Authors often ask me what kind of software is best for writing a book.
Here’s what I tell ’em…
I’ve written and published over 20 books of my own and run fast-growing ebook publishing company, TCK Publishing. I always use Microsoft Word when writing my own books, and I recommend clients use it as well.
If you don’t have MS Word and don’t want to buy it, I recommend using a Mac-based word processor such as Pages or a Google Drive Document (previously Google Docs).
Although I’m certainly no fan of Microsoft, I must admit that MS Word does everything a good word processor should.
Pros of MS Word
It’s simple to use
Bugs are minimal
It’s widely used and adopted, meaning it’s easy to find experts who can help you if you have questions or problems and it’s easy to find tutorials and courses on how to use it.
Few compatibility problems. MS Word creates .doc and .docx files which can be opened in almost every single other Word Processor that’s been made. You can also save an MS Word document in a variety of other file types.
The Search and Replace Function rules! I find Word’s search and replace function to be invaluable. You can use it to remove extra spaces, indentations, change headings and styles, and much, much more. Once you understand how to use Search and Replace with Word, it’ll save you hours of painstaking work when trying to layout your book for publishing.
Cons of MS Word
It’s created by Microsoft
You might have to buy it
Large files can sometimes crash unexpectedly
Older versions aren’t as good as the most recent version (you generally get more features, less bugs and more ease of use when you upgrade to the 2010 version from previous versions).
Tips for Minimizing Software and File Problems
Here are some tips to minimize costly mistakes and problems while writing your book using a word processor:
Save your file often. Getting up to pee? Save! Going to take a phone call? Save! Gonna check your email? Save! Wait, on second thought, don’t even check your email. Go back to writing.
Always back up your manuscripts. Trust me, always back up. If you lose a manuscript, that’s not just months or years of work you’ve lost – it’s potentially a whole lot of money as well.
I recommend at least two backups for all your completed manuscripts and works in progress. My favorite backups are a portable USB flash drive (you can get a 64GB one for about $30 on Amazon which should be big enough to hold every book you can write in your lifetime) and Dropbox (you get at least 10GB of storage for free and you can pay for an extra 100GB). I especially like having both a physical and a digital cloud-based backup so that just in case one fails, you always have the other.
Software for Researching Manuscripts and Keeping Notes
Another great tool that may help in your writing process is Evernote. Evernote is a super simple, easy to use note and file management system. I’ve found it to be the perfect tool if I’m browsing the web for research and want to save links, snippets or ideas.
It’s also great for keeping lists and other important information you want to keep track of.
Got more tips for writing?
Got more tips for helpful software or writing ideas? Post your comments below and share them with your fellow authors!