I write all my books on Scrivener software, I use it to format my ebooks and I also use it for pulling together ideas for Facebook advertising and other research projects.
But you can also use Scrivener for organizing and managing your blogging and book marketing.
In today's article, Matt Herron, author of Scrivener Superpowers: How to Use Cutting Edge Software to Energize Your Creative Writing Practice, shows us how.
Scrivener is great for writing long-form content like novels and nonfiction books, but have you ever considered using it to manage other large projects that require a lot of content—your book marketing, for example?
In addition to being the best writing software for drafting, editing, and compiling books, Scrivener also serves as a worthy project management tool for any marketing effort.
Book marketing can be intimidating.
Writers are often scattered when they approach the book launch process because it's strange and daunting. I know I was. I did way less than I could have during the launch of my first books, and I did a lot of it out of order or too late to be effective. That's why I put everything I've learned together into this book marketing plan, and use Scrivener to manage the chaos.
After all, you worked so hard to write your best book. Doesn't your book launch deserve the same attention and effort you gave the book itself?
Here are three ways that you can manage the post-production, launch, and marketing of your books in Scrivener.
1. Use Scrivener to Manage Your Blog
No book launch would be successful without an audience hungry for your book.
One way to build an audience is by publishing regularly on your blog. And while a single post on your blog is probably 500-2,000 words (on average), many blog posts over several years quickly adds up to hundreds of thousands of words.
Writing straight into your blog software (WordPress, Typepad, etc.) presents its own problems—you can't write offline, and searching through old blog posts to find mentions on a specific subject can be difficult. And what do you do about guest posts on someone else's blog?
That's why I like to keep all of my blog drafts in a single Scrivener project, and only post them in blog software when I'm ready. It streamlines my writing process and keeps everything in one place.
I like to have at least three folders in the Binder of a blog post Scrivener project. Ideas, rough drafts, and “Taken to WordPress” which means that I've posted it as a blog.
You can add extra levels of organization by year or category. You can also edit the label and status metadata in Scrivener to match your blog's structure.
Advanced Blog Formatting Tips in Scrivener
We're going to get a little technical here, but I love this time-saving tip for advanced users and have to share it.
Save yourself extra work formatting blog posts by using Markdown. Markdown formatting can be enabled on WordPress.com blogs with a checkbox; self-hosted WordPress users can install the wp-markdown plugin.
Once you get used to it, writing this way will save you a lot of time formatting blog posts. All you have to do is copy-and-paste the Markdown text into your WordPress editor (once Markdown formatting is enabled), and you'll get fully formatted blog posts with zero extra effort.
If your blog doesn't have a Markdown formatting option or you don't want to enable it, you can get the same benefit by using Scrivener's Compile setting to convert Markdown to HTML.
Write with Markdown in Scrivener, then Compile using the “MultiMarkdown -> Web Page (.html)” setting in the Compiler and get HTML that you can paste into your blog without writing any of the code yourself.
Once Compiled, the above Markdown example turns into in HTML like so:
You can post this HTML straight into the “Text” tab of WordPress (if that's what you're using), and your formatting is done!
2. Use Scrivener to Manage Social Media Campaigns
Another way to use Scrivener to manage your marketing is for social media campaigns.
I suggest writing a large majority of your social posts ahead of time in a single Scrivener file, organizing them into files/folders based on the social platform and campaign (I like to do them by month, as you can see in the screenshot above), and then using TweetDeck, HootSuite, or Buffer to schedule social posts 4-6 weeks at a stretch.
Keeping the social posts in Scrivener allows you to reuse them when appropriate instead of digging back through your Twitter or Facebook timeline to find what you posted in the past.
Writing social media posts up front also allows you to block your time and be more efficient. Don't waste your energy manually posting 3-5 times a day on social media when you could be writing the next book!
Another advantage of Scrivener for Instagram and Pinterest users is that Scrivener can store the images right alongside the text of your post so you can keep everything in one place, instead of in multiple folders on your computer.
3. Use Scrivener to Manage Your Book Launch
Here's the big one—how to use Scrivener to manage the launch of a new book.
A lot of writers I know (including myself!) severely underestimate the time and effort it takes to produce and market a book. Many steps need to be taken to ensure your book's success between the time you finish writing the book and the time you actually announce it to your readers.
What I've listed below is by no means the end-all-be-all launch process for every author. Some will do more, and some will do less. But with a couple books under my belt, I'm confident that my checklist will give you a great starting point for your own book launch. Take what I have below, and add your own spin to it.
