Best Book Writing Software

Book-Book-Writing-Software

Nearly every author wonders at some point if they are really using the best book writing software in order to not only organize their novel, but also help them write more effectively and efficiently.

After all, writing a book is a monumental challenge. You don’t need to make it any harder by using weak or cumbersome programs.

Thankfully, the right tools can make writing a book easier, save you time and frustration, and can even make writing a long novel or complicated nonfiction book enjoyable.

But what is the best software for writers?

This article reviews key features and limitations to consider as you choose which software you’ll use to write your next book.

In this article you will learn:

  • A side-by-side comparison of the most popular writing programs
  • Which free tools for writing books are reasonable
  • The only book writer software I will use to write my books

List of Book Writing Software Available

The table below shows a snapshot of the best word processors for writers. The key features displayed in the chart include:

  • Software name
  • Price
  • Special discounts and trial periods
  • Operating system (Mac or PC)
  • Capability to sync between multiple devices
  • Ebook formatting for ePub and MOBI

Compare Writing Software Features

ProgramPriceSpecial DiscountsOperating SystemSyncing CapabilitieseBook Formatting
Scrivener for Mac$4520% off codeMacYes.epub, .docx, PDF, AND MOBI
Scrivener for PC$4520% off codePCYes.epub, .docx, PDF, AND MOBI
Word$69.99/yearFree 1-month trialMac and PCYes.docx, PDF
Ulysses$39.99/yearFree 14-day trialMacYes.epub, .docx, PDF
Google DocsFreeNoneMac and PCYes.epub, .docx, PDF
yWriterFreeNonePC (Mac is in Beta)NoPDF, .html

The above table includes word processors, the tools we use to “write” the book.

However, all authors know there is more to writing a book than just “writing,” so we’ve added book writing software that’s helpful for writing novels, outlining, editing, keeping focused, and formatting below as well.

Best Software for Writing a Book

Below we’ve listed some of the best writing software for creating a book.  They are extensive and will surely help you.

Scrivener Review

Scrivener is an incredibly advanced word processor, project manager, and formatting tool all-in-one. It’s many authors’ favorite set of book writing software because of its rich features. Both Mac and PC users can use it. Read my complete Scrivener review and watch my Scrivener vs Word video for a detailed, visual comparison.

Price: $40 for PC / $45 for Mac *Save 20% if you use this coupon code for Scrivener*

Pros/Cons:

+Helpful templates for both fiction and non-fiction
+Format for print and eBooks, including .mobi, .epub, .docx, and .pdf
+Incredibly simple drag and drop capabilities for rearranging
+Corkboard with index cards, split screen, and outliner working views make it ideal for longer or more complicated works
+Store and access research files and notes within your project “binder”
+More affordable than its closest competitors
-Takes time to learn how to use Scrivener’s features

Resources:

–Check out this tutorial on how to format a print book in Scrivener.
–Using Scrivener can actually be easy if you take this step-by-step course.

Check Out Scrivener Here


Ulysses Review

Ulysses is a simple yet powerful and customizable app for writing. Ulysses works on Apple products only, and your work syncs automatically between your devices or you can choose to store work locally.

Price: $39.99/year
Pros/Cons:

+ Export to .pdf, .docx, or .epub easily
+ Clean interface without a lot of distractions
– Price is yearly or monthly subscription model
– Learning curve if you are not familiar with markdown
– Not for PC users

Resources:

–Check out this tutorial for using Ulysses to export your books.
–Ulysses can be used to hold yourself accountable by using writing goals as shown in this tutorial.

Check Out Ulysses Here


Microsoft Word Review

book writing software word

Microsoft Word is the word processor many of us are familiar with, and both PC and Mac users can use it on their devices. The biggest problem for Word it was designed for writing anything–not for writing books. It was not created by authors nor for authors. Hence, Word can be tolerable for short writing jobs, however, if you’re really looking for the best book writing software, and Word does not measure up to its competitors. I can show you exactly why I don’t recommend Word in this video, which compares Word vs Scrivener.

