Scrivener Review for v3.0 + 20% Discount! [Review + Video]

Scrivener-Review-plus-Scrivener-versus-Word
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[Updated] This Scrivener review includes information on the new Scrivener 3.0 for Mac.

When I was an Apple employee and working on my master's degree years ago, I received a Scrivener review copy. This wasn't unusual since many companies ask Apple employees to try their software.

However, of all the software I received while working there, Scrivener was the only one I kept and still use today as an author.

If you're looking to get a Scrivener coupon code, you can click my link here and use this discount code:

Get 20% off by clicking here for Mac or here for PC and enter the special code of KINDLEPRENEUR when purchasing. If you're upgrading to Mac 3.0, then use this coupon code for 50% off: SCRIV3MAC

Also, please understand that some links in this article are affiliate links but will not cost you any extra to use them – actually you'll save money thanks to the 20% off coupon code.

What Is Scrivener?

This beloved writing program has been dubbed the tool for writers for good reason.

It's known for being:

  1. Powerful
  2. Customizable
  3. Organized

Organize with ScrivenerScrivener is software that lets you compile all your research, character notes, and anything else you need to write your book within one project, within one program. It’s often described as a virtual three-ring binder because it literally lets you have all the folders, tabs, labels, and flags that you could possibly want for your creative endeavors in a sleek and organized way.

It was created as a novel writing software for both Mac and PC users to help writers organize long-form content. This writing software is loved by writers of all kinds: fiction, nonfiction, academic work, even Jeff Goins, Joanna Penn, and Michael Hyatt.

Because it’s an advanced word processor that manages your projects all in one place, there is a learning curve. There are tons of ways you can use and customize this writing program to fit your needs as a writer. But with a small time investment up front to learn, and a scant $40-$45, this tool could change your entire world as a writer and self-published author.

I know it’s changed mine. And I’ll show you some of my favorite features in a video later on.

Scrivener vs Word – What’s The Difference?

You can't complete a Scrivener review without answering the two most frequently asked questions I get about the program:

  1. What’s the difference between Scrivener and Word?
  2. Is it really that much better than Word?

And my answer to the latter is always, YES!

In my opinion, Word is a tolerable word processor for writing short content. Scrivener is an advanced word processor and project management tool with tons of capabilities, including formatting, which makes it the best software for writers who write longer content, like books or dissertations.

So in a nutshell, Word is a great program for those who need to write memos or quick business content. However–as you'll see in this Scrivener review–Scrivener was developed specifically with authors in mind.

But before we get into some of the key differences between Scrivener and Word, and why I truly believe every author should make the investment, let's look at them side by side:

Scrivener vs Word Chart: What's the Difference…

Word Scrivener
Word processor – can write and format text   x   x
Grammar and spell check   x   x
No distraction writing mode   x   x
Track changes   x   x
Export as PDF or .doc   x   x
Format for ebook publishing (.mobi or .ePub or .docx)   x
Format for selling boxsets   x
Project management tool – can hold research files   x
Automatically saves your work   x
Frequent crashes or needs force quit   x
Set project target (words and deadlines)   x
Templates for writers and authors   x
Designed for writing long content   x
Excessive scrolling, copying, and pasting needed to revise long texts   x
Easy drag and drop capabilities   x
Simple way to break up large project into small chunks   x
Can mesh multiple texts into one with one click   x
Split screen view horizontally or vertically to view two texts as one (e.g., research and writing)   x
Corkboard view with index cards   x
Can use beautiful backgrounds while writing   x
Add labels, flags, and status updates to individual texts   x
Easily sort all scenes with a certain character or location   x
Sync work on multiple devices   x $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month to get it on 5 devices   x with a license for each platform. Sync through Dropbox or iTunes
Cost   $69.99 Per Year for one computer   $45 for Mac or $40 for PC one-time purchase price
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If you’re happy with Word and it’s doing everything you want it to do, then, by all means, don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.

But if you’re frustrated with Word, you want to break up a huge project of writing books into smaller, easier tasks, you'd like to customize your writing experience, or see if writing can be more enjoyable, then this could become your favorite program for writing a book.

