by this software.

Setting Up Your Project in Scrivener

Once you have familiarized yourself with the basic user interface of Scrivener, you are ready to start setting up your project and using Scrivener for writing Novel or eBook or a Short Story. 

The first step is to create a new project by selecting File >> New Project from the menu bar. In the following dialog box, select Fiction, Non-Fiction, Scriptwriting depending on the genre of your novel or other document. Then choose a template that closely matches your desired format.

Next, enter a name for your project and choose a location on your computer where you want to save it. It’s important to give careful consideration to naming conventions for consistency throughout all of your files in order to avoid confusion further down the line.

You will be prompted with a few options for customizing the initial structure of your new project. These options will vary based on whether you selected Fiction or Non-Fiction as well as which template you chose earlier in the process.

Once all these settings are done, click Create and get ready to start working on your content.

When creating a novel in Scrivener, it's essential that we step back and consider our overall objectives for our book while setting up our project file structure accordingly. As such, a clear understanding of what sets this particular book apart from others within its niche is crucial.

We need to create or adapt our writing process so that we can keep track of how each piece fits into the larger picture outlined in our overall plan.

This includes understanding how different pieces relate to one another while keeping track of any additional research required as well as any other content we may want to include (such as images or multimedia).

Scrivener provides all of these essential tools, giving us the ability to organize our writing into a clear hierarchical structure.

By following all the essential steps mentioned in this article, you can easily write a novel or any other manuscript using Scrivener.

Organizing Your Content in Scrivener

When it comes to writing a novel or an eBook, organization is key. Scrivener provides a variety of tools and features to help you stay organized throughout the writing process. Here are some tips for organizing your content in Scrivener:

Use Folders and Subfolders

Folders are a great way to organize your writing into sections or chapters. In Scrivener, you can create folders within folders to further divide your content.

For example, you might have a folder for each chapter, with subfolders for different sections within that chapter. This makes it easy to keep track of where everything is.

To create a new folder in Scrivener, simply click on the “Add Folder” button in the toolbar. You can then drag and drop documents into the folder as needed.

Create Labels and Keywords

If you’re working on a particularly complex project, labels and keywords can be a helpful way to keep track of different elements within your writing.

Labels are color-coded tags that you can assign to individual documents or folders in Scrivener. Keywords work in much the same way, but allow you to assign multiple tags or descriptors to each document.

To add labels or keywords in Scrivener, simply access the Inspector pane by clicking on the “i” icon in the toolbar. From there, you can add labels and keywords as needed.

Formatting Your Novel or eBook in Scrivener

While learning how to use Scrivener to write novels, and other manuscripts, it is essential to pay attention to formatting also. It will help you keep you readers interested in reading your novels.

Choosing the Right Font and Size

The right font and size can make all the difference when it comes to formatting your novel in Scrivener. While it may be tempting to choose a fancy or unique font, it's important to remember that readability should always be your top priority.

Stick with a simple, legible font like Times New Roman or Arial, and choose a size that is comfortable for reading on any device. Generally, 12-point font is a safe choice.

Don't forget about line spacing as well. A good rule of thumb is to use 1.5 line spacing for body text, which will give your readers plenty of space between lines without making the text look too spread out.

Remember: The goal of formatting is to make your novel or eBook easy and enjoyable for people to read, so don't get too caught up in trying to be fancy or unique at the expense of readability.

Adding Headings and Subheadings

Headings and subheadings are crucial for organizing your book content into easily digestible sections. In Scrivener, you can add headings by using the "Heading 1" format from the formatting toolbar. This will create a larger font size and bold text that stands out from the rest of your content.

If you have subsections within a chapter or section, consider using "Heading 2" or "Heading 3" formats for even more organization. Be consistent with your formatting throughout your ebook so that readers can easily navigate through the different sections.

The key here is clarity – use headings and subheadings not only as organizational tools but also as signposts for readers who may want to skip around in your book.

Incorporating Images/Charts/Tables

Adding images, charts, and tables can be a great way to enhance your ebook content and break up large blocks of text.

In Scrivener, you can easily insert images by using the Insert menu and selecting Image from File. Once you've added an image, you can adjust its size and position within your text.

When it comes to charts and tables, make sure they are easy to read and understand. Avoid using overly complex graphs or confusing spreadsheets that may overwhelm readers. Keep them simple, clear, and relevant to the content of your ebook.

Remember that any images or media you include should complement your written content rather than detract from it.

With careful consideration of placement and relevance, visual elements can take your ebook to the next level.

Note: With Scrivener, you don't have to worry about manually saving your work every time you make changes. The software automatically saves your progress, ensuring that you never lose your work. Additionally, you can enjoy extra peace of mind knowing that Scrivener creates a backup of your project every time you open or close it, so you always have a recent copy of your work stored safely away.

Exporting Your Novel

Once you have completed your ebook project, it's time to export it in the appropriate format. Scrivener makes this process simple and straightforward, with several options available for exporting your work.

Choosing Your Export Format

When exporting your ebook in Scrivener, you will first need to choose the appropriate format. Scrivener offers several options for export, including Microsoft Word, RTF, EPUB, MOBI (for Kindle), and PDF formats.

Each option has its own advantages and limitations, so it's important to consider the intended audience of your ebook when making this decision.

