Best Book Writing Software: 14 Writing Tools For Authors [Discounts!]

Writing and publishing book successfully requires something major.

It requires the right attitude, a powerful book idea, some solid writing prompts, and the best writing software out there.

(Not to mention a bulletproof roadmap to writing a bestselling book).

And we know which writing software is best for you – and more importantly, why it matters.

With the best writing tools, you can write faster and more effectively. You’ll be more focused, with fewer distractions, and you can actually learn a thing or two from some of them—like Grammarly.

And just as importantly, you’ll have an easier time keeping your outline, notes, book ideas or writing prompts, and even those writing exercises organized.

But even if you have all the best ideas and an imagination that won’t quit, you can’t do either without the right book writing software.

I mean, you could, but it just makes this already arduous process even harder. No thanks.

You’ll have to make some choices.

Nowadays, authors have so many options when looking for the best book writing software (which is why we created the quiz above–to cut down on decision-making and wasted time!).

best writing software

Here are 13 of the best writing software for writers:

  1. Microsoft Word – Word Processor, $79.99
  2. Scrivener – Word Processor, $45
  3. Pages – Word Processor, $28
  4. Freedom – Productivity Software, $2.42/month
  5. Google Docs – Online Word Processor, Free
  6. Evernote – Note-Taking Software, Free
  7. FocusWriter – Word Processor, Free
  8. FastPencil – Word Processor, Free
  9. yWriter – Word Processor, Free
  10. Hemingway App – Style & Grammar Checker, Free
  11. Dropbox – Document sharing platform, Free
  12. Open Office – Word Processor, Free
  13. Grammarly – Editing Software, Free

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs data-lazy-src=

Let’s get started by comparing the 3 book writing software “giants,” and then I’ll share some less well-known tools that might help improve your writing process even more.

Which book writing software features are right for you?

I’m not trying to sell you on any particular book writing software in this article. Instead, my goal is to give you an idea of what’s out there so you can weigh the options for yourself in order to aid in your specific process.

Who knows—you may even discover a brand-new writing and publishing tool you absolutely love.

In the end, the truth is that there are many great writing tools out there. It isn’t really a question of which tool is BEST. What it comes down to is: which tool works best with YOUR book writing process?

There are 11 things to consider when deciding which program to use for your book:

  1. How easy is it to format text the way you want?
  2. Does it have templates available?
  3. How many?
  4. How much does it cost?
  5. Is the program simple & easy to use?
  6. Does it offer any extra features or other bells & whistles?
  7. How about a distraction-free writing experience?
  8. Is the program user-friendly?
  9. Can you access your files no matter where you are?
  10. How easy is it to collaborate with editors & team members?
  11. Is there distribution capabilities when it’s time to publish?

[Pssst! Want to see some of our students’ published books? Check out the SPS library here!]

The Top 3 Book Writing Software Programs

Writers everywhere flock to these specific tools and claim them to be the best book writing software for them. We’ll break down each so you can decide for yourself if their features are the best fit.

#1 – Microsoft Word

Before any other writing tools came along, Microsoft Word was the only option available. Everyone used it.

Today, even though there are many other word processors out there, Word is still the most widely used book writing software in the U.S. Millions of people continue to use it for their writing needs.

And it’s easy to see why. Word has a lot going for it!

It’s been around a long time. It’s trusted, reliable, and gets the job done well.

It also provides a relatively distraction-free writing experience; much better than working on Google Docs in your browser, for example, where you’re only an errant mouse-click away from the entire internet.

If you just need to wake up in the morning and meet your word-count goals by keeping your head down and getting those words pounded out onto the page, then Word is an obvious choice of book writing software. No fuss, no muss. It’s about as simple as it gets.

Word also offers some simple organization.

While writing your chapters, changing the chapter’s heading (seen in the example below) allows easy navigation as your book progresses further and further.

book writing software microsoft word

Using headers, you can organize your book into chapters—and then you can navigate through them quickly using the Navigation pane:

writing software microsoft word-example

In order to view your navigation pane in outline-format click:

View > Navigation Pane (it’s a box to check) > select the bullet/outline tab within the navigation pane (seen above).

You can also create your own free book writing template using Word. And if you start writing your book in Word and don’t begin with the correct formatting, it’s pretty easy to clean up your formatting to make it “book ready” with a few simple steps.

If you’re a Word user and you’ve got your own system in place for writing books, then perhaps you need to look no further.

But as a writing tool, Word does have some downsides.

For starters, it doesn’t always play well with Macs. If you use a Mac, then Word might cause you a lot of frustration with crashes and formatting.

Thankfully, Apple offers a comparable program called Pages, that we reviewed below for you.

Word is also pretty vanilla. That’s part of its appeal, sure, but it also means Word lacks some of the more advanced features you get with other programs like Scrivener and Google Docs.

For example, Scrivener offers more advanced outlining functionality. And Google Docs makes it easier to share and collaborate on your files.

All in all, Word is a solid contender for best book writing software. But there are many other choices out there.

Book Writing Software Cost: $79.99 if purchased separately.

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#2 – Scrivener

You just learned that Microsoft Word is the most widely used word processor in the world. But does that mean it’s the best book writing software?

Think about it this way. The fact that Word is so prevalent means that it has to cater to all sorts of users—students, businesspeople, writers, teachers, marketers, lawyers, the list goes on and on and on.

But Scrivener was created for one type of person only:

Writers.

best book writing software scrivener

And if you’re a writer, chances are you’ve heard of Scrivener. A lot of writers absolutely love this program, with its advanced features and distraction-free writing experience.

