Long-time Scriv user but new to Compile

I’m a long time Scriv user but this is my first time trying to compile an ebook. I just compiled a short story, saved it to the desktop, see it there but when I click on it, I get a file that appears to be empty (no text, no cover) & is locked. Is the empty-appearing, locked file the correct, expected result? If so, how can I read the file & see if I want to do any tweaking?

It seems odd to me but since I can’t find any reference to the appearance of the compiled story, I don’t know if I’m on the right track. I followed the instructions given on the Novel template (also tried short story template with same result). Thanks for your advice.


Have you tried compiling to a text format like RTF? Epubs insert another layer – the epub reader software – between Scrivener’s output and you, so simplifying things might be a quick way to make sure that Scrivener’s compile options are set appropriately.


Thanks, Katherine. I originally created the files in Scriv–isn’t that the simplest way to compile? I hesitate to add another layer since I don’t know what happened (if anything) & am afraid to introduce another element. Am I being too cautious?

With e-books you need special software to read them. It may be you don’t have anything installed on your computer that can properly read the format but something else is unsuccessfully trying to open it anyway. In most cases, at any rate, an e-book will appear to be “locked” because e-book reader software just does that: reads e-books. You need special programs to edit them. I’m not aware of anything on the Mac that can edit a Mobi without a computer science degree, but for ePub files there is Sigil which is about as complicated as an easy-to-use web site editor. I recommend Calibre for testing and viewing your e-books.

But if you do have a proper reader or editor and that is what is opening the file when you double-click on it (verify that by looking in the top-left corner of the screen and reading the active application’s name), then I’d repeat Katherine’s suggestion: you should make sure the compiler is even set up right to begin with by compiling an RTF or PDF. A somewhat common problem is an empty Draft folder, for instance.

Yes, Scrivener’s Compile command is the simplest way to get your files out of Scrivener.

I’m just suggesting that you compile to a different format so that we can narrow the problem down. Is the problem your e-reader software, or that the compile options aren’t giving the result you want? Using RTF or PDF as the destination format takes the e-reader out of the picture.


Amber & Katherine,

Thank you for taking the time to rescue me from the abyss! Turns out Calibre was what I needed.

I also DL’d Sigil & wonder if I can convert a mobi file to epub, move to Sigil, make my edits, then move the file back to Calibre & convert back to mobi? Seems complicated but I don’t have a computer science degree & need to find a way to edit some existing mobi files.

Thanks again for your help.

I’d say it is even easier than that. If you want to have fine control over a .mobi and want to edit it with Sigil, the best route to take is to compile an ePub file, edit it, and then open that ePub in Kindle Previewer. That will generate a .mobi file automatically for you, and it uses the same KindleGen process that Amazon recommends for uploading books. The conversion process that Calibre uses is as far as I know still a bit behind the times. It will not generate a dual Mobi/KF8 book, just the Mobi part. Modern Kindles will read that, but Amazon is gradually switching over to KF8, and so they would prefer all new books be dual-format like this.

Of course another advantage in working that way is that you cut your work in half if you need an ePub file too, since you are making the .mobi from that.

Thanks, Amber. Since I already have a mobi and an epub, I will do as you suggest. That means I will then have two mobi files: the existing one (the one I want to edit) & a new, edited one generated from the epub?

I’ve been reading reports of Kindle formatting issues & books being taken down on one of my private authors’ loops & want to make sure to avoid problems.

Thanks again for your help & your patience.

Sure, I suppose you would have two .mobi files if you don’t delete or replace the older one.