The Best Book Writing Software for Soon-to-Be Authors
Increasingly, those who dream of writing and publishing their first book have a dizzying amount of tech at their disposal. An abundance of online writing tools and apps can help you complete specific aspects of a book (or any multitude of writing projects).
Corkboard, mind mapping, and note taking software like Milanote, Evernote, MindMeister, and Temi help writers stay organized and inspired.
Word processing tools like Microsoft Word, Pages for Mac, and Google Docs are industry workhorses, handling the basics that writers need. And an increasing amount of free word processing options cater to specific needs, preferences, or writing styles.
Grammar checkers like Grammarly, ProWritingAid, and the Hemingway Editor help authors hone their writing and find their voice.
And self-publishing tools like BookBaby, Smashwords, and Kindle Direct Publishing make it easier for authors to publish their books or even connect with editors.
But some authors don’t have the desire or ability to conduct an entire orchestra of writing tools as part of their writing process. So we’ve put together a list of software tools that can each help you tackle multiple aspects of the book writing process.
This way, you can keep your literary tech stack simplified.
Jasper is a versatile AI-powered writing assistant that generates unique, compelling copy for book authors, both experienced and those who are just starting out. It can also help with promotional and marketing copy, research, ideation, phrasing, and even generating unique, compelling art and images.
While writing a book can never really be considered “fast,” Jasper naturally complements the writing process, helping you write up to five times faster.
- Over 39 different tools to help generate content and writing
- Helps quickly expand sentences and paragraphs while avoiding “fluff” words
- Google Docs-style word processing functionality
- Ability to customize writing style and tone to match the style or genre of your book
- 5-Day free trial
- Naturalistic language outputs can benefit authors aiming for realistic styles or nonfiction
- Supports 25 different languages
- Tiered monthly pricing based on needs
- Learning to enter and revise effective AI prompts can take time
- Long-form content creation requires paid Boss Mode plan
- Starter plan starts at $24 per month for 20,000 words
- Boss Mode starts at $49 per month for 50,000 words
yWriter is a solid example of how excellent free book writing software can be. Developed by prolific author and programmer Simon Haynes, yWriter users benefit from its accessible word-processing functionality. However, yWriter uniquely shines thanks to Haynes’ background in organizing and handling code.
Unlike other writing software and tools, scenes are emphasized over chapters. And yWriter users can easily break scenes down into manageable chunks, and reorganize them through drag and drop functionality as needed.
Snapshot backups also allow users to roll back their progress just as programmers can, meaning an author can access specific moments of their novel along any point of its development, from a few minutes before back to moments after the writing began.
- Free to use
- Allows authors to leverage metadata to visualize novel information in charts and tables (i.e., #statfacts)
- Interface specifically designed to aid in character and chapter planning
- Available on Apple and Android mobile devices
- Previous iterations of yWriter available to use, as needed
- Export options include RTF and LaTex for additional editing
- Users get less “hand-holding” when learning to use the product than with other tools and software featured here
- Mobile functionality is designed to support existing projects (as opposed to creating new ones)
- Users can register their copy of yWriter for either $11.95 or $25.95 if they’d like to help support the developer
Billed as an alternative to Microsoft Word for technical writers and those in academia, Mellel is a word processor exclusively available to macOS users.
- Strong, flexible, organizational tools
- Robust cross-referencing capabilities
- Users can export their manuals to the ePUB format
- 30-day free trial
- Particularly solid option for those who need to prioritize footnotes, table of contents creation, figures, outlines and cross-references
- Highly flexible note-taking functionality
- Despite being an “anti-Word” writing tool, users who are highly acclimated to Microsoft’s word processor may find Mellel frustrating
- No change-tracking feature
- Some users feel the experience of using Mellel isn’t intuitive
- A one time cost of $49 comes with a permanent license for five computers and two years of product updates
Once upon a time, in the not-too-distant-past, FastPencil was a standalone, cloud-based novel writing tool. But now this tool (still referred to as FastPencil) is bundled as part of the comprehensive book writing and publishing platform Opyrus.
While some users feel other products provide more writing-specific options for less of an investment, FastPencil may be worth a look simply due to the fact that it’s been catering to budding authors since 2008.
- Backed by two decades of experience and development in-market
- Distinct collaboration environment for co-writing and editing
- Membership tiers that include membership in the Caravan Network provide access to social networking and author forums
- Speed-to-market can be comparatively fast due to the established Opyrus publishing ecoystem
- Publishing Wizard available for formatting assistance
- Authors may lack some needed features on the free tier, and may not need/use all the features of the paid tiers
- No ability to use product offline
- To access FastPencil and its basic functionality users must register a free account with Opyrus
- Paid tiers with additional functionality begin at $4.95 per month
Atticus is a hybrid—part word processor and part book formatting tool. A unique dashboard allows the author to set up the high-level details of their book.
You can then toggle back and forth between writing your book in a more traditional word processing format and using the dashboard to shape it as you bring it to life.