In short, Scrivener gives you an insane amount of flexibility for writing, formatting, and organizing your book for self-publishing.

Blogger and author, Jeff Goins, swears by Scrivener after giving up word. He says,

“I wasted years of my life doing all my writing on Microsoft Word. But that’s all over now. I have finally seen the light.”

Entrepreneur Michael Hyatt also praises Scrivener: “I now begin every piece of content—no matter what it is—with this tool. It has simplified my life and enabled me to focus on the most important aspect of my job—creating new content. I am more productive than ever.”

Here are some of the top takeaways of this book writing software:

  • Helps with plotting for fiction authors
  • Easily export your data to other digital platforms such as Kobo, ibooks, etc. (this is one of the best features)
  • Provides outlining functionality that keeps your content organized
  • Powerful composition mode with distraction-free writing environment
  • Easily drag and drop to move sections around
  • Provides a collection of robust templates
  • Supports MultiMarkdown for bullets and numbers

Because Scrivener was designed for writers, it’s super easy to lay out scenes, move content around, and outline your story, article, or manuscript.

Instead of keeping all your content in one big file, Scrivener allows you to create multiple sub-files to make it easier to organize and outline your project:

best writing software scrivener outline


Scrivener is a fabulous tool for plotting out storylines. Using the corkboard view, for instance, you can recreate the popular “notecard method” for outlining your project:

writing software scrivener outline

But as awesome as Scrivener is, it’s not perfect.

And the biggest downside to using Scrivener is the steep learning curve involved. You aren’t going to master this program overnight.

But if you’re serious about your writing career, then investing the time to learn this specific writing tool will be worth it. You’ll save time and energy in the long run.

And if you want to learn how to use Scrivener as quickly & easily as possible, we can help! Here’s a full Scrivener tutorial so you can easily maneuver this program.


If you want to dig even deeper, you can also download the Scrivener Manual, or watch the Scrivener YouTube tutorials they’ve put together at Literature & Latte.

Long story short: Scrivener is an investment, but one that’s worth it. It will take some time to master. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll never go back—it’s the single most powerful book writing software out there.

If you like what you see from Scrivener, you can buy it here:

Buy Scrivener – Discounted! (Regular License)

Book Writing Software Cost: $45

#3 – Google Docs

We’ve looked at the appealing simplicity of Word and the in-depth power of Scrivener, but there’s another book writing software that more and more people are starting to use for various reasons:

Google Docs.

Essentially, Google Docs is a stripped-down version of Word that you can only use online. It’s a simple, yet effective writing tool.

The beauty of this program (and Google Drive in general) comes in the ability to share content, files, and documents among your team. You can easily communicate via comments, for example:

This program keeps a complete history of all changes made to a document, so if you accidentally delete something you wanted to keep, simply click the link at the top of the screen that says, “All changes saved in drive.”

That will bring up the version history, where you can review all the changes that have been made to your book file and revert to a previous version if you so choose.

Google Docs doesn’t require any installation and can be accessed anywhere via your browser, or an app on your phone.

(Anyone who has ever lost a draft of a book understands how valuable this feature is!)

And here’s one of the best features: everything is saved on the server frequently and automatically, so you never have to fret about losing a version or draft of your work

Plus you can access your work when you move from one location or another—no carrying a laptop or thumb drive around with you. When you share a book draft with others, like test readers or your editor, they can comment directly on the draft using the built-in comment functionality.

Out of the “big 3” book writing software tools, Google Docs is probably the least sophisticated when it comes to formatting and outlining tools. But it makes up for that with easy collaboration, sharing, and online access.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free

Book Writing Software You Might Not Know About

Let’s get to know some of the best book writing tools you can use to up your author game and make some progress.

Just because you may not be familiar with a specific writing software doesn’t mean it’s not beneficial or even better than what you’re using now.

#1 – Pages

Think of Pages as the Mac alternative to Microsoft Word.

It has a variety of beautiful templates to choose from, has a simple design, and syncs with all devices from within iCloud so you can access it in a number of different places.

writing software Pages example

Personally, I love the ease of Pages. It works great for creating ebooks or manuscripts with a variety of writing tools you can get creative with.

Book Writing Software Cost: $28

#2 – Freedom

Freedom isn’t technically a writing tool, but it sure can help improve your writing. It’s a productivity app designed to help eliminate distractions by blocking certain websites – something more than beneficial for those of us who get sidetracked easily.

For example: let’s say you have a tendency to get distracted by social media sites. All you have to do us start a Freedom session that blocks all your social media sites—and then you won’t be able to visit them even if you wanted to.

Here’s what it looks like when you schedule a session:

best writing software freedom


Notice that you have a lot of options. You can schedule one-time sessions (starting now or later), or you can set up recurring sessions (for example, to block distracting sites every day when it’s time to write).

When you try to visit a site that’s being blocked, you’ll get this message:

writing software Freedom example

This is a really liberating tool. Once you know you don’t have the option of visiting those distracting sites, you’ll find it easier to keep focused on your writing and you’ll be able to get a lot more done.

Book Writing Software Cost: $2.42/month and up, or $129 for lifetime access.

#3 – Ulysses

If you’re a Mac owner, this might be the best book writing software for you. While you do have to pay $39.99 per year to use it, the cost to use Ulysses is completely justified.

One of the best features has to be the distraction-free capabilities. As a writer who gets distracted easily, this is definitely a feature I look for in a good book writing software.

