On the hunt for the top book writing software? Writing software can be hard to come by, especially since what might work best for someone else won't work best for you. So what software should you use?
Some might argue that the medium is not the issue – they'll tell you not to worry about fancy writing software and just start writing.
And while that may be true for some, in our experience with helping thousands of authors write and self-publish a book, we've found that every author has a tool that helps them organize their writing and increase productivity.
In this article, we’ll not only take a detailed look at the free writing software tools available to authors, but we’ll cover some paid tools, as well.
This 2024 Guide to Book Writing Software Will Cover:
What is book writing software?
Book writing software is a program designed to streamline the book writing process. It is essentially a word processor with added benefits specifically targeting authors and novelists (such as book organization tools, story development features, and more).
There are many options for free book writing software, as well as paid writing software for all budgets and price points. Depending on your own needs as a writer, there are many options to choose from.
Maybe you’re a writer that’s just getting started on how to write a book. Or maybe you’re a seasoned writer that’s researching how to become an author and you’re ready to commit to the best book writing software available.
No matter what type of writer you are, there is software designed to streamline your writing process. It’s just a matter of finding the perfect one to fit your needs!
Do you really need software to write a book?
We know what you’re thinking. All that’s needed to write is pen and paper.
In simple terms, yes – you don’t need a fancy writing tool to actually write. In fact, humans have been expressing their creativity and ideas through writing using the most basic tools available for centuries.
But the efficiency and ease of use of your medium can affect your writing productivity.
Think about how easy a typewriter or keyboard makes it to type a 50,000-word novel. Now, imagine having to carve that novel into stone. See how the medium can affect your productivity?
Technology has made the writing process easier – there’s no doubt about that. But is writing software necessary?
I posed this exact question to a group of writers to see if they really use software. Based on their feedback, it’s clear that writers like you value these programs. Every writer has their preferred book writing software, and some use multiple programs, including the best mind mapping software for authors.
Take a look at some of the responses:
That's just a tiny glimpse of how many real-life writers use book writing software regularly to improve their writing, efficiency, and organization.
So, the next time you're in need of gifts for writers, consider buying them a subscription to their favorite book writing software!
The pros to using book writing software
Of course, you can write using whatever tools are available to you, but there are some important reasons to consider using special software for writing a book.
Writing is already hard – why make it even more difficult by not utilizing tools that were designed to make the process easier?
When you make technology work for you (and not against you) great things can come out of it – like that book you’ve been meaning to write!
Here are the main reasons to use writing software:
- Your book files are organized in one place. No need to have each book chapter file saved in various places throughout your desktop. Keep it clean and organized with book writing software. With most tools, you can even access files from anywhere, making it easy to pick up where you left off no matter where you are, or what time of day it is.
- They are designed to make writing easier. The best writing software programs have built-in features that can prevent a ton of issues. For example, you can check for spelling and grammar mistakes on the go, which cuts down your editing time. Or use features like a plagiarism checker, which automatically highlights sections in your text that need citation.
- Your work is saved automatically. Losing your unsaved work due to unavoidable circumstances (like your power going out) is a thing of the past! This is seriously a lifesaver.
- They prevent distractions. Some book writing tools have features to block you from unnecessary distractions. This ultimately helps you get done with your book in the shortest time possible and assists in creating a productive writing space.
Now that you understand why book writing software is important, how on earth do you pick one!?
How to decide which book writing software is best for you:
- Cost of the software. Think of your budget. Can you afford to invest in writing software, or do you need to rely on the free versions for now?
- Accessibility. Think of where you write. Do you need to be able to access your book manuscript from multiple devices (like a phone or tablet), or do you only write on one?
- Features. What features are important to you? Do you need spell checker, plagiarism checker, and productivity-improving features?
- User-friendliness. Are you tech-savvy, tech-challenged, or somewhere in the middle? Some programs require a steep learning curve, and others are great for beginners.
- Size of the software. Will the program take up a lot of space on your hard drive?
