Which is the best book publishing software depends on a number of factors, including your own preferences, experience, and needs. Before going any further, we’ll clarify how we define “book publishing software.”
Book publishing software is the software used by professionals in the publishing industry to prepare a book for publication. There’s a learning curve that comes with using this software. Even the best software can be rendered useless or ineffective in the hands of someone who doesn’t have the proper training or experience.
In this post, we’ll go over some of the most popular book publishing tools in the industry and divide them into two categories: “Writing Software” and “Design Software.” Essentially, we consider the Design Software below to be “book publishing software.” However, many authors seem to group word processors and other drafting programs into “book publishing software,” so we included those, as well.
With all the book publishing tools below, we suggest familiarizing yourself with the tools of a program and researching training videos before using it for your book. This is especially true for Design Software should you choose to go the DIY route.
This is the software you would use while outlining, conducting research, writing, and polishing your drafts. Unlike the Design Software listed in the next section, these programs are geared toward authors, not designers. These programs are tools used to help bring your stories to life, but they won’t improve the writing itself.
Some authors spend hours trying to find a program that will somehow make them better writers. While some editing programs can make suggestions to improve your text, practice and hard work are the most solid ways to improve your writing skills.
That said, here are a few software suggestions that can help make the writing and editing process easier:
Scrivener: Scrivener is a word processor tailored specifically to writers. It also has advanced note-taking features. Scrivener makes it easy to view and organize chapters, add chapter summaries, take notes, record research, and more. It’s also easily customizable, and it even allows authors to save previous drafts of their work and easily compare them to the new version.
Obsidian: This helps writers create, organize, and keep track of notes. It also enables authors to see the connections between their notes and generate new ideas based on them. It’s ideal for journaling, project management, knowledge bases, and personal notes. However, it can have a range of uses.
Microsoft Office: This is a popular suite of software including Word, Excel, and OneNote. Word is a common word processor with a host of features, including Track Changes and Find and Replace. Excel can be used to create tables that can help authors keep track of characters, settings, projects, research links, etc. OneNote is also useful in recording ideas and research.
Grammarly: This is useful software for editing and revising your work. As with all software, no program will find all issues in a work, which is why it’s still important to have human eyes look it over. Grammarly offers a free option and two paid options.
ProWritingAid: A good alternative to Grammarly, ProWritingAid is an AI editing assistance tool. It checks grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It comes with a typesetting feature, as well as a word explorer and thesaurus. Some writers think Grammarly is slightly better overall, but ProWritingAid may be easier to use with long-form content, primarily fiction.
While a few of the software platforms above do offer some design capabilities, the software below is built to facilitate the creation of designs and layouts. In other words, you can “format” a book in many of the programs above, but they don’t have the necessary tools to ensure the finished product looks professional.
Below is the recommended software used to format and design the interior of books, design covers, create illustrations, etc.
Adobe Creative Cloud (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.): Adobe software is the standard in the publishing industry. Several programs provided in their suite are used to produce quality books and prepare them for publication, including Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, to name a few. These programs can also be used to create logos, bookmarks, postcards, posters, and more.
Notice we don’t list any Adobe alternatives. There are, in fact, many software programs that exist to combine text with images, and a good deal of them are far cheaper than Adobe. In the long run, however, these programs don’t save authors money or time, and some of them are only easier to use because they sacrifice functionality for simplicity or a lower price tag.
Authors often gravitate to low-cost solutions and then suffer greatly when their files don’t upload properly–if at all. Designers use expensive Adobe products because after the initial learning curve, they’re reliable and save time and frustration. These tools allow designers to make fine adjustments that matter in the least amount of time possible: text that is easy on the eyes, images that print as intended or display well in ePub format, etc.
Software is only a tool. Expertise is needed to use any tool to its full potential. Any product or service can be offered at professional and DIY levels. DIY is sufficient for authors who create books for personal satisfaction only. The trouble starts when a DIY-level book is sold to buyers who expect more.
The harsh truth creators need to face is that consumers don’t think about the creator’s budget; they think about what they’re spending in relation to what they’re getting. Buyers of any product or service are entitled to their money’s worth, and they may retaliate with poor reviews when they don’t get it.
Likewise, these book publishing tools can help you create many things, but one thing they can’t provide is the knowledge of design theory and best practices that professional designers have. Before spending money on programs in the hopes you’ll be able to use them to create a product worthy of the time and effort you put into crafting your manuscript, you should consider what knowledge is necessary to make a book readable and marketable.
These software programs are great for those who have the time, money, and effort to invest in learning and using them. Writing Software is almost non-negotiable for those still in the planning and writing stages of their publishing journey, but Design Software is optional.
Unless you have a background in design and are already familiar enough with these design programs to use them effectively, we recommend finding experts to handle the production of your book. Interior page design (which includes typesetting), cover design, and other aspects of book design are highly complicated processes with many rules and best practices to follow. Cover design alone comes with several considerations regarding the front, back, and spine.
All levels of book design are time-intensive, and once your book is written, that time may be better spent on marketing, working on your next masterpiece, and, should you hire designers, collaborating with your team to produce a quality product.
There are many services to choose from. When you hire a firm like 1106 Design, you can get all the services you need in one place along with a project manager to keep everything in order and provide the signature hand-holding we’re known for. To learn more about our services and our approach, please feel free to reach out any time.