This one is also great for exporting. Meaning, you can do all your writing in-app and then export it in relatively any format you’d need in order to send it to your editor, critique partner, or even beta readers.

And if you’re someone who has a hard time keeping all of your notes and ideas organized for your book, this app also has a feature that helps you keep all of it straight!

Say goodbye to forgetting what you wanted to add in that obscure scene you wrote two months ago!

book writing software ulysses example

Overall, this is one of the best book writing software programs out there for Mac users. But if you’re not sure if it’s worth the price, you can actually try it for free for 14 days. What a deal!

Book Writing Software Cost: $39.99/year

Free Book Writing Software

There’s not much we love more than getting stuff for free – especially when it comes to our aspirations. You don’t have to doll out a ton of cash just to use highly beneficial book writing software.

In fact, there are many best free book writing software programs.

#1 – FastPencil

FastPencil is a nice little platform with lots of tools. You can also use it for distributing your ebook. It is free to start writing with, but they offer paid services as well.

Everything happens online in your browser, which means you can access your files from any computer (as long as you’re connected to the Internet).

Here’s what the word processor looks like:

writing software fast pencil pricing

Book Writing Software Cost: Free (paid upgrades are optional)

#2 – FocusWriter

FocusWriter is a word processor for writers that’s intended to eliminate distractions to help you get your book written quicker. It’s a basic, lightweight writing tool that was designed to be completely free of progress inhibiting distractions.

In its fullscreen mode, there are no toolbars or additional windows, just a background and your text so that you can concentrate solely on writing your draft.

FocusWriter also allows you to choose what your screen looks like, as seen in the example below.

writing software focus writer

You can customize the image in the background to suit your project to help inspire your writing.

It’s simple and effective. If you need a lot of features, it probably won’t work for you. But if simplicity is your thing, then you may have found your perfect free writing tool.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free

#3 – yWriter

yWriter is a really popular word processor (intended mainly for novelists) with some impressive features (especially for a program that’s completely free).

It helps keep your project organized by giving you space to include notes on all sorts of things, like character notes, scene notes, scene goals, etc.

You can specify whose point of view each scene will be written in, and you can see the word count of your entire novel broken out by chapter—all at a quick glance:

best writing software ywriter

One thing that yWriter does differently than a lot of other writing programs is focus on scenes rather than on chapters. A lot of writers prefer this since scenes are usually fun chunks of story to work on.

And using yWriter, you can rearrange all those scenes to compose a compelling novel.

I’d call it a Scrivener alternative that’s free to use. But one downside is that it only works for Windows (at least, for now).

Book Writing Software Cost: Free

#4 – Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking app. It’s a great way to keep track of your thoughts—like brainstorming ideas, outlining chapters, and jotting down inspiration when it strikes.

The mobile app is particularly useful for capturing new ideas when they strike, since most people have their phone with them 24/7. This is what it looks like on a mobile device:

writing software Evernote example

While Evernote has been around for a little while, they seem to always be expanding on their features, making it one of the best writing softwares out there.

Here’s are some of the extended features Evernote offers:

book writing software evernote features

While you can use Evernote to write content—I’ve used it for writing blogs and other small sections of books—you wouldn’t want to use it as your main word processor. Its functionality is a bit too limited.

But as a way of keeping track of ideas, it’s a great find.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free, but there is a cool upgrade for $5 a month that gets you Evernote Premium

#5 – Hemingway Editor

The Hemingway Editor is a unique kind of writing tool. It’s a style checker that’s designed to help tighten up your prose and make your writing clear and bold.

Simply paste your writing into the editor and scroll through. You’ll notice that the program highlights certain words & passages—like long, hard-to-read sentences, passive verbs, and phrases with simpler alternatives.

It’s basically your own personal editor rolled into a writing software.

Here’s an example of what it looks like:

writing software Hemingway app

(Yikes. Too bad Dickens didn’t have this app.)

What I love about this tool is how easy it is to use. Everything is color-coded and super easy to understand, so you can see at a glance where your writing could use a little elbow grease.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free, or you can purchase the desktop version for $19.99.

#6 – Dropbox

Reading this, you may be wondering: Dropbox? How is that a writing tool?

Trust me—it is!

While it’s true that Dropbox isn’t a word processor like Scrivener or yWriter, it is a very helpful writing tool. Especially for writers who write on more than one computer, who need to collaborate with other writers or editors, or who want an easy way to back up their work.

Here’s how it works:

When you set up Dropbox and install it on your computer, it will create a new “Dropbox” folder on your machine.

Any files that you save in this folder will be automatically backed up to Dropbox’s servers in the cloud, which will be automatically downloaded to any other computers that are synced to that same Dropbox account.

A lot of writers choose to save their book on Dropbox, so that it will be automatically backed up. And as you can see, it looks the same as any other folder on your computer:

book writing software dropbox

Using this strategy, you can make it easier to share and collaborate on your files—even if you aren’t using Google Docs.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free for a basic plan, or $9.99/month for extra storage.

#7 – Open Office

You may know of this software, you may not. Essentially, it’s a free version of a word processor much like Word or Pages. If you don’t have Word on your computer and can’t afford to buy it, this is a great alternative that’ll get the job done.

Here’s what this book writing software looks like:

book writing software open office

The capabilities are pretty limited with Open Office but if you really only need the basics and don’t want to spend any money, this is the perfect writing software for you.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free

#8 – PauseFor

If you’re someone who needs incentive to stay off your phone (and actually write), this is a perfect writing software.