With all those aspects to consider, let's take a look at the best free and paid book writing software options for authors.
|Those in need of a versatile cloud word processor
|Online and offline
|-Great for on-the-go writing
-Can be used across all devices
|-Not specific to book writing
-No distraction assistance
|Those in need of a free alternative to Microsoft Word
|-Versatile suite options
-All the features of Word
-Autocorrect & grammar tools
|-Not specific to book writing
-No distraction assistance
-Not cloud accessible
|Those in need of a free, flexible option
|Free with a Gmail account
|-No distraction assistance
-No formatting functions
|Those in need of a free software designed especially for book writers
|-Novel organization tools
-Designed specifically for authors
|-Limited importing availability
-Upgrading to new versions can be clunky
|Those in need of a digital notebook set up for various topics and research
|Limited free with pay-to-upgrade option
-A research hub
|-Notebook set up can be limiting for book formatting
|Those in need of a robust writing software specifically for novelists and fiction writers
|Starts at $5/month
|-Designed for fiction
-Minimal, distraction-free design
-Word count tracker
|Starts at $4.99/month
|-Available on multiple devices
-Desktop publishing features
-Only available on Apple products
-Set-up is not always user-friendly for books
|Those that need software to improve and edit writing in real-time
|Starts at $19.99/month
|Online and offline
|-Easy to use
-Promotes strong writing
|-Suggestion explanations are minimal
-Visual attention might cause distractions
|The career author that plans to write numerous books
|Starts at $49.99 (one-time fee)
|Those in need of an all-in-one book writing software (from writing to publishing)
|Limited free option with paid features
|End to end book writing software
|No offline editor, may charge royalties if you publish through them
|Those in need of a simple, reliable classic without all of the bells & whistles
|Starts at $129.99
-Ease of use
-No distraction assistance
|Those only in need of a robust writing checker
|Free with paid option
|Uses Artificial Intelligence to check writing for errors and improvement
|Not specific to book writing
|Those that need a tool to block distractions
|Starts at $6.99/month
|-Eliminates distractions on all devices
|-Not writing specific
-Doesn't allow for research while writing
|Those in need of a powerful tool to improve writing
|Free with paid option
|Can be used with many book software programs to suggest improvements and fix errors
|-Not specific to book writing
-Extra features cost
|Those in need of a ord processor with distraction-free features
|-Not specific to book writing
Free book writing software for beginners
Before we dive into the best paid book writing software, let’s take a look at some of the free options.
We always recommend taking advantage of the free tools out there – so you can get a feel for what you want to invest in. These free book writing tools have the basic essentials to provide you with the features you need, so that you can have more time for writing.
1. Zoho Writer
Writer by Zoho, also known as Zoho Writer, is an online word processor that comes with special features to help you write from anywhere and at any time you want to. It is a cloud software, which means you can access it on all of your devices, no matter where you are.
Even better, Zoho has different templates for you to choose from, depending on what it is you need to write.
Benefits to using Zoho Writer as a free book writing software for beginners:
- It’s readily available. You do not need to sign up or log in to be able to use Zoho Writer. It is user-friendly, and if you are part of a team of writers, you can work together and share documents with each other easily.
- You can write offline, without internet access. Despite this software being an online writing tool, you can still write offline and have your work synced to your account.
- You can use it across all devices. You can use this book writing software across phone, Tablet, or PC. No need to worry about accessing your manuscript from the wrong device.
Developed by the Document Foundation, LibreOffice is open source software that prides itself on being a free office suite. While it boasts other programs for spreadsheets and charts, Write is the name of its free word processor.
Benefits to using LibreOffice Writer as a free book writing software for beginners:
- It’s a robust one-stop shop for writers. And it’s similar to Microsoft Word (which we’ll cover in our paid writing software section).
- It’s an effective word processing tool with helpful features for authors. It wasn’t only created for writers, but can be used by anyone who needs a word processor. The autocorrect and spell checker tools allow you to catch grammar and spelling mistakes on the fly, and it even supports multiple languages!
- It provides useful templates. LibreOffice includes readily available templates to choose from that are formatted to meet your needs. All you need to do is add your text! Whether you want to write your resume, brochures, letters, or your book, these templates can save you time and come in handy for clean, crisp formatting.
Related: Best Book Formatting Software
3. Google Docs
Google Docs is by far the most common and widely used writing software, and this list of free book writing software tools wouldn’t be complete without mentioning it.
Google Docs is a word processing tool that comes with your Google account. If you have a Gmail account then you already have access to Google Docs.
Benefits to using Google Docs as a free book writing software for beginners:
- You can write and access it from anywhere. Like Zoho Writer, Google Docs is a cloud platform, which means you can write anytime inspiration strikes. You can also use this book writing software when you’re offline.
- Your work is autosaved. Each time you key a letter, your Google Doc will save your progress. No need to worry about clicking the “save” button every time you add a new page in your book! You can also view revision history in case you accidentally delete or change something that you want to restore.
- It’s easy to collaborate with a team, another writer, or an editor. Additional features streamline the collaboration process, be it your co-author or editor. You can also use the track changes feature for the editing process, so you can see exactly what your editor has changed.
