How to Compile a Sparkling mobi in Scrivener for Windows

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Clam Seller, Mulberry Bend, ca 1890

Recently I wrote a post showing how I compile my ebooks in Scrivener on the Mac. A few authors emailed me wondering if I’d create the same post for Windows users, since Scrivener for Windows is a little different than Scrivener for the Mac.

So here it is—how to create a simple but clean version of a kindle ebook using Scrivener for Windows. And by the way, I’m using Scrivener version 1.6.10 on a laptop running the home edition of Windows 7.

For me, formatting in Scrivener is really important. It takes time in the beginning, perhaps a little rearranging, but it saves lots of frustration with all the rich ins and outs of Scrivener’s Compile feature, especially if you’re like me—not really into technical detail. And keep in mind, I write fiction, so nothing fancy’s going on with my manuscript—no tables, no footnotes, just a bunch of chapters strung together.

So, before you start the compile process, make sure you’ve formatted your manuscript in Scrivener. Here’s a quick view of my Binder, Editor, and Inspector. You can see the text formatting in the Editor:
Before you beginI use a very simple Binder organization, starting with what I want to appear first, one text file per chapter. (Since I write in scenes, I’ve had to go back during my final editing and manually put all scenes of one chapter into one text file.) Notice in the General Meta-Data section of The Inspector—the right-hand column—I’ve checked Include in Compile and Page Break Before. In the image above, the Editor is showing the first chapter of the book. The title, “The Tree and the Boy,” is Times New Roman Bold, 14pt, Centered. Except for the first paragraph of each chapter, I’ve indented the first line in each paragraph by 0.3″. The body is Times New Roman Regular 12 pt, single space, justified. I’ve made paragraph returns for white space at the top of each chapter (inelegant, I know).

Download KindleGen. Here’s the download link. Check the “I agree to terms of use” and download the Windows version. Make sure Scrivener can point to the executable, kindlegen.exe. You’ll probably need to unzip  But you’re not going to use it—Scrivener is. And BTW, you just need to do this once: Scrivener remembers it on future .mobi compiles.

  1. On the menu bar, click File>Compile. Make sure you choose Original in Format As: at the top and Kindle(mobi) Book (.mobi) in CompileFor:. A dialogue box appears. Click on KindleGen in the left-hand column. Scrivener supplies the same link. If you haven’t already done so, here’s another opportunity to download KindleGen from Amazon.
  2. If you’re having trouble downloading and pointing to Kindle-Gen, here’s a one-minute YouTube How-To. After you’ve downloaded the zipped archive, unzip it (double-click it) so that Scrivener can “see” the .exe file. In the Compile dialogue box, click Choose and point to kindleGen.

  3. Back in the Scrivener compile, click on Contents. Scroll up and down the list to make sure all your chapters are included. Since I’m going to upload this book to Amazon, I won’t include my cover image so I’ve unchecked its Include box.
    cover unchecked 2
  4. In KDP, the cover image and book file are uploaded separately. Tip: Keep checking to make sure Original is still in the Format As: box. I don’t know why, but for me it sometimes reverts to Custom.
    cover unchecked
  5. The Formatting step is simple since you’re formatting as Original. Just cover your bets and check Text in all types.
    Formatting - the simple one
  6. In the Windows version, Scrivener generates an HTML TOC. I’m assuming the program uses the titles of the text files to generate the TOC (see my text file titles in the Binder in the first image). All I know is, I didn’t need to do anything and got a great Contents in the mobi—and that’s a beautiful thing.
  7. Make sure you’ve completed Meta-Data. I tried skipping this step and Compile wouldn’t work.
    Meta Data
  8. Click Compile.

And that’s it—except for checking it out in your Kindle application before you upload the mobi file to Amazon. Here’s a snapshot of the finished product.
Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 10.24.45 AM

If you want to see how my Kindle ebooks look, you can download a free version of Death of a Sad Face. I compiled it myself and it’s free on Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. 

Let me know how it works for you, and if you have any questions, click on Contact or send me an email at gagasue at gmail dot com or a tweet (@susanrussoander). I’m not a Scrivener expert by any means and I might not be able to answer your question, but I’ll try.

Photo: Clam Seller at Mulberry Bend, Detroit Photographic Co, ca 1890 

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  1. Sheila says

    These are the best directions for compiling a .mobi I’ve found. I’m wondering, though, what you do for epubs? The same steps, but pick epub from the menu, I guess? Oh, well, let’s find out. 😉

    • says

      Thanks, Sheila. So glad you found it helpful. There are a some different steps for creating epubs, but the directions are essentially the same, but you’re right, the main difference is to pick epub from the menu, not mobi. Here’s a post on creating an epub: While it was written for Scrivener on a Mac, I think the commands in Windows are essentially the same. But there are differences in how Scrivener works: 1) Windows version does not make styles (or presets), and 2) Windows version automatically creates an HTML table of contents.

  2. Melisa Bailey says

    Susan – your explanation and way of making a Kindle eBook for a PC is the easiest I’ve seen. There is a bit of tweaking I’ve got to do but that’s easy compared to the hours I’ve spent trying to figure this out.

    Have you done an eBook for Createspace for PC? Just curious.

    Once again, thank you, thank you.


    • says

      Thanks for stopping by, Melisa. I’m so glad it helped. I’ve used Createspace for creating printed books and find it pretty intuitive. One thing, you’ve got to have the interior laid out first so that you know what width to make the spine on your cover. Joel Friedlander has some great tips for creating interiors, including Microsoft Word templates. I highly recommend his site for tips on ebook creation as well as book interiors and covers.

      • m says

        Question – When you set your book up, do you include Chapter 1 , 2, etc on top of the page for your Kindle eBook?

          • Melisa Bailey says

            One more thing. I now have the mobi file, reviewed it, looks good. But how do I load it to Amazon when it’s in the Kindle reader program. When I Compile that is where it goes.

          • says

            Congratulations! The mobi file might be on your desktop, I’m not sure. If it’s not there or in your Documents folder, you’ll need to do a search for it on your hard drive. Once you know where it is, and where your cover image is, you can upload them by going to Amazon’s KDP site, sign in—or create an account—and following their directions for adding the book.

  3. says

    I’ve been tearing my hair out trying to get my first novel uploaded to KDP–hope this will help! My friend who has done it on her Mac has tried to help but things still are not working. Thank you for posting this.


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