Technically, it’s not for writing. PauseFor is a productivity app designed to motivate you to stay off your phone. That means you can get more writing done by spending less time scrolling through Twitter or whatever your social medial of choice is.

How?

PauseFor is designed for YOU to set a time, and then not pick up your phone until that time is done.

But what’s the incentive?

The longer you stay off your phone and the more sessions you complete successfully, the more you’ll have to DONATE. That’s right. You can be a philanthropist AND a writer at the same time.

writing software PauseFor example

Simply set your time, don’t touch your phone, and collect your Kin. When you a certain amount, you get to choose where the donations go.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free + the added benefit of feeling great about donating

#9 – Grammarly

If you haven’t heard of this editing software, you’ve been living under a rock. It has taken over as one of the most versatile simple editing softwares and for a good reason.

We have a Grammarly review that covers all the features and functions but essentially, this is a browser extension you can download and it automatically corrects your grammar and spelling in whichever online medium you’re writing on.

This writing software is perfect if you need to brush up on your grammar or are looking for an easy way to sound professional in written emails as well.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free with upgrade options

How Much Does Book Writing Software Programs Cost?

I would recommend not worrying too much about the cost of these programs. After all, dropping $100 or less on a program is not that big a deal if it is going to help improve your writing for years to come.

That said, I know you work hard for your money—and you want to get the best deal you can!

Here is a breakdown of the most recent prices for all of the tools in this article along with their comparative features:

Writing SoftwareCost
Microsoft Word$79.99
Scrivener$45
Pages$28
Freedom$2.42/month
Google DocsFree
EvernoteFree
FocusWriterFree
FastPencilFree
Hemingway AppFree
DropboxFree
Open OfficeFree
yWriterFree

What’s Your Favorite Book Writing Software?

Take some time to check out each of these tools if you aren’t already using them. Stay focused on crafting your next book and stick with the book writing software that gives you the best results in terms of saving you money, time, and frustration.

Keep writing. Keep it simple. Best of all, enjoy the creative process!

Now that you have these awesome tools at your disposal, what is your favorite writing tool? What best suits your needs as an author? Can you speed up the writing process with any particular tool?

BONUS: Check out this Self-Publishing School review from SelfPublishing.com!


Scott Allan

Scott Allan is a student success coach and in-house content creator here at Self-Publishing School. He is a bestselling author of 12+ books that includes The Discipline of Masters, Drive Your Destiny and Relaunch Your Life. Scott has a passion for teaching strategic life skills and inspiring people to take charge of their lives. You can connect with Scott at: www.scottallanauthor.com He believes that successful living is a series of small, consistent actions taken every day to build a thriving lifestyle with intentional purpose. By taking the necessary steps and eliminating unwanted distractions that keep you stuck, you are free to focus on the essentials. Scott currently lives In Japan where he resides full time, and is at work on several new writing projects. You can connect with Scott at scottallanauthor.com

Comments From The Community


174 thoughts on “Best Book Writing Software: 14 Writing Tools For Authors [Discounts!]”

  • Sean Sumner says:

    Great article. I love Scrivener, but I have also started using Quip just for the simple design and ability to access anywhere like google docs. I still import it to Word when I send it to the editor

  • Kristina Stanley says:

    I own both Scrivener and Word. I write in Scrivener then export to Word to send to my publisher. I’ve been using Scrivener for about 5 years and can’t imagine writing without it. I run spellcheck in both as they find different errors.

  • Marc Ménard says:

    I have a MacBook, and I find Pages les intimidating than Word. It’s also free with the version of Mac OS I use (OS X El Capitan) and not 29$ as stated in the article, but I wouldn’t know about older versions. I think it was indeed sold at some point in the past. Today, it’s free on the iPad, iPhone and Mac platforms. Along with Numbers, which does a similar job to Excel, but lightweight on features and learning curve. Cheers, thanks for the article!

  • Richard Sertorious says:

    I currently use Word. Does anyone have a comparison with the other platforms regarding footnoting, not endnotes, within the text. I write about history and prefer to use the now less common approach of including the notes on on the page with the main text, instead of after the text.

  • I have found Google Docs to be the best for writing at any time inspiration comes to me. Whether it be macbook, ipad, or iphone. I love the way it is always available on any device at any time and anywhere. Bought Scrivener and not got the patience to work it out or have the inconvenience of it only being available on my macbook.

    • It’s available anytime the internet’s available. Just last week, a power outage in Green Bay had the entire Shawano area (maybe even all of NE Wisconsin) off-line for HOURS. Anything Cloud-based automatically gets an “unreliable” from me.

    • Eric Ike Uzoma says:

      There’s a trove of Scrivener how-to on YouTube. Had similar problems like you with it. Matter o’ fact I just left it there on my pc for 2 years before I saw the tutorials on Tube. Voila. It was like the heavens just opened after that.

  • I do a lot of my writing on my Android tablet (using a physical keyboard). I’ve tried Scrivener, but it isn’t portable as there’s no Android version. So, I use JotterPad. Simple, free, and syncs to Dropbox.

  • Most of my stuff comes off of OpenOffice. If you buy your ‘puters, new, they might have MS Word on them, but if you don’t, you might not want to fork over the cash for a copy. Then you go OpenOffice.

