More readers than ever are choosing to consume their content online. In fact, the Pew Research Center found that 30% of Americans read an ebook in 2021, up from 25% in 2019. This means every entrepreneur and business owner should have an ebook in their back pocket. It’s a great way to showcase your credibility and authority in your area of expertise. But to do that, you’ll need the best ebook creator software.
Yes, you could outsource your ebook creation to a specialized professional, but it’s entirely possible to self-author and self-publish your own ebook. To help you do just that, we’ve gathered some of the best software to create ebooks. In the following list, you’ll find top software from easiest to most complicated to use. Let’s get started!
- What is the best format for your ebook?
- Choosing the best ebook creator software for you
- Top 11 Ebook Creator Tools
- Which ebook creator tool is right for you?
Before you dive headfirst into writing your ebook and publishing, it’s important to consider what format you’ll be publishing in. Different formats will influence where you can publish and how it will look, which can influence your final format decision. Here are the four most common formats.
PDF is the most common ebook format today by far. Depending on your goals for writing an ebook—generating leads, sales, or building community—formatting it as a PDF can most likely help you achieve your desired outcome. Most computers and mobile devices can read this file type. It’s quite possibly the most user-friendly format. And, the best part? You can create PDFs with most of the software used to create ebooks.
Authors who format their ebooks into PDFs have the ability to deliver their ebooks however they please. Some sell through online course platforms like Thinkific, others through email, Amazon, or a combination.
However, remember that if your desired audience will consume your ebook using an e-reader like Kindle or Kobo, PDF may not be the best format. You can still upload your ebook to Amazon, for example, using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) with a PDF file. But you will have to reformat it extensively for a pleasant reading experience on Kindle devices.
EPUB formatting is the golden standard for almost all ebook creator software and publishers, including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and Google Books. It’s becoming much easier to format to EPUB as most formatting software honors this file type. EPUB is an extremely versatile formatting choice for your ebook.
Kindle Package Format files can be created from your unformatted manuscript using Amazon’s free software Kindle Create. You can see exactly how your manuscript will look on a Kindle e-reader with a KPF file using the online Kindle Previewer. This is advantageous if your target audience accesses their ebooks with a Kindle. However, KPFs are not compatible with other e-readers. So if you plan on publishing elsewhere, you’ll need to use ebook conversion software or format other file types from scratch.
MOBI is a somewhat outdated file type that specifically works with Kindle e-readers. KDP accepts MOBI-formatted ebooks if they meet Kindle publishing guidelines. But while it used to be the preferred format for KDP, KPF is now the preferred format, leaving MOBI as an unlikely choice for the majority of authors.
When choosing the best software to create your ebook, there are a few things you should keep in mind. They are:
- Cost. And not just money but time. Hiring a writer, editor, or graphic designer isn’t cheap. But even if you create an ebook from start to finish on your own, it will take time. Make sure you factor in how much your time is worth and how much it will cost you to publish your ebook.
- User Level. Are you new to word processing? Or, are you an experienced pro in document creation? Your skill level will significantly impact how long the project will take and, ultimately, how much time the project will cost you.
- Operation System (OS). Are you using a PC or Mac? Some software in this list may be MacOS exclusive, while others are available for any operating system. Make sure to pay attention to your OS and choose a software that’s compatible.
Microsoft Word is the best entry-level ebook creation software. The greatest advantage is that most people know, use, and trust Microsoft Word. The biggest limitation of this tool is that you’re limited to creating an ebook in PDF format.
So if you’ve already decided on the formats you’ll be publishing in and PDF isn’t a deal-breaker, then quite a few online ebook distributors honor MS Word documents and will automatically format them for you.
For instance, you can simply save your document as .doc or .docx and upload it to the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. Then, voila! KDP will spit back out a decent rendering of your MS Word document. Just make sure you preview your ebook on the Kindle Previewer before publishing.
If you don’t already have access to Microsoft Word, then you can pay for a subscription to all of Microsoft 365’s applications for as little as $6.99/month.
Google Docs has the same creation capabilities as Microsoft Word, and it’s free for anyone with a Gmail account. Even better, Google Docs can export files as a PDF or an EPUB file. If that still isn’t enough for you, you can always save your file as a .docx and use epub conversion software to auto-format for various file types.
If you’re outsourcing some of your work, like hiring a writer or editor, then Google Docs’s cloud-driven software lets you share your files with anyone. They’ll be able to access them remotely and work synchronously or asynchronously with real-time updates.
Hey, you Mac users out there! This option is the counterpart to Microsoft Word that comes automatically installed in most all iOS products. Unlike its competition in MS Word, Pages can format in its native format, EPUB and PDF. And, if you’re using MS Word, you can even save your document so it’s readable there too.
The ebook distribution platform Draft2Digital (D2D) has stellar formatting software for ebooks. All you need is your .doc or .docx manuscript and a little time to play with D2D’s dozens of ebook formatting features, including easy-to-use templates.
Much like Google Docs, you can use D2D for cloud storage. The only downside is you can’t edit your manuscript in its formatter, but where they lack this feature, D2D more than makes up for it in layout choices and formats. You can also easily format your ebook in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI.
D2D is essentially free. But as an ebook publishing software and distributor, they make their money when you decide to sell your product through them. Distribute through D2D and they’ll take a 10% fee, calculated based on your listed retail price. That applies to ebooks and paperbacks (which they also can distribute for you). This feature takes one more thing off your plate and gives you more time to focus on marketing your ebook.
