Hello SErs. Harmony here. As promised in December, I am embarking on running a post series dedicated to taking a step-by-step look at how to get your finished manuscript from your computer and on sale on Amazon in both ebook and paperback. As I mentioned back before Christmas, some of us do that ourselves already, and for those of you who know all this, then you have my apologies, again, lol. For those of you who hire this out, or do it yourself but you’re not that confident, then it is my hope that this series will prove invaluable for you.
If you’d like to take a look back at the planned outline in that post, then here’s the shortlink: https://wp.me/p7OGru-29c. To make it easy to browse back and forth, I’ve set all links to open in new tabs. As this series progresses, I will update the links for you so that each post includes links to all past posts in the series.
So, here’s Part One: The Best Software for writing Your Manuscript
For the easiest formatting experience, you’ll want to get your software correct even at this early stage. Most of us grew up writing in MS Word, myself included. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best software for you … in fact, I might go so far as to say it’s one of the worst. Sorry, folks.
Why do I say this? Well, MS Word was never designed to hold hundreds of pages of text, or to deal with that level of formatting. The result is that it breaks often.
If all you want is a block of text for page after page, then you’re fine. But this will make a lot of work later on for you. While you can format in MS Word, it proves clunky and clumsy to use. I know, I’ve done this a lot. Not just for myself but for many other authors, too. I’ve lost count of the number of times I would add page headers/footers and nice formatting settings and image placements, only to have Word undo it all–and I mean undo EVERYTHING–as soon as I made one single change to one single word anywhere in the text. This is a well-known glitch. On top of all of that, MS Word is not a cheap option for you.
At the time of writing, a basic Word package, without the Office component, will set you back around £109.99. A full package of Office 365, which includes Excel and many other programs, is £59.99 per year for a Personal (single user) package, or £79.99 per year for a Home (six user) package.
Many of you might well have used and published from MS Word for years without any hiccups. If so, you’ve been lucky so far. If it works for you, then great. If not, then I list alternative software for you below.
Simply put, a Word Processor is not the best app for writing your book.
The Best Writing Software:
- Scrivener (Offline desktop writing through to publishing)
- Vellum (Offline desktop publishing)
- Shaxpir (Online and Offline writing through to publishing)
Yes, currently, the list is that short. All three offer limited free trial versions. In order of cost, here they are–with the most expensive first:
- Shaxpir @ $7.99 per month (approx $95.88 per annum)
- Vellum @ $249.99 lifetime
- Scrivener @ £47.00 lifetime
[Please note: All prices are correct at the time of writing this post, and are what I found online–hence the mix of dollars and pounds in there.]
For a whole package from writing your first word to publishing your beautiful manuscript, Scrivener has everything you need. For functionality along with cost, Scrivener comes in as the best investment.
However, Vellum offers a lot more functionality for the final publishing stages. The drawback is that you need an MS Word file to import. So, you have two costs, but incredibly easy and detailed formatting with this option.
Personally, I now write in Scrivener and export to MS Word, so that I can then import into Vellum for the final publishing work. Though convoluted, and pricey, it offers me the most flexibility by far, and is the quickest and easiest method I’ve found. And it avoids the need for messing about with Word’s cumbersome formatting processes because Scrivener and Vellum do it all for you.
It’s worth noting that if you currently hire out to a formatter to design your book interior for you, then after two or three books you’ve done yourself using this software, you’ve earned back your software costs by what you’ve saved on your hiring out fees. Of course, a big sticking point is that you would need to pay this lump sum up front and in one go, which isn’t great for a lot of us.
If you’re interested, here are the links to the three websites:
- Scrivener: https://www.literatureandlatte.com/
- Vellum: https://vellum.pub/
- Shaxpir: https://www.shaxpir.com/
None of the above are affiliate links, and I do not receive any benefit from listing them in this post.
If you’re sticking with MS Word, or other basic Word Processors, then don’t worry … this series will show you how to format your word-processed manuscript and how to convert that into both ebook format and PDF using FREE downloadable software. The task is a lot more involved and takes much longer to complete, but it is more than possible, and it’s on a lower budget than the above options.
Also, check out my article from last year on using Kindle Create. While this does lock you in to Amazon (Kindle) only, it offers a conversion from Word to Mobi and is free to download. Here’s the link: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2019/01/16/converting-from-ms-word-to-mobi-using-kindle-create/
That’s it from me for today. I hope you’ve found this post useful. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and I’ll see you all again on Monday, January 20th.
©Harmony Kent 2020
(If you're reading this post on or after January 20th, 2020, then here's the link for Part 2 in the How to Publish with KDP series: https://wp.me/p7OGru-29J. Please note, the link won't work until January 20th, 2020.)