Help Getting Started with Scrivener for newsletters that will eventually be a book

Any tips about a template or how to set up a project that consists of Substack newsletters I’m writing that will essentially be expanded and made into a book (not in the order I’m writing them)?

This is non-fiction, with endnotes, and I collect a lot of research pdfs, website bookmarks, and notes in the process.

Some background: I’ve had false starts with Scrivener many times over the years. It feels like the tool I need, but I can’t figure out how to use it efficiently. I have started the Tutorial a few times, and never made it through. I’ve also checked a bunch of videos. I think I get stuck because so much of the documentation doesn’t seem relevant to my project or just seems cumbersome to work through.

I guess primary goal with Scrivener is to try to my text and research organized, and I like the Corkboard so I can easily rearrange chapters. I’m on MacOs.


Just place each newsletter in a separate document. Changing the order is as simple as dragging a document to a new location (optionally using the promote and demote arrow buttons on the Main ToolBar).

Place Research material in subfolders per document in the Research folder.

Worry about creating a book later…


Lots of ways to do it but here is a suggestion. Organize research in the research section where can have pictures, videos, webpages etc. Then when write letter put in folder by category (could assign keywords to file, or add files to various collections as well), but have inspector open to note section. As use research for letter. put a word in the note section, so if travel letter about london, could put word london in note section. highlight word, go to binder where london research file is and drag file onto highlighted word and creates a link back to research file. So when open newsletter, have link to research right there.
Can also do with document bookmarks (which are unique to your file. If do this dragging file into the pane will create bookmark and clicking this once will open preview of file in pane below and double clicking will open file. (Options on how file opens in either a Quick Reference panel or in editor are set in File >Options> Document links where can set where and how links open


Thank you. Makes sense. And I agree with your advice to worry about the book later. Just thought if there are any small steps I can take now that might help me avoid major rework at a later date, they might be good to know about. But, yes, working efficiently now is the priority.

I’m a little unclear about “subfolders per document in the Research folder” but I will explore and figure it out. The way I envision this now is each newsletter is in, say, a “Manuscript” folder. Then, each newsletter would have a corresponding subfolder in the Research folder. So two folders in separate place for each newsletter. And I’m anticipating that I would know which manuscript goes with each Research subfolder based on file name.

I have the “Non-Fiction” template open in front of me, and I’m thinking to keep it simple (and not worry about the book), I could delete Front Matter, Back Matter, Notes, and Ideas folders. And I wouldn’t need “Chapter” subfolders. Simplicity is important to me.

Thank you. At first, this looked a little complicated to me. But when I re-read it, I see that it answers the question I posed elsewhere in this thread about connecting research folders with specific documents. I’ll experiment with it.

I appreciate the thoughtfulness and effort you put in your thorough reply.

Without worrying about your book, doesn’t your book need a title page, copyrights page, table of contents or dedication page in the future? And an About the writer page, Other works or Acknowlegdements? Of course you can easily add them later, but why delete them is you need them?

If you don’t need Notes or Ideas folders, you can remove them. You might need one chapter folder inside your Manuscript, but but you can also do without.


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Three things:

  1. You say: ‘The way I envision this now is each newsletter is in, say, a “Manuscript” folder’. Be aware that the Manuscript/Draft folder—I only ever use my own version of the “Blank” template, set up with font, styles, etc. that I always use, so I don’t know what that is called in the Non-Fiction template; but see below—is where any documents that are to be compiled must go. If your “Manuscript” folders are outside that, they will not be available to compile. Note also that technically names don’t matter… you can rename the Manuscript/Draft and Research folder to whatever you want, though you can’t delete them.

  2. You say you’re starting from the Non-Fiction template, but then say, "… I wouldn’t need “Chapter” subfolders. Again, the name “Chapter” is of no significance. Each of those subfolders is where your individual Substack newsletters should go.

  3. All that said, unlike AntoniDol, I’m with you on keeping it simple and concentrating on the text and not worrying about the final book at this point. Front matter, back matter, title page, all of those can be created when you’re ready to think about it in book terms. As you can imagine, from what I said above, if I were doing what you’re doing, I would start from the “Blank” template and just build the whole thing up as I go along. In fact, all the templates that get set up when you install have simply been built from the Blank template as suggestions… there’s nothing magic about them.


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