45 best book writing software and apps for authors (write faster with these amazing features!)

45 best book writing software and apps for authors (write faster with these amazing features!)

When asked about the best writing apps or software, I used to say, “Just use whatever you have and are comfortable with.” But recently I’ve been focused on upping my productivity and wordcount, so I’m testing everything to see if anything helps. Here’s a quick review of some of the things I think are cool, and what I actually ended up using.

NOTE: none of these will actually help you write a better book, unless they’re helping with a suggested outline or content. They can help you stay organized, and some may help edit or polish your writing, but they won’t improve the commercial value of your work.

There are several software options available for writing, including word processors and text editors.

Here’s a quick list of the winners I really use…

The perfect writing software doesn’t exist…

I just upgraded my writing tools and keyboards, so now I need a system for doing quick writing sprints for the rough draft, and adding them into my main software for organization and editing. Here are some of the features I want or am looking for, which won’t all be satisfied by one program:

  • easily open and save files in dropbox, so I can switch devices easily or copy+paste into main file
  • display word count as I type
  • set project word count goals and deadlines
  • keep track of long-term writing habits and data
  • make it easy to rearrange, organize notes, and keep everything together
  • distraction free writing

Update: I found something new that does all of this…

book writing software



Let’s be real, you don’t need any writing software to write books. But you also don’t need to suffer so hard to tell your story, and there are tools that make it a LOT easier if you learn to use them. Yes it’s probably worth the cost… as long as you use it. If you don’t use it, cancel. But you want to be writing more and better, right? Whatever it takes? Scroll down for my full list of best writing apps and software, I’ll add some video reviews soon as well, or just grab the basics up above. They work.

I *hope* there will be better, newer apps and software out soon, but it’s also true that the old standards like Grammarly, ProWritingAid, and probably even a zombified “clippy” using AI are being updated, which means they’ll be way more helpful and it’ll be way easier to write and edit books.

Maybe you’re creative and you just need to brainstorm ideas; or maybe it’s too hard to hold everything in your brain and you need a serial-killer pinboard with all your ideas connected with red yarn; maybe you LOVE writing but aren’t sure how to plot a satisfying story (or fix a broken one); maybe you had revising and editing and are hunting down every last elusive typo before you publish. Maybe you can’t get off your couch so you aren’t writing at all and feel like a loser (been there!).

Writing software makes life easier, and it can be a shortcut past those tedious things you hate to do, that you’re procrastinating against so hard it’s killing your joy and momentum. Take the easy way out. You don’t have to do everything yourself.

PS – look at the image up there. Using a typewriter in a coffeeshop is dumb. But when they first came out, lots of writers made the shift quickly, because it was faster and easier than writing by hand. Now everybody has a laptop; but some authors are dictating full books while driving to work. There isn’t one way to write a book. Any way that works for you, is the right way. Try them all until you find a process that works and your book gets done.


Best book writing software and apps for authors

Tired of struggling with clunky word processors and outdated software when trying to write your magnum opus? Or maybe you’re sick of spending hours scouring the web for the best writing resources and tools. Fear not, for I have a solution for you!

Writing a book is no easy feat. It takes grit, determination, and a whole lot of creativity. Luckily, there are some fantastic writing software options out there that can make the process a little bit easier. In this section, we’ll dive into the best software for book authors – from powerful word processors to specialized outlining tools. Whether you’re working on a novel, memoir, or any other type of book, we’ve got you covered. Let’s explore the top writing software options for book authors and take your writing to the next level. I’m going to be your guide to the best online writing software and tools available for book authors. But first, let’s talk about why writing software is so darn important.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “But Derek, can’t I just use Microsoft Word or Google Docs to write my book?” Well, sure, you can; I’ve written 2 dozens books just with Microsoft Word. But I also rely on a few other tools, and I’m open to finding new ways to write better quality content without slaving over it for years. Those programs were designed for general use and lack many of the specific features that authors need. Trust me, I’ve been there. And there are a bunch of useful tools that probably aren’t even on your radar yet: so I did a deep dive to find them all (like catching Pokémon).

Whether you’re looking for software to help you outline your plot, organize your research, or simply write without distractions, there’s a tool out there for you. And with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to test and evaluate the most popular writing software and tools available. But before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let me explain the criteria I used to select the best options.

First and foremost, I looked for software that could truly enhance the writing process. Whether that meant streamlining the drafting process, improving editing capabilities, or providing research and organization tools, each piece of software had to be useful in some way.

Next, I evaluated each tool based on its ease of use. Let’s be honest – writing a book is hard enough without having to fiddle around with complicated software. The tools I’ve selected are all user-friendly and intuitive, making them accessible for writers of all levels.

