Scrivener Quick Tip: Building an eBook Part 4

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This post is part of my Scrivener Quick Tips series

Scrivener LogoMy Scrivener Quick Tips are a weekly series (usually) and take a look at features from the Mac version of Scrivener, v 2.3.1. If you are using the Windows version of Scrivener, not all of these features are available to you at this time, and the screen shots might look different. As always, clicking on a screenshot will open it up for a larger view.


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By now, you know how to setup your Project correctly so your ToC looks right, you’ve also gotten your Front Matter situated, and maybe you added a few extras to take your eBook to the next level.

Now what?

Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 10.48.40 PM

Fig 1

Compile.  All the hard stuff is handled by Compile; from formatting and exporting your manuscript for submitting to an agent, editor or critique group, all the way to creating an eBook to give away or sell on Amazon (or the service of your choice).

When you click the Compile button (Fig 1), the options change based on the output format (presets) you choose.  So, Standard Manuscript Format (perfect for editors/agents), is going to give you different options versus Proof Copy (suggested for ‘internal proofing prints’).

Here is the basic eBook options when I select Format As: E-book and Compile For: ePub eBook (.epub) (Fig 2):

Fig 2

Fig 2

Just to do a quick rundown, your tabs are:

  • Contents
  • Separators
  • Cover
  • Formatting
  • Title Adjustments
  • Layout
  • Transformations
  • HTML Settings
  • Replacements
  • Statistics
  • Tables
  • Footnotes/Comments
  • Meta-Data

Key things for the Contents Tab – Add Front Matter (Fig 3):

Fig 3

Fig 3

I covered Front Matter in Part 2, but basically this is all the stuff that goes in the front of your book like your Title Page, Copyright, etc.  You can use one of the default folder Scrivener provides, or create a custom folder of your own.  Either way, you want to choose the correct Front Matter folder on this screen by clicking the drop down and picking it from the list.

Having said that, you could also uncheck this box and not include Front Matter at all.  Why?  Well, you could add folders or documents to the Manuscript by hand – as in, put them before the first chapter in the Binder.  I wouldn’t recommend doing this, but you could.  If you wanted.

Compile For (Fig 4):

Fig 4

Fig 4

Here is where you choose your output format.  Your options are:

  • ePub eBook (.epub)
  • Kindle eBook (.mobi)
  • iBooks Author Chapters (.docx)

Each option changes the other tabs available to you, and some of the information on those tabs.  They also produce a file that will either work on a Kindle, a Nook, an iPad, Sony Reader, so on and etc.  If you’re going to put your eBook up on Amazon, you’re probably going to want to choose the .mobi format.  Nook?  ePub is probably best for you.  But let’s take a look at each format real quick and give you an overview.

ePub.  This is a standard but maybe saying ‘format’ will make more sense to you.  HTML is a standard format, as is PHP.  When people adopt a standard format, they agree to use specific language and code and layout.  The ePub format isn’t proprietary – that means you can use it without having to pay someone a license fee, or purchase the code base.  An example of a free standard is HTML.  HTML is the mark up code language used for a lot of websites on the Internet, and it’s free – you don’t have to purchase HTML in order to use it.  When you point your browser at a website, the browser reads the code and presents you with the website all formatted and pretty.  Years ago when the Internet was still young, Microsoft attempted to push the free HTML format out in favor of a Microsoft controlled, proprietary format.  If they had succeeded, the Internet would be a very different place today, and everyone would have to purchase licenses in order to code websites using the Microsoft standard language.

Most eReaders will accept and display an eBook formatted as an ePub – the Kindle is not on the list.

mobi.  Amazon’s Kindle supports the Mobipocket standard format and in 2005, bought the company who developed the standard.  The .mobi format is used by Amazon, but their proprietary format is called AZW, which is identical to .mobi with one exception: where .mobi files can be DRM restricted, AZW are not.  DRM stands for Digital Rights Management.  Amazon also has a new proprietary format called Kindle Format 8, which launched along with their Kindle Fire eReader/tablet and uses HTML5 and CSS3.

I probably just lost you.  The thing to remember is: eBooks are code.  eReaders are browsers.  The things that control what your browser sees on the Internet, are the same things that control how your book is displayed on an eReader.  HTML and CSS are powerful tools in the web developers toolkit.  You don’t need to learn them when using Scrivener to create your eBooks.  Scrivener does the heavy lifting for you.

One last note about the .mobi format – Scrivener uses KindleGen to create the .mobi file.  This is a separate program, distributed by Amazon for free, that Scrivener works with to create the eBook.  You have to download and install KindleGen to unlock the .mobi Compile option inside of Scrivener.  Once you do, you set everything up in Scrivener as normal.  When you hit Compile, KindleGen kicks in and spits out the eBook in .mobi format.

iBooks Author Chapters.  In 2012, Apple launched an eBook creation tool that will push eBooks to their iBooks app/store.  In this way, even though the program is free, it’s mostly proprietary in that you can’t format your eBook and then push it to Kindle or Barnes & Noble or any other servies.  Your options are to publish to iBooks or create a PDF.  Anyone who has ever tried to use a PDF on an eReader knows that it’s a pain.  The features of eReaders – the way text flows, can be made bigger or smaller – is lost with PDF because it’s a fixed format.  This means your text is a specific size.  Your margins are set.  The text doesn’t flow.  If you zoom in, most likely you’ll also be moving left and right to read.

Scrivener won’t export an eBook in the iBA format; Apple doesn’t provide support for this.  (They don’t give developers access to the code.)  What Scrivener will do is export your Manuscript as ‘Author Chapters’ in DOCX format to be imported into the free iBooks application for conversion to iBA (Fig 5):

Fig 5

Fig 5

I haven’t used the iBooks app, but just looking at the above screenshot of my Consumption eBook exported as iBook Author Chapters doesn’t make me very happy.  Let me explain.

Chapter 1 in Fig 5 is my Title Page from the Front Matter folder (Fig 6):

Fig 6

Fig 6

Chapter 2 in Fig 5 is the Copyright Page from the Front Matter folder (Fig 7):

Fig 7

Fig 7

I’ve no idea if iBooks lets you edit these things.  If you use iBooks, maybe this looks super sweet to you and you know exactly what to do to make it all look right – good on you.

As a side note, you can drag and drop an ePub into your iTunes to import it to your iBooks reader app (Fig 8 & Fig 9):

Fig 8

Fig 8

Fig 9

Fig 9

 

Not sure where those books from Mur came from… Hrm.  I know this doesn’t help you get your eBook into the Apple iBooks store where you can sell it, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Okay, I have rambled on for quite some time, so I’m going to wrap this up for today.  We’ll continue looking at the Compile screen in Part 5 next week.


If you’re looking to publish some eBooks, but don’t want to mess with learning to do it yourself, please consider hiring me. Details and a sample eBook can be seen by clicking this link.

Series Navigation<< Scrivener Quick Tip: Building an eBook Part 3  |  Scrivener Quick Tip: Building an eBook Part 5 >>
 

1 comment for “Scrivener Quick Tip: Building an eBook Part 4

  1. February 12, 2013 at 8:05 am

    All of your tips here are very helpful indeed –
    thank you very much!
    Best regards – Rich

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