How to Organize Your Book Launch in Scrivener
I separate the post-production and launch into four folders in Scrivener. I like to create a container folder inside the book I'm working on so that my book is right alongside the launch plan, but you could create a new Scrivener project to manage the launch if you want to.
The four folders are:
- Post-Production. Designing and producing your book for self-publication on ebook retailers.
- Launch. Sharing with beta readers, recruiting a launch/review team, uploading the book, and announcing the launch.
- Ads/Promotions. Any ads/promotions you're going to run prior to or during launch week.
- Marketing. Any other marketing efforts such as guest posts, interview appearances, articles, giveaways, launch parties, readings, etc.
Next, put to-do lists as documents in each folder. Each document is a single to-do task.
Under Post-Production, I start with this list of to-do items:
- Cover design
- Product description
- Amazon Keywords (7)
- Categories (2)
- Compile ebook – ePub and Mobi
- Compile ebook – PDF
- Compile print book
- Additional print book formatting (if necessary)
- Upload print book to CreateSpace
- Approve CreateSpace proof
- Order 20 CreateSpace books to give away
Again, this is not going to be a complete checklist for anyone, just a great starting point. For instance, notice that my checklist doesn't mention audiobook production. If that's part of your plan, then add it in!
This is how it looks in Scrivener:
As I complete each task, I change the icon to a green flag (hat tip to Joanna, who gave me that idea!). That allows me to keep track of what I've done so far. I use different colored flags to indicate different statuses of any given task. If I'm waiting on my designer to revise the book cover, for example, I might use a yellow flag to indicate that the task is pending:
That's as complicated as it gets. For each task, I put what I need inside the Editor (just like you were writing a scene in that document). If the task requires images, I put the images within the Editor or in the Binder under that to-do task. When it comes time to publish the book on Amazon, I can copy and paste what I need straight from this Scrivener project into KDP's interface for creating a new book.
Here's a checklist for the launch itself. I include the beta readers in the launch, and I also include the process of recruiting and asking for reviews in the launch. Again, feel free to move tasks around to fit your own process.
- Recruit list of beta readers
- Send book to beta readers
- Make beta reader edits
- Upload to Amazon
- Upload to iTunes
- Upload to Kobo
- Upload to Smashwords/Draft2Digital/Other retailers [make a document for each]
- Send Advanced Review Copies (ARCs) to reviewers
- Ask people to post reviews
- Send launch newsletter
- Post launch blog
- Post launch social media
I don't expect that everyone will have an intensive advertising plan for a book launch. I usually don't. My list is pretty short here:
- Apply for online ads (BookBub, Fussy Librarian, etc.)
- Follow up with reviewers again
- Write Facebook ads
- Run Facebook ads
Brainstorm some other promotions you can run. Get creative! Sometimes the best marketing is something unique to your audience that only you can pull off.
The marketing list is longer than my promotions checklist, and it gets longer because I add a to-do for each guest post, for each pitch, and for each appearance. Don't let quantity trump quality, but keep in mind that the more people you can reach, the more books you have the potential to sell.
- Write posts on my own blog
- Publish and promote posts on my own blog
- Design social media images
- Write social media posts
- Schedule social media posts
- Write guest blog for _______ [one to-do for each guest post]
- Pitch podcasts/radio shows for interviews
- Pitch newspapers/blogs/etc.
- Perform interview
- Promote interview [one to-do for each].
This list is pretty generic. Brainstorm more ways to set yourself apart in your marketing. Ask yourself how you can stand out from the crowd of books being self-published every day.
For nonfiction, have you thought about doing a webinar? For fiction, can you produce some exclusive content to attract dedicated readers and make them superfans for life?
Make Your Own Book Launch Plan
Every author and every book launch is unique. Make this launch plan and process your own. Set goals and work to achieve them using Scrivener as a tool to stay organized and get your book into the world.
I've learned a lot about launching books since my first one, and I feel way more confident when I use this process and have Scrivener to help me stay organized. Using the to-do tasks, I can break the work down into bite-sized chunks and tackle them one at a time.
What else do you include in your book launch plan? How do you manage the launch process? Let us know in the comments below and join the conversation.
About the Author
Matt Herron is the author of Scrivener Superpowers: How to Use Cutting-Edge Software to Energize Your Creative Writing Practice. He has a degree in English Literature, a dog named Elsa, and an adrenaline addiction sated by rock climbing and travel. The best way to get in touch with him is on Twitter @mgherron.