Blog Writing Apps Best Writing Software: Top 15 Programs for Writers

Best Writing Software: Top 15 Programs for Writers

Hannah Yang

Hannah Yang

Speculative Fiction Author

Published Nov 15, 2022

best writing software

If you’d been born a few centuries ago, you might have written books using little more than a quill, an inkwell, and a scroll of parchment.

You can still write your book with a quill if you want to—but these days you have a lot more options at your fingertips. There are digital apps you can use that will help you organize your writing projects, catch grammar mistakes, collaborate with others, and so much more.

With so many different options to choose from, it can be hard to figure out which software is right for you.

So, what’s the best writing software to help you write your book?

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the best book writing software options that every writer should know about.

Contents:
  1. 1. ProWritingAid (Best Writing Software for Books)
  2. 2. Scrivener
  3. 3. Google Docs
  4. 4. NovelPad
  5. 5. Reedsy Book Editor
  6. 6. Squibler
  7. 7. Microsoft Word
  8. 8. Grammarly
  9. 9. Hemingway
  10. 10. The Novel Factory
  11. 11. Ulysses
  12. 12. Atticus
  13. 13. Vellum
  14. 14. Publisher Rocket
  15. 15. Freedom
  16. Benefits of Book Writing Software
  17. Why ProWritingAid Is Loved by Book Writers
  18. Conclusion on the Best Writing Software

1. ProWritingAid (Best Writing Software for Books)

ProWritingAid is the best book writing software currently available to writers.

It’s a popular writing aid that helps you transform your work in progress into publication-ready prose.

At the most basic level, the software acts as a second set of eyes to catch mistakes you might not spot on your own, such as typos and grammar errors.

On a more advanced level, it also makes style suggestions to help you improve weaknesses like passive voice, the overuse of adverbs, and repetitive sentence starts.

What makes ProWritingAid stand out from the crowd is the depth and quality of analysis it offers. There are over 20 different writing reports that show you the strengths and weaknesses of your book.

Here are just a few examples of the reports you get with ProWritingAid:

  • The Clichés and Redundancies Report highlights overused phrases in your prose, so you can choose more unique ways to express ideas
  • The Pacing Check monitors the balance between fast-paced sections, such as dialogue and character action, versus slow-paced sections, such as introspection and backstory
  • The Dialogue Tags Check analyzes your dialogue tags, such as “She said” and “He whispered,” to make sure they’re necessary and effective

ProWritingAid also includes a built-in plagiarism checker that will tell you if any passages in your book overlap with existing written work.

The free version lets you try out all the basic features, but you’ll need the Premium version to unlock the advanced analysis reports. If you’re working on a full-length book, it’s worth the investment.

ProWritingAid's collaboration feature

Cost: Free, or around $70/year for the Premium version

Pros:

  • Analyzes your book in more detail than any other grammar checker on the market
  • Integrates with web browsers (such as Chrome and Firefox) and desktop apps (such as Microsoft Word and Scrivener)
  • Lets you scan up to 100,000 words at a time

Cons:

  • Requires a subscription to scan more than 500 words (the free trial limit)

2. Scrivener

Scrivener is a book writing software specifically designed for writing long-form projects, such as novels, textbooks, and screenplays.

It’s great for organizing large writing projects because it lets you arrange your manuscript in a “binder,” where you can easily rearrange scenes or chapters by dragging and dropping them.

You can see a bird’s-eye view of your book using the corkboard mode, which looks like a physical corkboard full of index cards. You can also toggle to the outline mode, which formats your chapter summaries as an outline.

You can then set targets for your project, such as the word counts you want to hit by certain deadlines. This feature makes it easy to track your progress.

And you can turn on focus mode, which displays only the text you’re currently working on, so you can write without distraction.

There’s a steep learning curve to use all of Scrivener’s advanced features, but many writers love this app, and there are plenty of tutorials online for how to make Scrivener work for you.

Cost: $49/lifetime

Pros:

  • Lets you organize a large project with ease
  • Gives you a bird’s-eye view of your book
  • Helps you track your progress with targets and deadlines

Cons:

  • Has a steep learning curve for new users
  • Lacks real-time collaboration options
  • Requires a one-time payment

3. Google Docs

Writing can be a solitary task, but the process of writing an entire book requires a lot of collaboration. Authors might need to collect feedback from beta readers, view suggestions from editors, and more.

Google Docs is the best free writing software for collaboration. It allows others to leave comments, suggestions, and even emoji reactions on your book.