Has Scrivener Changed Your #WritersLife?Click To Tweet

Our Favorite Scrivener Features

With so many features Scrivener has to offer, it's hard to choose between them. But here's a few of our favorites that really showcase the power of Scrivener!

Break up your big project into smaller pieces: Let’s say you’re writing a 20-chapter book. In Word, you’d either have to create 20 different files for each chapter and go back and forth between them all while trying to write your book, or you’d have to scroll for ages to find your place and try to get your text to mesh well. Whether you write fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, or anything of length, the ease at which you can break up a big task into smaller parts is probably my favorite feature.

Formatting: Yes, self-publishers, once you’re done writing your killer book, you can format it right through Scrivener! You can “compile” your finished document into a variety of formats for Kindle or ePub, as a Word .doc or PDF, or even as an academic thesis that matches academic standards. This could easily save you the money you invested to buy the software by not having to hire a formatter or buy a software solely for formatting.

Templates: This program has templates for fiction, nonfiction, scriptwriting and more. These are a game changer for those who want a software to help write their own book. I even know bloggers and podcasters who use it for writing and organizing their work. While Word has templates for resumes, flyers, and research papers, it has nothing for writing books–probably because it’s not designed for longer texts.

scrivener project templates

Drag and drop like magic: As you’re working, you might realize the flow is off, and it only takes a split second to drag and drop one part of the book to a new spot. No excessive scrolling. No losing your spot amongst the hundreds of pages of text. It just works like software for writing your own book should.

Set writing targets: This little feature lets you set targets for your project and individual writing sessions. When you start a new project, say you're looking to write a 25,000-word nonfiction book, and you want to write 1,500 words every time you sit down to write. It automatically tracks your progress toward your overall goal and resets itself each time you open it up for a new writing session. This is incredibly helpful for sticking to a daily writing goal and seeing your progress toward finishing your book.

project and session target scrivenerCharacter and scene sketches: Another feature for those looking for a novel writing software is a place for your characters and scenes within your project binder. You can add memorable details, like which side of the neck a tattoo was on, character background details, and you can upload a sketch or image that was an inspiration to a character.

scrivener character sketch boba fett

Store your research files: There's a special folder in each project for your book research, such as photographs, audio files, video, notes from Evernote, notes from your editor. You don’t have to switch between different programs or windows. It’s all right there in your project “binder.” Word has nothing like this.

Scrivener for iOS and Andriod: If you love the ability to write on your mobile device, then I've got good news for you.  Check out these newer features and options on syncing with simplenote and the iOS Scrivener review.

Working view options: No Scrivener review would be complete without mentioning the different view options used to help you organize your writing. In addition to the main editor of viewing a single document (like what you see when you use Word), it has three more view options to match any author's writing preference.

1. Corkboard – all sub-documents are seen as index cards on a corkboard. Each index card can have a summary of that document. This is great for visualizing, rearranging, finding gaps, and story boarding. You can easily drag and drop, add or delete notecards.

corkboard view2. Outliner – see sub-documents as rows of text, like an outline, and columns of other information, such as status or label. This is great for those who want to see the outline in a linear fashion. You can rearrange easily with drag and drop in this view too.

scrivener outliner view

3. “Scrivenings” – combines separate documents so you can view them as one. This is great for when you start combining separate chapters to see how they flow, without having to open a bunch of different files and mess with copying and pasting.

scrivenings view

Frankly, using Word to write your novel is like the Hobbits not using the Eagles to fly to Mordor. They still got there, but seriously, it would have been so much easier and a lot less death.

An author without Scrivener is like Hobbits not using Eagles #Scrivener #WritingTipClick To Tweet

How Does Scrivener's Price Compare to Others?

In the grand scheme of things, Scrivener's got some pretty fair pricing when comparing it to other writing applications. Full-fledged or lightweight mobile apps.

For instance, here's a list of competing services and their corresponding costs:

  • Ulysses (Full Size): $39.99/year or $4.99/monthy
  • Write Room (App): $9.99
  • iA Writer (Full Size): $29.99/Mac or $19.99/Windows
  • Final Draft (Full Size): $249.99
  • Script Studio (Full Size): $199.95

Here's a quick analysis… When compared to Ulysses, Scrivener easily wins. If you're going to use the software for more than a year–which you probably will–you're already saving money. Write Room and iA Writer just don't have the power that Scrivener has, and for a one time cost… paying that extra 10 bucks is more than worth it.

