There were times (I haven’t experienced them myself) when you just sat down at your desk and wrote with a pen on paper. You wrote a lot and at some point you had a book.
The same thing was done later with paper and a typewriter. And at some point they wrote texts in the text editor of the computer.
Today there are various software for authors that can help you make a book out of your loose text. They attach importance to different things. If you are still thinking about whether authoring software is right for you, this list will hopefully help you.
Software for Authors: What does it have to do?
Why is there a need for extra writing software when we all have a text editor or could write in Word/Open Office/Pages?
Many authors today want to be supported in writing software: The Duden correction shows typos, you want to reach your characters in a clearly arranged way quickly (without opening seventeen folders in your Explorer/Finder), the complex storylines that are subject to a novel should be logically visible (keyword timeline), and much more.
Not every program fulfills all points to the fullest satisfaction. The following list includes the most frequently used and recommended writing software and is divided into free and paid.
Let’s get started:
Free (or already integrated) write programs
Text Editor, Word, Open Office and Pages
The best for simple text writing.
You don’t need authoring software to write a book. Countless novels have been written in “Word” (as have my first three novels) and there’s nothing wrong with it. You have a solid spell checker (even if it’s not a hit on Pages) and you can structure your document neatly using style sheets. Footnotes are no problem either, and as a rule you’re already familiar with the program, so you can get started right away.
Often editors also work with Word and require the documents to be in *.doc format (or *.docx), so it is usually necessary to export the book to this format only if you are working with an external program.
On the other hand, the things that you as an author sometimes wish for are missing: You have to create your own figure database somehow and perhaps sort it into folders on your computer. You search in vain for a timeline.
yWriter was one of the first programs I worked with because I didn’t want to spend money. Although the design (like most of the programs presented here) seems a bit old-fashioned, it contains a lot of what you want:
You can arrange your text in a meaningful way (a project consists of several chapters, which consists of several scenes), you have a timeline, character arcs, you can create places and much more.
It’s also free. Definitely recommendable for beginners and for testing.
iBooks Author (Mac)
If you own a Mac, you can download the software “iBooks Author” for free. As a novelist you have the option between a portrait book and an e-book.
Basically the program is intended for other books: cookbooks, illustrated books, etc. People who are not familiar with software programs like InDesign will find a good help here.
For novelists, it is a better page/word alternative, but without a figure database, timeline, and other frills. But you can export the manuscript directly and send it to the iBook store (which I didn’t try – and of course wouldn’t recommend without editing).
This software has not been updated since last year, but is now available free of charge. I think it’s the same as the yWriter, but it doesn’t have a nice figure management. The software is completely in English, but there is a spell checker for German.
Since I currently don’t have a Windows operating system, I couldn’t test the software myself (maybe you’d like to write something about it in the comments?). Theoretically the software has an integrated synonym function, but I don’t know if it works for German.
Also with software for authors it is like in other areas of life: you always have to pay something, in this case money. Here is a list of recommended writing programs for big and small money:
Number one among German Self Publishers.
Papyrus is programmed by a German company based in Berlin and is besides Scrivener THE go-to software to ask Self Publishers for tips (and many publishing house authors also write here).
Papyrus offers almost everything you need to write: An editable figure database (you can even link all figures in the document so that you can click on the figure name to go directly to its database), a timeline (though I can’t get along with it – but never needed it), a plot area (a kind of mind map) and an incomparable text analysis that shows you for example all adjectives, marks word doublings, warns you when sentences are too long or shows you how easy it is to read your text.
Disadvantage: As this is more than just writing, you need quite a long familiarization phase. Currently (finally!) video tutorials are being prepared.
It is justified to charge money for this. Often there are discounts around the book fairs 😉