Finally, I took pricing into account. As much as we’d all love to shell out thousands of dollars for the ultimate writing software, the reality is that most of us are working within a budget. That’s why I’ve included both free and paid options, so you can find the best tool for your needs without breaking the bank.

So, without further ado, let’s jump into the world of writing software and find the perfect tools to take your book to the next level!

PS… I’m in the middle of revising this list with fresh new tools, so it’s a little messy right now!

best book writing apps and software

Best writing apps and software for authors

Writing a book is a complex process that requires a lot of organization, focus, and creativity. That’s why there are many writing software programs that are specifically designed to cater to the needs of book authors.

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned author, the right software can help you streamline your workflow, keep track of characters and plotlines, and make revisions a breeze. In this section, we’ll explore some of the top writing software programs that are perfect for book authors.

From traditional word processors like Microsoft Word and Google Docs to specialized tools like Scrivener and Ulysses, there are a ton of options out there to choose from. These programs offer features like chapter and scene organization, character profiles, research tools, and more. With the right software, you’ll be able to focus on your writing without worrying about the logistics.

While some professional writers have found basic software to be sufficient for writing books, there are valid reasons to want to use good tools to make the writing process easier. For example, you may want a writing program that better enables you to write chapter by chapter, has file management, or lets you set daily goals. Some of the best book writing software options include Scrivener, Ulysses, and Atticus, while Novlr is a good option for discovery writers.

I. Best Writing Software for Book Authors

  • Scrivener
  • Ulysses
  • Microsoft Word
  • Google Docs
  • Dabble
  • Scribble – this one is brand new, and it’s based on my 24 chapter outlines, and has tools to structure, keep track of writing habits, and lots of awesome features.

II. Best Editing Software for Book Authors

Best Paraphrase/Rewriting tools

III. Best Writing and Editing Apps for Mobile Devices

  • Scrivener for iOS
  • Ulysses for iOS
  • Grammarly Keyboard
  • Hemingway Editor for iOS
  • Bear – a note-taking app for Mac and iOS that provides advanced organizational tools and markdown formatting for writers.
  • AI writer

IIIV. Best Script Writing Softare

  1. Final Draft: Final Draft is the industry standard for screenwriting software. It has a clean and intuitive interface, customizable reports, and collaboration tools for working with other writers.
  2. Celtx: Celtx is a free, web-based screenwriting software that offers scriptwriting, pre-production, and collaboration features. It also includes templates for screenplays, stage plays, and comic books.
  3. Fade In: Fade In offers a feature-rich, cross-platform screenwriting software with support for multiple languages, real-time collaboration, and advanced formatting options. It also has a low one-time purchase price.
  4. Movie Magic Screenwriter: Movie Magic Screenwriter is a full-featured screenwriting software with an intuitive interface, customizable reports, and collaboration tools. It also includes templates for TV, stage plays, and novels.
  5. WriterDuet: WriterDuet is a cloud-based screenwriting software that allows real-time collaboration, automatic backups, and industry-standard formatting. It offers a free version with limited features and a paid version with more advanced options.
  6. Highland 2: Highland 2 is a minimalist, distraction-free screenwriting software that emphasizes simplicity and ease of use. It offers an automatic backup feature, a built-in thesaurus, and a night mode for writing in low-light conditions.
  7. Scrivener: Scrivener is a popular writing software that can be used for scriptwriting, novel writing, and other forms of writing. It offers customizable templates, outlining tools, and a user-friendly interface.

Overall, the best script writing software for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Consider the features that are most important to you, such as real-time collaboration or advanced formatting options, and choose the software that best fits your workflow.

V. Best Resources for Book Authors

V1. Best Writing Apps for Distraction and Focus

  1. FocusWriter – a distraction-free writing app that provides a full-screen mode to help writers focus on their work.
  2. Evernote – a note-taking app that allows writers to save and organize their ideas, research, and notes in one place.
  3. MindNode – a mind mapping tool that helps writers to brainstorm and organize their ideas visually.
  4. Freedom – an app that blocks distracting websites and apps to help writers focus on their work.
  5. Draft – an online writing app that provides version control, collaboration, and commenting tools to help writers improve their work.
  6. Ilys
  7. most dangerous writing app
  8. write every day
  9. cold turkey writer
  10. 4thewords
  11. Scribble
  12. Squibler

Personally, I use AIwriter on my iphone when I need to just draft scenes and get the words down; it helps to have a small screen with limited focus, so I can visualize the scene and not the words. Most of these tools are meant to gamify writing and help you to build that focus, by sprinting to get the words down. I haven’t found any I really use all the time though.