As far as the script writing software goes, you can generate professional top-notch scripts using Scrivener at a literal fraction of the cost!

BUT…that's only if you buy Scrivener at its full price. Keep reading our Scrivener review and grab our 20% Scrivener discount code below to maximize your savings.

Scrivener Discount Coupon Code

I'm super stoked to let you know that I have a special set of coupon discounts for you.  If you click this for PC, or this for MAC, and enter the coupon code of KINDLEPRENEUR, you'll get 20% off.

If for some reason that doesn't work, then you can access more coupon codes here.

Let's See a Side By Side Comparison of Scrivener vs Word


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Courses To Help You Use Scrivener to Write a Novel

A key to being a successful author, like the authors who reveal their secrets in MasterClass courses, is having the right tools. Another key is knowing how to use them.

A writer’s tools have transformed from pen and paper to typewriter, to computer word processor, to customizable book writing software.

You can save yourself quite a bit of time and pain of figuring out all the features by learning from those who know the program inside and out.

The software itself has a comprehensive manual and links to YouTube video tutorials, but I also found it super helpful to take the popular course by Joseph Michael.

Scrivener-CourseI’m a fan of Joseph Michael’s Learn Scrivener Fast course because:

  • The short 1-3 minute videos are easy to consume
  • You can watch step-by-step or jump to the lessons you need most
  • It has separate videos for Mac and PC when the software differs
  • The extra tips and tricks for authors are valuable
  • Upgraded course levels have ninja tips & tricks and work smarter sections, which include videos like how to make it mesh with Evernote
  • Bonus content: templates, working with an editor, writing backgrounds, how Jeff Goins and Joanna Penn use it, planning a novel and more!

Amazon shows at least 10 books on the topic, but I find it most helpful to see the tool in action in quick videos so I can apply it. That’s why my go-to resource is Learn Scrivener Fast.

learn scrivener fast logoTaking an hour or two to learn with this course will save you hours of frustration later.

Scrivener 3 vs Scrivener 2 Review Info

Literature and Latte released version 3 on November 20th, 2017.

For a quick look at the major changes, consult our handy table below. A more in-depth exploration of the new features can in this Scrivener 3 vs 2 comparison.

Scrivener 3 vs Scrivener 2

Scrivener 3Scrivener 2
Available for MacYesYes
Available for WindowsIn 2019Yes
Compatible with Scrivener iOSYesYes
64 Bit CodedYesNo
True Text StylesYesNo
Up To Date Export OptionsYesNo
Quick Search ModeYesNo
Linguistic Focus ModeYesNo
Scrivenings ModeImprovedOld
Check It Out!

Scrivener Review: Shortcomings

Look, let's face it. No program is perfect.

And while we love Scrivener, there are a couple of changes that I'd love to change about the program.

Lack of Collaboration Abilities. If you're a co-author–or collaborator–you might find using Scrivener to be a hassle. It doesn't have a clear cut feature for collaborators to work together yet. You may find that sticking with a Google Docs or hot-potato Word file to be a better option.

Recalling Scrivener files on the go. Scrivener's cloud backup can seriously be a lifesaver. And it's super convenient when pulling up your manuscript on your primary writing device. But what if you're on the go and you're looking to make revisions? Let's say you're taking a scenic train ride cross country. That's a perfect time to catch up on your writing. However, you're not going to be able to access your Scrivener files unless you have a full copy installed on your mobile device. You can always download their app, but that's gonna cost more. I wish it would come included with the initial cost.

How to Learn More

This program can be tricky for some to learn, but once you do, it can be a real game-changer for your book writing process.  Here are some videos and articles to help you get the most out of it:

  1. How to Format a Book – After the introduction, this video shows a demo of formatting with Scrivener and Word.
  2. How to Export a Book – Here's a step-by-step article with pictures to show you how you to export with Scrivener.
  3. How to get Templates – This is an awesome list of free templates you can use for writing fiction, nonfiction, academic papers, blogs and more.

Final Scrivener Review Thoughts: Why I Use It To Write My Books

If you’re the type of writer who can sit down and write an entire book from beginning to end, or if you’re happy with Word, then you may not need Scrivener.

