There are a few things that every aspiring author needs — a great idea, a quiet place to work, and an unlimited supply of caffeine. Another is book writing software.
Far from your everyday word processing programs like Word and online grammar checkers, book writing software and apps are designed for a higher caliber of writing, and they can include all kinds of editing, formatting, and storyboarding features to make the process easier.
If you’re ready to finally get that manuscript written, the right kind of software can make all of the difference
What is Book Writing Software?
Book writing software is designed with non-fiction and fiction writers in mind. While every program is different, the majority offers auto-save, note taking, and real-time collaboration. Some have advanced editing features for long-form works, and they might also help you prepare for publication with formatting templates or guidelines. Some programs also boast story development features that can keep track of characters, timelines, settings, and plot points. A few will even offer stylistic suggestions based on data from bestsellers.
What Is the Best Software for Novel Writing?
There are many types of book writing software out there, but some are better than others. Let’s check out a few programs that are functional, easy to use, and specific to novel writing. Here are the best book writing software programs and apps that you can get.
Scrivener is a powerful tool used by everyone from teachers and translators to novelists and nonfiction authors. While its basic template is a familiar white page, its behind-the-scenes technology allows for all kinds of creative exploration.
Its “corkboard” feature, for example, lets you create digital index cards to arrange ideas and images. Its “outliner” format organizes your work in linear drop-down folders. You can even split your screen to view multiple documents at a time, which is great for writing, annotating, transcribing, or consulting background research all at once. Having a hard time meeting your word count goals? Scrivener also has a handy project goal feature.
No matter how you approach the writing process, Scrivener can help you get it done. Its many functions and features can be customized just the way you like it.
- Wide assortment of writing tools
- Well-organized interface
- Formatting templates for screenplays, fiction nd non-fiction books
- Requires separate licenses for Mac and Windows devices
- Can encourage procrastination as you play with all of its features
- Steep learning curve for first-time users
AutoCrit is an innovative, web-based writing program that offers suggestions and recommendations on your manuscript. It isn’t just a word processor that you type into; it scans your work, and it catalogs, analyzes, and summarizes things like grammar, readability, word choice, repetition, pacing, and dialogue. You can get data on everything from how often you use adverbs to whether or not your exposition paragraphs are too long.
How does AutoCrit determine these things? Some information is based on the trends and patterns of published bestsellers. Other information comes from the AutoCrit community, a members-only group that supports authorship with everything from writing courses to workshops on editing and publishing.
Either way, AutoCrit isn’t just a writing tool. It’s an entire toolbox.
- Online editing suite can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection
- Analyzes your work as you go
- Free version and paid subscription are available
- Offers access to a community of authors, agents, and publishers
- Online only
- Writing tips and advice can be subjective
The Novel Factory
Designed specifically for novels, the Novel Factory is a program that goes beyond “word processor” and into “all-purpose manuscript maker.” It offers plot templates, character builders, writing guides, and more. You can map out your hero’s journey, fill out detailed character profiles, and create a beat-by-beat story timeline all at once.
Lest you think that it’s just about the world-building, however, the Novel Factory can also help you with the technical aspects of your book. It can track word counts, catch mistakes, and organize notecards for you as you go.
Novelists, you won’t want to miss the Novel Factory. Like its name implies, it’s excellent for manufacturing a manuscript from the ground up.
- Detailed planning tools for characters, locations, and items
- Offers tools divided by genre for more specialized help
- Toggable info panel for your notes
- Free 30-day trial
- Pricey annual subscriptions
- Limited amount of storage space
If you’re ready to publish, Vellum is the tool for you. It’ll let you professionally format your book while also adding little touches and flourishes to make it your own.
There are two programs to consider: Vellum Press and Vellum Ebooks. The first is for ebooks and paperbacks while the latter is for ebooks only. Both are free to download and use, but you’ll need to pay to actually export your final product for publication.
So, what does Vellum do? Formatting features include fonts, indentations, chapter breaks, table of contents, ornamental decorations, and more. If it can be used to beautify your book, Vellum probably has it. It’s a powerful tool for publishing, especially if you’re a first-timer who could use a guide to break everything down step by step.
- Many customization options
- Can format books for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Apple, and others
- Free to download and use
- Only available for Macs (not Android compatible)
- Purchase required for publication
Sleek and streamlined, Squibler is a project management tool for authors. It offers everything from to-do lists to goal tracking to keep things moving efficiently. Its tagline is “Squibler: Where writers get serious.”
You don’t have to be working on a novel, either. You can use this software for any kind of writing project. They can all benefit from an organized workspace with built-in functions for templates, split screens, brainstorming notes, corkboard layouts, and dark modes.
Are you ready to get serious? Is it time to buckle down and get that book finished once and for all? Consider Squibler.
- Offers multiple modes for book writing, screenwriting, and technical writing
- Comes with collaboration tools
- Free trial available
- Corporate aesthetic
- Cloud-based service only
Perfect for independent authors and small publishers, FastPencil is a program that can help you every step of the way in your writing journey. From scribbling your first paragraphs to managing your sales and royalties post-publication, it’ll hold your hand through the entire process.
You’ll start by writing, formatting, and collaborating with editors within the author suite. The next step is publishing either digitally or in print. Then, you can distribute your books to major retailers such as Amazon, Ingram, Kobo, and Apple. The final step is tracking and managing your sales with your distribution partners.
