apps, writing

Editing Software For Authors: The Good, The Bad & The Meh!

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Image via Pixabay

Not long ago, a writer friend talked about having to quit publishing because she could no longer afford to hire editors.  I thought that was sad and asked if she had tried editing software?  She scoffed at the idea of using a machine to replace a flesh and blood human being.  I explained that she wasn’t replacing anyone, editing software can help cut the costs of the editing process.  These days most software can help with things like punctuation, typos and repetition.  I don’t know if she’s going to take the advice but in case she doesn’t, I’m spilling the beans here about the best software for writers.

Before I go on, I have to give the disclaimer that I am in no way affiliated or sponsored by any of the products or services mentioned in this post.

Grammarly

Grammarly is by far the most well-known editing software out there.  It’s free for the basic service, and you can add their app either to your browser, or on your desktop.  You only have to opt in with your email for the basic service however, their premium service will run you between $29.95 per month to $139.95 for a yearly subscription.

Analysis: Grammarly is easy to use and guides you through the process, by asking you important questions like the purpose of your work and when I uploaded my content, I was impressed by the analysis; it noticed commas that were out of place and offered suggestions for stronger adverbs.

Hemingway

The Hemingway app is similar to Grammarly and can also be downloaded for your desktop.  The cost for the desktop app is $19.99. You can also go to the website and copy and paste your work into the editor for free.  There is no opt in as with Grammarly, so it’s better for people who are concerned about privacy.

Analysis: Hemingway made more suggestions than Grammarly and even pointed out sentences that were difficult to read.  This is ideal for an author writing to young adults and children.

Typely

Typely is a 100% free editor but unlike Grammarly and Hemingway, it has a limit of 50,000 words.  Also Typely doesn’t focus on grammar and instead focuses on usage such as redundancy and misspellings.

Analysis: I was disappointed by this software, it only pointed out the double spaces after sentences and offered on a suggestion for a redundant adverb.  Yes it may be free but it’s not the best, not by a long shot.

Slick Write

Slick Write is 100% free but you can donate or at the very least, turn off your ad blocker so they can make a little money.  Their software evaluates content based on flow,  and statistics and can even help you with writer’s block with their association feature.

Analysis: It was simple and easy to use, but much better than Typely for a free editor. It gave many suggestions for stronger adverbs and pointed out the redundant verbiage in my work.

Pro Writing Aid

Pro Writing Aid was editing software that I discovered while researching Grammarly.  Their limitations are the most restrictive of all, only allowing 500 words at a time in their free version of the product.  They also cost the most around $50 for a year subscription to their premium service and $285 for a lifetime subscription to their premium+ service.

Analysis: Pro Writing Aid’s free service offered an easy experience and was the most comprehensive of most of the software I tested.  If I were going to put money down on any sort of editing software, this would be it.

Ginger

Has software that can be added to Word or can be uploaded to your browser.  You can use it to listen to your work and also translate from other languages.  However, it does have an annoying feature where it suggests alternative sentences if it finds yours incorrect or too wordy.  Also, its logo is also very similar to Grammarly’s, which can be confusing if you have them both downloaded on your computer like I did.

Analysis: It was easy to install and use, but found its sentence correcting annoying as I was writing.  Also where Grammarly was asking me to take out redundant commas, Ginger was actually telling me to put them back in.  Interesting, eh?  This seems to be a software for non native English speakers because it focuses heavily on sentence structure as well as punctuation.  Not bad, but not exactly what I need either.

*On the flip-side* This software was difficult to uninstall  from my desktop since it was an add-on to Microsoft Word.  Using the traditional uninstall features in Windows wasn’t enough.  I had to go in and find where the software had rooted itself and delete the contents of the Word template folder.  This alone, downgrades the app in my opinion.  No software should be that complicated to uninstall.

Editors That I Wanted To Test But Couldn’t

  • White Smoke (no free trial)
  • Language Tool (no free trial)
  • Smart Edit (Need 2016 version of Word)
  • Ulysses (For Mac Users Only)

The Verdict:

I really didn’t like Typely so I’m not recommending it for authors, if you have a teenager who is writing an essay, then Typely might help them.

Here are my choices in order:

  1. Pro Writing Aid
  2. Grammarly
  3. Hemingway
  4. Ginger

A Final Word

Now before you kick your editor to the curb remember, nothing can replace the human touch.  There is a reason why editors are so heavily used in the publishing industry, it’s because good editors offer real value to a writing project.  They can see what most writers can’t and can tell you if a story is going off the rails whereas a machine simply cannot.  If you want to clean up a manuscript so that you don’t have pay for so much editing, this is a legitimate route to go.  It saves a little money and helps writers see where their basic weaknesses are.