But if…

  • You are frustrated with Word
  • You are looking for something better
  • You jump around in your timeline or chapters while you write
  • You research and compile notes
  • You like to write one section or chapter at a time
  • You rearrange the scenes or flow of your work
  • You want easy-to-use templates designed for writers
  • You want the ability to export your work into ready-to-publish formats

Then…you will love it.

This writing software allows you to write books in your own customized, organized, yet beautifully-chaotic way. When properly used, Scrivener can take the jumble of thoughts that you have and let you create magic.

I will never use Word again to write my books and hopefully, thanks to this Scrivener review, you won't either.

If you’re ready to see how it can work for you, grab your copy for Mac (or for PC) here and use my special Kindlepreneur code KINDLEPRENEUR for 20% off.

26 Comments

  1. Michael Brooks on August 3, 2020 at 9:56 am

    Hi Dave – Took some time to look at “Learn Scrivener Fast” and it is impressive. Living in South Africa the exchange rate makes this expensive and I will not be able to afford it now. My first book is nearing completion and I wondered if there are any other resources that could assist to learn Scrivener. I will appreciate any advise or other sources to assist with this until I can afford the course.

    • Dave Chesson on August 10, 2020 at 2:05 am

      I’m currently working on my own course on Scrivener which will be much cheaper. However, it will probably take me a couple more months to full finish.

  2. Michael Brooks on July 28, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Hi Dave – got hold of a trail copy last year but did not learn it properly. It is a daunting program and I am happy to see the help that you advised. I have finished my novel and tidying up all the last issues. Will it still be possible to place the novel and all the research into Scriver at this stage.
    The other reason that attracted me to this program was the compatibility it has with Prowritersaid which I have and used it extensively.

    • Dave Chesson on July 29, 2020 at 9:38 pm

      You can, and absolutely. I’m also working on a full course on using Scrivener to write a book – cranking it out as we speak…haha.

  3. Jennifer on July 19, 2020 at 11:59 pm

    What did you do during the 2020 quarantine?

    I found this nifty review and managed to get 20% off Scrivener.

    Now I can get more organized with my book. Can’t wait to check out the tutorials.

    Thanks Dave your terrific!

    Jennifer

    • Dave Chesson on July 20, 2020 at 2:49 pm

      Awesome and glad to have helped!

  4. Mary K Dunn on January 8, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    Hello Dave, I was told about scrivener today. My question is can I transfer what I have written so far in Word over to scrivener?
    Thank you for the educational article.
    Mary

    • Dave Chesson on January 9, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      Hi Mary, you can. There is a easier upload way to do it, but I usually just do a copy and paste of each section into Scrivener. I don’t always do it the easiest way…haha.

  5. Peta Hen on November 1, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Hi Dave, I watched your vlog; Scrivener Vs Word and actually decided to take it up, finally, after 7 or so years of writing. It’s going to be a big shift, but I’m excited to try something new, and very excited about how it will help me self-publish my WIP’s. I’m at the pointy end of it all, having written all three novels in my trilogy before publishing, and to be honest, I’ve been holding back on really doing anything with book one because the self-publishing world all looks so daunting. So, I’m hoping the shift to Scrivener will help with some aspects of it and give me the push I need to get my first book out there. So, I’ll keep you posted on whether I become a convert or not. Cheers, Peta.

    • Dave Chesson on November 1, 2017 at 10:54 am

      Awesome Peta and good luck with the shift!

  6. Scrivener Coach on April 17, 2017 at 2:59 am

    Great review Dave and thanks for the mention! Much appreciated. The use of the cork board and outliner along with the ability to label and tag almost anything makes for an extremely customizable Scrivener experience. In addition to writing I now use Scrivener to outline my courses, organize my blog, and keep track of all my business documents. So many amazing uses.

    • Dave Chesson on April 17, 2017 at 3:08 am

      Thanks! Yeah I’m using it to put together a couple of courses right now – LOVE the organization. I also used it to write my Masters Thesis 7 years ago. Back then, when I worked for Apple, it was a sort of new program that they gave the Apple employees. The idea is that if we got used to it, we’d promote it…well it was the only one where that worked.