Long story short: FastPencil does it all. If you don’t know where to start as a future novelist, start here.
- Helps with every aspect of the writing and publishing process
- Extremely detailed tools, guides, and executive functions
- Assigns FastPencil ISBNs to new authors
- Free and paid memberships are available
- Must join third-party author platform Opyrus
- Low ratings for customer service
yWriter Novel Writing Software
Designed by an author and programmer, yWriter is a no-frills word processor that will help you track and organize your writing without tons of unnecessary features distracting you.
Its main screen, for example, looks like a spreadsheet with different columns for things like “chapter,” “scene,” “characters,” and “locations.” You can toggle them at any time, or you can completely ignore them and just write. Your stats will be displayed as you go. As your word count increases, you can break down your storyboard to keep track of scenes, settings, and plot points.
If you’re looking for plain and simple book writing software, consider yWriter. It’s an uncommercialized product that isn’t trying to sell you anything, and it can help you sell your manuscript later.
- Easy-to-use interface
- Helps you keep track of statistics and storyboards
- No badgering to upgrade or upsell
- No advanced features
Other Useful Writing Tools and Apps
These programs aren’t specific to book writing, but they can still help you edit, organize, and self-correct your work as you prepare for publication. You never know when you’ll find an app that becomes your new favorite!
Evernote is an organizational app that’s a powerhouse in terms of keeping things together. You can create, edit, and sync everything from notes and calendars to checklists and scanned PDFs. It also tracks habits, creates journal entries, and clips webpages for future perusal. You can even search documents and photos for specific keywords!
While Evernote isn’t a great pick for writing long-form works like novels, it can be an excellent resource for gathering ideas, organizing inspirational pieces, and searching for half-remembered thoughts you once jotted down.
Google Docs is one of the most popular and accessible word processors in the world. Not only can you use it for writing, but you can also share, edit, print, import, and export your work with the touch of a button. If you’re collaborating, you can track the contributions of multiple authors. If you’re flying solo, you can restrict who is able to see or make changes to your documents.
Using Google Docs also makes it easier to transfer your work to related programs like Google Slides and Google Drive, so if you want to try the entire Google service package, Google Docs can be a great place to start.
Ulysses is a great on-the-go writing app that you can use on your iPhone, iPad, and more. If you like to keep things simple, you can just open a blank document and start writing. If you want proofreading assistance, you can take advantage of the built-in spellcheck and grammar feature that looks for things like redundancies, capitalization and punctuation errors, and common semantics mistakes. Plus, it supports ePub and PDF formats. Multilingual authors, you’ll also be pleased to know that Ulysses is available in more than 20 languages!
Microsoft Word is part of the Microsoft 365 package that includes Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, and several other business programs. Most people know its capabilities as a word processor, but they’re less familiar with its features for editing, translating, and even 3D modeling. It’ll be an excellent multipurpose tool for authors who need high-level software that can keep up with their ideas.
There’s a free trial for Microsoft 365, but a one-time purchase is required for long-term usage.
Powered by AI, ProWritingAid will be a dream for authors who like statistics. It breaks down your writing into quantifiable chunks with scores for readability, correct grammar and spelling, sentence variety, and use of passive voice. It can even track things like “emotion tells” and “unusual dialogue tags” if you want to avoid common writing mistakes. Not only will ProWritingAid help you clean up your manuscript, but it will help you become a stronger writer overall.
You might not think of Grammarly as a book writing app; it’s usually associated more with students and small business owners. However, it can be a powerful tool for novels just as much as Intro to Shakespeare essays. Its grammar checks are extensive enough to catch everyday mistakes as well as more complex syntax and semantic errors – it also highlights errors in spelling, punctuation, and word choice. Grammarly has an extension for your browser, as well as a plugin for Microsoft Word.
With a color-coded system, the Hemingway Editor makes it easy to see where your writing needs work. It can catch grammar mistakes, identify overly complex sentences, and suggest corrections for weak or misused turns of phrase. It can also give you an overall readability score if you want to ensure that your novel is accessible to certain ages, grades, or types of readers.
You can start using Hemingway App by going direct to their website (no subscription or sign-up required). Alternatively, you can download their desktop app for $19.99.
Freedom isn’t a book-writing app. In fact, it isn’t a writing app at all. However, it can help you write by blocking out distractions and allowing you to concentrate solely on your manuscript. It works by cutting off your access to whatever apps or websites that you want to avoid while you work; you can even enable a “locked” mode that will prevent you from turning off Freedom too early. While the power is ultimately in your own hands, you can take away that power for short bursts of time to decrease multitasking and increase productivity.
FocusWriter is equal parts fun and functional. It’s a word processor that utilizes a hide-away interface to reduce distractions, but since you can customize what it looks like, you can personalize it to something exciting, soothing, inspirational, or just plain cool. You can also integrate extras like a live statistics counter or typewriting sound effects. If you’ve always liked creating your own writing environments, this is a tool that can take it to the next level.
The Best Writing Aids for Future Novelists
Book writing software comes in all shapes and sizes, and you might have to experiment with a few different programs before you find “the one.” The most important thing, however, is that you never stop writing. Tolkien wasn’t built in a day!