    Before PDF got to be the go-to format for publications, I used Adobe PageMaker, which used to be the standard for professional publishing. I still use it for self-printed works. Unfortunately, PageMaker was created by Aldus, and instead of modifying PageMaker to better handle PDF’s (the PDF exporter in the final ver. 7.2 is not only prone to crashing the whole program, but irretrievably corrupting the file to be converted), they abandoned it and replaced it with their home-grown InDesign–which, to my reckoning, has two fatal flaws: it’s only available by subscription, and it’s Could based (speaking as someone whose writing time is 90% OFF-LINE)

    There’s also Scribus, with I have on my computer but haven’t really played around with much.

    • Some prices are worth paying 🙂 but I understand that some apps are expensive. My suggestion is to pay attention in social networks, like Twitter, where sometimes promotions are announced.

      • I spend four hours a day dealing with one email account. I don’t have time for Twitter, FB, etc. And my comment was referring to the premium prices for the Apple brand– Ulysses is an APPLE app.

    • expense is relative, and if one has an mac laptop or handheld, it’s something worth considering. i appreciate Miguel letting us know about this software.

      and while it is for Macs, it’s not made by Apple. it’s created by independent developers, and they (like anyone else) should be paid for their hard work.

        • i’ve read all your comments here.
          they’re mostly hostile and negative in tone.
          just like the rest of your comments elsewhere.

          • So you say that checking out an app that someone suggests, finding out it’s inapplicable to your system, and informing other people of that limitation is “hostile and negative in tone”?

            Warning people that there’s a HUGE FLAW in depending on Could-based applications is “negative and hostile in tone”?

            Telling people that there’s a COMPLETELY FREE alternative to a product that the people who don’t have the money to buy new computers (which would likely have MS Word pre-installed) all the time (and therefore, probably don’t have the money to buy a non-OEM copy) is “negative and hostile in tone”?

            I’ll tell you what’s “negative and hostile in tone”! It’s reading a comment that’s pointing out that a product is Apple only, ignoring the follow-up comment EXPLAINING that the comment was referring to the premium prices Apple puts on its hardware, and somehow STILL taking my words OUT OF CONTEXT–concluding that the comment was meant to say that it was an Apple product and ACCUSING ME OF SAYING that I don’t believe people should be paid for their work. I NEVER SAID OR EVEN SLIGHTLY IMPLIED THAT, AND YOU ARE NEGATIVE AND HOSTILE IN CLAIMING THAT I DID. (For the record, OF COURSE I believe in paying people for their work. What I don’t believe in is paying a premium for a brand when I don’t see any quality/reliability advantage over comparable products, especially a brand that emphasizes “the look” over functionality.)

            And being that this is a writing blog, you should understand the English language better than that. (Yes, THIS is a hostile comment. It comes out of me when people somehow get the idea I said/typed “turn left” when my exact words were “go straight.” How can someone POSSIBLY twist a meaning that much, and how can you POSSIBLY make your words twist-proof?)

          • wow, you’ve really got some serious issues!

            maybe an anger management course needs to be in your xmas stocking. along with a reading comprehension course.

            take a chill pill, dude. you’re claiming i accused you of stuff that i didn’t so you’re now just getting ridiculous. people are going to have different ideas and opinions from you. no need to go ballistic.

            anyway, i’m not going to argue with you. i’ve read your unpleasant disqus comment history, and you’re just not worth my time so i’m just going to put you on ignore. plus also, it’s not fair to other people here to have to read me responding to your nonsense.

            hope 2017 goes well for you.

  • Constance Lindgreen says:

    Scrivener! Although I sometimes use Pages… just for sending an excerpt to someone. Imho, the learning curve for Scrivener isn’t at all steep…it’s pretty intuitive (to use a much-overused term) and the ability to use the outline or cork board views really helps when it comes to sequencing/moving scenes or blocks of text. Not to mention (although you already did) the ability to export to e-book/Kindle/PDF/Print/Word or whatever your editor or publisher prefers or requires. Simply the best!!!

  • I tend to use my Android tablet for most of my writing. Jotterpad is my preference. I’ll try Scrivener if an Android version is released, enabling me to sync between computer and tablet.

  • Thanks for the terrific link to your instructions for the Book writing template using Word.
    I started my first two books – way back in the Dark Ages of Indie-Publishing in 2009 – using Derek J Canyon’s HTML template; Word was a No-No back then; thank heavens it’s changed now. For my next couple I started with the assault course that is Scrivener. I love it, but I teach young writers, and for many of them it’s a technical and financial bridge too far. Just as I was about to publish my latest (which has a section on how to publish) I discovered the Reedsy Book Editor. Free, easy, fast – and it produces well-formatted files for both ePub/Kindle and Pdf for print. But abandon all hope those that haven’t got easy online access, as it only works there. It’s also not (yet) for complex books – they’re working on it. And, no, I don’t have shares…

  • Personally, I like Scrivener. It helped me write my first rough draft of a book last summer. I got the idea through the SPS and the authors who talked about their experiences in the SPS Summit 2016

  • Tere Fredericks says:

    I just have to say that while so many people use Word (shudder) there IS an alternative not mentioned. Rarely is, except by those who love it. Word Perfect has so many more robust features (Reveal Codes!!) than Word could ever dream of, I simply don’t understand why it is never mentioned. Word Perfect was the first word processing program where you could simply sit down and type. Word finally caught on. Yes, I come from a legal background, but there IS an alternative to anything mentioned here. Just had to say this. Remember, Reveal Codes. And easier formatting. Hands down.

