Digital Dodging

So you’ve written something using Scrivener, and now you’re ready to publish it to Amazon as an e-book. Scrivener will output the .mobi format that Amazon Kindle uses, so you just click a couple of times and you’re good to go, right?

Well, not quite.

This post is partly a memo to myself, because by next year, when I have another book, I will have forgotten the details. But if you use Scrivener (and if you don’t, you should!), you may find these tips useful.

The problem, I’ve found, is that Scrivener doesn’t leave blank lines consistently where you put them in your files. Sometimes the blank lines are fine, other times they get eaten. So a chapter head or the title of a short story may be jammed down against the following text, with no blank line. It’s ugly, and it looks unprofessional. If you’re self-publishing, it’s up to you to look professional.

To fix this annoying little problem, you’ll need two free programs — Sigil and Calibre.

Step 1: Export from Scrivener as a .mobi file. Load this into the free Kindle app and have a look. You may be fine, or not. If you see problems, continue as described below.

Step 2: Export the e-book from Scrivener not as .mobi but as .epub. Sigil does not load .mobi.

Step 3: Load the .epub into Sigil. It will show you a series of items (body1, body2, etc.).

Step 4: Find a line of html that produces the spacing you want. You’ll have to check the Kindle app to find the right line. For instance:

<p class="scrivener13">&nbsp;</p>

Step 5: Paste this in place of whatever line of code is failing to produce the vertical space. (In my case, the class was “scrivener7”.)

Step 6: Save your .epub under a new name.

Step 7: Launch Calibre and load the .epub into it.

Step 8: Use Calibre’s Format option to save your book as a .mobi.

Step 9: Delete the previous .mobi book from the Kindle app, because it won’t let you load the same book (or what it thinks is the same book) twice. Then drag your new .mobi over to the Kindle app. Check it carefully!

See, that wasn’t hard at all, was it?

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