Software for Writing

One question that I also constantly get asked is what is the best software for writing. There are so many out there that the decision might be a difficult one, but have no fear. There are many alternatives that you can get to for writing.

One of the amazing programs I had run into has been something like Scrivner, if you can afford it. It’s something that has a $60 fee or something like that and you have to log into it and use it that way, but it has absolutely amazingly helpful devices. It has noteboards where you can plan characters and scenes – separately,  of course, and you can write one chapter at a time, keeping them separate until you compile everything you’ve written into one word document. This comes in handy and I’ve actually have met editors who prefer editing in a scrivner document over anything else (though to me, that’s more difficult).

So another clear option is Mircosoft Word, this being the one that I personally use. I use this one because of the clear format, the clear page breaks and the way you can do scene dividers. I also use Mircosoft Word for the formatting capabilities such as inserting pictures behind the words on the beginning of the chapters and such. It also automatically corrects common spelling errors, something that I am constantly thankful for, though I’m probably biased towards this one.

Another option so similar to Word is Open Office. Now to me, this is one of my least favorite options, but I believe it’s only because I haven’t had a lot of experience with it. This one is free and it’s close to Word. You can do nearly everything with it from what I’ve heard about it, but I have yet to figure out all the tools of the trade with this one.

One more option is using something like Google Drive and have the document private so no one but those you invite can see it. I always have an issue with this because if you’re anything like me, you use someone’s computer and then forget to log out and low and behold, you’ve left your Facebook up and they’re making a rather embarrassing post about it, but not only that, but you’ve left your book up to which point, they can edit it and save it to mess you up and there’s nothing that you can do about it.

The very last option that I can even hink about is using something like Notepad to write, though that is something that I don’t suggest at all. No publisher that I know deals with Notepad files and there is no way to set up indents, formatting structure, centering things and so much more. As an editor, I wouldn’t accept a Notepad document either only because it is so difficult to work with.

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Now, I’m sure that there are other options, but there will always be good ones and bad ones. This is just in order from what I would personally advise using versus ones that I wouldn’t advise using at all. Hopefully this list helps you with your decision of program use! Let me know in the comments which one you use and why!

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Formatting (Ebook Only)

Since I use the blog here more as an advice column for writers, I opened post subjects up and one that was strongly requested was how to format for ebook. To me, it’s one of the easiest things to do, but I guess as I’ve formatted all eight of my books for paperback and ebook, I’ve come to learn how to do it in my sleep.

First, I know you would love to keep all your fancy fonts and maybe you have the chapter headings and title and everything in some font that is cursive and pretty or something amazing that you think defines your book, but when it’s converted to an ebook, none of those fonts hold. They’re all in the plainest fonts you can think of.

– Times New Roman

When I’m formatting an ebook, the first thing I do is CTRL+A and put the entire book in Times New Roman and 12 pt font. This is only because everywhere will convert it anyway and it just makes it easier to read and to distinguish.

– Page Breaks

After the fonts are all the same, I go through and put page breaks at the section dividers. The title and author name should be on it’s on page (page break), the copyright page (page break), dedications (page break), table of contents (page break), and then your chapters start. EACH CHAPTER SHOULD START ON A NEW PAGE! Put a page break at the end of them! This is to guarantee that on the ereader, each chapter starts on a new page.

– Font Sizes

After the above is done, I go through and work on font sizes. I increase and maybe bold the title and author name. I put the copyright page at either 10 pt or 11 pt. I put the “Table of Contents” header at a bold and bigger font (size is ultimately a personal choice, but remember the number)! I then go through and put the chapter headings in the same size and possibly bold and that takes care of your font sizes.

– Spacing

Spacing is next and this is mainly something I do so it looks neat and polished. I put a little bit of space (empty lines) between the chapter headings and the first paragraph of that chapter. Again, this is just something that is a personal choice, especially if you’re OCD like me.

– Indents

I went through this, assuming that you already had indents. If you don’t, it’s the perfect time to insert them. Go back up to chapter one and start at the very first paragraph. Click and hold your left mouse button and highlight just the paragraph. of the first chapter, setting their indents at either 0.25 or 0.5 (again, persnal preference). And do this for each chapter.


 

At the end, you can add a list of your other books, an author photo, bio, an excerpt of another book (put that in the same format as above though), and anything else that you want. Because Amazon changes the page size to fit ereaders, your page size doesn’t matter.

Everything above for formatting is ONLY for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Draft2Digital, and places like that. IT IS NOT FOR SMASHWORDS! That formatting is more complicated. I know how to format for Smashwords, but I don’t use that site personally.

For Paperback formatting, I would recommend Hearts on Fire Editing.