Scrivener for Print on Demand (POD)

Hello there,

I was wondering if anyone (self-publishers) is using Scrivener to generate their manuscript to submit to Print on Demand (PoD) services like Lightning Source or Amazon’s CreateSpace?

I’ve been using Scrivener for a couple weeks and I like it but can I use it to create a typeset file ready for printing? Or do authors using Scrivener export it out to another program to be typeset for publishing?



Lightning Source and CreateSpace both want PDFs properly laid out on a page that’s the proper size. You might be able to manage to meet Lightning’s file specs with Scrivener alone using OS X’s save to PDF ability, but it wouldn’t be pretty. You can get Lightning’s specs from the public area of I don’t use CreateSpace, so I can’t comment on them. And keep in mind that Amazon and Lightning Source/Ingram are in the process of creating an agreement that will mean that publishing with one will mean publishing with the other. Given the choice, I’d go with Lightning Source.

But to make a book look decent, you need a page layout application that’s intended for creating books, typically InDesign or Quark. It can be done with Word and Word-like applications, but you have to be more careful and reconciled to something that isn’t quite like it’d look from a major publisher. The latest two versions of InDesign also let you publish in the ePub format, one of the most popular for ebooks.

My own book creating procedure has varied over time, but is settling down to:

  1. Collection ideas in WriteRoom on an iPod touch while a book gels in my mind.

  2. Create a draft of the book in Scrivener, using as many of its features as I can to get the text almost up to final quality but not caring about appearance. I write in plain text rather than RTF, tagging italic «this way,» bold with two of those symbols and bold italic with three. I have search & replace scripts for InDesign that apply the proper text styles to each of those. That takes care of most of my formatting needs.

  3. Finally, I format it to look right in InDesign. It’s pricey and has a steep learning curve, but it can’t be beat for making a book look professional, that is if you learn how to use it properly.

If you just want to do an occasional book, you might find it easier to go through one of the self-publishing companies such as BookLocker. They can generate a book from an RTF/Word file that you could probably create with Scrivener not bothering with Word. You’d have to ask them if that would work though.

Be careful which self-publishing company you go with and don’t expect any of them to make your book a bestseller. With them, promotion is your responsibility.

–Michael W. Perry, author of Untangling Tolkien

MMD/LaTeX is also an option. Fletcher posted some time back a 6x9 book format that works wonderfully with Scrivener, and the Lulu 6x9 book format. It makes a print-ready PDF.

That’s what I use when I want to get something printed via Lulu - done 3 already, getting 2 more done soon.