Book authoring software

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This page covers software and techniques for authoring Books and in particular eBooks.


[edit] Introduction

These days most everyone writing books are using computer tools to help with the job. In some cases computers are being used simply as replacements for the old typewriter with simple editing capability but others are using features way beyond just entering text. If you are an author please add your own ideas and techniques to this page.

The focus of this article is eBook creation and not just conversion of eBooks from one format to another. Please check Creation conversion software for information on converting documents. Note that many of the conversion tools permit editing the source document or even simple file creation but they typically lack the more specialized features needed for true book authoring.

In these modern times it has now become possible to use Dictation to author a book. You can simply record your thoughts on an audio recorder or even dictate into a portable device that will directly generate the text. This approach can allow even a physically handicapped person to author a book.

[edit] The task

Book writing consists of the composing, composition, proofing, editing, illustration generation, page layout, TOC generation, indexing, bibliography generation, and publishing. Not all books require all of these tasks. Some writers develop an outline and some books require significant research. All of the tasks are iterative and require some sort of version management and control. Software tools can help to automate many of these tasks.

Editing is a particular task that broadens the scope of the book to include other people. A good editor is essential to avoid errors in the final document. Some books have two different editors, one to verify the technical content and one to verify the grammar and composition. If you are writing by yourself you should probably consider an editing service to check your work. The method of communicating these changes back to the author can be greatly influenced by the tools being used. Tracking these changes should include a method of being able to check point the documents themselves. A version control system can sometimes be helpful.

Authors work different ways but some things that can be useful are ways to capture notes and ideas to incorporate into the book. Breaking the task down can be useful to some authors, outlines, scenes, overall descriptions of what is to be communicated are all items that can make a project easier. Progress measures can also be important when there are deadlines to meet. Even demographic analysis can have a role in some books such as measuring the grade level of the book.

Authors are not necessarily computer experts so the tools need to be integrated and easy to use or they may not be useful.

[edit] Software Tools

(See also: a list of ebook conversion utilities for all platforms which contains a lot more tools -- with an emphasis upon conversion).

This section includes applications that run on multiple platforms. Typical platforms include Windows, MacOS X, and Linux. Some will even work on SunOS. The tools listed here may not work on all platforms but will generally work on at least two. Most of these tools are WYSIWYG so the author can focus on content and read what they wrote in the format that the final user will see.

  • FocusWriter FocusWriter is a simple, distraction-free writing environment. It utilizes a hide-away interface that you access by moving your mouse to the edges of the screen, allowing the program to have a familiar look and feel to it while still getting out of the way so that you can immerse yourself in your work. It’s available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, and has been translated into many different languages.
  • MS Word is likely one of the most popular methods to enter books for publishing. In fact some self publishing sites require that books be submitted in this form. There is a free tool for MS Word that can generate LIT files.
  • PDF is the most popular format for the actual publishing press run but many tools that can generate PDF are not able to supply the extra data like cropping marks that are needed for the press.
  • Adobe provides several solutions for producing books. These include Adobe Acrobat, Framemaker, and InDesign. (Pagemaker was also from Adobe but it is not really an authoring tool and is no longer available from Adobe.)
  • Adobe Framemaker is a robust tool and includes some basic functionality from which includes the ability to support HTML, LIT, and eReader formats. Webworks also has their own tool called epublisher that includes these features and custom XML support.
  • Adobe RoboHelp is designed for publishing interactive help but can also publish in ePub 3, ePub 2, PDF and several other formats from direct authoring or integration with MS Word or Framemaker input.
  • Open Office has a set of tools including Word Processing.
    • There is a macro available for OO Writer than can generate eReader files.
    • is an ebooks authoring system for Include tools for fixing OCR-errors and export to FictionBook format.
    • OpenOffice2ePUB is an Open Office extension to export to ePub format.
    • Amanuensis is another converter for OpenOffice. Windows-only.
  • AbiWord is a free simplified word processor. The latest version has some support for ePub although not complete.
  • Sigil is a free editor for ePUB format files. It works with ePub directly.
  • Jutoh is a commercial WYSIWYG editor for ePUB and Mobipocket MOBI format files, with import from OpenDocument, HTML and plain text files. Runs on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD and Solarix x86. It has support for ePub 3.
  • Kindle Writer is software specifically designed for building Kindle Books. It is template driven software that uses Amazon's tools to generate MOBI books. Runs on Windows. It can import plain text or HTML and the latest version can also convert to EPUB and PDF.
  • LaTeX is not WYSIWYG but has proven to be up to the task of generating professional documents.
  • QuarkXPress is a commercial publishing tool that now has digital output. It supports ePub and Blio output.
  • Scribus is an open source publishing tool for many different platforms.
  • AsciiDoc - A simple text entry language using any standard text editor and then converting with a python script to desired output formats. Pandoc can convert this format and several other text markup languages to eBook formats.
  • Markdown - A popular markup format for TXT files when writing with a text editor. Pandoc will also work with this format.
  • dbtoepub can output epub from docbook.
  • 3D Issue allows you to publish anything anywhere. Use 3D Issue’s eBook creator tool to convert your content into ePub3 or kindle publications. Import content from your word documents, PDFs or just copy and paste the content in. Upload and push your eBooks to your reader base through their eReader devices. A great tool for distributing documents to your mobile reader base.
  • Flip Ebook creates digital books from PDF, PPT, Word, photos and etc. Turn static documents and ebooks to flash and HTML5 flipbooks.