      • Because it’s more less a niche market in the legal profession. I’d even go out on a limb and say that if it wasn’t for lawyers, WP would have died looooonnnggg ago.

    • Oh, and another thing that might be working against it: Back in the 1990’s, it had more bugs, weevils,and maggots than a ten-day-old corpse. I remember it spontaneously changing fonts (while I was typing), periodically deciding the ONLY font in the library was “Courier New,” and–everyone’s favorite–freezing during the 20-minute autosave (since this was still the DOS era, you’d have to warm-start the computer to clear it, losing all your data.)

      And I’m not sure about Word, but I know OpenOffice doesn’t have native import capability for WordPerfect files, so you’re always having to convert it for everyone else.

  • Firstly, most of what Scrivener is so lauded for, like drag-drop sections/scenes/chapters, etc., originated in Word. Most people don’t know how to do it because they don’t bother to learn to use the tools of their trade.

    Secondly, you’ve completely ignored YWriter, one of the BEST writing tools out there, and either FREE or the creator requests a whopping $25 donation, which I’ve gladly given. The creator (and author himself), Simon Haynes, is a terrific guy, and although his software isn’t “pretty” like the typical Mac product, it’s amazingly powerful. You want drag-drop scene and chapter manipulation? Piece of cake. YWriter tracks characters, locations, times, props–you name it. (By props I mean things like murder weapons, cars, anything you can think of.) One of its absolutely fabulous features is that if you provide times and characters for your scenes, it will construct timelines for you, which almost none of the others do. I can highly recommend it for the creation of your book.

    There are also programs like Power Structure (excellent), Truby’s Blockbuster (eh….I have it, but it’s clunky as HELL, and refuses to run on my Win8.1 laptop), and others. I love PowerStructure. If you are an outlining fool, Power Structure is for you. I like to use it to outline, and then use YWriter to write. WONDERFUL, both of them.

  • Anne Rainbow says:

    Clearly, I’m a Scrivener fan. Ever since I discovered Scrivener, I’ve been blogging about it so that others new to Scrivener don’t have such a steep learning curve. And posting Scrivener tips Mon-Fri on my Facebook page for ScrivenerVirgin too. It’s the best. I couldn’t be without it now! (Today’s blog – going out in about 20 mins – is all about Scrivener for IOS – with guest Steve Shipley.)

      • Anne Rainbow says:

        A year on … and still blogging about Scrivener every Monday. And tips daily on ScrivenerVirgin FB page. And Tuesday evenings (UK time) I usually host a 60 min Q&A. Just having a break (a minor op) but back on air 4 Sept right through to 4 Dec.

  • Peter Rogers says:

    I’ve got a Mac. I’ve got Word and despite what it says above, it doesn’t crash on me. I’ve also got Pages and Scrivener. I’ve also got a pen and a pad of paper. I like Pages, but it is a bit short on formatting ability. I like Scrivener for certain things, especially non-fiction, but all the things it can do can become cumbersome if you let it. So I’m torn between Word and Scrivener. That said, I think Scrivener has the edge for original writing. I then export to word for final layout of the whole.

    • I use Google Docs for a lot of blog post writing because it is easy to link to resources, and Evernote is fast becoming one of my favorite tools. Word works but always have a backup. Thanks Peter!

  • Katja L Kaine says:

    Please consider the Novel Factory for this list. Full disclosure, I created it with my tiny team. We regularly get hugely gushing feedback with people saying it’s helped them make more progress and understand novel writing like never before. It’s a labour of love that is starting to really gain wider popularity.

  • Word, Scrivener, or Google docs? I’m only familiar with Word, so should would you guys recommend I test drive Scrivener and Google docs?

  • I love Scrivener, but I have a feeling I have just scratched the surface of it’s potential. I use Word most often, mainly because it’s universal availability and especially the review tools.

  • great article! I have been using word forever, and don’t think I would change, but it is great to hear about other options!

  • Michael Taylor says:

    I use Scrivener and various other small apps that help me remember things. Scrivener has most everything you need (depending on your habits) to make any writing project happen.

  • Raul Piñeros says:

    I find Pages harder to use, not very friendly when you want to customize. But for just writing, I guess I’m going to stick with Evernote, as it is my all-in-one solution for resources, productivity, note taking, and writing. It has enough styling option for my taste.

  • Josephine Keeler says:

    I personally have been using Word for years and so I know and understand it best. After reading about Scrivener, I think I’ll look into it.

  • Bonnie Elizabeth says:

    I love Scrivener! It is so nice to see and write in a split screen view and I am an organized person, so being able to see the Table of Contents on the left sidebar is money!!

  • While I love putting together books in Word for the final edition, I use Evernote to get chapters done and to keep everything organized. Google Docs is nice, but it keeps timing out when it goes into super save mode, saving about every three words. I’ve lost 2 manuscripts due to issues with them, even with the paid upgrade. Scrivner didn’t quite work for me, but I’ve heard from others that it works for them.

  • I use Scrivener and Word but tend to get lost in the weeds in Scrivener. I find it easier to organize using Word and creating files and directories

  • I use Word and I don’t plan on changing anytime soon. It is too easy for me to get into squirrel chasing mode and swap from one application or tool to the next.

