If you want to write a book, you might be looking for free book writing software.
There are many choices now for book writing programs specifically designed for the long task ahead of you.
Writing software for novelists includes tools and features that will help you organize and manage the individual elements of your manuscript.
For new authors, you can choose from many free novel writing software programs to get you started on your book.
You need the right tools to write a book
Many new writers and authors start out using a word processor such as Microsoft Word, iA Writer, or Google Docs.
But word processors are not the best software to write a book because they are not designed to help you with a long creative writing project.
If you plan to write fiction or nonfiction, you will need dedicated novel writing software.
Word processing, spreadsheets, email managers, and a desktop publisher are for business and administration.
They are not the best tools at all for creative thinkers and the book writing process.
So don’t use tools designed to write a letter, a business proposal, or a report.
Forget all about using Microsoft Office and Word or any other word processing software.
You want to write a book or a novel, and there is plenty of free book writing software for beginners.
You can choose between software programs you can install on your computer or online apps you use in a browser.
A good book writing app will help you manage your writing project.
Dedicated book writing programs will assist you a lot with your research notes, file management, event tracking, character development, and, of course, your writing.
Take a look at the many choices you have for your new book project.
Choose the best book writing software
“I want to write a book.”
Okay, then let’s get you started with the best book writing apps for the job.
When you decide to write a book, you want a writing program designed for the task.
Look in an app store for a distraction-free writing program (yes, no social media!).
You want to be able to stay focused and concentrate all your energy on writing your book.
There are a lot of paid book writing software packages available for authors.
But, some, like Ulysses, Vellum, and even Word, can all cost you a lot of money.
Are you a book writer and just starting on your project of writing your book?
Then there are many free writing software alternatives and editing software that you can try.
There is always a short learning curve when you start using new software programs.
It’s better to spend your time and not your money when you learn how to use a new writing program.
But the applications in this article are easy to learn how to use and set up for writing your new book.
What you need in free book writing software and apps
Writing a book is a long-term project.
That’s why a non-fiction or fiction writer needs software specifically designed for the task.
The main feature of a good book writing program is that you can write chapter by chapter. Some offer scene by scene and also track your story development.
Writing a novel is a step-by-step process. A good writing program will allow you to write in these stages.
You also want to keep notes about your characters, events and, if possible, mind maps and record a timeline.
An auto-save function is also advisable. It will keep your manuscript stored and saved securely.
Also, check if you can save your work on a cloud drive. Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud are good options for extra backup security.
Another feature that is important to many writers is to have a distraction-free mode.
Or at least one that reduces the clutter on your screen while you write in a text editor. Sometimes, a plain text editor is all you need.
It takes a long time to write a book
Books are long-form writing. Working on one huge, long lump of text in one document is cumbersome. It is also prone to file and save errors.
It really is an unsafe way to write a book. The chances of something going wrong technically are very high. This is especially true with Word.
A book writing program is usually a desktop app. But sometimes a phone app is available.
But some offer an iPad iOS app that can be a great option when you are traveling or want to get out of the house.
When you try the book writing software and online apps below and start writing, you will immediately notice the difference.
You will understand why writing a book needs a totally different approach.
Let’s get you started on the right foot but with software at the right price tag. Free.
Here is a selection of eight web-based and open-source free book writing software, programs, apps, and tools.
There are also details later in the article about four free trial writing software programs, especially suited to more experienced authors.
8 Free book writing programs
My list of free apps and software below is provided as a resource guide only.
It is certainly not a recommendation or review of any of the programs on the list. If I have reviewed a program, there is a link to my full review.
As with most free applications, there will be some limitations or drawbacks.
However, in my testing of the apps below, there are some that offer quite useful features for free.
You can investigate the free options below, but you will need to decide which one may work best for you and your writing needs.
1. yWriter (Free)
I have to start with yWriter because it was developed by a writer, Simon Haynes.
He explains the reason for going to all the trouble to create this software, and it should resonate with many writers.
“I really struggled with my first novel. I wrote slabs of text into a big word processor file, and I just couldn’t make sense of the whole thing at once. No real overview, no easy jumping from scene to scene, nothing.”
It is a great explanation of why word processors are not designed for writing fiction.
The key feature of yWriter is that it breaks book writing into chapters and scenes. When writing a book, this is a must-have feature.
It also comes with the ability to build characters and locations.
2. Manuskript (Free)
Manuskript is a feature-rich book writing tool.
It has an outliner, word count, and distraction-free mode. It also has a novel assistant to help you. With it, you can develop characters using the snowflake method.
You can also keep track of notes about your characters, the plot, events, and places in your story.
These tools will certainly help improve your writing.
It is well worth a try for a new author.
3. Sigil (Free)
Sigil is open-source, free software that is well-regarded for producing e-books in epub format.
In this respect, it is similar to, if not even better than Calibre.
It has multiple views, including book view, code view, and preview, as well as a WYSIWYG editor.
It also has a Table of Contents generator with multi-level heading support.
There is a metadata editor as well as a spell check with default and user dictionaries.
It also supports the import of EPUB and HTML files, images, and style sheets.
4. Wordcradle (Free)
Wordcradle is a free online novel writing app that really has a lot going for it.
You can set up projects with word count goals and how much time you want to allocate to your writing aims.
These are great tools to have if you want to practice writing on a schedule.
The character cards allow you to construct a profile for each one during your rough draft. They are set in an attractive table layout.
Index cards are a must when writing a novel.
Wordcradle is equipped to handle all your ideas and to track changes you might make to your storyline.
5: Quoll Writer (Free)
Quoll Writer is a free, open-source book writing program. It is currently available for Windows, but Mac and Linux versions are coming soon in version 3.