[edit] Mac OS X specific

  • PAGES '09 and later has an ePub export feature.
  • iBooks Author creates books specifically for iTunes delivery to iBooks.
  • PubCoder is an authoring tool to produce highly-interactive fixed layout ebooks in the following formats: ePub 3, KF8 and native iOS or Android Apps.
  • Abulafia, available in the Mac App Store, can produce ePub and (with a free plugin from Amazon) MOBI formats.
  • Scrivener can also produce ePub and MOBI formats.
  • Legend maker by Zapptek makes ePub and Kindle books from RTF input. Note the one sold in Mac Apps store will not build Kindle books.
  • Chapters allows you to create, open and edit ePub documents.
  • Steelkilt is a writing app that includes an integrated ePub code preview and ePub checker.

[edit] Windows specific

  • Atlantis Word Processor can create ePub files and MOBI files. It can import DOC and several other formats. It provides spelling check, templates and other authoring aids.
  • BookCreator an MS Word Template optimized for creating and format ebooks. Forum found here on MobileRead (BookCreator directly download the macro link)
  • Hot Lava Software provides tools specifically targeted to eBooks for the education market and portable platforms.
  • WhiteSmoke provides grammar checker, spelling check, text enrichment, punctuation check authoring tool with Dictionary.
  • ePuper is a free authoring software. It has an importer (plugin based) to download and convert online magazines to epub format.
  • Wikidpad - A notepad to collect your notes and cross reference them wiki style. It is also an outliner to help you organize your thoughts. It is free.
  • InfoHesiveEP - a eBook publishing tool that can import and export and number of different formats.
  • HelpNDoc is a WYSIWYG authoring tool that can output files in several formats including PDF, CHM, DOC, ePub, HTML and AZW. It is a commercial program but is free for personal use.
  • Corel WordPerfect Office can be used to create PDF files built-in and MOBI or EPUB files for use on eBook readers via an add-on.
  • Gitden Air provides a way to simultaneous test your book on several platforms.
  • Kotobee#Author can convert input formats and create ePub 3 ebooks or a dedicated eBook app of the book.

[edit] Linux (Unix) tools

Unix has long been a choice for publishing. As a matter of fact the original justification for Unix development was for a word processor. A few of the tools currently available for Linux (and/or other Unix systems) include: (many of these are also shown under Software Tools as they also work on other platforms.)

[edit] Web based tools

See also: Web based tools on the software conversion page.

  • BlogBooker converts blogs (tumblr, TypePad, Blogger, WordPress, etc.) into eBooks (doc, pdf). Compatible with services like Creatspace and Lulu.
  • Bookbinder is an online tool for for designing and formatting eBooks (mobi, epub). It supports a wide array of options (tables, lists, images, drop caps, fonts ) and can convert a variety of files including MS Word, OpenOffice, rtf, txt and existing mobi/epub files.
  • ebook is a WYSIWYG online authoring and editing tool which produces ePUB and MOBI files. It enables you to simply create beautiful ebooks. Easily insert pictures or illustrations and choose from a library of paragraph and chapter ornaments, allowing you to make a unique ebook. The files generated are 100% compatible with Kindle, iBooks, Kobo and Nook Press.
  • CoursewareMaker by Publiwide is a WYSIWYG online authoring and editing tool which produces advanced ePub 3 format as reflowable eBook. It is aimed at publishing interactive reference materials, courseware and simple textbooks enhanced by exercises and multimedia which can be integrated in the content by drag and drop.
  • is a WYSIWYG online eBook creator which produces both ePUB and MOBI formats. No programming skills are required, and support for images, both color and black-and-white, is included.
  • LiberWriter is a friendly, easy, authoring and conversion system that produces good looking and correct (ToC, NCX, Cover links) Mobi files for Amazon's KDP program. Supports images, and support is included if you need a helping hand.
  • is a WYSIWYG online manuscript creator which produces HTML, DOC, and PDF formats. No programming skills are required. No manual formatting or layout required. Authors may manage multiple titles, and move chapters around within a title. The site offers a Layout section allowing the author to select page size, fonts, and choose from a selection of auto-generated pages to include in the book.
  • SmashWords - A free digital publishing platform for independent (self-published) authors. Authors upload their manuscript as a Microsoft Word file and then SmashWords instantly converts it into the following DRM-free ebook formats, ready for sale online: epub, .pdf., .lrf, .txt, .html, .mobi, .rtf and .pdb.
  • - A free online service that creates eBooks from web pages and RSS/Atom feeds. Users can add individual stories to their eBook, re-arrange stories, edit stories, change formatting, etc. The service creates PDF, ePub and Mobipocket files.
  • WordPress‎‎ - develop your own web site blog to promote or write your next eBook live.

[edit] Publishing

This section will contain a list of publishing houses for authors and services for publishers and publishing software. The focus is on indie publishing.

Often publishing will require multiple eBook formats. For example ePUB is supported as a format for most platforms but the Amazon Kindle does not support this. Thus some sort of eBook conversion software may be needed. There are some tips at eBook Architects. The industry of creating quality eBooks is often called E-Production.

[edit] For More Information

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