Note: A major downside to using Google Docs as your writing software is that it does not support heavy formatting and outlining. Therefore, writing an entire book on this platform can be a bit challenging, but you can still use it for short stories, articles, and note-keeping.
FocusWriter is a “simple, distraction-free writing environment.” If you struggle to stay focused and on task during your writing sessions, FocusWriter may be the solution for you.
Benefits of using FocusWriter as your free book writing software:
- Designed to be distraction-free. Like its name suggests, FocusWriter helps you zero in on your project by eliminating anything that could produce a distraction.
- Timers and alarms. This is for my writers who love to write in sprints. Structure your writing sessions by planning and timing how long you'll write.
- Auto-save function. If you're a writer who struggles to remember saving your own work, FocusWriter has you covered with their auto-saves.
Evernote has both free and paid versions. You can use the free version as a word processor and note-taking software, or pay for the premium version if you want the extra perks.
While Evernote isn't designed specifically for books, the tool's organization makes it a great option for writers.
Benefits to using Evernote as your free book writing software:
- Streamlines note-taking process. At its core, Evernote is a writing software that's designed to make note-taking easy and efficient. This makes it a useful book writing software because the same organizational principles can be integrated into the process of writing a book.
- Easy customization. While Evernote isn't designed for just authors and novelists, the versatility it brings to users with multiple uses for the program comes in handy, especially for those writing a book. The ability to create notebooks, tags, and sort information, as well as robust AI-suggested content means that this software is a powerhouse for personalization.
- A hub for your book research and inspiration. Anyone who is in the process of writing a book knows how often a random surge of inspiration hits us as we write. Evernote is perfect for housing all of our inspirational quotes or research, without derailing our book writing efforts altogether.
Best paid book writing software
Now that we’ve covered the top free book writing software tools available, let’s move on to the paid writing software. Here are our favorites!:
NovelPad is a novel-writing software developed for the way writers write.
Unlike other writing software on the market that requires you to download a program to your computer, NovelPad can be accessed on any device with web access. That makes it one of the best writing apps for Android or iOS. If you want to try it out before committing, take advantage of the company's offer (not always running) of a 14-day free trial!
Benefits to using NovelPad as your book writing software:
- Use it on any device, online or off. NovelPad is browser-based, so you can open your projects on any device. They also have an offline mode, if you'd like to limit distractions by disabling web connection, or if you're writing on the go.
- Minimal, distraction-free design. The layout is simplistic and minimal, with limited distractions. The NovelPad team has stated that they only include features when and where writers require them, which leads to an incredibly intuitive, easy-to-use system.
- Chapters page. A popular NovelPad feature is the ability to have a bird's eye view of your entire project. You can use scene descriptions, color labels, and other organizational tools to know at a glance what's happening in each scene, then simply click and drag to reorder them. This is a big time save for longer projects!
- Customizable word count goal and tracker. Trying to hit a specific writing goal? NovelPad has you covered. Instead of tracking your word count goal externally through a spreadsheet or other means, NovelPad allows you to set goals and tracks them for you. Set vacations and sprints, customize which days you'd like to write more or less, and let NovelPad do the math for you.
- ProWritingAid is included. That's right! Get a streamlined drafting software and stellar grammar check with one subscription.
Price: Starting at just $5 a month
Ulysses is another full-fledged writing software specifically designed for Mac users. Whether you are a Sci-Fi writer or learning how to publish an eBook, Ulysses is an all-in-one software that allows you to focus on your main business – writing.
Benefits to using Ulysses Writer as your book writing software:
- Minimalist interface. Getting distracted while writing can hurt your workflow. Ulysses comes with a minimalistic interface to help you stay focused and productive.
- The customizable editor comes with special perks. You can choose to switch to typewriter mode and can attach additional information from images, PDFs, keywords, notes, and anything in between.
- You can publish directly to WordPress and Medium. Instead of having to copy and paste all of your work to your website, you can simply publish directly to the site. This is especially helpful for authors who blog.
- You can share your writing in any file format you want. No more complicated conversion processes!
Note: Ulysses is only available on Apple products at the time of writing.
Price: $5.99 per month or $49.99 a year
8. Hemingway App
Have you heard of Hemingway App yet? If you have, then chances are you either love it or hate it. This software is great if you are a visual learner – just look at those colors!
Benefits to using Hemingway App as your book writing software:
- It comes with advanced editing and revising tools. The spell and grammar checker help you come up with top-quality work, and it uses different colors to highlight sentences/words that need restructuring.
- There is a helpful sidebar display. The sidebar shows things like readability score and overall word count.
- It has a free editor. Even if you don’t want to pay for the subscription, you can still use the free editing tool!