  • So, for a start, as well as Scrivener, you can try Plume and YWriter. They both have a collection of tools for writers.
    Second, there is more than Word. Many more. The obvious is LibreOffice, for many the successor to Open Office. In some ways, it’s better. it’s been recoded recently. It has a ton of plug-ins. it’s free.
    If you don’t want to use that, there are dozens of alternative word processors you can use. Some of them, like Jarte and Write Monkey, concentrate on distraction-free writing. Or you can go for a fully-functional word processor like Softmaker’s Textmaker, or WP Office. None of them cost as much as Word, and all can create doc or docx documents for you.
    I haven’t found anything yet in Scrivener that I can’t do for myself in Word, using simple folder organization. It is the opposite to intuitive. If you have the patience to learn it, or if you don’t need to collaborate, or if you need to be organized, then pick it up. It’s worth it. And apart from the poor handling of Track Changes, the word processor in it is perfectly adequate.

  • Kotobee Author! It has a life-time free license along with some paid licenses for different needs. It’s more geared towards elearning but uses an easy drag-and-drop interface to quickly add interactive elements into your ebook. Also, it creates native book apps for iOS and Android for $30 per export.

  • Pity Scrivener doesn’t have a cloud-friendly solution. I love Scrivener’s features, but I need access to my docs from my PC, my Mac, and my Android phone. I need the docs to be sync’ed reliably.

    If Scrivener’s makers, Literature & Latte, are listening: embrace the cloud! I’d happily pay more for Scrivener rather than use any other tool. But as it’s currently engineered, Scrivener would be fighting against me.

    FYI to people about to say that they use Google Drive, Dropbox, or some other cloud service for their Scrivener files: Literature & Latte specifically warns against doing this as it can lead to complete and unrecoverable loss of your work.

      • Reasonable question. Sure, I believe it is safe IF you completely close down Scrivener, zip the file, then you could store it in the cloud. When you want to work again, download it from the cloud, unzip it, start Scrivener.

        Not a cloud experience, really.

    • If it’s cloud-friendly you want, I recommend you check out the Ulysses App. I find it to be the most intuitive, simple, and user-friendly writing App available. You will never lose anything you write, because they store everything on the cloud. One of its (several) exporting options is Docx. The only draw-back is that it only works on apple products. But, on the bright side, it works cross-platform, so whatever you write on your Ipad will automatically appear on your Mac or Iphone, so you don’t need to “search” the cloud for it. If i have a thought I want to record while I’m out-and-about, I can insert it into a paragraph on my IPhone, but for long writing spells, i prefer typing on a keyboard. The neatest feature (which i love to use) is customizing your writing environment (page). My personal favorite is white text on a black page. It helps preserve my night-vision by drastically reducing blue-light. It also keeps me more harmonized with my melatonin/ serotonin balance. Check it out.

  • I’ve use Microsoft Word, but have recently been using Google Docs because it provides me with accessibility when I’m on the go. With Word, I had to worry about saving and sending my work via email to finish drafting it. With Google Docs, that isn’t a concern.

    I will say that I’ve gained more knowledge about my options when it comes to writing. Thank you

    • Jennifer Felton says:

      Word has collaboration like Google Docs. Though I think Google Docs may be more user friendly for it. But if you need to switch back and forth between Google and Word, your document will most likely end up with screwed up formatting.

  • How could you leave out Ulysses? I have used Scrivener for years, and I love it, but I am switching to Ulysses. It’s the future.

    • One Wild Kiwi says:

      I agree John. Ulysses is almost perfect; as long as you’re into the Apple ecosystem. The biggest plus for me is the capability of dragging and dropping the order of your “sheets”, be they chapters, sections, or whatever you desire.

      You can do the same in Scrivener, and in Word’s Navigation pane, but not as efficiently.

      Other good points for Ulysses: the iPad version is almost identical to the MacOS program, and the distraction-free and dark modes are great.

      The new subscription model is a bit pricey compared to other apps, but if you’re a serious writer it’s more than worth the price of a coffee a month.

  • Scrivener scrambled then lost 35,000 words of content and I had to start over. No one at Scrivener could explain to me what happened and I had to begin from scratch my eight-months worth of work. Not cool! I would never recommend this software to anyone. Ever! Word is known, familiar and has never “frozen” a document in unintelligible characters as Scrivener did.

    • Jaran Gaarder Heggen says:

      You can open RTF files in Notepad++ and get the text out, even though it will not show you the formatted text.

      I will think its less job cleaning up the text than writing everything all over…

      Just a tip.

  • Lindsay Hartwell says:

    I use InDesign. I can choose the page size I plan on and adjust my margins accordingly. As far as word processing goes, I don’t need it. I edit as I go, then do another once over before reading out loud.

    • that’s not writing, this is typesetting. All aother job. Those software aren’t an alternative to indesign, are the tools supposed to give indesign data.

  • Frank Phillips says:

    I wrote my first short novel in Open Office and did fine with it. Then I bought Scrivener. I am probably not using it correctly but I recently exported the 12,000 or so words I wrote in Scrivener and now write in Google Docs. I just like the relative freedom I feel with Google Docs over Scrivener. If I were writing a non-fiction piece I would probably go back to Scrivener because it is very structured.

