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Self-pub practice (or, I made a book!)


I made a book!

Before I gave my “Ebooks Made Easy with Scrivener” workshop at the Romance Writers of America National Conference last month, I figured I’d better actually go through the entire process of creating a book, from writing to publication.

I’m so glad I did! I learned a few helpful tricks about how to set things up that never would have occurred to me had I not gone through it from start to finish. Plus, now I have a bit of street cred. 😉

The hardest part was coming up with something to publish. I figured if I was going to put a book out there, it might as well have value to someone. But my fiction’s not ready, I can’t write anything that competes with Scrivener For Dummies, and I didn’t have time to create something completely from scratch.

Then it hit me. I taught an online course for RWA University in June about writing tools for the PC and Mac, where I talked about free and low-cost software programs and apps that help you reduce distractions, collect research, manage your time better, organize your writing, and back up your work.

The five-day class received a positive response, so I figured that it was useful information. If anyone bothered to pay 99¢ for it, I didn’t want them to feel cheated.

So, I expanded and polished my lessons and compiled them into a short ebook—I’d call it an ebooklet, equivalent to around 30 pages—called Productivity Tools For Writers.

Voila! Instant book, (hopefully) worthwhile content, and good practice for me. And, hey, I’ve even sold a few copies. 🙂

Next stop: fiction.

Tell your friends!


  1. Robert Angel


    Thanks. Just bought the book. Will read it with interest. You’re a dynamo!

    Beavering away here on the second novel, “Death, Long Long Ago.” Bob

  2. Reply

    I just bought it. I am about to release a series of blog posts on same topic, so will be interested to see how your tool / approach compare to what I have come up with over the last month. I cannot believe it has only been a month since I bought Scrivener.

      • Reply

        Will do. I certainly agree with your ‘big 3’ of Scrivener, Evernote and Drop Box and am using all three in a highly integrated manner. Also using iThoughtsHD for Mind Mapping Sigil for ePub editing (which you alerted me to), Notepad++ for HTML and CSS editing, plus a few others for specialized tasks as required.

  3. Reply

    Just bought it! Honestly, Gwen, when I read the first few sentences of this post, I wondered, ‘did anyone leave RWA13, not wanting to make a stab at self-publishing?’ LOL Then, I continued reading and jumped to Amazon -you are a Efficiency Maven, no doubt! I know you’ll show me something I can use. My latest tools, which say a lot about my demons, are ‘Freedom’ and ‘AntiSocial’ from -it’s kind of like my own cone of silence 😉 Looking forward to reading! Have a productive day!

    • Reply

      Cristine: I felt the same way after Atlanta. Such a switch from two years ago, or even last year. Thanks for buying the book! I hope you get something out of it. I mention Freedom and other products for minimizing disruptions. Everyone needs a distraction-free zone, I think.

  4. Reply

    I have a Nook, but I’m getting the amazon APP just so I can buy this book, because I know they’ll be great tips in it and because I missed the session at RWA. I have ebooklet ideas, so I’m looking forward to this! Thanks, Gwen!

    • Reply

      Wow, Elke, I’m flattered. Thanks! I really need to get the book up on BN and Apple, just for the practice, at least. Good luck with your own booklets. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Self-pub practice (or, I made a book!) | Everything Scrivener

  6. Carol Harvey


    Just purchased my copy and wish you many more sales. Look forward to reading it. Thanks for the info.

  7. Reply

    Hi Gwen. First time commenter here.
    I had the same great learning experience with my first ebook. I did the same thing, writing about something I know fairly well, with content that I thought was worthwhile, but mainly to learn how to e-publish. I bought Scrivener for that, and loved it. Now I want to write more, in my field, but I want to become a Scrivener power user first. So I’ll be in your September online course. Already signed up and looking forward to it!
    I would love to know some of your e-publishing insights, including finding inexpensive book cover designers, and finding inexpensive images. I don’t mind paying a little, but I too plan on selling my little masterpieces for 99 cents each. I can’t rule the world if I have to pay out for every little thing! LOL

    • Reply

      Fred: I look forward to seeing you in class. Maybe I’ll run a post on some of the things I learned when I did this booklet. I’m not the best to ask for cover designers or art. For this one, I used my own image and made the cover with, which is super easy to use for basic cover art like mine. Good luck!

      • Reply

        Yeah, I did my own cover as well, and I’m happy how it turned out. But I now plan on writing a series, and I want a more professional look. I’d be using the same cover throughout the series, changing only the titles, to promote brand recognition. So I think a professional design might be in order.

    • Reply

      Cristine: Yeah, due to the nature of how web pages are written, Scrivener doesn’t always handle then well, and likely never will (not worth their effort). I prefer to use The References feature. In Scrivener instead, or Evernote. 🙂

  8. Bozz


    I’m a fan, so of course I bt. it pronto. Read it ditto. It’s both practical and, like all your work, readable. I also love Scapple, developed by Scrivener’s Keith Blount. I took your online Scivener course a couple of years ago in August. So helpful. As is your Dummies book, my favourite bedside reading. I keep finding new ideas in it, new ways to save time.

    I have a small problem with Templates. Since your Dummies book came out, Mac OS X Lion seems to have buried the library files somewhere, so I can’t revert to the orig. template I need and have over-written without changing the filename.

    Happy writing!

    • Reply

      Bozo: Thanks for the feedback and kind comments. And for buying my books!

      Bummer on the template. Have you tried searching in Finder? Can you just create a new one based on the project you have?

  9. Reply

    Way to go, Gwen! Yes, next stop for you. Fiction. It’s going to be great. Wishing you many sales of your Dummies and self-pubbed book. 🙂

  10. Maria Santos


    Hi Gwen,
    I was in your last Scrivener class. Loved it. I see from the postings that you recommend Evernote. It probably syncs better with Scrivener than Simplenote? (that’s the one I use). I use Simplenote for just jotting quick notes, but for bigger projects, I use Notebooks. I found it after your Scrivener class. It has a similar” binder” organization. It syncs with my iPhone, iPad and Mac! I’m taking an online UCLA course and I can toggle back and forth during class to take notes on it. I wish Scrivener had iPad and iPhone capabilities (besides Index Cards).

    Are you going to teach a self-publishing class?

    I bought two of your Dummies books and will now have to get your ebook!

    Thanks for your generosity,

    • Reply

      Maria: Actually, I think the L&L guys recommend Simplenote for syncing with Scrivener. I don’t tend to write on my iPad, so I haven’t fooled around with it too much. Honestly, I’d just copy and paste, but for editing, it helps to have a note program. And, hopefully Scrivener for iOS will be along later this year or early next year.

      I might consider a Scrivener-centric self-pub class. For general self-pub info, there are much more experienced people than me teaching about it. Amy Atwell, for example.

      Good luck with your UCLA class. I wish I’d had half of these tools when I was in college! 🙂

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