Have you been sitting on a great idea for a novel, but haven’t quite got around to putting pen to paper yet? Writing a book can be incredibly challenging. Getting started, then staying motivated isn’t always easy. Writer’s block sets in, procrastination takes over, and we let our fear of failure stop us from pushing ahead.
Luckily, there are some amazing tools out there to overcome these roadblocks, including a new generation of book writing apps.
How Can an App Help Me Write a Book?
There are a seemingly endless array of apps for writing a book, and they each help you solve a different writing-related problem.
Many book writing apps are designed with the physical writing process in mind. While many writers are perfectly happy sticking with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or other standard word processors, these apps offer a more substantial alternative.
They provide tools specifically geared towards writing a book. For example, drag and drop chapter and scene options and character profile tabs.
Some even offer features that allow you to compare your current manuscript sections to previous versions of your work.
Then there’s a whole host of editing apps that go much further than your standard spell checker.
They help you with every aspect of the editing process, from checking sentence structure and grammar to improving your writing tone and flow and checking for plagiarism.
Goal Setting and Focus
Some apps which are geared towards writers also focus on time management and goal setting. When you’re in the process of writing a book, it’s so easy to get derailed and let your writing practice slip.
These apps are designed specifically to help you stay on track and keep you focused, so you can reach your goals of writing a book.
In this blog post, we’ll be reviewing the best apps for writing a book in 2020. So if you’re a writer who needs a little extra help (who doesn’t?), then read on; these apps can help take your writing to the next level.
Best Apps for Writing a Book
Scrivener is one of the biggest writing apps out there right now. It works for all kinds of writing, from something as small as an email, to a full on screenplay or novel. But it’s these long form types of writing where this app really excels.
When you log into Scrivener, you’ll first choose a template that suits your project (for example, a fiction or non-fiction book). You can either begin writing directly into the interface or import your text from elsewhere.
The sidebar on the left of the screen has tabs for a variety of elements that help you organize your writing. The best part is, you can personalize these tabs to show exactly what you need, and omit everything that you don’t.
There’s an endless array of helpful tools to choose from. There’re tabs for individual scenes within chapters of your book, as well as character tabs to help with individual character building throughout the story. There’s also a handy research tracking tool to keep your research focused and applicable.
If you struggle with organization and you value attention to detail, then Scrivener could be a massive help to you when you’re writing a book.
Work on: Mac, iOS, and Windows.
Cost: Free for the first 30 days, after which there’s a one time license fee of $40.84
- Perfect for long-form book writing
- Personalize the interface for your specific needs
- One-time fee rather than a monthly subscription
- Takes a while to learn how to use
- If you work between 2 different operating systems, (eg. Work laptop and home laptops), it can be hard to transfer work between them.
For writers who use a Windows operating system, yWriter is a fantastic app that works in many of the same ways as Scrivener.
When you’re writing a book, the sheer amount of words to write ahead of you can feel pretty overwhelming. yWriter helps you to break down your writing into scenes or sections, making the whole process feel more manageable.
You can set targets and goals for yourself, such as a daily word count, and also track your character development and narrative arc using the storyboard tool.
yWriter has a huge selection of useful features and it’s reassuringly easy to use, even for new writers and people who aren’t particularly tech savvy.
Unlike Scrivener, there’s no option for story templates, but aside from that, this free app really holds it’s own, and is a great way to stay on track with your writing.
Works on: Windows
- Beaks down writing into manageable sections
- Great for goal setting
- Free of charge
- No story template options
- Currently only available on Windows operating systems.
3. iA Writer
iA Writer is another app geared explicitly towards book and other long form writers. It’s great for people who hate clutter and don’t want to spend a long time learning how a new app works before they get started using it.
The user interface is refreshingly sleek and simple, but it still offers plenty of tools to help you organize your writing.
There’s a syntax highlighting system that can pick out various parts of speech such as adjectives or nouns, etc. This is great for the editing process.
You can also break down your book into manageable chapters and separate them into smaller sections, which helps to keep the writing process from feeling overwhelming.
There’s also a handy dark mode to preserve your battery life and give your eyes a break after a long day staring at a screen.
Works on: Mac, iOS, and Windows
Cost: Free for Android users. $8.99 for iPad and iPhone, $19.99 for Windows and $29.99 for Mac
- Simple and easy to use
- Sleek, clutter-free design
- Dark mode for tired eyes and battery preservation
- No automatic storage
- More expensive for Mac users
Ulysses is another top dog in the writing app world. It’s comparable to Scrivener, but with some important key differences.
