A long time ago when monks transcribed books by hand, editing must have been a tiring and tedious process.
It must have – right? They didn’t have computers and they certainly didn’t have typewriters.
Thankfully in this day and age, we have both of those things, plus a lot more. We have book editing software that can make the task of editing your book a breeze. Well, maybe not a complete breeze but definitely a lot breezier than it could be otherwise.
Here you’ll find a list of some of the book editing software I like to use, as well as how you can use it.
Pro Writing Aid
I can honestly say I wish I knew about Pro Writing Aid a long time ago. This book editing software would have made my life a lot easier back when I first started editing my book.
Pro Writing Aid is a nifty little program. Once you create a free account, you can copy and paste up to 3,000 words from your manuscript into the free online tool. Click the “Improve My Writing” button, wait about 10 seconds, and it will present you with an extremely detailed analysis of your writing.
The screenshot is only a partial summary of the information it gives you. In addition to these categories you’ll also receive:
- A grammar check
- A sticky sentences check
- A dialogue check
- Repeated words…
- Paragraph length…
Plus about another 15 categories full of information. Honestly, it would be pointless for me to type out every one of them since registering an account takes about 5 seconds and then you can go try it out for yourself for free. We’ll just take a very brief look at the details one of these categories provides. In the sample text I pasted from my book, Elementalists: The Fires of Canicus, Pro Writing Aid said I have a few problems with “Sticky Sentences.”
Because it’s computer generated you may or may not agree with the system’s results and suggestions. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what to do, but in the meantime, Pro Writing Aid seems to be a pretty nifty little piece of book editing software.
Pro Writing Aid is free with some restrictions. You can also pay $40/year for a premium account which has no 3,000-word limit, integrates with Google Docs and Microsoft Word, and allows editing on-the-go. The Premium Plus version costs $45/year and does all the above, plus it adds plagiarism checks.
AutoCrit is fairly similar to Pro Writing Aid. Upon handing over your name and email address, AutoCrit asks you to submit a portion of your text and then presents you with a summary report.
I plugged in the first chapter of my book and this is what it gave me.
The overview and user interface is a little easier to read through than what Pro Writing Aid provides. That does seem to be the key difference between these two pieces of book editing software. Both of them give you a lot of information, but AutoCrit provides an overview that’s slightly easier to make sense of, while Pro Writing Aid goes into more depth.
One feature I do like on AutoCrit is that it compares what you’ve written to published fiction. It also gives you a fairly thorough video tutorial on how to read and interpret the results it provides.
In the above example, my first chapter uses too many -ly adverbs compared to published fiction. I’ve only screenshotted the top section of the page, but if I were to scroll down I could see additional categories with similar results.
Upon getting a paid subscription, you can also compare your manuscript to fiction in your genre. The free report summary doesn’t let you specify whether it’s comparing to romance, fantasy, sci-fi or something else.
AutoCrit is also a little more expensive than Pro Writing Aid, costing anywhere between $60 to $144 USD per year, depending on your subscription level.
Slick Write is a much simpler editor than the previous two. It’s also 100% free to use and doesn’t require an account. Simply customize the settings to your liking, paste as much text from your book as you’d like, hit “Check” and away you go!
Unlike Pro Writing Aid and AutoCrit, Slick Write doesn’t tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong. It simply points out your use of adverbs, adjectives, double negatives and so on. It’s up to you to look at those edits and determine whether or not what it’s telling you is actually a problem.
Because of the number of customizable settings it can get a little overwhelming to look at it if you check off all the boxes. Here’re the first few lines from my book with only a few of the options selected, followed by another image with all of them.
If you want to use Slick Write, I would recommend not checking all the options. It can easily get overwhelming.
One final feature I like about Slick Write is the “flow” feature you can select from the left menu. The feature analyzes your pasted sentences and indicates how smoothly they transition from one to another. In the chart, you want to see ‘waves’ as opposed flatness or choppiness. In this instance, I was pretty happy with my chapter’s results.
Ultimately it’s up to you whether or not you want to try it, but since it doesn’t cost anything to use there’s no harm in giving it a shot.
Natural Reader is a fantastic tool for text-to-voice. Go to the Natural Readers website, download the free version of the app and load it onto your computer. Once it’s there, press the button that says “Floating Bar” and it will add a non-intrusive bar at the top of your screen that can be moved around. Even if you have Word, Scrivener or some other writing program open, the floating bar will remain layered on top.
I used to use a different program called Ivona, which essentially did the same thing. However, I’ve found Ivona has become more complex to get started with so I’ve switched my allegiance to Natural Readers.
