Formatting & Scrivener

When it comes to choosing software to help you write your book, Scrivener is the #1 choice for many authors. But it’s not without it’s drawbacks, especially if you don’t write on a Mac and want to publish a  Paperback as well as an Ebook…

I’ve spent most of this week getting my head around the latest installment of my personal Publish A Paperback Challenge, and as a result it’s been a helluva long week…

Writing in Scrivener is relatively hassle-free, but when it comes to exporting your work for the paperback edition rather than the Ebook, that’s where the problems begin if you’re a Windows User. The Mac version contains an option to format your work for Paperback, in various trim sizes. But that option isn’t there in the Windows version. Maybe it will be in the long-promised-but-still-not-here-yet Version 3 Update. Let’s hope so.

As someone who works on a PC, not having options that Mac users have doesn’t just make me feel rather second class, it forces me to try and come up with a workaround. And that’s time I would much rather spend on writing rather than formatting, a whole week’s worth of time in fact.

So if, like me, you’re a Windows person, the only option for us when it comes to formatting our work for paperback, from what I can see, is Reedsy Book Editor.

Now if you haven’t already bought Scrivener, then you can just write your work directly in RBE and export it in your chosen trim size, but since I’ve already laid out the money to buy Scrivener… I’ve had to do it the hard way!

Write in Scrivener, import to RBE, fiddle with the layout, export as a PDF Zip File, extract the PDF and import that to KDP, then check it with the Print Previewer. And then, if there’s anything that isn’t right, go back to RBE, fix whatever’s wrong, export as a PDF Zip File…

The biggest problem with Copying from Scrivener and then Pasting into Reedsy is that anything you’ve put in italics, or anything you’ve put in bold, or anything you put in italics and bold, all that formatting is lost when you Copy & Paste what you’ve written in Scrivener into Reedsy. Which means you have to go through everything you’ve already written and already formatted and do it all over again. Which inevitably means that you 1] miss things and 2] spot other things you missed.

So most of this week has been spent going round in circles, tinkering in RBE, exporting, checking, spotting something I’ve missed, going back and fixing it, exporting it again, spotting something else, going back & fixing that and then doing it all over again! Argh!

The other thing that’s taken time to fix has been the way you seem to end up with either a single line at the top or bottom of a page, or, worse, a subheading at the bottom of a page with no text beneath it. Fixing the formatting of the finished text to get rid of them means there’s now text in the Paperback Version of The Fan Film Book that isn’t in the Ebook. Just the occasional word or phrase here and there but enough to be mildly irritating.

The other big takeaway from all this is the importance of an Editor if you can afford one. At this stage of my author career, I can’t. Having gone through the text more times than I care to count this week, it’s been shocking to see how many errors I’ve spotted. Errors that are still in the Ebook until I update it.

Hint: If you’re a Windows User who wants to publish paperbacks and hasn’t yet bought Scrivener, my advice is don’t. Save your money and use Reedsy Book Editor instead.

If you’re a Windows User who has already bought Scrivener, then by all means continue to write in it, but don’t bother with italics or bold. And don’t bother mocking up your book cover until you’ve finalised your page count. Once you know how many pages your finished typeset book is going to be, then mock up your cover. Don’t be like me, who made up his cover, reformatted his wonky text and as a result had to redo his cover more than once!

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