Writing software for outlining & formatting

  1. Reedsy – a book publishing platform that provides a suite of tools for writers, including a book editor, formatting tools, and a book cover designer.
  2. Plottr – a plotting and outlining software that helps writers to create and organize their story structure.
  3. Draft2Digital
  4. Vellum – I still use this to format everything, even though I have formatting templates.
  5. Atticus

Best AI writing software based on GPT3

These are just a few of the latest and best writing apps, software, editing, and revision tools available based on the analysis from ChatGPT3.

  1. GPT-4: This is one of the most advanced AI writing tools available, capable of generating high-quality content for a variety of purposes, including marketing copy, blog posts, and even creative writing. It is currently available through several different software platforms, including OpenAI’s API.
  2. Copy.ai: This AI writing tool is designed to help users generate marketing copy and other types of content quickly and easily. It uses a combination of AI and natural language processing to generate content that is tailored to the user’s needs.
  3. Article Forge: This AI writing software is specifically designed to help users create high-quality articles for their websites or blogs. It uses a combination of AI and natural language processing to create content that is both informative and engaging.
  4. Writesonic: This AI writing tool is designed to help users create a wide range of content, including blog posts, social media updates, and product descriptions. It uses a combination of AI and machine learning to create content that is both high-quality and engaging.
  5. Shortly AI: This AI writing tool is designed to help users create high-quality content quickly and easily. It uses a combination of AI and natural language processing to generate content that is both informative and engaging.
  6. Rytr: This AI writing tool is designed to help users create a wide range of content, including blog posts, social media updates, and email newsletters. It uses a combination of AI and natural language processing to generate content that is both high-quality and engaging.
  7. QuillBot: This AI writing tool is designed to help users generate high-quality content quickly and easily. It uses a combination of AI and natural language processing to create content that is tailored to the user’s needs.
  8. Articoolo: This AI writing tool is designed to help users create high-quality articles quickly and easily. It uses a combination of AI and natural language processing to generate content that is both informative and engaging.
  9. ContentBot: This AI writing tool is designed to help users create a wide range of content, including blog posts, social media updates, and product descriptions. It uses a combination of AI and natural language processing to generate content that is both high-quality and engaging.
  10. Jasper AI: This AI writing tool is designed to help users generate high-quality content for a variety of purposes, including marketing copy, blog posts, and even creative writing. It uses a combination of AI and natural language processing to generate content that is tailored to the user’s needs.
  11. Squibler: Squibler uses AI to analyze your writing and provide feedback on plot, character development, pacing, and more. It also includes collaboration tools and writing prompts.
  12. Kafkai: Kafkai uses GPT-3 to generate unique, high-quality content for a variety of applications, including fiction writing. Users can input prompts and Kafkai will generate a unique story based on those prompts.
  13. AI Writer: AI Writer is an AI-powered writing tool that can help with content creation for blogs, articles, and more. It uses GPT-3 to generate unique content based on your input.
  14. The Writer’s Assistant: The Writer’s Assistant is an AI-powered writing tool that can help with character development, plot structure, and more. It uses machine learning to analyze your writing and provide feedback.
  15. Sudo Writeis primarily designed for writers who are looking for help with writer’s block, plot development, and character creation. The output is more human-like and natural-sounding than some other AI writing tools. Users can then edit and refine the content as needed, using Sudo Write as a starting point or a source of inspiration. Users have reported positive results and praised the software’s ease of use and ability to generate creative ideas.
  16. GhostTheWriter – rewrite your draft in the style of famous dead authors
  17. Promptoria
  18. HyperWriteAI
  19. Writerly.ai
  20. Chapterly
  21. Bribooks
book writing author AI writing tools sudowrite

OK but what’s the BEST writing software

When asked about the best writing apps or software, I used to say, “Just use whatever you have and are comfortable with.” But recently I’ve been focused on upping my productivity and wordcount, so I’m testing everything to see if anything helps. Here’s a quick review of some of the things I think are cool, and what I actually ended up using.

NOTE: none of these will actually help you write a better book, unless they’re helping with a suggested outline or content. They can help you stay organized, and some may help edit or polish your writing, but they won’t improve the commercial value of your work (for that, you need a commercial story). But there is at least one software (maybe 2 now) that’s based on my 24 chapter plotting outline template.

  • Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is fine in most cases, and I like it for organizing my outline and pulling the whole thing together… though it does freeze up and crash a lot when you have a large file. If you want to use Word, make sure you download my 24 chapter plot outline templates or my DIY book formatting templates.

