We get this question a lot: what’s the best software for creating my ebook? The answer depends on your needs. This article will help you decide what software to use.
Creating an ebook consists of 2 separate processes: writing and designing.
Writing Your Ebook
In my opinion, there’s no ‘best writing software’ out there. Most word processors have the same features: markup and spell checking. So my advice is: stick to what you know.
Whether you have already used Word or Google Docs, just use the software you’re the most comfortable with. There’s no need to familiarize yourself with a new user interface when the tool does exactly the same as the one you already know.
Keep in mind that some tools will allow you to write and also design, which saves you the hassle of using 2 tools. Microsoft Word is a good example.
Designing Your Ebook
To find the best tool for the job, you should ask yourself:
Do I need my ebook to be available on stores like Amazon Kindle or not?
If you don’t need it to be available on ebook stores, you’re most likely going to offer the book as a download through your website. In that case, the outcome of your design process should be a PDF file.
If you’re looking to publish your book on an online store, you need a different format. The most popular formats are:
- KF8 (for Amazon’s Kindle Store)
- EPUB (for Apple’s iBook Store)
NOTE: The Kindle Store offers free conversion from numerous formats (such as Word) into their KF8 format.
Below is a list of tools you can use to design your ebook. Obviously, they all have their pros and cons.
If you’re a Windows user, this is a great tool because:
- you already know & have it.
- you can combine the writing and designing process.
- it can be used to publish your ebook on the Kindle Store.
Furthermore, it has all the bells & whistles needed to create a beautiful ebook. You can easily integrate graphs, tables, shapes and so much more.
Even though some of the advanced stuff is hidden inside a bunch of menus, you can get by with what you already know: work with section breaks, include a table of contents, add headers & footers and apply styles to your titles for easy reuse.
- Has all the tools for what your book needs (TOC, headers, footers...).
- Can be saved as PDF.
- Amazon Kindle converts Word files into KF8.
- Looking for a beautiful table of contents? That might be hard to achieve.
- You can't save directly to EPUB or KF8.
- Not for Mac users.
To summarize: Word is a great tool to write and design your ebook with. It’s not always straightforward to achieve what you want, but you can create clean-looking ebooks (remember: less is more). I do recommend having your cover created by a designer.
Powerpoint is also a great tool to use, for the same reasons as Word. If you’re a bit rusty with Word, it can be tedious to insert different headers and footers, or have everything in the right place. With PowerPoint, you don’t have that issue. Everything you drag onto a slide goes exactly where you want it to be.
This advantage comes with a downside, though: you’ll need more time to create your ebook in PowerPoint. If you’re looking to create a book with a lot of text and little graphics (like a novel), PowerPoint is not for you.
- Easy to use.
- Easier than Word in terms of design.
- Can be saved as PDF.
- Not suitable for large amounts of text.
- You can't save to eReader file formats such as EPUB.
- Not for Mac users.
To summarize: PowerPoint is a time-consuming but useful tool to design your ebook with, though it’s not suitable for writing a novel. Only use PowerPoint when you just need a PDF.
Adobe InDesign is without a doubt the best tool in this list. However, if it’s new to you, the learning curve will be higher than Word or PowerPoint. If you’re unfamiliar with it and have a short deadline, InDesign may not be the best choice.
This is a full–fledged design tool, with a few great features for ebooks. You can directly save to EPUB, and there’s an Amazon plugin to handle KF8.
BookWright from Blurb
BookWright is a powerful, multi-featured design and layout application for creating photo books, trade books, magazines and ebooks.
While the other tools in this list don’t only focus on books, this tool does – so it’s got to be good at it, right? You can download it here for free. It has a large learning curve, but the creators at Blurb provide a great how-to guide.
If you’re planning on offering your book as a paperback, they offer free ISBNs too!
- Fully featured.
- Tailored to books.
- Great tool.
- Steep learning curve.
The Choice Is Yours
Creating an ebook does not have to be as complicated as you’d think. Some of the software you use on a daily basis can help you design a great-looking ebook. Figure out what software suits your needs and just go with that option. You’d be surprised how easy it can be to create the professional look your ebook deserves.