Top 5 Writing Software’s for Authors Compared

writing software compared

Specialized writing software’s simplify the process of writing and publishing your book. There are a number of advantages of using a specialised software for writing, but how do you choose from the many options available? This post compares the most popular writing software’s for Authors, to make it easier for you to make your choice.

When you do get around to writing a book, you can often find yourself overwhelmed by the number of things that you need to keep track of and to do. This is where specialised writing software’s come in and help make your life simpler.

The most popular writing software’s used by authors are Scrivener (considered the gold standard), Ulysees, Vellum, Microsoft Word and Google Docs. Each tool has its own set of advantages, disadvantages and features that differentiate it from the others.

So how do you choose the writing software that is the most suited for your specific requirements? This post will help answer this question by comparing the pros and cons of each of these popular tools, to help you identify what tool has the features that are the most valuable for you.

Why specialised writing software’s are recommended for authors?

Specialized software’s can help in each stage of the book writing journey.

  • While writing a book, a specialised software can make it easier to categorize your research, develop your outlines on-the-go, provide a distraction free writing environment and also help keep track of your progress.
  • While editing and rewriting, they can help in sharing your work, collaboration, correcting grammatical errors and restructuring your content.
  • While publishing your book as an eBook or a paperback, they make it much easier to ensure that you book is formatted properly.

#1) Scrivener

Scrivener is typically considered the gold standard for author’s to write their books. There is simply no other software that comes even close to Scrivener in terms of the amount of features and flexibility it allows author’s while writing a book.

Some of the key advantages (to name just a few) of Scrivener include:

  • Binder feature: that allows you to break your book into various parts (chapters, sections etc.) and to reorganize it with remarkable ease by just drag-and-drop
  • Content segregation: Instead of keeping all your content in one big file, Scrivener allows you to create multiple sub-files to make it easier to organize and outline your project
  • Cockboard feature: with index cards, split screen, and outliner working views make it ideal for longer or more complicated works
  • Project targets: allowing you to create word count goals and track your progress to help you stay on track
  • Formatting: formatting your book for publishing can be a significant challenge if your use Word or Google Docs. On Scrivener, this is a click of a button.

While Scrivener has a number of advantages, it does have it’s flaws. These include

  • Steep learning curve: there is a lot to learn in order to use the many features that this software offers. This can be a little overwhelming at first for people used to simple writing software’s like Word.
  • Desktop based: Scrivener is desktop based, that is a challenge for people that use multiple devices. While there are options to sync your work across devices using dropbox, the process is not a very easy one.
  • Collaboration challenges: Unlike Word 365 or Google docs where editors can comment or make changes on the main document itself, Scrivener offers no such collaboration options.

Scrivener 3 – Video Demo

Top Resources to Learn Scrivener

Pricing: Scrivener is available for a one-time cost of $49. For the amount of features that it provides, this is incredible pricing for what is undoubtedly the leading writing software for authors.

#2) Ulysees

Ulysees is another specialised writing software that is gaining increasing popularity amongst writers. It has a number of features that are similar to Scrivener (though clearly not as feature-rich), while having the main benefit of being able to seamlessly work across multiple devices.

Some of the main advantages of Ulysees are:

  • Binder sidebar: that allows you to group content together and move it seamlessly around
  • Seamless syncing: all work is seamlessly synced across all your Mac devices, making working on multiple devices a breeze
  • Distraction-free writing mode: that allows you to focus solely on the content that you are writing
  • Markdown syntax: that makes formatting easier, even while it does take some getting used to

Some of the main disadvantages of Ulysees are:

  • Only available on Mac: which makes it a no-go for anyone using a Windows device
  • Not as feature rich: while it does offer some of the Scrivener functionality, Scrivener clearly has a lot more in terms of author specific features

Ulysees – Video Review & Key Tips

Pricing: Ulysses works on a subscription plan, either $4.99 / month of $39.99 / year. This is clearly at a premium to Scrivener, despite not being as feature rich. However, the seamless sync capabilities may make it worth your while.

#3) Vellum

While Scrivener and Ulysees are both geared towards making it easier to write a book, Vellum stands out when it comes to making sure your book is beautifully formatted. This is why a number of professional authors choose to use Scrivener or Ulysees to write, but then shift to Vellum for formatting.

The main advantage of Vellum is that is clearly the best and easiest software to use to make sure that your book is formatted well. The main disadvantage is that Vellum is focused on formatting and not really for writing, which means you will require to use another software.

Vellum Video Review

Pricing: Vellum costs $199 for ebooks and $249 for ebooks & paperbacks. While not cheap, it can help transform how well your book looks to your readers.

#4) Google Docs

While not a specialised writing software for authors, Google Docs is gaining popularity in the writing community due to some advantages primarily around it’s unparalleled collaboration abilities. It is arguably one of the easiest software’s for multiple users to work on the same document and for the author to work on their project across multiple devices.

While Google Docs syncing and collaboration ease is clearly valuable, there are some clear disadvantages. The lack of author specific features become an issue for any larger projects. The ease with which you can sort research, disparate content, rearrange material, format and publish your books on a software like Scrivener, become a challenge even on moderately sized projects in Google Docs.

Video Tutorial – Using Google Docs to write a book

#5) Microsoft Word

Word’s major advantage is the amount of familiarity that users have with the software. It also offers a few better features than Google Docs for writing, though the gap is not significant and is fast reducing.

The main disadvantage is similar to that of Google Docs. Word is not a specialised writing software and lacks all the author-centric features that make software’s like Scrivener and Ulysees so popular. While Office 365 does have similar collaboration functionality as Google Docs, virtually everyone has a google account which makes it a lot easier to share.

Video Tutorial – Using Word to write your Book

Video Comparison – Word vs Scrivener

Our Recommendation

Scrivener continues to be the clear best-in-class in terms of writing software’s for authors. Nothing matches it in terms of author-centric functionality, and once you get used to using Scrivener it greatly simplifies the entire process of writing a book. If you do the bulk of your writing on a single computer, Scrivener is undoubtedly the software you should use.

Ulysses may be considered as an option to Scrivener for those that use different machines (as long as they are apple) and need the ability to sync seamlessly.

Vellum is not a book writing software, but it makes beautiful formatting a breeze. It may be expensive for it’s single use case, but is a worthwhile investment for seasoned authors.

Word, Google and Pages continue to be used by authors who don’t want to invest in additional software, or require sync capabilities but don’t work on macs.

Other Blog Posts on Writing

The Top Online Courses on Writing

A compilation of the top online courses that can help improve your writing skills.

Blog Book Titles

How do you find a Book Title that ‘sells’?

Your Book Title (along with it’s cover) is the first impression that readers get of your book. An intriguing title can pull the reader in and can be instrumental in driving sales. Discover tips from Writing Masters on how to find a good title for your book.

Top books on self publishing

Top 5 Books to Help you Publish your Book

Publishing your own book and becoming an author is easier than you would imagine! These books will guide you step-by-step through the key steps involved in writing, publishing and marketing your book.

Top books writing fiction

Top 5 Books on How to Write Fiction

A set of books that will help you master the art of writing fiction, including character development, scene constructions and using brain science to hook your readers from your very first sentence.