While Scrivener requires a little extra time to learn how the interface works, Ulysses is much simpler to use. Many features offer short tutorials so it’s easy to get to grips with the various writing tools.
Another key difference in Ulysess is the use of “Markdown” formatting. For those uninitiated, this is a simple plain text language that makes writing and editing online much easier. It’s quick to pick up, and once you’re familiar with it, it will save you time in the long run.
This app also has all the standard writing app features you’d expect, including organization tools like keyword labels, daily and weekly progress trackers and daily word counters and stats.
Works on: iOS and Mac
Cost: Free trial, followed by either $5.99 per month or $49.99 per year
- Quick and straightforward to get started
- Markdown formatting simplifies the user experience
- Currently not available on Windows or Android operating systems.
5. Reedsy Book Editor
Reedsy Book Editor is one of the easiest to use writing apps available right now. The interface is incredibly sleek, and there’s no messy clutter to contend with; just a super simple, minimalist design that lets you focus on one thing; writing.
This book editor has great potential, especially when it comes to formatting your work. You can insert images within the body of text, drag and drop chapters and scenes, and create a professional and polished front and back matter.
It’s also particularly useful if you’re writing an ebook. You can format and export your work into an instantly uploadable file that is ready to submit to a publisher or print on-demand service. In fact, this is the perfect tool for anyone planning to self-publish their work.
Another stand out feature is the ability to compare your current draft to previous versions, so you can examine the contrasting versions in real time.
Works on: Web-only
- Sleek, clutter-free interface
- Great for formatting to publisher ready levels
- Web-only program means you’ll need an active internet connection to use Reedsy.
Even if you’re new to the world of writing apps, you’ve probably heard of Grammarly. This supremely popular grammar tool is used by writers everywhere. From something as short and simple as an email, to full-length novels and screenplays, Grammarly is a powerful editing tool.
Grammarly has a surprising amount of features for a free app, but it’s the spell checker and grammar editor that writers tend to use the most.
Spelling errors, incorrect grammar and sentence structure are highlighted on the screen, with helpful suggestions for replacing words and phrases. The corrector also explains exactly why the highlighted text is incorrect, so you can pick up some extra grammar knowledge along the way.
Grammarly Premium lets you set specific goals for your writing when using the paid version of the app. Tell Grammarly your audience, desired tone and level of formality and it will analyze your text based on these markers. It also assesses how clear and easy to understand your text is, and scores your delivery and reader engagement levels.
While Grammarly doesn’t provide all of the additional book writing features found in some of the other apps on our list, it’s a great additional tool for editing your work. It’s also super handy to keep installed on your device for writing emails and other short-form documents.
Works on: Web and most major browser extensions
Cost: Basic Grammarly is Free. Grammarly Premium costs $29.95 per month, $59.95 per quarter, or $139.95 per year. Watch out for regular subscription discount offers.
- Simple to use
- Improves spelling and grammar
- Scores your text on various markers
- Web-only program means you’ll need a solid internet connection to use Grammarly
- No additional book writing tools
Before you send your book to an editor, you’re going to want to do some thorough editing yourself.
One great way to approach the final editing process is to read the text out loud. While this is a great way to check your text’s sentence structure, flow, and readability, you can often miss key issues.
That’s where NaturalReader comes in. This editing app acts as a text-to-speech reader that reads your book right back to you.
You can choose from a variety of voices and adjust the reading speed as you wish. As the human-like voice reads your work back to you, the text is highlighted along the bottom of the screen so you can follow along and pinpoint any mistakes.
While running a whole full-length novel through NaturalReader might be too long a task, it can be a great way of checking shorter sections or running your daily writing through to check for issues with sentence structure and flow.
Works on: Mac, Windows and Web
Cost: Basic version is free. One time payment premium packages vary from $99.50 to $199.50
- Reads your own text back to you
- Gives your eyes a break from looking at the screen
- Free package available
- Premium version is more expensive than many other apps on our list
While the authors of yesteryear had to go it alone, in 2020, there’s a whole new world of apps that can help you when you’re writing a book.
From basic spelling and grammar checkers to intricate book writing assistants that keep you focused, organized and motivated; there’s a book writing app to help make the process much easier.
Don’t let writer’s block and procrastination stand in your way. Try out these apps for writing a book today and see how your writing and focus improves.