Writing a book is one of the most complex projects any writer can pursue.
There are a lot of stages in the process of going from your initial idea to a published book. Keeping track of all the moving pieces, and making sure they are carried out the right way, is no small challenge.
Thankfully, there are book writing programs available to make your life easier every step of the way.
To help you decide on the right options for your book, we’ve gathered together some of the best programs. There is a mixture of paid and free tools for Mac, Windows, mobile devices, and the Cloud.
Are you ready to discover the best book writing programs for your next project?
This guide to book writing programs covers:
- Programs for book research
- Programs for planning
- Programs for book writing
- Programs for editing and style
- Programs for formatting and exporting
- Book Writing & Publishing Program
Programs for Book Research
Fiction and nonfiction books alike require careful research to give readers everything they are looking for.
Depending on the complexity of your book, it can be difficult to keep track of all your notes, research material, and snippets of inspiration.
Some authors prefer to keep all their research material in the same program that they write in, while others like to store everything in a separate app.
If you want to have a dedicated program to keep all of your book’s research material, here are three great options.
Apple Notes is one of the best book research solutions for authors who use iPhones, iPads, and Macs to create their books.
It allows you to quickly jot down a moment of inspiration or save an idea or image while you’re browsing online.
Notes integrates well with all of Apple’s other tools, making it easy to transfer material back and forth between different apps.
If you are looking for a minimalist, intuitive way to research and store material for your book, Apple Notes could be your perfect program.
Google Keep is a simple and easy to use research tool. It’s a great choice if you prefer to work with Google tools like Docs and Drive.
Keep has dedicated mobile apps for Android and iOS making it easy to jot down your ideas and inspiration on the go and then sync seamlessly across devices.
You never know when your next great idea will strike. Having a simple program like Google Keep makes sure none of your ideas go to waste.
Simplenote lives up to its name. It’s a minimalist, intuitive place to take notes and store ideas for your book projects.
You can use Simplenote on almost every operating system and platform available, including Linux, so it’s a great choice for authors working outside of the usual Windows and Apple ecosystems.
Simplenote uses Markdown, so if you’re already familiar with that way of working, you will find it easy to get started creating book research materials in Simplenote.
Programs for Planning
After you’ve gathered together the ideas and inspiration that will form your book’s content, it’s important to plan and map out the rest of the project and how it will all fit together.
Some authors like to go old-school and use sticky notes, whiteboards, and handwritten mind maps to plan out everything their book will contain. Others prefer to use digital programs to keep everything under control.
Here are two great book writing programs for better planning.
Trello is one of the most intuitive planning tools out there, but it doesn’t compromise on power.
You can integrate Trello with other apps like Google Calendar to keep your project precisely scheduled out.
Trello has an incredibly easy to use drag and drop Kanban-style interface. There are desktop and mobile versions of the program that sync, allowing you to check your book plan or outline across multiple devices.
Creating a mindmap of your book is one of the best ways to organize your ideas. You can always use large pieces of paper or a whiteboard for your mindmap, but there are also apps and programs that offer a lot more functionality.
XMind is a powerful and popular program for creating mindmaps. It supports aesthetically beautiful maps you can customize with different graphics, and it syncs across desktop and mobile.
Programs for Writing
The most important program for writers is the tool you use to write your book. Of all the categories in this guide, take the most time to think about your needs here and which app best meets them.
Some of the factors to weigh up include:
- Will you be working on desktop, mobile, or both?
- Which operating system will you be using?
- What features do you require?
- Are you looking for a simple writing solution, or a complex program offering research and formatting capabilities?
- Do you want to take the time to learn a powerful program, or do you want something simple and intuitive you can jump straight into?
Keep those five factors in mind as you browse this selection of eight book writing programs.
FocusWriter is an ideal choice if you’re looking for the most minimal and intuitive environment for book writing.
Using FocusWriter allows you to focus entirely on your work. It blocks out everything on your screen except for the words you are crafting, keeping your creative flow free from outside distractions.
You can download FocusWriter for free on Windows or Linux, but it currently doesn’t work on Mac or mobile.
If you already use Google’s suite of tools, you should consider Docs for your book writing program.
Google Docs has the advantage of storing all your work in the Cloud while also allowing you to work offline when needed. It’s easy to collaborate with proofreaders, editors, and other creatives by sharing a link to a Docs file.
You can also add a lot of functionality to Docs with its add-ons, allowing you to customize its features to your needs.
A lot of writers have experience using Microsoft Word and find it easier to continue with the program rather than adapting to something new.
Word might lack a lot of the specialist features found in other writing programs, but it has everything you need to finish your book.
If you're already a regular user of Microsoft's flagship writing tool and don't feel the need for anything more complex, stick with it to start writing your book as soon as possible.
Novlr manages to blend advanced features for authors with a clear and attractive user interface that is simple to use.
You can plan out your chapters and scenes using Novlr as well as storing notes and research material.