Related article: Not sure the best way to market your ebook? Here are 5 simple ebook marketing strategies that authors with digital products recommend.
Atticus is a fairly new software option that has both writing and formatting capabilities so you can do everything in one place. This tool is user-friendly and offers a wide selection of formatting options. Designed by authors, it offers a great native builder that saves to a cloud, so you don’t have to worry about losing your work if your computer dies. Atticus also includes some fun features, like a tracker for daily word goals.
If you don’t want to write in Atticus and prefer just to format, you can upload .docx or RTF files to the platform and format from there. Atticus exports in PDF, .docx, or EPUB. At $147 for a lifetime license, it’s a great tool that works on all operating systems.
Quite a few successful authors swear by the premium, Mac-exclusive ebook formatting software Vellum. It has a robust set of features and formatting options that can make your ebook pop off the page and command a reader’s attention.
Vellum will export your manuscript in EPUB and automatically format PDFs for print books. You can download and begin using Vellum for free, but when you want to export an ebook, you’ll have to pay the premium. You can opt for $199.99 or $249.99 plans. The former will get you lifetime access and unlimited ebook exports. The latter, more costly plan offers the same but adds the ability to format for print.
Want to learn how best-selling authors are monetizing their books through digital products like ebooks and courses? Sign up here to receive free training on their techniques and strategies through our video series for authors!
Amazon’s Kindle Create is available for PCs and Macs. The free software perfectly integrates with the Kindle Direct Publishing Platform. Much like Vellum, you’ll have to do all your work before using this formatting software. Additionally, Kindle Create only saves two file types—KPB and KPF.
On the upside, because Amazon is a stakeholder in the ebook industry, they want your ebooks to look and perform well on the market. To help you create the best book you can, they have a library full of guides and other resources to help you navigate their tools, which include Kindle Create.
Ulysses is a premium Mac-exclusive ebook creation software especially tailored for writers. In addition to ebooks, this software is also great for blog posts and long-form writing projects like essays and articles. Writers can set writing goals and length requirements and automatically upload to various platforms, making this an extremely versatile tool for writers of all kinds.
Authors can save their ebooks as a PDF, EPUB, or .docx file. This software is available on a subscription basis and starts at around $5.99/month. And for those who like to write anytime, anywhere, and from any device, your subscription will give you access to the app on Mac, iPad, and iPhones.
Scrivener is a premium ebook creation software marketed as the “go-to app” for writers. Much like Ulysses, Scrivener has various options that create an organized and distraction-free work environment for you. It also formats ebooks in all types of formats, including PDF, EPUB, and MOBI.
Unlike Ulysses’ subscription-based pricing model, with Scrivener, you pay a one-time license fee for your preferred operating system. You also have the option to try the software for free using their 30-day free trial.
Calibre is the black sheep of this best ebook creator software list because it’s primarily an ebook management system. This free software’s superpower lies in its ability to convert between PDF, EPUB, and MOBI.
While the user interface could definitely use an update, the tool itself is not outdated. In fact, the tool was only updated four days before writing this. But despite its appearance, Calibre has all you need to create an ebook of any type you need. So, if you produce a manuscript through Microsoft Word and want to convert it to EPUB or MOBI, you don’t have to spend any money to fix it. If you build enough of a backlog of ebooks, then Calibre is an excellent resource for organizing and managing your content from one spot.
I saved the granddaddy of all ebook creation software for last and for good reason. Adobe InDesign is the most advanced method for creating ebooks.
Like many Adobe products, it requires time, patience, and a keen eye for detail. Thankfully, Adobe has a library of user guides, tutorials, and other helpful resources to help you get started. When you’ve mastered the software and completed your ebook, you’ll be able to export files as a PDF or EPUB file.
Plans start at only $20.99, making this an excellent and affordable tool to add to your toolbox. In addition to ebook creation, InDesign is great for flyers, brochures, posters, pamphlets, digital magazines, interactive PDFs, and more, which will prove useful when it comes time to market your ebook.
Of these 11 best ebook creator software tools, we’re sure you’ll find one that suits your needs. As a friendly reminder, we’ve ordered the list from easiest to hardest to use. So if you have little experience with software and don’t consider yourself tech-savvy, try Microsoft Word or Google Docs first. But if you’re a publishing pro and a seasoned writer, maybe give Adobe InDesign a chance. And for something comfortably in the middle, Atticus and Ulysses are excellent choices.
Remember to consider which file format you need as you make your selection, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a published author.
So what’s next? It’s time to start thinking about how to sell your ebook. Don’t plan on putting a price on your words? That’s okay too. Check out our other articles on how to market your ebook. Regardless of whether or not you plan to sell it, we’re pretty sure you want to attract readers to your content. We’ll show you how.
Want to hear a video version of this blog? Check out this round-up video by Dale Roberts here!
If you would like to know more about writing and publishing books, then I invite you to check out The DIY Publishing Course for Beginners. This free online course shows the best first steps for publishing ebooks, print books, and audiobooks, so you can establish credibility and authority in your given niche.
Also if you’re looking to start working from home. Check out our latest article on remote work tools for inspiration.
Dale L. Roberts is a fitness author, video content creator, and self-publishing advocate. Voted by Feedspot among the Top 100 websites and Top 50 YouTube channels devoted to self-publishing, Dale has cemented his position as the go-to authority in the indie author community. Anyone who meets Dale for the first time will discover his enthusiasm and passion for business and life.
This blog was originally published in May 2020. It was updated in June 2023 to include new and updated information.