- Pre-built theme templates—and the ability to create your own
- Autosave, cloud storage, and backups
- Built-in spell checker
- Offline mode available
- E-reader and print previews
- Ability to set and track writing goals
- Front and back matter formatting and management
- Dyslexia-friendly font settings
- 30-Day money-back guarantee
- Created by the same team behind Publisher Rocket
- Frequent updates
- Purchase price includes all future updates
- Available for Chromebook, Linux, macOS, and Windows
- No collaboration functionality for co-authors or editors (though this is reportedly in the works)
- Not 100% offline—connection needed to log in and export books
- Somewhat limited feature set compared to some other options listed here
- One-time purchase price of $147
bibisco aims to give authors a writing tool that can also support other critical stages of the book writing process, such as structuring characters, locations, and the story timeline.
- Full text editor
- Focus mode
- World building tool and character templates
- Goal setting and tracking
- Mind mapping tools
- Timeline and novel analysis
- Available in 14 languages
- 30-Day money-back guarantee
- Free version supports unlimited writing projects
- Easy to track and rearrange scenes
- Available for Linux, macOS, and Windows
- Open-source software
- Book analysis provides authors with additional ways to track characters and interactions
- No mobile app currently available
- Despite autosave functionality, some users recommend regularly exporting files to backup
- Writing assistant doesn’t include many bells and whistles
- Free option with limited functionality
- Full version for one-time purchase of €33 (converted to USD at time of purchase)
While Novel Factory has features to support authors of any experience level, newer authors may appreciate the features designed specifically for them.
For example, the Roadmap feature guides you step by step through the writing process, from laying out your premise through writing, editing, and ultimately publishing your finished novel.
- Outlines available that guide novel writing from start to finish
- Available outlines also support world building and scene blocking
- Character development prompts and support
- Templates are versatile, covering popular literary genres like romance and horror
- Templates based on popular literary genres, like romance, mystery, and horror
- Roadmap assistant includes video tutorials
- Task-based progression helps authors focus on and develop details chronologically
- Not currently available for macOS
- Approach to world building may be too limited for authors aspiring to a Frank Herbert or Robin Hobb–level world or universe
- Level of detail may be too much for some newer authors
- Paid plans start at $7.50 per month for one novel (all features included)
Scrivener is book writing software designed to handle long projects, in whatever order the author chooses.
Scrivener helps you integrate everything you write into a single, user-friendly outline. Doing so allows you to easily toggle back and forth from writing to manuscript views.
- Intuitive drag-and-drop interface
- Manuscripts can be broken up and rearranged the fly
- Goal tracking with the ability to set deadlines
- Brainstorming and research modes
- Writing statistics
- Interactive tutorial for beginners
- 30-Day free trial
- Features dedicated to simplifying the editing process
- Specific features available for academic and nonfiction writers
- Tools available to support exporting and publishing
- Available on Windows and Mac
- Lacks an Android version
- Lacks native collaboration features
- One-time payment of $59.99 for desktop or $23.99 for iOS
Squibler bills itself as a writing program that gives authors an edge through its collaboration, project management, and publishing capabilities.
- Streamlined design and interface aim to keep writers writing fast
- Tagging system helps keep notes organized
- Drag-and-drop functionality
- Binder feature keeps manuscripts compiled and organized as they’re written
- 14-Day free trial available
- Full-screen, dark, and focus modes available
- Easily syncs with Google Drive, Dropbox, and desktops
- Basic templates available
- Speed and responsiveness may become an issue depending on the size of the project
- Some users feel cost-to-feature ratio isn’t on par with other book writing solutions
- $9.99 Per month
While Squibler was designed around the idea of faster writing, Ulysses was created to provide a distraction-free writing environment.
Exclusive to Mac users, this markup-based editor offers feature parity across macOS and iOS, allowing writers to seamlessly shift their book writing efforts between laptop, iPad, and iPhone as needed.
- Markdown commands help keep authors in writing mode
- Unique filter system functions allows users to stay organized with tags
- Includes dark mode and typewriter mode
- Includes fully functional 14-day free trial
- Single subscription includes both desktop and mobile versions
- Refined, well-designed interface
- Goal setting
- Allows authors to publish their work to WordPress and other website builders
- Only available for Apple products
- Some users may feel pricing model is a bit expensive
- May require some time investment with available tutorials before writing begins
- Users must be logged into their Apple accounts to use Ulysses on multiple devices
- $5.99 Per month or $39.99 per year
The best book writing software will set you up for success
As the ranks of self-published authors continue to grow, so does the industry’s need for unique voices. So, whether you use one tool for each part of your writing process or an AI-powered Swiss army knife like Jasper, be sure to pick the tool that serves you best.
But how do you know which tools will work for you? We think free trials are a writer’s best friend. In fact, if you sign up for Jasper today, you’ll get your first 10,000 words for free.
That alone could make one heck of a prologue!