Scrivener 3.0 Update: What's inside, and is it worth the cost?

Scrivener 3 is a major update that not only brings some very cool new features, but also improves and simplifies what was already there.
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The much-anticipated release of Scrivener Version 3.0 for Mac is here, and Version 3.0 for Windows is promised to be coming soon. This is great news for authors who use the “designed with authors in mind” software to write and produce books.

Scrivener has been called the best alternative word processing software for writers who prefer not to use Microsoft Word or WordPad to write their books.

But avid Scrivener users will tell you that Scrivener is less a word processor and more of an organizational system, because the actual writing is only a small piece of the overall functionality within the Scrivener sphere. There are also handy organizational tools, outlining and editing features that Word, which really is not really a writer-centric software anymore, lacks.

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Word may have started off as a simple word processor when it was released in October 1983 for DOS (the first time I used Word it was like chiseling words on a stone tablet and trying to import them into a box with blinking lights), but has since grown into a tool for not only authoring manuscripts, but for generating reports, creating complicated technical documents, and since it interfaces with other Microsoft products like PowerPoint, it can do a ton of other neat whiz-bang things—things that most authors don’t care about. If it doesn’t help you write books, it’s a feature you do not need.

Studies have shown that users only take advantage of a small percentage of Word’s features, so many writers look for an alternative that not only lets them write, but organize and streamline the entire writing process.

Scrivener hit the market in 2007. It was an inexpensive yet powerful software created specifically for writers. It lacked many of the bells and whistles of Word, but offered a ton of features of its own that were more geared to what authors needed, like outlining, organizing files, chapters, notes, concepts, characters, research, etc.

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I’ve written about Scrivener versus Word before, and while I do use both, I primarily use Word to draft my books because that’s what I’m most comfortable in. I’m a bit of an expert on Word and can make it do the things I need it to do, but I use Scrivener to organize my files and ultimately generate the final draft for print or ebook. That would make me a hybrid user, I suppose.

What’s New in Scrivener 3.0?

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Scrivener 3 is a major update that not only brings some very cool new features, but also improves and simplifies what was already there. For a long list of improvements, you can check out their website, but here a few new features that I’m looking forward to:

  • The interface has been “overhauled and modernized”, which sounds far more impressive than just saying it was given a much-needed redesign. The interface has always looked a little underwhelming and dated, but Scriver promises that users will be pleased by what they’ve done. If I could access it on my Windows computer, I’d tell you if they hit the mark. In the meantime, Mac users can take a look by upgrading now.
  • There’s now a full styles system (which, they say, is even more powerful when used with the new Compile feature).
  • One thing I’m happy to hear is the code has been “modernized for 64-bit”, which means the software will run faster and be more stable than ever before, i.e. less buggy and prone to crashing during export and compile (grrr…).
  • The addition of Draft and Session progress bars in the main toolbar
  • Another new feature I’m excited to see is called Bookmarks, which combines the content previously displayed under Project Notes, References and Favorites, giving users access to frequently used documents from the Inspector.
  • This update also includes a major redesign of the Compile tool, which is used to transform a project’s drafts into a single, completed file. Scrivener hopes that it is now easier to use and more flexible, particularly when combined with the new styles system.
  • The update also improves its support for major eReader formats, with existing Kindle support enhanced, and ePub3 added for the first time.
  • MacOS improvements also include extensive support for the MacBook Pro’s new Touch Bar.
  • There’s a long list of improvements on the Scrivener site if you want to link to it.

What’s the Cost?

For current Scrivener users, the 3.0 update will cost $25. For new installs the price is $45. However, if you’d like to test drive Scrivener before buying, there’s a free 30-day trial that will let you do so.

In my opinion, $45 is cheap, cheap, cheap; especially when you look at how much Scrivener can save you in time and increase your productivity. I’ve always thought that Scrivener was grossly underpriced (don’t tell them I said that), but I guess the good folks there like to keep the cost low so broke authors like you and me can afford to use their product.

Is the 3.0 update worth the money? Yes, if you are a dedicated Scrivener user it’s easily worth the cost. As soon as it’s available for Windows, I’m ponying up the cash to bring my Scrivener installation into the modern world. I’ll let you know more about what I think then.

Watch the video at the top of the article for more.

Tim Knox is an author, ghostwriter, editor, and publishing coach who has ghostwritten over 100 books in various fiction and nonfiction genres, and produced over 200 videos and podcasts on the topic of how to become a better writer. Tim’s company, Knox Publishing, works with new and established authors to help them improve their writing skills and marketability. His novels, Angel of Mercy and Sins of the Father, as well as other works, may be found on his website at timknoxbooks.com.

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