What issues can one expect when writing a document in Scrivener and creating an ebook? That is, what technical, formatting, or other hurdles should I expect if I do this? I am assuming that it would be necessary to go through an intermediate step, like conversion to .docx files; please set me straight if not.

Assume the book has a cover page, table of contents, images, and possibly links and footnotes.

EDIT: I see that Scrivener can actually compile files directly to .epub and .mobi file formats, as described in this blog post. My question is really: how well does (or doesn't) that process work, and what are the "gotchas?"

  • 1
    I think this question would be better suited for their forum Dec 19 '13 at 20:55
  • For a paid tool, I would hope that there would be no hurdles.
    – aman207
    Dec 19 '13 at 21:03
  • Did you also see there is a free trial Dec 19 '13 at 22:27
  • Yes, but the question is: what issues would I encounter if I actually wrote something of some complexity in Scrivener, then tried to create an ebook from it? The free trial isn't really long enough to assess that, so I'm hoping someone has experience with that question.
    – elixenide
    Dec 19 '13 at 22:30
  • again.. Your're asking a software based question where a few may be able to answer the question to the degree you are looking for, but a forum, dedicated to the software you have in question, would clearly appear to be a better solution. Dec 20 '13 at 15:22

Ed, the answer more depends on your purpose. The literal answer is Scrivener does indeed create valid e-books and is well maintained. I've used Scrivener for Mac for years. I've occasionally compiled the document to kindle format to carry around. That process works just fine.

If your real purpose is to Write the Great Novel or some other large and complex effort, I can definitely recommend Scrivener as a great authoring tool. Their user forum over at Literature and Latte is helpful, knowledgeable, active. At the point of Becoming Published, you may need to switch to a different tool for the process of publishing. That would depend on your publishing route. Scrivener is very good at generating whatever format you need at that point, be it input to Microsoft Word, Calibre, various markup languages, whatever.

If you have already created that content, so that now your focus is on the publishing stage, not the writing stage, Scrivener is adequate to the task but probably not your best choice. You're probably better off with a universal conversion tool such as Calibre.

The key question is Where and How you intend to publish. If you're thinking of going through a traditional publisher, they have their own requirements, and that might dictate your choice of tool.

If you're intending to self-publish, e-books only, you again want to consider the big picture. Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Smash Words, etc., all have their own requirements. To meet those varying requirements, we use a combination of Microsoft Word (yuck) and Calibre. Note that this is when focused on the publishing of something already written.

Self publishing is a moving target. What I'm suggesting here is that you consider the task of writing stuff separate from the task of getting it published. Scrivener is well designed as a writing tool. It's very good at producing output which becomes input to the publishing step.

To directly answer your question, Can scrivener reliably create e-books? Absolutely. If you intend to personally distribute your e-books and PDF files to your friends or colleagues, Scrivener makes that task extremely easy.

However, if you are thinking about self publishing via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., or via a traditional publisher (who might in turn publish to Amazon, etc.), use Scrivener for writing, and whatever the process demands for the publishing part.


As I re-read your question, I realized I missed a point. You ask about technical, formatting, and other hurdles. If you are self publishing via various outlets (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.), each has different formatting requirements. "Doing the rounds" is a matter of continuously reformatting the completed work, fixing rejections and resubmitting, and so on. I can assure you that you will have countless technical, formatting, and other hurdles as you travel that route, but that fact has nothing to do with Scrivener.

In other words, Scrivener for Mac is straightforward and easy to use. It's designed for authors creating their works, and that's where it shines.

Here's a concrete example. One destination will require a table of contents linked a certain way, whereas another might allow it to be at the back of the document. Scrivener is not your best tool for this constant reformatting of content to meet publisher requirements. Scrivener is an excellent tool for creating the content in the first place.

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