Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
There are a lot of writing apps in the wild, and today, I’m taking a closer look at Atticus. It’s an all-in-one platform that provides a writing space as well as formatting tools. But is it worth the $147 price tag?
That’s one of the biggest drawbacks to this application; there is no free version or trial period. You have to buy the app outright and then file for the 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.
In this case, I paid for Atticus and am crossing my fingers that I can at least make some of that money back.
What is the Book Writing App, Atticus?
Atticus is a writing platform that offers authors all of the editing tools they would need while combining an extensive formatting tool for printed or digital books. Atticus includes a lot of productivity tools and writing elements to streamline the process of self-publishing.
Whether you’re writing a 90,000-word printed novel or an eBook complete with images and links, Atticus gives you everything you need to set up your manuscript.
Using the cloud, you can save your work directly using the browser-based app or the “downloadable” HTML-based app on your computer.
However, Atticus isn’t exactly an installable program. Instead, it will use your primary web browser as the framework for the app.
This can help reduce the amount of space needed to use Atticus directly from your desktop while benefitting from any writing extensions you might have installed on something like Google Chrome or Firefox.
What Can You Expect from the Atticus Writing App?
Atticus comes equipped with a wide selection of tools and functions to help you write your manuscript. However, a lot of what it features can be found for free on some other writing apps.
With that said, it’s a relatively stable platform with some interesting abilities.
Atticus Signup and Payment Options
When buying Atticus, you can use Google Pay, a credit card, or your PayPal account. This is convenient, especially for someone like me who uses PayPal extensively for business.
After paying, it was only a matter of minutes before I was able to log in and start using the platform.
Overall, the signup and payment processing for Atticus was better than a lot of other platforms I’ve tried in the past. It was a pleasantly smooth transaction.
Web-based Writing App
The first thing you’ll have access to is the web-based Atticus writing app. This means you’ll need to have an internet connection if you wish to keep using the platform.
You’ll also notice that the app itself is quite minimalist in design. This might be a selling point for some as it provides a distraction-free experience.
However, some might view it as too “basic.” This is especially true if you were to compare Atticus to something like Scrivener, which can feel overwhelming due to how much is in front of you.
Personally, I don’t mind the basic view of Atticus as long as I am able to write while being able to easily find what I need.
Installing the “Offline” App
The “offline” app for Atticus isn’t exactly an installable program as you’d expect. In reality, it creates a browser application that essentially uses your computer as a temporary server connection.
In other words, it’s not a program that you “install” onto your computer. It’s essentially a copy of the website you’ll use when accessing Atticus.
Installing the app from the web-based portal doesn’t seem to work for Chrome. Instead, you’ll have to use the install icon in the address bar of the newer version of the browser.
Atticus does create a desktop icon to access the “offline” version. However, you’ll still need an Internet connection for the system to upload any changes you’ve made to your book to the cloud.
This isn’t a deal-breaker for me as I often use cloud-saving apps to write books. I just find it a bit misleading that there is an “install app” function that really just copies and pastes the web-based version as a browser app onto your computer.
Simple and Easy to Manage Design
As I mentioned before, Atticus has a simple design. All of the pertinent tools you’ll need to write a manuscript are available across the top toolbar with a few options available for the extras.
For the most part, the writing app is relatively easy to manage. Most functions have a tooltip that tells you what they do and the “More Tools” option has a few other elements such as setting goals for your manuscript.
You can also access copyright templates, preset layouts, title pages, chapters, and more using the verticle, three-dot button on the bottom right of the app.
When you need to add a new chapter, just click the “Add Chapter” button and start writing.
Creating Goals and Writing Habits in Atticus
One thing I look for in any writing app I test drive is the ability to create goals. That’s because I find that using goals can be motivational when you want to improve productivity or get a certain amount of work done throughout the week.
Atticus has a great feature built in to create those goals.
You can set up a due date, select which days you write, and create a monitor for writing habits. In this regard, it works similarly to the goals you can create in the Reedsy writing app.
When you select a due date and which days you’ll plan on writing, Atticus will show you how many words you’ll need to keep yourself aligned with the current goal.
The Writing Habits tracker provides a view for tracking your daily progress and comparing the month using “Current Streak” and “Longest Streak.”
This could help you improve your writing habits and how productive you become over the long term.
A lot of authors like writing sprints. This is when you set aside specific blocks of time to do nothing but hammer out the story. And it can be quite beneficial in the early days to help you finish the first draft.
The Atticus Sprint Timer is easy to use and effective. Just set the amount of time in minutes and get started.
The Timer button will change to a countdown of the time remaining in the sprint. That way, you can keep an eye on your progress before time runs out.
Once the timer expires, Atticus will pop up a message saying as such and asking if you’d like to do another. As this is on the sticky top bar of the app, you’ll see this message on the screen regardless of how long you’ve been typing.
In a way, my writing is always governed by sprints. I set aside a two-hour block of time every day to work on manuscripts. Something like this would ensure that I get that quality time with my book without going over or cutting it short.
Previews and Formatting
One of the more unique features of Atticus is the preview option. The app not only provides a preview for various mobile devices, but it will also show you how the book appears in print.
In the print preview screen, you can change from a wide selection of themes for the book as well as edit your own. You can also set the trim and book sizes for the themes. This means you can have a book set to 5 x 8 inches all the way up to 8.5 x 11 inches.
You can also customize the theme in a variety of ways to create something absolutely unique.
Changing the book’s dimensions will also affect the preview of the book so you can see what it’ll look like once printed.