Multiple people can edit the same document simultaneously in Google Docs, allowing for real-time collaboration.

Google Docs also automatically uploads your work to the cloud, so you don’t run the risk of losing any of your files. Best of all, it’s free.

One downside is that Google Docs isn’t a perfect book writing software because it is hard to organize a large project using it. We recommend creating a new Doc for each chapter or section of your book, so you don’t have to scroll for minutes on end to get from one section of your book to another.

Another downside is that Google Docs works best when you have an internet connection. It might not be the best tool if you prefer to work offline or on the move.

Cost: Free

Pros:

  • Allows real-time collaboration with beta readers, editors, and more
  • Automatically saves your work to the cloud
  • Free to use

Cons:

  • Lacks organizational options for large writing projects
  • Requires an internet connection for full functionality

4. NovelPad

NovelPad, first launched in 2020, is one of the newest book writing software tools on our list. It’s a novel writing software designed by and for novelists.

Like Scrivener, NovelPad is a word processing tool that lets you rearrange scenes and story beats by dragging and dropping them. In addition to being a word processor, it also comes with many other book writing tools.

One useful feature is character tracking, which lets you jump to all sections where a specific character’s name appears. That way, you can make sure that characters act consistently throughout the book.

Another useful feature is its adaptive progress tracker. NovelPad lets you set different daily word count goals depending on how much time you can spend writing, and it will even readjust your daily goals to account for how much you’ve already written.

You can also color code your scenes, so you can easily see which ones you’re drafting, revising, copyediting, etc.

Best of all, the user interface is extremely intuitive, so this writing program isn’t as hard to learn as Scrivener.

One downside is that there’s no desktop app version of NovelPad, so you can only use it in a web browser. As a result, the offline mode doesn’t always work well.

Cost: $8/month or $60/year

Pros:

  • Easy to use and navigate
  • Offers character boards and scene boards specifically designed for novels

Cons:

  • Lacks an app option and can only be used in-browser
  • Lacks real-time collaboration options
  • Not tailored for writing nonfiction books
  • Requires a subscription

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ProWritingAid

5. Reedsy Book Editor

The Reedsy Book Editor is a free book writing software that also handles formatting for publication while you write.

This online editor is one of the few writing programs that lets you see what the published version of your book will look like while you’re still writing it. It has fantastic editing features compared to most other free writing software tools.

Once you’ve finished your final draft, you can export your book as an EPUB or PDF file, in a format that looks beautiful and clean.

It’s a free alternative to expensive writing programs like Atticus, which format your book for a large fee.

Another advantage is that, similar to Google Docs, the Reedsy Book Editor allows multiple people to work on a document at the same time. If you’re working with a co-writer, this free website might be a great option.

Cost: Free

Pros:

  • Allows real-time collaboration
  • Formats your book for publication
  • Free to use

Cons:

  • Lacks the advanced features you can get with more expensive writing software

6. Squibler

Squibler is a book writing software that helps you streamline your creative process. It’s designed to make the writing process easier, so you can hit your writing goals.

It lets you set to-do lists to increase productivity, and is specifically tailored to help you with project management.

It’s also a very versatile writing software. You can use Squibler for writing a book, crafting a screenplay, or just for writing practice.

If you’re struggling with writer’s block and don’t know what to work on next, you can use Squibler’s Plot Generator, which will give you writing prompts. These machine-generated prompts are a handy tool to help you get the creative juices going.

Cost: $9.99/month

Pros:

  • Helps with project management
  • Lets you set to-do lists and goals
  • Gives you fun prompts to spark creativity

Cons:

  • Requires a subscription

7. Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word remains the default word processor used by most writers today. It’s a simple word processor, but it’s still a useful book writing software, especially if it’s an option you already have access to.

One benefit of MS Word is that the user interface is very easy to use. Whatever you see on the screen is the same as what your book will look like when you print it out, so you can make formatting adjustments along the way.

Since most people are already familiar with MS Word, it’s still an industry standard in many contexts. For example, if you send your book to a copyeditor, there’s a good chance they’ll send it back as a MS Word document.

The Track Changes feature makes it easy to edit other people’s stories while giving them the choice to accept or reject those changes.

The downside of MS Word is that it’s not designed to handle extremely large projects, like books. It takes time to scroll from Chapter One to Chapter Ten, and it’s even harder to move a scene from one part of the book to another.