Note: We’ve all been advised to not edit as we write, especially when during the book writing process. Since Hemingway draws a lot of visual attention to errors, this could slow your writing down if you’re one to get distracted easily!
Almost every modern book writer out there (regardless of the genre) swears by this powerful writing software.
It's jam-packed with features and tools to help you organize and write your book, but there is a learning curve to be aware of. If you want to try Scrivener out, plan to take some tutorials before investing in this program to determine if it's really right for you.
And this is likely because Scrivener was specifically designed for writers.
Benefits to using Scrivener as your book writing software:
- Scrivener boasts a user-friendly drag-and-drop feature. The Outliner tool helps you work on your book while having an overview of what your chapter, a page, or even the whole book would look like.
- Includes research tools for easy reference. The snapshot tool allows you to take snapshots that you want to view and reference later, without losing your train of thought.
- You can set writing targets. Scrivener has a target-setting tool to help you set your own targets and work towards achieving them.
- Customizable organization with the binder tool. If you are the type of writer who likes working on an organized and well-planned piece, then Scrivener is your perfect match. The binder tool allows organizing your manuscript in files, sub-files, sub-sub-files, and so on.
Note: While Scrivener is a super robust software for writing a book, you’ll most likely have to watch a few tutorials to learn how to master it. Check out our full review of Scrivener if you want a detailed look at what it does.
Price: $49 for Mac or Windows (but they have student discounts) and $19.99 for the iOS version
This is also another writing software that can take your writing game a notch higher. With FastPencil, you can draft, edit, publish, and even sell your book through some of the best booksellers in the industry.
Benefits to using FastPencil as your book writing software:
- It’s an all-in-one software. Just like we mentioned above, this software not only helps you write your book, but it also includes editing, publishing, and marketing services – depending on your needs and budget.
- It’s fairly easy to learn how to use. The software is pretty user-friendly, so it's easy to get started with.
- You can use it to write your book in an organized manner. Because it is designed specifically for book writers, there are tools to help you section off chapters.
- A variety of special features are included. Preview how your book will look live, or make use of the chat tool, which makes collaboration with other writers and/or editors easy.
Price: FastPencil is available for free if you only want to use it as a word processing tool, but you can pay for access to more advanced features, as seen below:
11. Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is one of the most widely used word processors out there – because it’s pretty much the oldest one.
But even today, Microsoft Word remains a preference for many authors.
Benefits to using Microsoft Word as your book writing software:
- It’s very user-friendly. Many writers already have experience using it, whether they learned it in school or at work. While it’s an older program and has been updated numerous times, its function remains the same overall.
- The simple visual interface can create a distraction-free writing space. Other than the top toolbar, the rest of the window is reserved as your page – with ample room for your text.
- You can create and use templates. Because it’s so versatile, Word has many options for customizing the functions to meet your needs as you write. For example, you can use headers to create chapters or sections of your book.
Price: If your device doesn’t already include access to Microsoft Word, you can buy it. The price of Microsoft Word will vary depending on your needs and which package you want.
Bonus software to help you write your book
Grammarly is not just a writing tool but also an AI-powered program to help you write a clean, crisp book that’s free from grammar and spelling errors.
There is a free version available, but the paid version offers more advanced features like the plagiarism checker tool.
You can even add Grammarly as a Chrome Extension, so it can edit and revise any writing you do – from emails, to social media posts, and more!
When you’re writing from a computer or laptop, it’s easy to get distracted with the internet just one tab away. This is where Freedom comes in.
Freedom helps you stay focused by blocking sites on the internet that might shift your attention.
We cover all the nuts and bolts of this writing tool in our complete ProWritingAid review.
But for a quick summary, ProWritingAid is a tool that can be used in conjunction with many writing programs, and is a robust tool that checks grammar, spelling, and writing style, and offers a number of writing improvement insights based on AI-powered reports.
If you're looking for a tool to pair with your book writing software of choice, and are dedicated to improving your writing quality and style, then ProWritingAid will offer more than any standard spellchecker can.
A word processor that touts “distraction-free” features, this simple software is designed to keep your focus on your writing.
Although it's not as high-tech as some of the other writing programs available, it's not meant to be. FocusWriter uses a hide-away interface with a customizable environment and autosave.
So there you have it! The best writing software programs you can choose from to streamline your writing process, improve productivity, and get your book written faster.
Researching all the different writing tools and software options can be overwhelming, but remember: it’s important to pick programs that work for you.
If you start using one software, and discover that it’s not right for you – that’s okay. You don’t have to commit to one writing tool if it’s hindering your productivity.
Once you find the perfect book writing software for YOU, the rest will fall in line.