So there you have it, if you know of any other editing software that is useful for authors, please let me know in the comment section.

 

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Life, Personal, writing

Gifts for Indie Authors

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It’s the holiday season and everyone has their list of wants. Knowing that many indie authors are living on a shoestring budget, I knew those: “What to get a Writer for the Holidays” articles just won’t do.  Let’s be honest, many of them are silly and rather unrealistic. I mean, who wants a $25 t-shirt with literary quotes that will just wear out in 6 months? I don’t. Besides, you could get some pretty sweet stuff that can help with your writing career for that same amount.

I’ve considered the problems the typical indie author has like; social media, cover design, and proof reading, so I went on a mission to find things that could make our lives better.

P.S. I am in no way affiliated with the companies or products mentioned.

Anti-Social Media Software

Social media is a big problem for a lot of authors because it often becomes a time suck. For years your solutions were either to unplug your modem or disable the wifi on your computer. But what if you’re a writer who needs to do research and interview people online? Disconnecting from the entire internet is irrational. Luckily, there is now software you can download that will temporarily block social media sites and other places you like to linger and it won’t cost a lot of money. Here are just a few of places to check out:

Freedom: This software is for both Windows and OS operating systems and can block up to 8 hrs at a time and only costs $10. There is a free trial version and a 60 money back guarantee.

Anti-Social: Anti-Social is an app that allows you to block websites that you find distracting for $15. However unlike Freedom, it cannot be turned off, which is supposed to keep you honest. Also, Anti-Social has a 60 day money back guarantee. It also works with Windows, and Mac including, Yosemite.

Stay Focused:  is an app on Google Chrome which limits the amount of time you spend on social media.  You can set it up yourself so that you only spend a specific amount of time on social media per day.  It gives you a countdown to let you know when you’re running out of time.  P.S. You’ll be asked to donate $15 once you’ve downloaded the app from the Google Chrome store.

Focus Writer: Focus Writer isn’t necessarily an anti-social media piece of software but I’m including it anyway because it gets rid of all distractions on your computer by clearing your screen so you can focus on just your writing. It has all kinds of features like; a daily word count, type writer sound effects, even timers and alarms. This one is a pay what you can type model and runs $5 – $20.

Art/Photo Editing

Many indie authors like to create their own book covers and that’s awesome, I know a lot of indies who are actually talented in this area. Many of them use PhotoShop or InDesign by Adobe but I found their new cloud service too buggy.  I was also disappointed with their customer service which comprised of a FAQ page with little or vague information.  However, if you’ve drank the Adobe Kool-Aid and love it, they have a monthly subscription service that costs $19.99 for just one app, or $29.99 for all the apps.  Be warned though, you can cancel after 30 days but after that, you’re locked in for a year.

Don’t worry, there are many other types of software out there that are similar or even better than Adobe and they won’t cost you $359.88 annually.

Pixlr is a free online photo editor that is similar to Adobe Photoshop. I’ve used it myself to edit photos for social media and this blog.

Sumo Paint is another PhotoShop like photo editor that has a free and paid subscription service.  The paid service includes cloud storage, new tools and updated apps which cost only $4 a month.  Not a bad deal either way, but try the free version first before committing to the subscription.

Scribus  is often called the free alternative to Adobe InDesign which tons of professional graphic designers use to create digital magazines, web pages, and yes, even ebook covers.

Corel PaintShop If you must have software installed on your computer, there is Corel PaintShop. It’s often compared to PhotoShop and runs around $39.00 – $49.00 on Amazon. *Warning* They do have a popup ads which is why it’s so cheap.

Grammar/Proofreading Software

I’ll admit it, I make plenty of grammar mistakes, and sometimes that hurts my work. I mean, who will take a writer seriously if they’re constantly screwing up? But have no fear, there is software that can check your work much better than MS Word and some of them are cheaper.

White Smoke
White Smoke has advance grammar, punctuation and even alerts you to repetition. They have a basic monthly subscription of $9.95 and a lifetime premium subscription of $299.99 (flat fee).

Grammarly
Grammarly is an online program that checks for misspellings plagiarism, and misused words. They have a free trial if you’re interested. If you end up loving it, it’s $29.95 a month, $19.98 quarterly, and $11.66 a month for year subscription.

Right Writer (CD)
Right Writer is another piece of software that comes in CD ROM and offers grammar, punctuation, with syntax checker. It also comes with a free video grammar course and it all costs only $29.95 not including, shipping of course.

Well there you go, some gifts indie authors need and actually want. If you know of any more useful services for authors tell me about them in the comments section.