Still, out of all the programs on this list, a text-to-voice program is the one I use religiously while editing. It’s my personal favourite of all the best editing software on this list.
The advantage of using a text-to-voice program is that your ears will catch things that your eyes will gloss over. Even when you read your own work out loud, your mind has a tendency of missing crucial flaws, like clunky dialogue, or misspelled words.
Take the image below for example. Read it out loud?
Now, did you catch the error?
Go back and read it again.
Did you notice the word “the” is used twice? Your eyes may have lied to you, but a text-to-voice program won’t.
I never actually heard of Scribophile before writing this post, so the first thing I did was go sign up for a free account to see what it’s all about.
The premise of Scribophile is pretty neat. You provide critiques on other people’s writing and earn karma. You can then use that earned karma to receive critiques on your own writing or enter contests. You can also win karma points and cash prizes through Scribophile contests. Sound simple enough? It is.
Also, just to clarify, while Scribophile may not be book editing software on its own, it is a platform for improving your writing, which is why I’m including it here.
Before creating an account my concern was that it would be a swamp of posts asking for writing critiques that have gone unanswered. That wasn’t the case at all! Here’s a screenshot of what the main critique/writing dashboard looks like. I was pleasantly surprised to see that not one post was without a critique. You can also search by genre to find writing samples you’re more interested in reviewing.
As mentioned above, before you can receive a critique you have to write one (or several). This is a good thing because it helps ensure no one gets left behind. You can also leave a comment on someone’s work rather than a critique.
As for the critique process, Scribophile guides you through it. When you choose to write a critique they ask you if you want to write:
- An Inline critique that can be inserted anywhere into the work.
- A Prose critique that you will be guided through writing (Plot, Pacing, Description, POV, etc.).
- A Freeform critique that gives you the flexibility of how to review.
Besides writing critiques, Scribophile also has groups you can join, forums to start and participate in discussions on, and a blog with plenty of useful writing and editing tips. Certainly not a bad writer’s community.
Scribophile is free to join or has a $65/year premium membership with a few extra goodies.
I interviewed a few Scribophile users about their experiences using the service. Here’s what they had to say:
1. How has Scribophile improved your writing?
I’ve written more since joining Scribophile than I ever had on my own. Having a community of like-minded people who are all looking to improve and get published motivates me to write. The karma system means that I have to read and critique in order to post my own writing, so I learn from the writing of others as well.
There are a lot of groups for more focused input on specific genres or writing styles. I am a member of the Ubergroup, which is a group of approximately 200 writers working in 4-6 member teams and writing in 6 week cycles (a chapter a week). That structure has helped me maintain my writing habit more than anything else.
I’ve been around a lot of writing sites, and I found that their critique systems weren’t very fair in the exchange. I used to give 10 to receive 2 back. In all honesty I actually won my first membership to scrib from a blog I visited a few years ago, and I joined up with thoughts it might just be like many of the other sites I’d been on. I was pleasantly surprised when the level of attention to detail given from critiquers and the experience on the whole was a good one. I was then hooked and began to crit myself devouring whole novels and finding friends along the way.
The feedback I’ve gotten from the Scribophile community is exactly what I needed. It’s so easy to show your work to friends or family and have them give you really broad, abstract opinions – “Oh, it’s nice. I liked it.” The karma system of Scrib really ensures you get advice you can really use. Critiquing other’s work has also helped my own writing. Now when I edit my own stuff I’m able to look at it from a more critical place and I can post a more polished chapter to the community.
When I started Scribophile, I had no idea how little I knew of writing craft. At first I was shocked and embarrassed by my shoddy skills, but some wonderful mentors and writing partners prodded me forward and helped toughen me up. That tougher skin led me to noticing truths I’d been missing for years, weaknesses in my writing and my thinking. My first novel took nine years to complete; my second took nine months. Huge improvement!
The greatest thing that Scribophile has done for me is forcing me to connect with other writers. The network I’ve built keeps me more motivated and focused than I ever imagined I could be. I have friends who want my feedback as much as they want to read my next chapter, team captains who expect my attention and participation, and team members who rely on me to keep them organized and growing. I’ve never grown so fast, and I don’t intend to slow down soon.
2. Has Scribophile helped you get published?
I’ve had a number of short stories published (all workshopped on Scribophile) and I’m currently working on a novel. My group has a published novelist, an agented novelist, and a couple of wannabes (me included!). So, yes, Scrib helps me polish my writing to a point that I’m ahead of the rest of the crowd when I submit.