Price: $149.99 or $69.99/year for one computer (the price is even more for multiple computers)
Pros/Cons:

+ What you see is what you get formatting
+ Many book editors prefer Word documents
– Difficult to use if you don’t work in a linear fashion
– Cumbersome for writing lengthy novels and other books
– Must use a separate tool, such as Calibre, for ebook formatting

Resources:

–Check out this tutorial for formatting a print book with Word.
–You can also see in this video how to use Word to format ebooks.

Check Out Word Here
The best software for authors, are you using it? #SelfPub #ScrivenerNotWordClick To Tweet

Free Writing Software

For the economical writers out there looking to step up their game beyond Word, we list the top book writing software that are free here.

Google Docs Review

Google Docs is a web-based application where documents and spreadsheets can be created, edited, and stored online. Our team uses Google Docs for writing our blog posts because it’s the easiest way we’ve found to all work on one document at the same time, add comments, see revisions, and even chat. (Google spreadsheets can also be a useful tool, especially for outlining)

Price: Free
Pros/Cons:

+Access files from anywhere you have the internet
+Files save automatically
+Collaborating with others is a breeze
+Export to .epub, .pdf, or .docx
-Simple editor works fine for short writing, but not for long writing

Resources:

–Check out this video to learn the basics of Google docs.
–Here’s a guide to collaborating like a pro with Google docs.

Check Out Google Docs Here


yWriter Review

book writing software ywriter

yWriter is a free standalone app designed by an author who was striving to create the best fiction writing software. The yWriter software has been for PCs only, however, an Android version was recently released and there is a beta version for iOS.

Price: Free
Pros/Cons:

+Breaks down novels into chapters and scenes
+Stores snapshot backups of your work automatically
-Does not work on Mac computers yet
-Does not come with templates
-Must use a separate tool, such as Calibre, to create ebooks

Resources:

–Here’s the Quickstart Guide to getting started with yWriter.
–Check out this video to see yWriter in action.

Check Out yWriter Here
A few other free writing software used by authors are Pages, the standard word processor for Apple products, LibreOffice, an open source office suite that works on both PCs and Macs, and WriteMonkey, a Windows word processor that writers enjoy for distraction-free writing as most of its features are well-hidden.

Best Novel Writing Software

Novel writing has its own unique joys and challenges, from outlining to character development. The book writing software below were specifically designed to help fiction authors create their next masterpiece.

Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software Review

best book writing software outlining your novel

Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software is referred to as the “pre-Scrivener program” because it guides you to think in new ways about your characters and key story beats before you write your first draft in Scrivener. I can almost guarantee your storyline will be better by using this program for in-depth outlining before you start writing. It complements the Outlining Your Novel Workbook by K.M. Weiland and works on both PC and Macs.

Price: $40
Pros/Cons:

+Export your Scene List to use in Word or Scrivener.
+Create a playlist for your novel
+Easily rearrange the scene order
+Create epic characters by uploading pictures or sketches
+Visualize all your scenes chronologically listed on a calendar

Resources: 

–Take a tour of the Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software here.
–Check out these videos on how to use the Scene List and how to export it to use with other word processors.

Check Out Outlining Your Novel Here


Scrivener Again

Scrivener hits #1 on my list of the best novel writing software because you can organize long or complicated content in just about any way imaginable. The ability to have folders right there at your fingertips for characters, places, research notes, front matter, each chapter, and scene can save tons of hours in your novel writing process. I love it so much, that I wrote full scrivener review.

Price: $40 or $45  *Use this Scrivener coupon code for 20% off*
Pros/Cons:

+Helpful templates for both fiction and non-fiction
+Format for print and eBooks, including .mobi, .epub, .docx, and .pdf
+Incredibly simple drag and drop capabilities for rearranging
+Corkboard with index cards, split screen, and outliner working views make it ideal for longer or more complicated works
+Store and access research files and notes within your project “binder”
+More affordable than its closest competitors
+Use professionally designed Scrivener templates
-Takes time to learn how to use Scrivener’s features

Resources:

–See my favorite features and watch a video comparing Scrivener vs Word.
–Check out this tutorial on how to format a print book in Scrivener.
–Using Scrivener can actually be easy if you take this step-by-step course.