  • William Seward says:

    I use yWriter5 (upgrading to yWriter6) It is free. Mainly for Windows, but I use it quite well in Linux. It does a lot of what Scrivener does, I use it with my work files on Dropbox, so I can continue from many devices. yWriter6 is being developed for Android, Fire, IOS, and other platforms. Still in Beta for those. Scrivener released a slightly older edition for Linux. No longer supported, but seems to work pretty well and is also free. I’ve worked with it a little.
    I like Celtx for writing plays. Very simple. The free-standing pc version was free and can still be found I think, although they have been moving everything over to their cloud service for a fee. I also use Celtx with Dropbox.
    I love Evernote for quick notes. Again, free and cross-platform. It is awesome to be able to access the work from laptop, tablet or smart phone!
    I have used Word, and before that really loved Wordperfect. It was a case of having to pay to upgrade WP or use the Word that was free on the pc I had at the time. I’m also a cheapskate!
    My first computer was the Radio Shack Color Computer (Pre Tandy I think.) Back when you had to store programs and work on audio casettes. It was incredible when I upgraded to floppy disk! The word processing program to use there was called Telewriter-64. You had to type in the special codes to get a lot of formatting and characters.
    Even with all that it was still pretty productive. I wrote several plays on that system back in the early ’80’s.

  • Open Office is free and it does everything Microsoft Word does except stall. Plus you can save all your files to .doc files and all spreadsheets in Microsoft open in Open Office. I am shocked that nobody every mentions this great program.

  • I use ywriter, its free and has about a five minute learning curve, in other words, easy. I use Word, Grammarly and Hemingway, all of which are easy to use and the last two are also free. If you want to spend money on software, wait till your making money.

  • Your text description of Scrivener scared the tar waddin’ out of me (South Carolinians like Chandler should know that word ), but the video turned me around. One of my big fears is formatting for Kindle and CreateSpace, and it looks like Scriveners does that for me. So I’m hooked, at least for the free trial. The thought of saving that money is beyond words (so to speak).

  • I like to create stories but when it comes to constructing a perfect sentence and paragraph with the correct punctuation’s i really suck at it. Is there a writing software that will help me do this?

  • Great info! Any chance anyone has had luck with cookbook software? WORD is killing me and Illustrator is a bit overkill for my needs. Thanks in advance for any help!

  • Great info! Any chance anyone has had luck with cookbook specific software? WORD is killing me and Illustrator is overkill for my needs. Thanks in advance!

  • Valerie Nash says:

    The sync scene (say that 5x fast) and sync software services are getting better and better everyday. Binfer is another great service for syncing files.

  • I miss PageMaker. It made it easy to handle multiple text streams, you could set chunks of text off to one side (technically not in your document, but still in your file in case you want to put it back later), and kern and lead your text until it fit just right. Unfortunately, the PDF export was unstable, the graphics would get automatically downsampled to something like 50 dpi, and instead of fixing it, Adobe dumped the whole package and replaced it with its in-house-developed (PageMaker was developed by Aldus), on-line only, subscription-only InDesign. (I don’t have home internet, so anything Cloud-based is automatically “out.”) So if you want a desktop publisher that works offline, you have to learn Scribus (I’ve got it, but haven’t played around with it much.)

    And to say MS Word is “the first” is a misnomer. There used to be an awful lot of word processors around, but Word had the advantage of being pre-installed with the vast majority of new PC’s and basically shoved all the other processors out of the market. (Is Corel’s WordPerfect still around?). About the only challenger left to Word is Apache OpenOffice (I believe it was originally written for Linux, then a Windows version was released), which has the advantage of being open source (and free).

    My books are born in OpenOffice.

    • Fergus Magus says:

      Libre Office is far more widespread than Apache OpenOffice, with vastly greater development resources.
      I use Scribus. It is not as pretty or as nice to use as InDesign but does a decent job. I still have the install media for the last Creative Studio, 6 I think, that you could own rather than rent. It might be available on eBay. But why bother when we have Scribus?

      • Libre Office is a fork of OpenOffice. and since I’m still on WinXP, I’m a bit suspicious of running anything dependent on HTML5.

        I’ve downloaded Scribus, but never gotten around to playing with it.

  • I’m really enjoying Reedsy. You can write in it and format free. Super streamlined and easy. Also sets you up with a market of cover designers and editors etc.

    • Thanks Blythe, I agree, Reedsy has become one of my favorite platforms for researching book content, hiring freelancers, you name it. It beats trolling around on Upwork with access to everything an author needs. Good stuff!

  • Xpert_Commentator says:

    The fastest way to write is through Dictation, usually Dragon…then transfer to Word or Google Docs or Scrivener…Google Docs is a great way to send Raw Chapters of Fiction, one at a time, to your Pre Pub Reader team. They can spot holes quickly as the story develops. That way you can make changes ‘on the fly’ before they worsen, Also, you find out who your most popular characters are quickly. Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative (old song lyric)…best to all

    • Great recommendation here, Xpert_Commentator! It definitely speeds up the process once you get your system down. Thanks!

  • Marshall Brown says:

    When writing requires frequent reference to research I find FooWriter really useful. It allows loading research in a pane and then you write in the main pane. It doesn’t have tons of features but for blogs and other short web site posts I like it.

  • Notepad starts fast and is simple. It’s good for desktop notes, if you have an organized file directory for them.

  • Fergus Magus says:

    I began using the unsupported Linux version of Scrivener, but it would not work with my current distro. As i didn’t want to re-enter the work I had done I installed the paid Windows version under Wine and it mostly works, apart from media, which I don’t need.

    Other tools I’ll look at for the next project will include Manuskript, oStorybook, Bibisco, and yWriter.
    If your package includes MS Office, that’s fine, but don’t waste your money on buying it or on the annual charge for Office 365 – get Libre Office.

  • for some reason, I cant seem to get the Ywriter link to work. is there another link I may be able to use? I’m currently writing a few books. I’ve been looking into programs that may help writing them slightly less crumpled into a pile of nonsense. hahah

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