You’ve probably heard of the self-publishing phenomenon known as electronic book (eBook) reading. If you’re a fan of Les Mars or Dan Brown, you may already know how to create an eBook and upload it to the internet for free (courtesy of CreateSpace, which Amazon and Apple both use).
For the rest of us, here’s an example of an eBook which I hope will convince you to give Scrivener a try.
1. Choose a title and create a table of contents
The first step is to choose a title for your eBook and create a table of contents, which is a list of the book’s essential sections, ideally in alphabetical order.
For instance, if you are writing a fantasy novel, your table of contents may look like this:
2. Overview of the Novel
3. Character Development
5. Creating the Plot
6. Thematic Analysis
7. Thematic Development
Having a table of contents is essential for any writer, but it’s particularly useful for an eBook writer because, as I’ve already pointed out, you can’t expect readers to wade through a muddled jumble of ideas and concepts. Using numbered lists at the end of each section is another way to organize your eBook, should you decide to use them. (See “How to Use Lists in Writing?” for more information.)
An eBook’s table of contents is a snap to create in Scrivener with the book template. Simply double click on the table of contents to reveal the section’s name (such as “Introduction” or “Plot”), then start typing.
For an h1, you’ll type the first few chapters’ content, then use the asterisk (*) key to focus on the parts that you want to include in the final version. For an h2, you type the subheadings of the sections; for an h3, you type the body of the section. The results are chapters or sections of a book, and Scrivener keeps track of all the changes you make throughout the entire process (version control).
2. Create a cover image and description
Next, you need to create the cover image and descriptions for your eBook, which will be displayed on a bookshelf alongside your work. (If you use Amazon KDP, you can export the cover image and add a short description in the exported publishable JSON file. Or, you can create a press release and include the details in this single HTML file.)
If you use the free wordpress platform to host your eBook, you can upload a Cover Image along with a description and meta data (keywords and categories) for each chapter, section, or article. (More on meta data in a moment.)
To start, create a cover image that’s comparable in size to a standard ebook cover. (The rule with most publishers is to make the cover as close to the size of a nonsized print book.) For instance, if you have a 6-inch Epson Stuﬀer home printer, you can use that as a reference point.
Next, choose a headline for your eBook’s title, and create a descriptive subheading for the table of contents.
For example, if your eBook is called “The Fantasy Novel Series”, your headline could be:
New Fantasy Novel Sets A New High Watermark
And your table of contents’s subheading could be:
2. Chapter 1: Overview of the Series
3. Chapter 2: Character Development
4. Chapter 3: Setting
You’re now ready to start writing, should you decide to use Scrivener for this task. To begin typing, click the “Type a Chapter” button in the upper left corner of the screen. (Or, if you’re using the Windows version, click the “Type a Section” button for a part of the text; this will bring up the section’s interface, where you can continue typing. When you’ve finished typing the section, click the “Save to File” button to commit your edits. You can then return to the main interface and continue typing the rest of the book.)
3. Create individual character bios for your novel’s major characters
Once you have a basic book structured and styled, you can return to the main interface of Scrivener and begin adding character bios. (Alternatively, you can use Microsoft Word’s Character Menus to create bios for your major characters and send them to Scrivener for consolidation and editing. This is a very basic step, but it is useful for those who are new to writing or self-publishing.)
A character bio is like a short story set in the character’s head, which fans of the character will find interesting. Give each character a bio that’s around 500 words. (Amazon recommends a mixture of fact and fiction for bios – as you’d expect, given that fiction typically sells better than factual entries.)