working with publisher's editor?

hello all.

[I did a topic search but didn’t find this addressed – I’m sorry if it’s duplicative.]

so, my sister got a book contract! I told her about Scrivener (she’s used to Word) and she is enthusiastic but worried about how she’ll trade versions with an editor. the idea that she’d have to export the current version to Word, send it off, get a revision back, open it in Word, go through edits and accept them and then re-import into Scrivener seems, legitimately, like a waste of time – especially if she will need to then cut that down into it’s respective pieces / sections / fragments. I’d like to find a solution because I do think, for what she’s doing, Scrivener is by-and-away a better composition tool than Word.

has anyone dealt with this scenario and what advice do you have? I told her to inquire of the editor if they use Scrivener because I assume (please confirm if you have an opinion) that projects could be shared in a common dropbox and this would simplify everything.

thanks in advance!

what you describe has pretty much been my experience, unfortunately, but I’ve been working with journal articles (8-12k words) where I generally just do further revisions in Word. But on the occasions where I’ve copied changes back to Scrivener, it has been a lot less work than expected. Especially with section headings or other logical breaks corresponding to Scrivener documents. I think the benefits of Scrivener are well worth taking the time to get the changes in sync.

thanks for the reply derick. I’m disappointed not to (yet) have a more encouraging response. my sister isn’t the most tech savvy and I don’t think this solution will fly for her… I guess I’ll keep my fingers crossed to see if anyone has a better solution.

If the editor uses Track Changes–and almost all do–Scrivener won’t handle it gracefully. It’s meant to be a writing tool, to take you from a raw idea all the way up to manuscript submission. But, with a few rare exceptions, the editorial world (in which I lived and worked for 28 years until I retired in February) works in Word, and lives and dies by Track Changes.

That being said, there are other options that handle Track Changes. Apple Pages, for one. I finished a book last winter in Scrivener and compiled a Word file for my publisher. A few months ago the book came back in Word, with, of course Track Changes and marginal Comments and the full range of editorialism. I opened it in Pages, saved it as a Pages file, stepped through the Track Changes, and emailed it back exported as a Word file. It worked, as we say in Maine, slicker’n a cuppa custard.

When the final round of proofing was over (via PDFs), I imported the file back into Scrivener for archival purposes, used Split at Selection to break it back up into chapters, and considered it done.

It would be nice to have stayed in Scrivener the whole time, but in today’s publishing world it’s rarely practical. I’ve written three books in Word (and edited a couple of hundred), but after 10 years with Scrivener I’d never consider actually writing a book in Word.

Standard publisher workflow is to perform copy-edits in Word, using tracked changes and comments, which author then is expected to review and annotate/correct in Word. They then typeset in something like InDesign and send out PDFs for you to mark up and return – either by printing them out or by doodling on them in a PDF editor. (Bonus points if you’re with Random House USA who still expect you to deal with paper page proofs, because dinosaurs walk among us to this day.)

I’ve tried to convince young, flexible, tech-savvy editors to use Scrivener; let’s just say, it ended in tears (because the other 98% of their workflow involves Word).

One piece of advice – if you’re on a Mac, avoid the current release of Word (2016?) like the plague; change tracking is incredibly buggy – Word 2011 ain’t as pretty but at least it doesn’t crash every 5 minutes on a novel-length MS with tracked changes!

Wow I’ve had exactly the opposite experience with Word 2016 - seems to be by far the most stable and Mac-like version yet. Might your document be corrupted somehow?

Hi, I’d like to tag onto this.

Import is pretty broken it seems like (I’m on Windows) as any tracked changes import as underlines and color changes! I tried looking at the snapshots, and they are blank (Documents-> Show Snapshots).

One idea I had regarding using with a publisher’s editor - can the RTF files be edited with “an external editor” so when you click on a text file, in the outline for example, it just loads up Word?

I imagine the problem then is that “master documents” I don’t think are really supported, but it might be one way to have your cake and eat it too.

I really do live or die via track changes, but I was rather surprised to find out importing a word document didn’t preserve H1 (Style Header 1) breaks as being chapter breaks in Scrivener.

(Sorry for the rambling post, seemed related).