Cost: around $100/year for the entire Microsoft Office suite depending on the site you buy from (includes Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)

Pros:

  • Easy to use and navigate
  • Creates simple, ubiquitous document formats like .doc and .docx

Cons:

  • Lacks organizational options for large writing projects
  • Lacks real-time collaboration options
  • Can be slow to load large files

8. Grammarly

Grammarly is a grammar checker that focuses primarily on catching errors, such as typos, grammatical mistakes, and misused punctuation. It also offers style suggestions related to wordy sentences, repetitive words, incorrect comma usage, and other similar fixes.

Some of Grammarly’s top features include its plagiarism detector, its spell check, and its grammar check. It also offers a readability score, which gives you a score from 1 to 100 based on readability factors like word length and sentence length.

The main downside of Grammarly is that it works better with short-form content than long-form content. If you try to scan more than 10,000 words, it slows down significantly. It also doesn’t integrate with popular book writing apps, such as Scrivener and Final Draft.

The free version can catch grammar and spelling mistakes, but you’ll need to pay for the Premium version in order to use the rest of the tool.

Cost: Free, or $30/month, $60/quarter, or $144/year for the Premium version

Pros:

  • Catches mistakes and typos well
  • Quickly scans short emails and blog posts

Cons:

  • Offers fewer reports and less in-depth analysis than ProWritingAid
  • Only lets you scan 10,000–20,000 words at a time without a significant reduction in speed
  • Requires an expensive subscription

9. Hemingway

The Hemingway app is a free writing software that focuses on checking readability. It gives your writing a readability score, so you know how well you're communicating.

It highlights sentences that are dense or overly complex, so you can find ways to shorten them. It also highlights passive voice, overused adverbs, and any other weaknesses that might make your work harder to read.

The downside is that not all of Hemingway’s suggestions are useful. They’re all automatically generated based on fairly simple criteria, so it can be a bit hit-or-miss.

Still, since it’s free software, there’s no downside to running your book through the Hemingway app to see if it offers any useful suggestions.

Cost: Free!

Pros:

  • Gives your writing a readability score
  • Suggests ways to make your work more digestible for readers
  • Free to use

Cons:

  • Sometimes gives arbitrary or unhelpful advice

10. The Novel Factory

The Novel Factory is a great book writing software for fiction writers.

In addition to being a word processor, it can also help you with the creative process when you’re coming up with ideas.

It includes several interesting writing tools that you can’t find elsewhere.

For example, it comes with a Plot Manager, which includes plot templates for popular genres.

The Novel Factory also helps you develop your characters, with prompts to flesh out your character’s archetype, motivation, and more.

Overall, the Novel Factory is a great book writing software for creative writers who want some help with the ideation process.

Cost: $75/year for the basic version, $198/year for the standard version, or $600/year for the Premium version

Pros:

  • Offers plot templates and a detailed Plot Manager
  • Helps with character development, worldbuilding, and other creative elements

Cons:

  • Requires an expensive subscription

11. Ulysses

Ulysses is a note taking app that lets you sync between all your devices.

Let’s say you come up with some brilliant ideas for your book while you’re commuting home from work, so you type out your ideas on your phone.

Once you get home, you can’t wait to incorporate those ideas into your project—but first, you have to go through the hassle of switching all your notes from your phone to your laptop.

Syncing all your notes can be a real drag, especially if you like to think about your book while you’re on the go.

Ulysses also has a binder-like sidebar that lets you move documents around easily. It’s no replacement for Scrivener, since it’s not designed specifically for writing books. But if you just need a way to take notes and keep track of ideas with minimal stress, it’s a great option.

Common alternatives to Ulysses include Evernote and Bear.

Cost: $5.99/month or $39.99/year

Pros:

  • Syncs notes between all your devices
  • Lets you easily take notes on the go

Cons:

  • Only available for Mac
  • Not designed specifically for writing books
  • Requires a subscription

12. Atticus

Atticus is a book formatting tool that helps you turn your manuscript into a publication-ready file.

It includes easy-to-use templates you can customize to suit your preferences. With these templates, you can export your book in beautiful formats for both print and eBook.

In addition to formatting your books, Atticus also functions as a word processor, so you can start writing directly in the program if you want to. It even lets you track word count goals as you go, just like Scrivener and NovelPad.

If you’re self-publishing and you’re not planning to hire someone to format your manuscript, a book writing software like Atticus is a must-have so you can make sure your manuscript is ready for publication.

Cost: $147/lifetime

Pros:

  • Formats manuscripts for print and eBook
  • Works for every platform (Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome)

Cons:

  • Requires an internet connection
  • Requires an expensive one-time payment

13. Vellum

Vellum helps you create a beautifully formatted eBook. Like Atticus, it’s well-known for having gorgeous aesthetics.