Although Novlr isn’t an ideal choice for nonfiction writers, aspiring novelists should check out the free trial on offer to get a feel for what it’s like to work in Novlr compared to other specialist writing programs.
Scrivener is famous for being one of the most fully-featured writing programs out there.
It’s a powerful solution for every stage of the writing process, from research and planning to formatting and exporting your final book file.
Although there’s a definite learning curve to Scrivener, it’s great value and comes with one of the best free trials out there. Scrivener is available for Mac, Windows, and iOS.
Ulysses is a powerful writing program available exclusively for authors using MacOS or iOS.
It combines a very focused writing environment with extra features such as the ability to set goals and track your writing stats, attach files and supporting documents to your project, and to publish directly to WordPress and Medium from within the program.
If you prefer to work using Apple software and hardware, and want a program that allows you to blog as well as write books, Ulysses is worth checking out further.
yWriter is a free book writing program available for users of Windows and Linux.
Unlike a lot of other writing apps, yWriter’s creator is both a novelist and a programmer. Because of this background, yWriter is packed with specialist features intended for fiction authors, like the ability to store character and location information directly in the app.
Nonfiction writers should look elsewhere, but if you’re working on a fiction book in Windows, take the time to check out yWriter.
Programs for Editing & Style
Although there’s no substitute for working with an experienced human editor, you can make better use of their time by first running your text through a grammar and style checking tool.
Some tools are well-suited to catching grammar and spelling errors while others are more concerned with tightening your text and improving its readability.
Here are three programs to help self-edit your book and improve its style.
Grammarly is probably the most famous self-editing tool on the market today.
You can use Grammarly to catch errors with your punctuation, fix your grammar slip-ups, and improve the readability of your text. You can check out our full review here.
Grammarly exists as a standalone program, as a Cloud service, and also as an integration for web browsers and other apps.
Hemingway is far more focused on improving the style of your writing rather than catching our basic errors.
This program scans your text for complicated word choices, sentences that are too lengthy, and misuses of the passive voice. Our full Hemingway review breaks down exactly what it does.
You can either use Hemingway in the Cloud or download a standalone app for Mac or Windows. It’s a good idea to use Hemingway in conjunction with Grammarly or ProWritingAid to focus on both errors and style improvements.
ProWritingAid is a comprehensive style and grammar checking program.
As well as highlighting any basic errors, ProWritingAid shows you where you repeat certain words or phrases too often, where your sentence lengths aren’t varied enough, and where you use cliched language.
Both ProWritingAid and Grammarly are powerful self-editing programs. Book writers should compare the two and choose the one which is the best fit for their needs. You can explore ProWritingAid in more detail here.
Programs for Formatting & Exporting
If you're not only writing a book but looking to format and self-publish it as well, you need to either find a program with the right features or invest in hiring someone to carry out the work.
Some of the programs featured earlier in this guide, such as Scrivener, have formatting and exporting capabilities.
But what if your writing program isn’t suited for formatting?
Here are three programs you can use to format your book.
Atticus may be one of the newer programs on the market, but it is quickly becoming the author's favorite when it comes to writing and formatting a book.
It is easy to use, boasts over 21+ templates, has the ability to create custom chapter themes, and more.
On top of that, Atticus is only $147 ($103 cheaper than Vellum), works on all computers, and has more features coming that will be free upgrades for current owners. You can check out our full Atticus review here.
FastPencil is more than just a formatting tool. It’s a powerful and fully-featured cloud writing environment that lets you write, format, and market your book online.
As FastPencil offers a lot more than just formatting capabilities, you should be comfortable with using it for your entire book writing process. Check out our full review to decide if it’s right for you.
Jutoh is a dedicated formatting tool intended for book writers looking to self-publish ebooks.
You can download Jutoh for Windows, Mac, Linux, or even Raspberry Pi. It exports your book files as ePub or Kindle, allowing you to publish on all the biggest book retailers online.
Jutoh is available for a one-off purchase price, meaning you don’t need to worry about a monthly subscription for a service you only use from time to time.
Vellum is one of the best-known formatting and export programs available to self-publishers.
You can use Vellum to format both ebook and paperback files as well as exporting them in all of the major file formats. Vellum is available as a one-off purchase, with a slightly more affordable option if you only need to format and export eBook files. Our Vellum review breaks down everything you need to know,
Vellum is only available for Mac at this time.
Complete Book Writing Program
If you're looking for a complete solution to write and publish a book, there are a number of book publishing courses on today's digital marketplace.
However, very few of these courses walk you through the entire process on how to write, publish, and market your book.
For a complete book writing and publishing program, we recommend these book writing programs from our partner site, Self-Publishing School.
You can check out our full Self-Publishing School review here.
You now have all the programs you need to write a successful book, from start to finish.
So what are your next steps?
Choose the right mix of programs for every stage of your project, but don't take too long to decide. These tools are just a means to an end, allowing you to focus on your book.
After that, it’s time to write!
There’s nothing more exciting than starting a brand new book project, and the right mix of programs will make it easier every step of the way.