Do you train others in how to use Scrivener?

As Scrivener has become more widely adopted in many fields of writing, we have noticed the increasing emergence of training courses and other learning materials designed by third parties. Some of these are specific to particular fields or genres, while others are more general. None are officially endorsed by Literature and Latte.

Whilst we try to ensure that the interactive tutorial and user manual cover everything that users need to know about Scrivener, and to ensure that Scrivener can be picked up quickly and used progressively, Scrivener’s deep feature-set means that it can be used in many different ways. Third-party courses and books have been springing up to give pointers to users looking for a more personal guide (something we can’t provide at the price we charge for the software), and we are sometimes asked to recommend training courses to customers. In the longer term, we hope to look into the possibility of producing more training materials ourselves, and perhaps working with or endorsing some of the independent trainers and providing them with supplementary materials.

In the meantime, we thought that it might be helpful to add a page to our website, listing external courses (both local and online) which we believe may be of interest to users seeking a different learning approach to supplement the materials that we offer as part of Scrivener and through our various support mechanisms. We’re not sure at this stage how many independent trainers exist, so it may turn out that such a web page is neither necessary nor appropriate, and we can’t make any promises. Inclusion in the list will be entirely at our discretion, and it won’t imply any sort of endorsement by Literature and Latte — it will be intended just as a point of reference for our users.

If you offer training in how to use Scrivener, and if you would like to be added to this potential list on our website, please contact us via the email address: training AT literatureandlatte DOT com so that we can discuss your possible inclusion. We will not be vetting either the course itself or your delivery of it, but we will want to see your course’s content list so that we can understand what areas you cover, and we will review your website and social media to make sure that your portrayal of Scrivener is consistent with ours. We’d want to see how you advertise your training, and to see evidence that you have a body of satisfied users who are prepared to endorse your training course. We would also look at your pricing details, because we try to make Scrivener affordable and want our customers to receive good value for their money. Beyond that, we haven’t decided on the details yet.

So, if you train others in how to use Scrivener, please get in touch.

Customer Support closed for the festive break

If you have looked at our support web page this week, or read Keith’s message in the forum and the festive newsletter, you will have seen that our Customer Support is closed over the Christmas and New Year period.  Although we may get a chance to check emails occasionally during the holiday, we will do our best to reply to all e-mails as soon as possible after we get back in January.  If you have an urgent problem involving data loss, or a major issue that is time-critical, there is a link on our support page at http://www.literatureandlatte.com/support.php that will enable you to submit an urgent message.  We can’t promise a response in any particular timeframe, but we will try to prioritise genuinely urgent messages.

In the meantime, our Knowledge Base contains the answers to many of the questions that we are asked most frequently, and you can find this here: https://scrivener.tenderapp.com/help/kb.  Our user forum is also a very useful source of information, and you may find that the wonderful community of knowledgeable (and generous) users can help even if we are not around: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum.

If you do need to contact Customer Support, now seems as good a time as any to give an overview of how our support system works, so that you know what to expect when you send us an email, and how to make sure that your enquiry is answered as effectively as possible.

Where to send your message


To make sure that your message is seen promptly, please choose the most appropriate email address from those shown on our contacts page at http://www.literatureandlatte.com/contact.php. We have separate email addresses for Scrivener for Windows, Scrivener for Mac, Scapple, sales or purchasing, and general enquiries.

If you send your message to the wrong support address, don’t worry — we will move it so that the right people see it.  But please don’t send your message to more than one address, especially if you are doing so from multiple email accounts (which are hard for us to trace and link up on our system).  We will generally reply to only one of the duplicate messages anyway.  We are a very small team of people, and sorting out duplicates takes up valuable time that could be spent in helping customers.  And if you send duplicates, there is a risk that our support system may incorrectly identify your correspondence as spam.

Asking a new question


It’s best if you start a fresh email conversation for each new topic that you wish to discuss, especially if some time has elapsed since any previous contact.  It’s possible that the support person with whom you were communicating before might not be the most appropriate person to deal with your new enquiry, or that they might be out of the office.

How can you tell if we have received your message?


When you send us an email, you will know that it has been received, and is therefore in the queue for us to handle, because our support system will send you an automated message in reply.  As well as letting you know that your email has reached us, the confirmation email contains a link to your new ticket in our support system.  You will be sent an email reply from one of our support team in due course, but the web interface is an alternative which you may find useful, and it also allows you to log in to view any historic tickets that you may have.