Many of the word processors on our list can format eBooks, including Scrivener and Microsoft Word, but most of them don’t produce such beautiful books. Vellum, in particular, focuses on how your book looks.

With the previewer, you can see exactly how your eBooks will appear on Kindle, iPhone, Nook, and other eReaders.

Cost: $199 for eBook generation, $249 for paperback formatting

Pros:

  • Easy to learn and navigate
  • Offers beautiful and unique aesthetics

Cons:

  • Requires an expensive one-time payment

14. Publisher Rocket

Publisher Rocket serves a different function from all the other programs in our list.

Instead of helping you write your book, it helps you figure out what kind of book to write—or how to market the book you’re writing, once it’s done.

Essentially, Publisher Rocket is a book marketing research tool that gives you a breakdown of what readers are looking for.

For example, Publisher Rocket can tell you how much money readers are spending on certain niches, such as historical romance. It can also tell you what phrases Amazon buyers are searching for right now, so you can see topics that are trending with readers.

One useful feature is that it can tell you how much money specific books are making per month, so if you know of books that are similar to yours, it can give you a sense of how well your manuscript will perform in the market.

Best of all, it can give you advice for how to market your book to the right audience, which can significantly improve sales.

Cost: $97/lifetime

Pros:

  • Helps you market your book
  • Gives you a sense of how well your book can sell

Cons:

  • Has a steep learning curve
  • Requires an expensive one-time payment

15. Freedom

So far in this article, we’ve focused on software options that are great for book writing.

But there are countless pieces of software that are bad for book writing—such as social media apps, TV streaming sites, video games, and so much more.

If any of the above are distracting you from your book project, the Freedom app might be the perfect solution.

Whenever you enter focus mode, Freedom blocks all your biggest distractions for a certain period of time, on both your laptop and your phone.

You can choose your own blocklist—for example, if you need to use Google for research, but you want to block Facebook while you’re writing, you can easily do so.

Best of all, you can even schedule recurring sessions in advance. So if you like to write from 8am–9am every weekday, for example, Freedom can help you ensure that hour is distraction free every day.

It’s not specifically designed to be a book writing software, but Freedom is a great way to create a distraction free writing environment and make sure you actually make progress on your book.

Cost: $29/year for the Pro version

Pros:

  • Lets you focus on your writing without distractions
  • Allows you to schedule focus mode in advance

Cons:

  • Can be hard to sync with mobile devices
  • Requires a subscription

Benefits of Book Writing Software

If you already have the tools you need to write a book, you might be reluctant to learn how to use new ones. So, why bother investing in book writing software? Here are some key benefits:

  • Help you stay focused on your project
  • Allow you to work more quickly and efficiently
  • Give you organizational tools to manage your ideas
  • Make it easier to share your material with others
  • Correct weaknesses in your prose
  • Improve the quality of your overall book

If you find the right book writing software for you, you’ll be able to finish a stronger manuscript in a shorter span of time. It’s well worth the investment!

Why ProWritingAid Is Loved by Book Writers

ProWritingAid offers higher quality analysis than any other software on the market.

It’s particularly well-suited for creative writers because it goes beyond looking for basic mistakes and actually improves writing style. Other grammar checkers can transform bad writing into good writing, but ProWritingAid’s style suggestions can transform good writing into great writing.

The more you use ProWritingAid, the more you’ll be able to spot the patterns in your writing. It’s a book writing software that can help you actually improve your writing skills over time.

ProWritingAid detecting cliches

It’s also extremely easy to integrate ProWritingAid into your current writing process, whether you prefer to write in Scrivener, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or any other popular word processor.

You can check ProWritingAid’s suggestions, make your edits, and save the file directly in your favorite writing app.

If you want writing software that will holistically improve your book, ProWritingAid is one of the best places to start.

Conclusion on the Best Writing Software

There you have it—our top 15 picks for the best writing software options on the market today. You can use these tools to draft your book, edit your prose, format your manuscript, and more.

It’s important to remember that every writer is unique, so a piece of writing software that works well for others might not be the best option for you. Ultimately, the only way to figure out your favorite book writing software is to try some out for yourself.

Most of the book writing software options on our list have free trials you can use to help figure out if that app works for you or not. For example, you can use ProWritingAid right now, no credit card required.

Let us know what your favorite book writing software is. Happy writing!

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Hannah Yang

Hannah Yang

Speculative Fiction Author

Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.

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