Check Out Scrivener Here


StoryShop Review

StoryShop is a lot of fun for creating the worlds, elements, and characters in your novels. (Can you tell I had a little fun playing around with this one?) It’s an online app designed by the storytellers, co-owners of the indie publishing company Sterling & Stone, and hosts of the Self-Publishing Podcast. If you tend to get lost trying to keep track of the details of the worlds and characters you design, StoryShop can help you. Since this software is online, it works on both Mac and PC devices.

Price: $99 per year or $9.99 per month
Pros/Cons:

+Build worlds, create story beats, and write your book within one application
+Comes with story templates to help you write your story faster
+Character cards allow you to keep track of character attributes and relationships.
-Book can only be exported as a .docx
-Subscription model gets expensive and the free version doesn’t include much

Resources:

–Check out how tagging characters and elements is a powerful way to keep track of your story details
–Watch how exporting your book in .docx and story beats for Scrivener works with StoryShop

Check Out StoryShop Here


yWriter Again

book writing software ywriter

yWriter may be the best free novel writing software because it was created by an author and breaks your novel into scenes so it isn’t a huge disorganized mess. There is not yet a version for Macs though, which is a deal-breaker for me…a former Apple employee.

Price: Free
Pros/Cons:

+Breaks down novels into chapters and scenes
+Stores snapshot backups of your work automatically
-Does not work on Mac computers yet
-Does not come with templates
-Must use a separate tool, such as Calibre, to create ebooks

Resources:

–Here’s the Quickstart Guide to getting started with yWriter.
–Check out this video to see yWriter in action.

Check Out yWriter Here
Writing even 30k words in Word is brutal. See which book writing software is best. #WritingTipClick To Tweet

Book Editing Software

No one knows better than me the importance of good editing. While editing software can never replace a real book editor, it can noticeably improve your writing. Editing software can fix typos, make sure you use correct grammar and improve your readability by making it clear and concise. This allows your readers to focus on your message, not your writing blunders.

That’s why, in addition to the built-in spell checkers most word processors include, you should use book editing software too. Here are two of the best free editing tools:

Grammarly Review

book writing software grammarly

Grammarly is an editing tool that finds spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. It can be used as an online browser extension, a website, or an app to download on your computer.

Price: Free or $139.95 per year for Premium
Pros/Cons:

+Underlines errors, gives explanation, and suggested correction
+Free version seems sufficient
+Your files are stored in the cloud
+browser extension checks your online writing, (but does not yet work with Google Drive apps)
-file upload has a size limit of 4 MB, 60 pages, and 100,000 characters

Resources:

–Read my full Grammarly review here, including when it’s worth it to pay for the Premium version.
–See Grammarly in action in this video.

Check Out Grammarly Here


Hemingway Editor Review

book writing software hemingway

Hemingway Editor is an editing tool that improves the clarity of your writing. It can be used as a website or desktop app.

Price: Free
Pros/Cons:

+Highlights passive voice, adverbs, complex words, and sentences that are difficult to read.
+You can copy and paste or type directly into the Hemingway Editor
+Errors are highlighted and color-coded (e.g., green are passive voice)
+Grades your readability by reading level, such as Grade 6
-Doesn’t give suggestions for how to improve writing

Resources:

–Here’s a video overview of the Hemmingway editor.
–Check out how this author edits a book with Hemingway and Scrivener.

Check Out Hemingway Here


ProWritingAid Review

ProWritingAid is another online editing tool that checks grammar, spelling, overused words, readability and cliches.

