Need Your Advice on My Workflow

I use Scrivener to write books. I prefer to write in MultiMarkdown.

Here’s what I need once I am done:

  • Word version for my editor
  • PDF version for my readers (I want a beautifully designed version.)
  • Printed pages for the printer
  • eBook formats (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Smashwords)

What should be my workflow? Should I Compile for Microsoft Word for my editor? Should I then take the Word document into inDesign and export for the physical and various eBook formats?

Should I reconsider writing in MultiMarkdown? Maybe I need to format a bit in Scrivener and just compile the ebook formats from there?

I’d be grateful for any advice you have.

Scrivener itself can create all of those formats directly, although you may need another tool to achieve a “beautifully designed” PDF. Conversely, I’m not a MultiMarkdown expert, but none of your destination formats seem to require any of MMD’s unique strengths.

My own baseline is to do everything possible in Scrivener. Faced with your particular needs, I would do some experimenting with test projects up front: trying to create 5+ different formats from a book length manuscript under a tight deadline isn’t going to be fun with any tool, so I’d want to estimate how much time to build into the schedule, familiarize myself with the Compile options, work out any kinks, etc.


I think MultiMarkdown is perfectly viable for all of these, though some may require a little more work than others (than perhaps using Scrivener vanilla formatting; but then one must also factor in whether using vanilla formatting is more efficient than MMD, if you prefer the latter—personally I’d rather work in an environment that is creatively compatible and undergo a little extra stress at the end of the creative phase, than compromise the creative environment for a slightly easier export).

  1. Use the Flat XML (FODT) format. Open this either in LibreOffice or Nisus Writer Pro and convert it to .doc/x from there. So yup, you need an extra step to get it done, but it’s a quick step, and the final result is a document with true stylesheets from top to bottom, dynamic captioning, etc. It’s a good output, and in some ways better than anything you can achieve out of Scrivener with regular formatting.
  2. The answer to that depends on your familiarity or willingness to learn a little LaTeX. As an experiment, you could download MacTeX and install it (it’s easy). This will light up Scrivener’s “MultiMarkdown -> PDF” option in the compiler. See if that is suitable all by itself. If it is, great, you have easy to make PDFs. If you want to change the font of the title here, and the line-height there, and perhaps change the margin on the right side a bit—well, then you wade into learning LaTeX territory and that can be terrifying for some (though others learn to love it). Programs like LyX (a front-end word processor that uses LaTeX as its base format) can help a lot.

Completely alternative to LaTeX is of course just turning option #1 into a PDF. NWP and LibreOffice are both perfectly capable of printing a PDF, and since the word processor output is wired for styles, you can very quickly apply templates and adjust the look of the document.

  1. For personal proofing, “MultiMarkdown -> RTF” is suitable, or even just HTML and printing from your browser.
  2. For eBooks you will need to use a special MMD ePub generator. I cannot vouch for how well it works at the moment. I haven’t tested it in a while. I do know you will need to download Sigil and use that to finish the output. Here is where Scrivener’s output is superior. You get an ePub, but it will be pretty raw all by itself.