I have a long publishing process, because I’m a screenwriter first and it takes me a good while to get in the details I am used to leaving off my writing. So scrib and the friends I’ve made there has really helped with my publishing process and with the help from those friends I made the hard decision to go self pub and not pursue traditional. This was due to the transmedia potential for TSK – The Secret King. Which was originally penned as a Sci Fi TV show with a co-writer who is now also a partner for TSK Productions Ltd. With the support from the community on Scrib I began the journey of creating TSK Productions, our websitess, and increasing my online presence before publishing the first novel last September. TSK’s creative team consists of over 12 people now, and we’re moving on with an illustrated anthology, written by 2 other great writers and myself in the TSK world and books 2 and 3 from the main series.
No, or not yet. It’s helped me get to a place where I feel comfortable querying. I’m still waiting to hear back from two small houses that I wouldn’t have found without Scrib.
Technically, not yet, it hasn’t, but I’m well on my way. Has Scribophile danced my work in front of an accepting agent who snatched me up with an advance and film options? No, that’s on me. What Scribophile has done, though, is put me in a position to get there.
I’ll be honest: I likely burned some eyeballs with my first round of queries before I found Scribophile. That lovely list of my top-pick agents? Those poor people. I know better now. Instead of jumping from the first draft to foot-in-mouth flailing queries, I understand the process better now. I vet my work over and over, and I’m gathering feedback on my query package—synopsis, pitch, outline, samples—before I submit again.
The next time I send out query letters, I’ll be better prepared to navigate the process of acceptance as well as rejections.
3. Has there been any unexpected side benefits of using Scribophile?
Friendships. I’ve made great friends with people I’ve never met in real life (across the globe). We trust each others opinions and work together on projects as well as being supportive of life in general. I’ve also read so much stuff outside of what I would normally consider ‘my genres’. I’ve expanded what I’m willing to try and think I’ve learned a lot by reading different genres.
Yes, I found the Ubergroup through scrib while looking to beta TSK’s first book. The benefit to that is more than I can ever put into words. Jerry is a strong leader and writer and the group focusses very hard on quality critiques, writing and commitment to each other. I’ve used the Ubergroup on scrib to put all my writing through its paces, and to beta three novels so far. And I actually got to meet Jerry on his trip to England… extra bonus.
Reading and critiquing genres outside of my own has benefited my own writing, which I was surprised by. I write real-world fiction, but reading more fantasy has helped my own descriptions and world building. My stories are no longer set in “Big City, USA”, they actually have a life and culture of their own now.
I forgot what boredom is. I never run out of things to read anymore. Instead, I’m constantly challenged, engaged, sought out, learning, experimenting, congratulating, assisting. My brain feels like it’s on fire all the time, but that’s how I like it, that’s how busy I prefer to be.
The internet is a glorious thing, but Scribophile is my little neck of the woods where others are weird like me.
4. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’ve been a member of a number of writing communities before Scrib, but Scrib has been the one that has kept me motivated to write and critique. Alex Cabal (Scrib owner) created a great balance of features for writing and critiquing so that the system is easy for even inexperienced people to use. The karma system ensures that everyone is participating and critiquing.
If you want to get serious about writing, join Scribophile and participate.
Scribophile is easily the best site out there, I’ve been on and seen them all, and some although are quite good and run with similar dynamics. I am settled here for good. For anyone joining the site, I’d recommend finding your feet, making friends who you want to stick by and with for life. Because finding the right crit partners can be very daunting and sometimes detrimental to your work. The more you put in, the more you get out. Be prepared to take the crits seriously, work hard, and re-write. After all writing is just that, re-writing.
Scribophile is a really wonderful community. I feel like I’ve found people who understand what my aims are, and who care about them as much as I do. The support I’ve gotten is really wonderful – it’s not a competitive environment, they genuinely want to see everyone succeed.
It’s often said that the writing life is lonely. That was certainly true for me before Scribophile, but I’ve never been less lonely since. Now I have friends, real friends, all over the globe, and I’ve gotten to know them as people as I get to know their works and stories. My confidence, my craft, even my overall outlook on life have all improved by the Scribophile sharing playground.
Reddit’s Destructive Readers
Reddit’s Destructive Readers subreddit is similar to Scribophile and is included in this article for the same reason. Although it’s not specifically book editing software, it does the job of improving your writing.
You’ll also need a thick skin for this one.
The premise here is the same – leave a critique in order to get a critique. Although it’s not impossible to just ask for a critique, your Reddit username will be given a “leech” tag if you ask for a critique without giving one first. Your post will also appear faded, seriously reducing the chance you’ll receive a critique.
Destructive Reader’s also encourages high-quality critiques and shames users who don’t provide. Let’s face it, if you want to get then you should be prepared to give first.
I hope you’ve found something useful in this article. Let’s break down exactly what all the different book editing software can do for you.