Some pros of using Microsoft Word for writing a novel include its powerful writing tools and in-line editing options. However, there are also some cons to using Word, such as its cost if you have to buy it, the distraction of all the options, and the fact that it may not be ideal for ebook or print formatting. Additionally, Word may not be the best book writing software option available, as it does not measure up to its competitors. While Stephen King uses MS Word to draft his book manuscripts, he uses Final Draft to write screenplays.

For people who need more organization and to have everything in the same place, with mood boards, notes, character profiles etc – there are some great features in Scrivener… but it’s a better experience on Mac and a steeper learning curve than MS Word. I never got the hang of it so I don’t use it.

  • Google Docs

Great for making sure your writing is always saved and protected, and you can switch between devices easily; also good for cowriting or working with an editor.

The point of Ilys (pronounced “eye-less”) is to simplify and make it difficult to backspace of correct – you must keep writing forward and you can only see a few words at a time. I need more practice to get used to it, but I really like the idea of this for writing sprints and getting the first draft done.

There are other online writing apps and programs, and I almost referred to a couple here, but the truth is most don’t have enough advanced features to make them worth using. However, I recently met the founder of Shaxpir and saw a demonstration, and it looks awesome… I signed up so I could make this video.

Basically, I don’t need a program to add all my content.

What I want is a program where I can add/organize my content into a book that ALSO offers some advanced tracking, so I can see long-term progress. Something that could help with the editing, or improving my writing, would be really valuable too. Shaxpir is beautifully designed and has some really impressive unexpected features.

I’ve only shared my favorites, but if you need more options here’s a bigger list of writing software and apps.

However, I’m actually not going to be doing my writing in any of these programs, because I’ve found I can boost my wordcount during writing sprints when I’m using a bluetooth keyboard and an iphone or ipad. So what I need is a writing app that helps me focus and boost wordcount without distraction.

Writing Apps I actually use…

  • iA Writer (WINNER) – the focus mode + display word count makes this awesome.
  • ByWord
  • Dropbox
  • Wattpad

Tracking apps:

These let you record typing sessions, add word counts, set goals, and track progress. I’d rather have something simple I can use on my Desktop though (I’m hoping Shaxpir has this ability, will confirm soon). The main thing is you want something you can actually use… even a calendar where you can draw an X and record daily word count would work, though I really want something that can make pretty graphs and bars.

  • Wordly
  • Wordkeeper
  • 5000 WPH

PRODUCTIVITY SOFTWARE

The other big missing feature is accountability and motivation; this can be social – get some friends to do writing sprints with you, or even just a daily check in with word count. Some of these apps match you up with partners (focusmate) or gamify writing to give you long term rewards (4thwords).

UPDATE: I did try to build a sprinting website before, I might try again; basically it would keep track of daily wordsprints, but also allow you to make rooms and write with buddies, in a friendly competition. Community can be a big motivator but is hard to organize.

EDITING & FORMATTING SOFTWARE

Once you’ve FINISHED the rough draft, you’ll want to get started editing it. Here are some tools that help.

After your editing is done, you can use Vellum to format or download my book formatting templates.

OUTLINING / CRAFT WRITING TOOLS

This should really have been earlier, but these apps may help you organize your outline. NovelCreator is based on the Marshall Plan, which helped me when I was figuring out plotting. The Novel Factor guides you towards five key story elements: “character, situation, objective, opponent, disaster” (for more about basic story, read this).

Hardware/tech

I’m a fan of asus zenbooks mostly, but have been considering a new M1 macbook pro, mostly to use vellum on and because the new ones are pretty powerful. For my main desktop, I use a razer laptop but will probably upgrade to a new very powerful asus gaming laptop.

However, that’s because I do a lot of heavy design and video work.

For just basic book writing, I’d actually suggest something small and portable, at least for the sprints/drafting. Maybe like a freewrite, though I prefer a bluetooth keyboard and the iAwriter app; for editing, I put it in Word with my huge desktop monitor.

So, a small portable device for sprinting (maybe not at your desktop/main office) and a regular work machine.

Here’s a list of my favorite bluetooth keyboards.

Also keep in mind, this stuff is a very small piece of book writing: you’ll find the best resources to help you finish are actually my writing guides and chapter outlines.

2 Comments

  • Holly Posted

    When I read your “what are you looking for” section, I instantly thought “Novlr”…I can’t believe it’s not here in your list. It literally ticks all those checkboxes.

    • Derek Murphy Posted

      thanks I’ll check that out!

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