This post was first published in 2015.
So you’ve written your book and now you need to make it into an ebook. Don’t sit there staring into space like Mrs. Newton, this post will show you how to compile a Scrivener file into an ePub.
But first, a couple of points. Keep in mind I’m an author and not a techie, which means I probably don’t use Scrivener correctly. Me, I open the app and start typing, although I have been using the program for a couple of years now and have picked up a trick or two.
I write fiction requiring very lean formatting. I do all my formatting in Scrivener and keep it as simple as possible. I use Times New Roman 12 pt for the body copy, single spaced, justified with the first line indented .3 inches except for the first paragraph in the chapter. I center the chapter title using 14 pt Times New Roman Bold. (I told you it was simple.)
That said, here are the compile steps I use.
- In the Menu, go to File > Compile and the screen below pops up as long as you click All Options.
- At this point, I’m on Contents under Compilation Options, the left-hand column in the window. Note that I chose Format as: Original, since I format in Scrivener the way I want my book to appear (sort of) in ebook format. At the bottom of this screen, you’ll see I’ve chosen to Compile For: ePub eBook (.epub)
- Highlight each of the Compilation Options choosing the options you want. I’ll just touch on a few of them.
- To choose your cover, make sure you have a copy of your cover image in the Scrivener document—it doesn’t matter where, you can stick it in Research or Notes, anyplace. Then you can select it from the drop-down menu to the right of Cover image: as shown below.
- Under Formatting (screen shot below), you can choose how your chapter headers will look. I wanted my titles centered and although it doesn’t show it here, I changed Page padding: to 4 lines to give the chapter title a little white space. You can fool around with page padding—the amount of space at the top of each new chapter. And if you want “Chapter” and its number to appear above or along with the title, click on Section Layout …
- In the screen shot above, I was able to choose my Scrivener Style for the chapter heading. In Scrivener, I called it “Times Chapter Title.”
- Under layout, you can have Scrivener generate a Table of Contents.
- Make sure you go through all the Compilation Options, especially those under Transformations and Replacements because lots of them are chosen by default and you might not want them, like straightening smart quotes, underlining instead of italicizing, I could go on.
- And that’s about it. When you’re ready, click Compile and test your file using Adobe Digital Editions or iBooks if you’re running Mavericks on a Mac.
One of the beauties of Scrivener is that you can compile your .scriv file to a Microsoft Word document for beta readers, editors, proofreaders, make your corrections or revisions in the .scriv document and when it’s finished, compile your finished work to the ebook format.
Photo of a James Jaques Tissot drawing, the portrait of Mrs Newton, ca 1876. Public Domain. Note: The model, Kathleen “Kate” Newton, née Kelly, 1854-1882, was the artist’s mistress. She died of consumption and is buried in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green.