  7. Jordan McDowell on March 16, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    This is a really helpful side-by-side look at these two programs. I’m surprised though that Scrivener doesn’t have a Track Changes function. I use Track Changes to save stuff I’ve deleted so that I can come back to it later if I want to. Is there no way to do that in Scrivener?

    • Dave Chesson on March 16, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      Whoops! That was a typo. I’ll correct that right now. Nope it totally does and it is BEAUTIFUL! Here’s how: do: on a Mac, you just head on over to Format (in the top menu bar) and choose Revision Mode > First/Second/(etc.) Revision. Then it breaks it into awesome colors. 😀

  8. Anthony Metivier on March 15, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    40+ books in on Word – I’ve taken the leap at your recommendation. Excited to see what I can do with it.

    I agree with 2deuces that Word isn’t entirely out of the picture though.

    I also sometimes use Pages. In fact, I took my last Mac to a reseller who rigged it so that I can still run Pages and Keynote 09. The updates are just too Kindergarten for serious publishers.

    I don’t know if others have this concern, but I sense that with software development choices being made based on user behavior, they’re going to completely fly over the data created by the real players and only make tools for the dabblers.

    Obviously, this isn’t the case in many cases, but it is a writer’s nightmare I sometimes indulge in …

    Thanks for the great post and being the tipping point! 🙂

    • Dave Chesson on March 16, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      Hey Anthony, glad to help. Seriously, I’ve been using it for years and its stood the test of time. I think it was actually a beta or something when I tested it. At the time, I was working for Apple as a salesmen and read about it in one of the Apple training. I was like, “huh…that might help with my thesis.” There was a bit of a learning curve, but seriously, it makes writing SOOO much easier.

      Granted, like I showed in the Scrivener vs. Word video, there are so many things that Word does that people don’t know about or use, but considering I spend 2-3 hours in Scrivener per day, I’m happy using a program that is more specialized and geared for the “real players” you mentioned.

      • Anthony Metivier on March 17, 2017 at 4:43 am

        Thanks, Dave.

        I can definitely see how it would have been useful for when I wrote my dissertation … what a mess that was to scroll through, especially with all the footnotes and 20+ pages of citations.

        I’m sometimes tempted to turn the dissert into a book, but … nah. Have you thought of publishing your thesis?

        Or have you ever read any of the research on the consumption of academic writing? Apparently most books and articles have less than one reader on average. My takeaway from that: We all have far better chances on Kindle! 😉

  9. Joseph Donnalley on March 15, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Can Grammarly be used in Scrivener?

    • Anthony Metivier on March 15, 2017 at 11:32 pm

      That would be cool. But I like pumping text in and out of Grammarly rather than as an add-on.

      What I really love is drafting, running it through the Hemingway App, then Grammarly then back to Papa Hemingway.

      I don’t do this every single time, but when I do, the outcome is much, much tighter. 🙂

      • 2deuces on March 17, 2017 at 4:29 am

        That is a very clever idea. Tighten, Correct, Tighten again.

        • Anthony Metivier on March 17, 2017 at 4:34 am

          I’d love to read a before and after from you if you give it a try! 🙂

          • 2deuces on March 17, 2017 at 6:57 pm

            It took longer than I thought, but the writing is better. Should I send it to your Memory Method email address? I’m on your mailing list from Udemy,



          • Anthony Metivier on March 17, 2017 at 8:53 pm

            Wow – small world!

            Yes, by all means send it along to me there. And let me know how things are going with your memory training. 🙂



    • Dave Chesson on March 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      Sadly, at the moment, no. Or…well I don’t know of a way yet. However, this has prompted me to reach out to Grammarly and ask them about it. Maybe I have enough clout to convince them to make that happen – haha. Because I too am a fan of Grammarly.

  10. 2deuces on March 15, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Probably the most important element is Scrivener documents can be easily exported to Word (or at least in .docx format for other WP programs). So, if there is something a writer likes about Word – familiarity, track changes for edits, publisher or employer requirement – it is easy to get it all.

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Hey Guys, I’m Dave and when I am not sipping tea with princesses or chasing the Boogey man out of closets, I’m a Kindlepreneur and digital marketing nut – it’s my career, hobby, and passion.

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