Out of all of the apps I’ve tried thus far, this is perhaps one of the most in-depth formatting and preview tools. I dare say that it performs better than Scrivener in this regard.
Only because making adjustments is incredibly easy to perform in Atticus.
I also want to point out how Atticus will correctly format your book when it comes time to export the manuscript. So, while you’re writing, paragraphs and conversational segments are not indented. But when you preview the book, Atticus will automatically fix those issues prior to export.
This is a bit confusing at first, as the writing platform does not properly indent paragraphs itself by default. However, you can enable indents in the settings of Atticus.
Nonetheless, the writing app will fix all of these issues in the formatting screen.
Preset Layouts (Front and Back Matter)
You have access to preset layouts for the front and back matter of your book. Instead of being able to enable and disable those pages with a flip of a switch, you’ll have to access the book’s settings screen and hover over “Preset Layouts.”
Atticus comes with the most popular front and back matter for books of all kinds. If you need something in your manuscript, such as a Dedication page, just click it and the app will place it in the manuscript.
Then, you can use the drag-and-drop function in Atticus to move the page anywhere you see fit.
What if you want to add matter that’s not available in Atticus? Well, you can simply click to “Add Chapter” and then change the chapter page to the front or back matter you want.
Since you can easily rename the chapter page itself, you can alter it to reflect the page you want to show in your book.
A feature I find helpful is how these preset pages come with default text to tell you how the page is professionally used. For instance, if you don’t know what a prologue is, Atticus provides a brief and easy-to-understand description of how to use the page.
Atticus is Compatible with Grammarly’s Chrome Extension
Because Atticus is a browser app, it’s compatible with extensions you might have installed. For example, I use the Grammarly Chrome extension, which works perfectly in Atticus.
This means I have a grammar and spellchecking app already available.
You can also access the extensions you have installed to enable or disable them through Atticus. So, for example, if I wanted to turn on dark mode for Atticus, I can turn on the extension I have in Chrome.
Because Atticus is a browser app, access to your extensions could open quite a few possibilities as you write. Essentially, it’s like adding new functions and features that the writing app might not have available.
Atticus Exports as ePub, PDF or DOCX
When it comes time to export your book for print or digital sales, Atticus gives you the option to do so as ePub, PDF, or DOCX file types. Although these types of files are the most common for books nowadays, it is a bit limiting.
For instance, Scrivener also lets you export as MOBI and a slew of other file types for certain types of eBook readers and print management.
I don’t necessarily think this is a deal-breaker, though. After all, most platforms support these primary file types on their systems, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Would I Recommend Atticus for Writing Your Book?
With all of the free versions of writing apps out there, it’s hard to justify spending $147 on Atticus. Especially since most of the high-selling points for myself are covered for free through apps like Reedsy.
However, there are a few elements of Atticus that might be worth considering.
First and foremost, the preview and custom formatting options are beyond anything else I’ve seen thus far. Instead of relying on a cookie-cutter template for how your book appears, you can make it unique through a series of settings and adjustments.
This includes easily adding your own artwork.
Another point is how easy it is to use the writing and book formatting app. While I’m not a fan of wrap-around text instead of proper formatting while writing, it all comes out properly in the end.
If you don’t like the block, wrap-around text, you can go into the settings and turn on automatic indents. The text will still wrap around the field, but at least you’ll have indents to indicate new paragraphs and dialogue.
Not to mention the drag-and-drop interface to move chapters and matter around is helpful. However, this isn’t necessarily a feature unique to Atticus. For instance, Reedsy has much of the same functionality.
What it will really come down to is whether you want to spend $147 on a manuscript formatting tool. If you plan on writing a lot of books in the future while making the text appear unique, then Atticus might have a great deal of value in that regard.
For a beginning author, it might not be the best choice if you don’t have the spare money to buy Atticus. However, it could prove to be useful later on due to the fact you can customize your print and eBook layouts so completely.
How Does Atticus Compare to Other Writing Apps?
As I’ve pointed out several times in this review, a lot of the functionality is available on other platforms that are either free or less than half of the cost of Atticus. What this app excels at most is the formatting aspect.
For instance, Reedsy has an incredible book-writing app for free, but it currently doesn’t have a preview option. And the formatting in Reedsy is quite limited, especially compared to Atticus.
Scrivener, on the other hand, has nearly the same features as Atticus but is often touted as being more advanced. That’s because there is an awful lot in Scrivener right from the get-go and can seem overwhelming for many.
Plus, the appearance of the goals and writing habits in Atticus is more aesthetically pleasing than in Scrivener.
For me, it all comes down to the price tag. As there are so many other free and cheaper alternatives to writing and self-publishing a book, $147 is a bit high in my case.
Don’t get me wrong; Atticus is a great writing and formatting tool for self-publishing authors. It’s just going to set me back a bit as I don’t have a lot of disposable income, especially when tools like Reedsy exist to help get me started.
One thing I want to point out that I don’t like, though, is the wrap-around text while writing. I just find it easier to get lost when writing as opposed to a page-style format.
What is Your Favorite Writing Software?
When it comes to determining the best writing apps for your manuscript, it all boils down to personal preference. Everyone is going to have a favorite based on their own wants and needs.
I just wish Atticus had a free trial before dropping $147 on something I may or may not use.
In any case, despite the price tag, Atticus is definitely a contender among my favorite writing apps. I guess we’ll have to see if adding a bit of flair to formatting makes a difference in reader appreciation.
And I’m already working on a few ideas for implementing several customizations.
What app do you prefer to use when writing your books?
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