If you do not receive this emailed auto-response, then check that you have “white-listed” the domains literatureandlatte.com and tenderapp.com in your email client, and that the message hasn’t been diverted to your spam folder, promotions folder or any other folder into which your email provider may sort messages without your specific intervention.  If the auto-response goes astray in your email system, then our actual response is likely to do the same.

Please remember that if you contact us for help or information, then it is up to you to ensure that your system is set up to receive our reply.  Disable any spam-avoidance system that might auto-respond by challenging us to prove that we are real people or demanding that we jump through hoops.  We are indeed real people, and we cannot spend time following up these requests.

How to avoid languishing in our spam folder 


If you have sent your message to several of our email addresses, or if your email address has been hijacked and sent us spam mail at some point, or if your message falls foul of the junk filter in some way, then there is a risk that our automated systems will interpret it as spam.  We do go through the spam folder manually to rescue wrongly-filed messages, but (as you can imagine) we get a lot of junk email, so it’s possible that we might not recognise every valid message that ends up there.  Our support system shows the initial two or three lines as a preview, with fifty such emails displayed per page.  Messages are therefore most likely to be rescued from the spam folder if they have an informative subject title, and if the opening lines of text seem relevant to a support enquiry or to a communication that is intended for us specifically.

How long does a response take?


In general, apart from the current arrangements for the Yuletide holiday, we try to respond to messages within (typically) 48 hours.  Please bear in mind that this is our target response time.  We may be quicker than this, or it may take us a little longer if the weekend intervenes, or if the nature of your enquiry means that we need to discuss it internally or seek more detailed technical advice before we get back to you.

How to recognise our responses


We use a web-based support system called Tender, and the email address that you will see in the “From” field will look a little unlikely, so don’t misinterpret it as spam! You will see the first name of the person replying, but the actual email address will start with “tender2+” followed by a long string of letters and digits.  This alarmingly complicated-looking email address links to the specific conversation stored in our support system, so that all relevant messages are kept together.

Helping towards a prompt reply


The best way of ensuring a prompt reply is to make sure that you have sent your email to the correct address, and that you have included all the information relevant to resolving your question or problem.  Please be as specific as possible in describing what is going wrong, because otherwise we will probably have no way of knowing what you mean, so our initial response to you will have to be a variant of “tell me more”.

If you haven’t heard back from us after receiving the automated response from our system, please don’t try to nudge a faster response by replying to your own message at a later date, unless you wish to add further information that will aid resolution.  If your message reached us, then doing this has the opposite effect to what you want to achieve, and will (unfortunately) delay a response further.  This is because support tickets are organised in our system according to the date and time of the most recent activity on the conversation.  If you add a reply, it places a later date stamp on your support ticket, which moves that ticket further back in the queue if we are trying to handle support tickets in chronological order of receipt.

Don’t forget your backups!


And finally, a note about backups, because we often find that people don’t know about Scrivener’s automatic backups, or that they forget about them in the panic arising from a syncing error or computer failure.  If you’re not sure about your current settings for these, I’d recommend checking them now, to make sure that they match your needs and the way in which you use the application.  You can find the settings in the Backup pane under Tools > Options… (on Windows) or Scrivener > Preferences… (on Mac).

If you have experienced data loss of some description, the very first thing you should do is copy your automatic backups to a safe location, in a separate working area of your disk, so that you can retrieve an older copy of your work if necessary.  You can read about restoring backups in section 7.8.4 of the user manual (available via Help > Scrivener Manual).  By default, Scrivener creates an automatic backup for you when you close your project, but only the most recent backups are retained.  Each time a new automatic backup is created, an old one is knocked off the list.  So if you carry on creating automatic backups of a damaged project, then you risk overwriting all of your good backups with bad ones.  Copying your backups to a safe and separate location before you try any other problem-solving measures will ensure that you have the best chance of retrieving your data.  And if your current project is damaged, you can tell Scrivener not to create any more automatic backups of it by using File > Back Up > Exclude From Automatic Backups.

Remember, as well, that you may have backups kept independently of Scrivener, for example via Time Machine in Mac OS X, or in the file versioning system in some versions of Microsoft Windows.  Creating backups that are stored externally (such as on an external disk or in cloud storage) is something that you will need to set up yourself, but it is worth doing, for your own peace of mind.


With best wishes for 2015