Working with an outside editor

I’ve looked all over for an answer to this question with no luck. I just finished writing my first draft of my book, and I hired an editor who’s new to Scrivener. I started to work on second draft revisions in another color, and he started editing my work as well. We keep the file in DropBox where we both have access. He tells me he can’t see my edits in this second revision, and I have no idea where to find his revisions which he clams are saved in the same file. What terrifies me is that we could end up wiping out one or the other’s work. Can someone help me out?

Thank you in advance.

Scrivener projects are not meant to be edited by 2 (or more) people at the same time. If you’re not very careful to close out the project before they open it (after allowing Dropbox to sync), then you’re likely causing conflicts.

In finder, CTRL-click on your project and select “Show Package contents”. Then use the finder’s search field to look for files with “conflicted” in their names. If you find any, drag copies to your desktop, open the project in Scrivener, and drag those files into the binder somewhere and examine them for the missing edits.

In general, you can’t do simultaneous edits on a project and have the data go both ways. The only way I know that works is to do the following:

  1. Use File->Save As to create a copy (I suggest putting your editor’s initials in the name of this copy.
  2. Get that copy to your editor, however you like, such as a shared dropbox folder.
  3. Agree to a list of documents in the binder that they will be working on (and no others except what they create).
  4. Do not touch the editor’s copy during this process, only your original project.
  5. Do not work on any of those files in your ORIGINAL project while they’re doing their part.
  6. Once they are done with their edits, make sure you have access to that version.
  7. Open your copy of the project, where you have done edits/writing on files your editor was not modifyiing.
  8. Use File->Import->Scrivener Project. Scrivener should detect that the other project is a copy of the first one and merge changes from your editor’s copy
  9. Trash the editor’s copy and start over the next time you need to collaborate with them.

This is covered in the manual under section 5.3, starting on page 76, under the heading “Merging Changes from One Project into Another”

How did you give your editor access to the Dropbox account and folder where you have your project?

Thank you for your replies.

Lunk, I created a separate DropBox where I keep my Scrivener files. I gave my editor access to the same DropBox.

Rdale, thank you for the advice as well. I’ll give it a try. I’ve only worked in Scrivener alone until now.


If you both have the Dropbox app installed and are logged in to the same Dropbox account, then it should work just as if you were accessing the project from two different computers. But you can’t simultaneously be logged in to another Dropbox account. You should only have one Dropbox folder in Finder, pointing to that same, shared account, on both your machines.

Or did you just give your editor access to a specific Finder Dropbox folder subfolder, where you have the project? That is the safest way. It will essentially work the same way and is safer, as it means you can keep whatever else you have in your Dropbox account. But both will need to access the project via Finder, and let the Dropbox app sync everything before closing the laptop or opening the project when starting over again.

To add to rdale’s advice, which is indeed the intended workflow for two people working on the same project, you can use metadata to help track and organise the stuff going on in step (2). The Status field, for example, is great for this. You can set the areas you intend to have them work on to “Out for Edits”, and create a search collection for them that gathers that stuff automatically. When they are done, they can change the status to “Review Edits”, and you can have your own collection for tracking that stuff. So long as you both are rigorous about “checking out” and “checking in”, it should be easy to avoid conflicts.

But if it does happen, that’s what the project backup is for, along with how Scrivener takes snapshots of everything that will be merged, before doing so. It’s not ideal, but actual data loss should be very difficult.

The only adjustment I would make, to the advice given, is to use the File ▸ Back Up ▸ Back Up To… command, rather than Save As:

  • Rather than confusingly ending up switching to the editor’s copy, which you then have to remember to close and go back and re-open the original, you stay in the original project.
  • By default it puts a date and time stamp into the name, which can be very handy for making sure everyone is on the same page with what is latest. Even if you trash the previous copy, which is a good idea, this can be very handy.