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What app do book writers use? I want to know a free application to help me write a book. I have to convert the final file to doc or odt.

I tried with MS Word, but with 50 pages and 10 chapters, it is uncomfortable to find a specific chapter if I want to edit it, because there is no easy list of chapters that allows to click on a chapter to go directly to the chapter in the document.

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Take a look at this. I just stumbled upon this a while ago. I never thought this is possible with word (I prefer LaTeX), but i get the point that word could be used for awesome stuff. thebookdesigner.com/2010/09/… The site in general is worth reading especially if you are writing a book as a freelancer. –  Darokthar Mar 12 '11 at 22:40
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closed as not constructive by Tog, KronoS, slhck Apr 17 '13 at 19:24

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On Windows, I recommend yWriter5 from SpaceJock Software. I like it because you can move stuff around very easily, plus it's free.

This free novel writing software allows you to break your book into chapters and scenes. Tracking progress is easy with the 'status' flags, and this program will also create autobackups of your work by date and time.

Features include:

  • Organise your novel using a 'project'.
  • Add chapters to the project.
  • Add scenes, characters, items and locations.
  • Display the word count for every file in the project, along with a total.
  • Saves a log file every day, showing words per file and the total. (Tracks your progress)
  • Saves automatic backups at user-specified intervals.
  • Allows multiple scenes within chapters
  • Viewpoint character, goal, conflict and outcome fields for each scene.
  • Multiple characters per scene.
  • Storyboard view, a visual layout of your work.
  • Re-order scenes within chapters.
  • Drag and drop of chapters, scenes, characters, items and locations.
  • Automatic chapter renumbering.
  • ... And many more
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You're probably using Windows, but I would really recommend Scrivener - an OS X software that focuses on creative writing.

Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.

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It has some really nice features that allow you to always have an overview of your project's chapters, characters, etc.

As @Matt Jenkins pointed out, authors use their favorite word processors (Scrivener can be one of them), and the publisher will take care of the professional output using publishing systems.

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Scrivener, you say? I like what I see. +1 for you. –  user3463 Mar 14 '11 at 3:09
Scrivener now has a Windows edition. It's working great for me so far (though the one hour written tutorial is bonkers). It appears there might also be a linux edition in private beta. –  RickMeasham Nov 25 '12 at 13:08
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Book writers most often use Microsoft Word. If you are struggling with the size of your document you could split it into multiple documents - one per chapter.

The Word documents would then be sent to a publisher who would use professional typesetting tools to convert those Word documents into a book for printing.

If you wanted to do the whole end-to-end publishing yourself then investing in professional publishing tools is really the way you will have to go. The two most popular systems in use today are Quark and Adobe inDesign but neither of them are particularly cheap.

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