If you're targeting a wide range of readers across different devices, EPUB is a good choice since it can be read on most e-readers and devices that support ebooks.

However, if you're targeting Kindle users specifically, then MOBI is the preferred format since it's optimized for Amazon's platform.

Once you're ready with your novel, it's time to export it from Scrivener. This can be done by selecting Export under the File menu bar at the top of the screen.

Congratulations, you've successfully created and exported your novel from Scrivener!

Proofread Your Novel

Once you have exported your novel from Scrivener, it is essential to proofread it thoroughly to ensure that the final product is free from any errors.

Proofreading is essential when creating a novel. It ensures that there are no typographical errors or grammar mistakes in the final product. A poorly written book will quickly turn off readers from ever buying anything from you again!

Tip:

Read through each chapter out loud – this can help identify awkward phrasing or wording that may need editing. Testing a book involves examining its appearance on multiple devices while also ensuring its contents do not have formatting errors, grammar mistakes, or typos.

You can use AI tools like Grammarly or ProWritingAid to correct all the spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors from your novel.

Proofread your book thoroughly to ensure that it is free of errors and flows smoothly, as a poorly written book can quickly turn off readers from ever buying anything from you again!

Publishing Your Novel

Once you have exported your novel from Scrivener, it's time to publish it. There are many different options for publishing, depending on your goals and preferences. 

In this section, we'll explore some of the most popular ways to publish your ebook.

Self-Publishing

Self-publishing has become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks in large part to the rise of eBooks. With self-publishing, you have complete control over every aspect of your book, from the content and design to the pricing and distribution.

You can sell your books on platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Smashwords, or even distribute it directly through your own website.

One of the main advantages of self-publishing is that you keep a larger percentage of the profits compared to traditional publishing deals.

However, this also means that you will be responsible for all marketing and promotion efforts.

Traditional Publishing

If you are interested in pursuing a traditional publishing deal for your book, there are a few options available. 

Many traditional publishers now offer book versions of their titles alongside print editions. You can also work with an book-only publisher or literary agent who specializes in books.

The advantage of traditional publishing is that you will have access to professional editing and design services, as well as marketing support from an established publisher with industry connections.

However, royalties tend to be lower than with self-publishing deals.

Distribution Services

If you don't want to deal with the hassle of managing sales yourself but still want control over pricing and other aspects of distribution, there are several third-party distribution services available.

These services act as intermediaries between authors/publishers and retailers such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Distribution services typically charge a fee or take a percentage of sales in exchange for handling the logistics of distribution. Some popular options include Draft2Digital and BookBaby.

Remember, no matter which publishing route you choose, it's important to have a clear marketing plan in place to promote your ebook and maximize sales. With the right strategy, publishing an ebook can be a rewarding journey that leads to success and recognition as an author.

Marketing Your Novel

So far we have covered how to use Scrivener to create a novel, export it in your preferred format and publish it on book selling platforms. Now, it's time to market it to make it successful.

Therefore, you need to pay attention to marketing strategies that can help you reach your target audience and attract more readers.

1. Use Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool which can help you promote your novel in a cost-effective way. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn provide an opportunity for authors to connect with their readers and promote their books.

You can use social media platforms to create buzz around your novel by posting teasers, quotes from the book, or even short videos about the writing process.

You can also use social media advertising tools like Facebook Ads or Twitter Ads to target specific groups of people who might be interested in your book based on demographics such as age, gender or interests.

2. Offer Free Samples

One of the best ways to get readers interested in your work is by offering them free samples of your writing. You can offer free sample chapters or short stories as an incentive for readers to download the full version of your book.

You can also offer free copies of the book in exchange for reviews on websites like Amazon or Goodreads which will increase its visibility and credibility.

This strategy works particularly well if you’re a new author trying to build an audience or if you’ve written several books before and want to introduce new readers to your work.

3. Leverage Book Review Sites

You can also leverage book review sites such as Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, or Goodreads which have large audiences interested in finding new books to read.

These websites allow authors to submit their books for review by professional reviewers which can help increase visibility and credibility of your work.

Positive reviews on these sites can also lead to increased sales and exposure of your book to a much wider audience. Therefore, you should consider reaching out to book review websites that specialize in promoting books and novels to help you gain more readers.

Wrapping Up

Scrivener is an excellent tool for creating novels and other manuscripts. Its user-friendly interface and robust features make it a popular choice for writers and publishers alike.

With Scrivener, you can organize your content, format your novel, add images and media, customize your cover, and export your novel with ease. 

Plus, the software offers a range of options for testing and publishing your novel to ensure it meets the highest standards. 

Whether you're a first-time author or a seasoned writer looking to improve your workflow, Scrivener is definitely worth considering as an essential tool to write novels or eBooks.

Get started with Scrivener using the link below.

Scrivener offers a 30 days free trial for beginners. The great thing about the trial is that during the trial period, you get access to all the premium features of Scrivener at no cost. Plus, no credit card is required to join the free trial. Get your trial using the link below

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Deepak Choudhary

Deepak Choudhary is the founder of Technicalwall.com. He is a Blogger and an Affiliate Marketing Expert. He publishes useful articles for newbie bloggers related to the following topics - Affiliate Marketing, Email Marketing, Software Reviews, Blogging, WordPress, SEO, Passive Income, and more.