Price: Free or Premium is $40 per year or $140 for lifetime access
Pros/Cons:

+Gives lots of reports and data that’s easy to use to quickly improve your writing
+Identifies “sticky sentences,” which often include unnecessary filler words
+Makes suggested changes you can accept or decline
+The premium version can work with Scrivener, Google Docs, and Microsoft Word
-The free version only edits up to 500 words at a time

Resources:

–Here’s how to get started using ProWritingAid
–Watch this video to see how to use ProWritingAid with Microsoft Word.

Check Out Pro Writing Aid Here

Other Marketing & Productivity Software For Writers

Writing your book is only half the battle.  We’ve got to be productive as well as market and sell the book.  Here are a couple of tools to help with that two very important parts to not only writing…but being a successful author.


KDP Rocket

Use KDP Rocket for your book marketing research, including hot keywords and AMS advertising.

 

 


Freedom

Use Freedom productivity app to stay focused by blocking distracting websites and apps for scheduled writing sessions.

 

 


Ommwriter

Use Ommwriter for a calm writing environment and meditative tracks to listen to while you write.

 

 


Book Review Targeter

Use Book Review Targeter to get more targeted reviews for your book.

 

 


Conclusion

For my personal “butt in chair” time, I use Google docs to write my articles because it allows me to better coordinate with my team and my editor. For blog posts, easy collaboration is key.

However, that doesn’t cut it when I have a 30k or even 100k book to write. When writing a book, I need the best book writing software out there.

Basically, I need book writing software that will easily help me to research, outline, reorganize, write, collaborate, and edit. And since I love to publish to CreateSpace, and Draft2Digital, I need to export my books in both ePub and MOBI formats before hitting publish and getting to the fun part of marketing my books. Reedsy offers an in-depth guide to ebook distribution and formats if you need any pointers.

And that’s why Scrivener is the only writing program I use for writing my books.

Furthermore, the price is a bargain for what the program can do, and an added bonus is there’s no monthly or annual fee. It’s a one-time purchase and the best tool for writers can be yours. Plus, you can use my code to save 20% and it’s even more of a deal.

It’s a no-brainer for me. I think Scrivener is the best writing software for authors.

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

Cheers,

  • There’s a lot of info here but one thing I’ve noticed you say about Prowritingaid ‘-The free version only edits up to 500 words at a time.,
    I am using it and although I’m not sure of the maximum words the most I’ve entered so far is 1664 and it works.

    • Hmm…I’ve got the pro version (immediately bought it after testing it) so I can’t check that. But anyone else experience that?

      • Exclusively Niemann

        Only consider buying it. We have to make a decision between Hemingway and Prowritingaid. Any advice?

        • ProwritingAid gets my vote then. I liked it much better…but that could easily be a preference of mine.

          • Exclusively Niemann

            Thank you Dave. I trust experience, and that is what you have…

  • Ton Bil

    Hemingway I find very useful. I am that kind of writer who thinks and writes long sentences. At least I have the tendency. Now that I write this comment, I’m aware of this, and I try to write short and crisp sentences.
    As for free: I think I paid a few dollars for it, back in 2015, and have a lifelong pro version. I don’t use it at the time, since I don’t write in English, like I did back then.

    • Yeah, I’ve really been digging into Hemingway. Although, I’m also learning that my grammar is worse than I thought…haha.

  • Dr. Pam Young

    You are so appreciated! Thank you. I bought Scrivener when I read this article the first time.;>)

  • Dr. Pam Young

    LOL! I was in the middle of writing a four-book series. Now on Book 3. Superstition does not allow me to switch tools until it’s finished. (Old tennis player.) But I did go through their introduction…

    • haha…fair enough. I know how that goes 🙂

  • Joe Green

    Dave what is the file format that SCRIVENER uses. Can I open and use my previously created .docx files with this program?

    • You can import your .docx with them. But as you’ll see, you’ll want to break up the information so as to organize it better – one of the features I love best about Scrivener.

      • Joe Green

        Thanks much. Keep up the good work. You have been a great help to me.