== John ==

I think that for several writing-based fields, Scrivener’s lack of track changes functionality is a grave problem. I would like to learn from Literature and Latte whether there is the intent to bring in capability commensurable to the Review-based functions in Word. There are ways to work around this limitation in Scrivener (e.g. using snapshots) but in the end it is not a viable solution for serious collaborative work, whether this is with an editor per se or a colleague marking up a draft. To my thinking, this shortfall is Scrivener’s greatest limitation.

I’m wondering if anyone has tried this workflow using LibreOffice. It seems the biggest objection is having to use Word, which is a behemoth and costs money. Other answers here seem to indicate this works perfectly in Pages, which certainly seems to take care of the Apple customers.

Personally, I wouldn’t be without a reasonably-recent copy of Word on my PC; too much of the rest of the world depends on it. But if author-to-editor round-tripping works well in LibreOffice, there’s no reason to go through the expense for one end of the writing workflow.

FWIW, I’ve used Scrivener for serious collaborative work. At one point in one project, I had markup suggestions from six (!) different co-authors at three different companies. My solution was to accept the changes in Word, and then import the result(s) into Scrivener for further work. Since some of the suggestions were mutually exclusive, I can’t even imagine how I would have attempted to untangle the mess in a conventional word processor.

YMMV, of course, and we do expect that many users will need to migrate to other tools at some point. But to dismiss Scrivener entirely as “not a viable solution” is just as inaccurate as pretending that it can do every task for every writer.


I’ve posted about my unhappy experience with my publisher and coauthor’s insistence on using Word elsewhere. In summary, it was a frequently frustrating tag team battle among Scriv, Word and Pages, with me being the loser. The big problem was Pages’ inability to retain the endnote style used in Word, though there were others. This was only a major annoyance when my coauthor did the initial chapter drafts (in Word), which I would then have to import into Scrivener to work with and return to him, with changed endnote formatting. When I initiated the chapter in Scrivener, there was no problem as we would continue in Word, when Scrivener,s main advantages (like rearranging the structure) really didn’t apply.

I think there were a few other hiccups but I’ve tried to banish the whole unpleasant episode from my memory. But all the hassles were easily worth it for the tremendous benefits Scrivener offered in 90 percent of the work, the creative and organizational parts that really make the book what it is: far, far better and easier to write than it would have been without Scrivener. I hope your sis doesn’t let any cross platform translation issues keep her from benefiting from the best long form writing tool invented since the word processor.

That said, I’d surely welcome seamless change tracking support 'twixt Word and Scrivener. But even without it, once the structure is in place and the manuscript reaches the publisher, most changes are likely to be on the copyediting/proofreading side, where Word is adequate if not exactly enjoyable. And I’m not even sure the problems we encountered still exist. New versions of Pages have cured some of the ills, and when we looked at the final copy edits from the editor, I just used the free version of Word available to iPad users (except the 12.9" Pro version; I have the smaller Pro), which worked great, even better than a Mac, I daresay.

BTW, iPad is fabulous for editing, which occupies half my time. And I don’t even use the Pencil, though if one arrives in my Christmas stocking, I’ll eagerly give a try. It seems an ideal tool for marking up manuscripts, though Pages, Word and Google Docs (the platforms I use with different writers) all work fine without it. I much prefer to read drafts and manuscripts on my iPad Pro than on my Mac or Cinema Display.

The pencil works extremely well. I annotate e.g. student’s work on my 12" Pro, and also scientific articles I read. So make a wish for Christmas. :slight_smile:

About collaboration: the sensible solution is to force every co-author and editor to get Scrivener. :smiley:

Chiming in late, but once I’ve exported to Word and get revisions from my editor, I work in Word. That won’t change unless Scriv suddenly gets track changes that will work seamlessly with Word.
I guess if I wanted to merge a few scenes or something, I might do that in Scriv and copy/paste the revised version into the Word doc but I don’t usually bother. Scriv doesn’t really have features that make it easier to work through addressing an editor’s comments and tracked changes for me. I would refer back to the world stuff in my Scriv project and update that as I do edits but wouldn’t update the actual text.
Unless you get major structural changes to do, usually it’s not worth the hassle of reimporting and trying to capture the track changes etc. Some editors want the edits back with changes tracked too, so that would be another level of pain.
Scriv makes my drafting much easier, so it’s worth the bit of pain in Word at the end :smiley:

I often share my work before the structure is set 100%, so being able to shift things around after I get it back from proofreaders is essential to me. Working in Word at that stage is not (yet) practical. Please, please, please make it possible to preserve both the changes and the structure!