I’ve been quickly falling in love with Scrivener, a word processing software specifically for long-form projects like novels. But I originally bought it because I heard it could be used to create your own ebook files – meaning I didn’t have to depend solely on the conversion processes at retail sites like Amazon and Smashwords. If I had my own, private ebook files, I could do a number of things with them, such as send copies to book reviewers, use free copies as incentives to email list subscribers, maybe even sell books directly on my website.
So I bought Scrivener …
Then I basically let it sit and rot on my laptop. Truth be told, I couldn’t find the energy to learn yet another piece of technology. It seems like that’s all I’ve been doing since I became an indie author!
A couple of months ago, I finally sat down with a small project – a short story I wanted to give away on my author website – and looked up a tutorial on how to create ebook files with Scrivener.
I could not believe how easy it was. Here’s the tutorial:
So, why should you generate your own .mobi and .epub files?
Build Your Mailing List
Let’s say you want to give readers a free book in exchange for their subscription to your newsletter. (Building your email list is THE number one thing you should be doing to secure long-lived sales, by the way.) For the longest time, I was sending my subscribers over to Smashwords with one of their handy-dandy coupon codes.
There were a few problems with that, though. For starters, people have to create a profile with Smashwords before they can download their book. Extra steps involving a third party? Bleh! I consistently noticed a difference between the number of subscribers I was picking up and the number of people actually downloading my freebie.
Another problem lay in the terminology. A really good Facebook ad or popup will say, “Just tell me where to send your free book.” And then it’ll have a field for you to fill in your email address. They then get an auto-responder … which does not contain the ebook. It sends them to Smashwords with a coupon code. Well, la-de-da. You could have given them the link up-front and they wouldn’t have had to give you their email address!
It’s just smoother all around to be able to include the book itself as an attachment in an email. They give you their email address. You give them the book. Boom. Done.
Send Copies to Book Reviewers
Have you ever been offered a book in exchange for an honest review and been given a PDF? Great. Now you’ve got to read it on your computer – which just isn’t as cozy as curling up with your Kindle! You can always sideload or email the PDF to your ereader, but the formatting on a PDF is fixed – meaning the text won’t reflow and you can’t change the font size. The PDF page will be squished on your ereader, forcing you to squint. (Trust me, I’ve done this!)
Wouldn’t it be so much simpler to send .mobi and .epub files so your reviewer can comfortably enjoy your book on any reading device? Who knows, maybe a more comfortable reading experience will even result in a better review!
Sell Books Directly on Your Website
I’m getting a little purist here, but I will not consider myself to be a truly “independent” author until I’m not entirely dependent on ebook retail platforms like Amazon to sell my books. It is possible to sell your books directly from your website. So in the case of an Amazon apocalypse, you’ll still be set to go! But you need to be able to format your own ebooks in order to sell them. Again, Scrivener comes to the rescue with how easy it is to create your own .mobi and .epub files!
All of these are the reasons why I decided to buy Scrivener and learn the trick. Like I said, it was infinitely easier than I anticipated – by far one of the simplest tech hacks I’ve picked up in years!
What would you do with your own ebook files?