Scrivener for Windows and a Newbie! A little help...


First off, am really liking Scrivener so far, am only about a week into the free trial and already I think I need this software, so hopefully will be purchasing it, but - I’ve noted a few things missing from the Windows version that could be potential dealbreakers unless I can a find a suitable workaround.

So, I’m really looking for an all-in-one solution for planning, writing and then compiling my ebooks. So, Scrivener has the first two sorted, I’m loving the layout, the corkboard, the binder, the ease with which I can keep everything together. So, the compiling. I’ve done a few test compiles of mobi’s (will be testing epubs shortly. For test purposes, the examples given below are all for mobi’s) - can’t fault the formatting of the work itself, and the ability to embed the cover - awesome, liking that. But, my two big problems at the moment are the automatically generated table of contents and the inability to have live links to external url’s in the book.

The first issue, and correct me if I’m wrong or have simply done something dumb and messed this up, if I don’t define a TOC page myself, Scrivener seems to automatically create a contents page based on chapter names or numbers. In Kindle Previewer the chapters all appear left aligned on the page, but the links work, however, I’ve tested this on my Kindle Touch and the line spacing between the chapters is so small that unless I increase the font size to much larger than I need to read the book, there seems to be only a 50/50 chance of clicking on a link and ending up in the right place. So, from an astetic and functionality point of view, it looks a bit poor. I’ve found that by adding a titled contents page I can create a nicely formatted page myself and have it appear in the book, but the links don’t work. I believe I’ve read elsewhere on here that links get stripped in Scrivener at compile. Um, what? So, I can have an awful looking TOC that sort of works, or a nice looking TOC that isn’t interactive? This isn’t too bad in itself, because mobi’s created through Scrivener with Kindle Gen do at least create with those funky little goto guides embedded in them, which I frankly use more on my Kindle than contents pages, however, the links problem leads me into issue two;

No links work after compiling, not links to points in the book or to external websites? This is frankly a disaster. The importance of putting a link to the authors website and possibly direct links to their other books is huge. If someone finishes your book and wants more, there is a very good chance that if by clicking on your link, it takes them directly to a place where they can purchase that follow up book, at that moment they may just go for it and do it - you’ve made it that easy. However, even the extra steps of having to exit the book, enter the book purchasing store or open the built in browser, etc, could be enough to lose the instant sale. They may well follow through and actually still buy it, but some will not - they are avoidable loses.

So, what is the best solution. I’m trying to keep things to a single application but it appears that’s not possible, not with Scrivener at least. I can’t find any easy solutions for editing the compiled mobi’s from Scrivener to add back in these features that it’s missing. I’ve tried exporting a .word file from Scrivener then adding TOC and live links in MS Word, but I’m not sure what to do in terms of embedding the cover. Do you just add it as the first page? And then what? Do you compile it using Kindle Gen as a command line app - I really am rubbish as command line stuff, I hate using them. Or should I simply upload the .word file directly to Amazon?

I’m really not sure how to proceed.


As far as adding a link to an external website… I just tried it as follows, and it works for me (Windows 8.1 Pro, Scrivener for Windows 1.6 & 1.7).

For a link to an external web page:

  • Enter and select text that is to serve as a clickable link
  • Edit > Link > and enter or paste the desired URL

To test, I did the following two approaches:

  • Compiled to .mobi (Scrivener uses KindleGen for this) and verify that when open the .mobi, can see the link and that it works. Worked.
  • Compile to .epub and verify that when open the .epub, can see the link and that it works.
    Use Kindle Previewer to compile/convert the .epub to .mobi and verify that when open the .mobi, can see the link and that it works. Worked.

Works for me.

Scrivener can be an all-in-one solution. Whether you will find it satisfactory depends on what you are planning to publish and your likes/dislikes. Some use it or other software as all-in-one solutions, some don’t.

Those who don’t may opt to compile to .epub and do subsequent tweaking via epub editors such as Sigil, Calibre, etc.

As far as table of content (TOC) in Scrivener… haven’t done much with that myself, but based on discussions I’ve seen on the forum, in the manual and in various books/ebooks about Scrivener, my guess is you can do pretty much whatever you want… but there’s a learning curve.

Try searching the forum on “toc” and also on “table of content” and also search Amazon for books/ebooks regarding Scrivener, some or all of which should cover this. Also do a Google search for “Scrivener table of contents” related articles/posts/etc.

Glad to try to assist, but a first post that begins by incorrectly stating that features are missing and not working, rather than that one is having problems with learning those features, leaves me a bit less enthused about assisting.

Hope this helps.

Hi SpringfieldMH

I started my post by noting things were missing in the Windows version because things are missing in the Windows version that are present in the Mac version, I would dispute that there is anything incorrect in that statement. I understand this as fact, there are multiple posts about it, and constantly updated feature and wishlists of which features will be appearing are plastered all over this forum. It’s not a massive problem, I understand that the program is being developed on the MAC and the features are appeared at a graduated rate on the Windows version, this is a normal thing in multiplatform development, so it’s probably only a matter of time. So my queries are about how Windows Users work around these issues.

Anyway, TOC features are severely reduced when compiling on Windows, as comparing any screenshot from the MAC and PC compiling screen will show, and this quote taken from a topic in this very forum in early May

‘There isn’t a way to create a proper ToC in the current version of Scrivener. Stay tuned for the next update, which is coming very soon. You can already try it right now, if you’re willing to experiment with beta software, from our forum here.’

taken from this thread;

Seems to confirm this.

In short the Mac version lets you get funky with the TOC at the compile screen, the Windows version doesn’t at present, it generates either an ugly, unreliable TOC automatically or lets you create a page that doesn’t have active links, as far as my research shows.

I have tried exporting the book to MS Word and adding the links there, then using Kindle Previewer in conjunction with Kindle Gen to make the Mobi file, this works but does not seem to create the clever ‘Goto guides’ when loading the book onto an actual kindle (you know the bits that let you jump to the beginning, or the cover, etc).

As for the links - having thoroughly researched the Scrivener documentation and searched the forums here, I was under the understanding that you ‘add scrivener links’ for internal and external linking, but these links get stripped during compilation on the PC version and you just end up with plain text in your mobi. All online tutorials on this I find seem to reference the MAC version only, hence the reason I started in this particular forum.

I’m not at my computer at the moment, so when I get home I’ll double check and see if I can use your linking method, but I’m sure I tried that.



PS - I’ve read that the new beta seems to do more with TOC’s so maybe that won’t me a problem for much longer?

Okay, SpringfieldMH’s tip about Links to external sites appears to work - I was working with Scrivener links and failed to notice the options on other type of links! So, that is actually massive, that works a treat. I think I can live with the bizzare table of contents issues, so at this point I’m very happy and will mostly certainly be purchasing Scrivener. :laughing: