The Best Writing Apps for Authors

5 Best Writing Apps for Beginner Authors and Self-Publishing

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

I’m constantly looking for the best writing apps that are tailored for authors. This means I’m looking for elements that go above and beyond just a word processor. And so far, I’ve found a few that have great potential.

As such, I’m not mentioning the all-in-one word processing apps like Word, LibreOffice, or OneNote. I am specifically looking for those apps that are centered around writing books and self-publishing.

Unfortunately, I’m also not mentioning apps that are specific to macOS. Sorry, but I don’t have an Apple computer and I test everything that goes on this list.

What Are the Best Writing Apps for Authors?

There are quite a few web-based and downloadable apps for writing books. The hard part is picking the best ones to use for your next manuscript.

To really get the most out of the experience, you’ll want something more than just a way to type words with a spellchecker.

So, what writing apps have I tested that I would consider the best for authors?

Reedsy Book Editor

Reedsy Writing App

Perhaps one of my favorite book-writing apps is that of the free book editor from Reedsy. It’s the very platform on which I wrote my second book.

You can probably tell how much I like the Reedsy book editor simply from the number of blog posts and videos I’ve created for it.

The writing app itself is extremely easy to use with various tools to help you from creating goals to sharing with beta readers.

One of the more recent additions was that of the planning boards. Here, you can create the outline of your book, add notes, or even link to research concerning your manuscript.

Reedsy, itself, is a multi-purpose platform that connects you to a variety of professionals for every stage of publishing your book. However, the writing app is completely free to use and can export in an assortment of file formats.

Benefits of Using Reedsy:

  • Saves in real-time so you don’t lose any of your work.
  • Create writing goals for virtually any purpose.
  • The Grammarly Chrome Extension works great in the editor.
  • Author page that you can share for others to follow.
  • A writing timeline to keep track of all your additions and changes.

Cost: Free


Atticus Writing App

Atticus is a browser-based writing app much like Reedsy. However, it has the capacity to work as a stand-alone program instead of logging into something like Reedsy to write your books.

It has all of the functions and features you’d want to write your manuscript including formatting options, setting goals, and even a sprint timer if you like performing writing sprints for your work.

While the writing aspect of Atticus is similar to free apps, Atticus excels at formatting your manuscript as well as a preview window that includes print versions of your books.

Since Atticus is browser-based, any extensions you have installed will work with the app. For instance, the Grammarly Chrome extension works perfectly in Atticus.

One of the downsides to Atticus, though, is that it doesn’t have a free trial or free version. You’ll have to fork over the $147, and if you don’t like it, you have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Benefits of Using Atticus:

  • Amazing preview section of your book
  • Custom formatting for eBook and print layouts
  • Clean and easy to use for beginners
  • Real-time saving of your manuscript
  • Includes writing goals and habits tracking

Cost: One-time purchase of $147

Scrivener 3

Scrivener 3

Another one of my favorite apps for writing is Scrivener 3. While it’s a bit more on the advanced side of setting up a novel, it comes loaded with some really great features.

Scrivener provides all of the elements that any writer could need with the option to customize virtually every aspect. Once you understand where the tools are, it doesn’t take much to add things like chapters and back matter.

Unlike some of the others on this list, Scrivener is a program that you install onto your computer. It doesn’t have an “online” option available. This means you can write even if you have no Internet connection.

One of the greatest features is how you’re able to use notes and create folders specific to the story. This means you can save all of your research, links, images, and whatnot with the manuscript.

Not to mention showing those elements in a separate panel. This is useful if you use a notepad to keep track of things that happen in the story.

As for cost, you get a 30-day free trial and then it’s $60 to buy outright. What’s unique about Scrivener, though, is that the free trial is 30 actual days of use.

Theoretically, you could open the program once per month and have a free trial for 30 months.

Benefits of Using Scrivener:

  • Split-screen view to accommodate writing and notes simultaneously
  • Basic goal tracking for those who monitor writing progress
  • Lots of functions and features available for writing
  • Built-in tutorial pages for writing templates
  • Exports and saves in a wide range of file formats

Cost: 30-Day Free trial
One-time purchase of $60

Campfire Writing

Campfire Writing

Campfire is one of the more unique writing apps. It provides a platform for writing your manuscript while also giving you a variety of ways to take notes on almost every aspect of world-building.

You can track characters, relationships, build your own encyclopedia, the different species in your story, items, cultures, magic systems, and much more.

Although Campfire Writing is more geared toward role-playing games and the fantasy genre, it has great potential for a hodgepodge of storylines.

What is perhaps the most interesting aspect of Campfire, though, is its pricing scheme. You only pay for what you plan to use.

In the free version, you are capped at 25,000 words and limited access to the Elements of your book. But if you want to unlock only unlimited words, Campfire would cost just $1.50 per month.

This doesn’t include adding any of the 15+ modules you can upgrade for $1 each or less to expand your account.

Benefits of Using Campfire Writing:

  • A mobile app is available for writing on the go.
  • Available notepad on screen while writing the manuscript.
  • Different themes to choose from for your app view.
  • Community sharing with other writers on Campfire.
  • Easy to invite editors to help clean up the manuscript (mobile editing is a pain, though).

Cost: Free (limited)
Cost depends on the features you decide to “unlock.”



I’ve been using Grammarly for quite a few years. It started with installing the Chrome extension to help with writing content for clients on Textbroker. Now, it’s become one of my go-to’s for editing everything from blog posts to books.

The free account lets you create all kinds of content while providing the basics of spelling and grammar checking. One of the features of this is the ability to correct your spelling as you type. But that is limited to how badly you misspelled the word in the first place.

Grammarly comes with a built-in assistant that offers insights and suggestions regarding every aspect of your manuscript. You can double-click any word in your manuscript and Grammarly will try to find the best synonyms and alternates of that word.

This is very helpful if you find that you use some terms far too much.

The platform will give you an overall score while letting you track certain types of goals while writing the content.

One aspect that I like that is locked behind the premium version of Grammarly is the Plagiarism checker. You probably don’t need this while writing your book, but it is incredibly helpful for bloggers and those who accept guest blog posts.

Perhaps the only real drawback to using Grammarly to write an eBook is the fact that you can only export DOCX files. This means you’ll need another app to convert it to ePub or another acceptable format.

Luckily, most eBook platforms like Amazon KDP accepts DOCX files. In fact, Amazon will convert them automatically when uploading.

Benefits of Using Grammarly:

  • The free version is incredibly useful for finding errors.
  • Saves unlimited documents.
  • Explains why certain changes are necessary while offering suggestions.
  • Apps available for Windows, Chrome, iPhone, iPad, and Android in addition to the browser-based app.
  • Is a good alternative if you don’t have the money for an editor or proofreader.

Cost: Free (limited)
Premium and Business Plans start at $12 per month.

What Features Do I Look For in Writing Apps?

Every author finds value in different features. The best writing apps are the ones that work for you. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using programs like Word or LibreOffice to write a manuscript.

Yet, I chose the above based on the criteria I’m looking for in a writing tool.

Setting Writing Goals

I love creating goals and challenges in my writing. It’s one of the ways that I keep myself motivated and determined to finish certain projects and meet self-imposed deadlines.

Goals can also help you build confidence, especially if you’re consistently meeting them and then raising the bar.

Taking Notes and Storyboarding

The ability to have notes displayed on the same screen as the manuscript is wondrous, in my opinion. I often forget a lot of details as I write, and having a pinned note in plain site helps me remember.

In addition, any app that has some kind of storyboarding platform or background manuscript planning is incredibly useful.

Easy Sharing with Others

I like to share my work easily with beta readers or anyone who is helping me edit. Sure, I can copy and paste the manuscript into a Google Doc, but then that’s an extra step that I’ll forget to later delete.

When you’re as busy as I am, you want to simplify the process as much as possible.

Front & Back Matter and Chapter Setup

Writing apps that have pre-made, editable front and back matter are very beneficial. Especially for those who are new to self-publishing and not sure what to add to their books or how to format the pages.

If an app also has a quick and easy way to add, move, or delete entire chapters, all the better.

Export File Types Support

Although most eBook retailers and print-on-demand services support DOCX files, I prefer to have the option for ePub, MOBI, PDF, and other file types as well.

This is mostly because I plan on selling my books directly from my website. Not to mention I don’t like the idea of an editable doc floating around of my book.

Built-in Spellcheck or Support for Grammarly

No one is 100% accurate 100% of the time when it comes to spelling and grammar. Any app that has functionality for this is essentially a time saver.

If it doesn’t, then hopefully it supports the Grammarly Chrome extension. Otherwise, I’ll have to copy and paste the manuscript back and forth, which is a bit of a pain.


Lastly, not everyone has a spare $4000 laying around for self-publishing fees. It’s my goal to find the most affordable platforms that offer the biggest bang for your buck while writing a book.

So far, I’ve come across a few additions that are worth the investment as it would save time writing the manuscript.

What Apps Do You Prefer When Writing a Book?

As I said earlier, the best writing apps are the ones you find the most value in using. Everyone is different when it comes to certain features and functions.

Nonetheless, there are some apps that just seem to go the extra mile specifically for authors. And the above apps are the best writing tools I’ve come across thus far.

This is an ever-growing list as I continue to scour the Internet for the best apps for writing. If you have something, in particular, you’d like me to try, feel free to comment down below.

I’m always interested in expanding my library of writing software.

Michael Brockbank
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