  • Anita Evensen

    I would like to make another suggestion for novel writing software: Novelize (www.getnovelize.com). This online writing app is great for writing a series, because all the details are kept in a notebook, which can be used for several books. It’s also very easy to use and doesn’t come with too many features to sidetrack you from actually writing. Full disclosure: my hubby built it, and I might be jaded. 😉

    • I’ll check that out! Thanks and no worries on the jadedness…haha.

  • Ritter Ames

    Hemingway is only showing up as a $19.99 product. No free product is showing up as you mention in your article. I looked further to see if there was a free trial to try, to see if I liked it, but nothing other than the $19.99 version shows up at the link and processed through GumRoad

    • CHris

      Follow the link given… It’s that page… You paste over the colored writing

      • Ritter Ames

        Thank you! Going to try it now to see if I want to buy.

  • avoura

    I can’t believe you missed out LibreOffice. It’s free and a valid alternative to MS Word. I use it for all my writing.
    And for book layouts, I use Adobe InDesign, and Photoshop for covers.

    • I tried it a while ago and wasn’t a fan but it’s good to know there are others that prefer it. If there are, I’ll give it another go.

    • yes me too tried libreOffice it was good to use and its free

  • Here are a couple you’ve missed: Bibisco (http://http://bibisco.com/) and Dabble — both are designed for writing novels. Bibisco is free, very nice looking, and available on Windows, Linux, and Mac. Dabble is available by subscription (free 14-day trial) and can be used in your browser or a free desktop app (Windows and Mac). I tried Dabble for Nanowrimo (they were one of the sponsors) and fell in love with it. As a Nano winner, I’ll be able to lock in a 50% discount for life. Yay!

  • John

    Another good one and very useful is Aeon Timeline. Geared towards writers, it allows you to build multiple time lines of where characters are, what they’re doing etc. You can have character arcs, main story arc, any number of arcs running parallel to each other and get a really good sense of the big picture of your novel.

    • I’ll check that out. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Exclusively Niemann

    One of the best tools is not even mentioned here, namely Vellum. My wife and I are writers and without Vellum, we would be ultimately lost. Yes, it is ridiculously expensive and it works only on a mac, but it’s the best by far.

    • Vellum is pretty good and I’ll be reviewing it more in an upcoming article on best ways to format.

      • Exclusively Niemann

        Fantastic, please let us know when the article is available…

  • Barbara Plum

    Great list; now I only have to decide how many new tools I want to learn to use. Tx, Dave.

    • Haha..I know what you mean. Software doesn’t become a tool till we know how to effectively and efficiently use it.

  • I tried Scrivener a few years ago and didn’t like it at all. It created all kind of different files then I could never find them again, lol. Now it was quite some time ago and I’m sure its improved since then, but I love Word. I was in it from the beginning so understand it well. It works great for my novels, I have no trouble. Love the Styles feature.
    I also love ProWritingAid.
    And when you buy that program it has an add on for Word so it works right inside that program.
    I do use Google Drive so save my word docs there so if, God forbid, my computer went belly up I don’t lose my books! 🤤
    I also save to a flash drive.

    • With Scrivener, you can have it export different file types – which can be great for publishing on different platforms. But I totally know what you mean. One thing I don’t like about Grammarly is that it doesn’t work inside of word. But PWA does, like you said.

      I also totally agree on hte multiple places of saving it. It only takes one book to go “poof” before we all start doing that…haha.

  • Good knowledge shared but there are some other useful tool available in market

  • Annie Lynn

    Thank you for the article. Please consider the following. 1) Scrivener for Windows does not have an American dictionary – all words are spell checked with the UK dictionary. This includes their version of the ellipsis, UK spelling (e.g.: using ‘s’ in organise instead of organize), or contractions
    (e.g.: can’t), slang and formatting. The updated Windows version isn’t out yet but I hope they include an American version since they sell a lot of copies here. 2) ProWritingAid Pro can only do 30-50 pages at a time – which isn’t helpful if your trying to use it for your novel – rendering the program useless. Twice I’ve used the program for clients and it took a very long time to get their novels through the program piece by piece. ProWritingAid is also increasing their rates this year, both yearly and lifetime rates.

dave2

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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