It’s loaded with all the features you will need to write a book, including character and location creation, outlining, note-taking, and a lot more.
The layout of the desktop is easy to navigate. But there is a configurable distraction-free mode to let you concentrate on writing.
If you have started writing a book, you can import it from Word. You can export in docx, HTML, and also epub.
6. Bibisco (Free)
Bibisco is open-source software. It is specifically designed for writing a novel.
It has all the elements you will need. These include character development and tracking.
There are chapter and scene organization as well as note-taking.
Everything you need to write a novel in one free software package. Bibisco is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
7. Focus Writer (Free)
FocusWriter has one key attribute. It is about total distraction-free writing.
It has many options you need to set things up for your writing your book.
But it has a hide-away user interface that lets you concentrate on the one big thing you want to do. Stay focused and write.
Forget about menus, toolbars, drag and drop or copy and paste with this app.
There is all focus mode with nothing between you and your words.
It is very user-friendly, free, and available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.
8. Shaxpir (Free and Premium)
For a dedicated book or novel writing app, Shaxpir really packs a lot into its free version.
With the Manuscript Builder, you can use drag-and-drop tools to rearrange any part of your manuscript.
You can move and change the order of scenes or chapters, so you can work on structures that work for you.
It’s easy to set up writing goals and track your progress. You can also make specific notes about your characters, places, and events.
There is also the facility to add your margin comments as well as collect any concept art.
It also comes with its own in-built spellchecker.
For free software designed for writing books, Shaxpir offers you a huge range of features.
It is available for PC and Mac users with an option for cloud access.
4 Free trial book writing software programs
1. Scrivener (Free Trial)
I have to include Scrivener on my list.
Scrivener is well-known as the best book writing software program for screenwriters and authors.
It comes with a corkboard, an outliner, side-by-side viewing, word count targets, and a full-screen editor.
There are also print, export, and publishing tools. It has everything a writer could possibly need.
Scrivener is a top-quality premium book writing program. It has everything you will need from the first to the final draft.
However, there is a 30-day free trial period offered by Scrivener.
But it is counted by the days that you use the software. If you use it every second or third day, your trial period will last for 60 days or more.
Scrivener is available to download for both PC and Mac.
2. Living Writer (Free Trial)
When you write a book, you don’t want distractions.
But there are tools you need to use all the time.
Living Writer accomplishes both of these necessities in style.
With this online writing app, all the story elements you need to use are in the left pane of the edit screen.
While it looks simple, there is a lot going on under the hood.
The one feature I love is the character name auto-complete. It saves a lot of time and helps with accuracy.
Living Writer also integrates with Grammarly, which is a bonus.
One other terrific aspect is that it auto-saves your work, so you don’t have to worry about losing a single word of your work.
When I tested the program, I uploaded a work in progress manuscript, and it was up and running immediately.
For a new story, there are templates that you can use to give you a guide to your story outline.
It’s a great app for writers because you don’t need to install any software as it is a cloud-based application.
If you are looking for simplicity but with all the tools you need to write a book, this app might be for you.
You can read our full review of Living Writer.
3. The Novel Factory (Free trial)
The big feature of The Novel Factory is the Roadmap.
It puts together tested techniques from leading novelists.
It breaks down writing a novel into small tasks so beginners can learn the craft of writing.
The Locations tab allows you to take down details for your locations.
It includes multiple images to help your inspiration. It helps you to consider all of the senses in your descriptions to build an immersive story world.
In the Characters tab, you can see your characters in an overview. Or you can open each one to see all the details.
These include the introduction, basic information, your questionnaire, viewpoint synopsis, as well as your history and notes.
Once you’ve written your long synopsis, you have the option to automatically generate scenes directly from it.
Adjust where each scene breaks, and all your scenes will be created automatically. Then you can get on with writing your first draft.
Unlike some other book writing tools, the Novel Factory doesn’t need hours of learning. It’s intuitive from the very first time you open it.
The Novel Factory is available in an online version that works with all operating systems. There is also a desktop version for PC only.
4. Ulysses (Free trial)
Ulysses is a Mac and Apple only application.
It works with a unified library that holds everything you’ll ever write a book.
The features are designed to manage writing projects of any size or ambition. You can write notes, blog posts, or a whole novel.
It has all the tools you need for writing, with the main focus on getting the words down.
Ulysses can export to PDF and Word files as well as ebooks. All totally formatted and styled. You can also export to HTML for use anywhere on the web.
You can even publish to WordPress and Medium from within the app.
Everything is just a click away, with on-the-fly switching of styles and a live preview built right in.
Ulysses operates and syncs on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. It is the ideal writing software for Apple users.
There are lots of choices in the list of free book writing software, programs, and apps above.
I’m sure you’ll find that at least one of these free novel writing software programs and apps will help you write and publish better.
Some will help you overcome writer’s block and be more organized no matter what your writing style is.
You should also use an efficient and reliable online grammar checker.
The Hemingway Editor is a good free choice. It will keep your use of adverbs, passive voice, and repeated words under control.
Then you are going to be writing more and better every day.
Forget about office applications that are designed for administrative tasks.
Learn how to write a book with tools specifically designed for creative writing and maximizing your writing time.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are many fine premium apps that come highly recommended.
But they are often more suited to professional writers, content writers, and writing blog posts.
You don’t need to make a big investment in book writing software for novels.
If you are just getting started moving away from Word and Google Docs, there are many free choices.
Try a few of these free writing apps and see which one works best for you. They can all help you write a better book or novel.
It might not turn you into a bestselling author overnight. But you never know, do you?
Related reading: 10 Free Book Publishing Software And Tools For Self-Publishing